The Bible Still Without Peer
TO BE without peer means to be without an equal, to have no rival. When it comes to books, there is one volume that is truly without peer, that has neither equal nor rival. That book is the Word of God, the Bible. Not without good reason has it been termed the Divine Library, for it is not just one book but rather a collection of sixty-six writings, books and booklets, ranging in size from one page to some two hundred pages.
In ever so many ways this Book of books continues to show itself to be without peer: by the fulfillment of its many prophecies, in particular those relating to the first and second presence of Jesus Christ; by the power it exercises upon men’s lives, such as causing juju-worshiping, warlike and polygamous natives to change into God-fearing, peaceful and monogamous Christians; by its objective and accurate recording of ancient history, as verified by archaeological discoveries such as those made today in the land of Palestine; by the harmony of its messages—though penned by some thirty-five men and over a period of some 1,600 years, they all give first place to God’s name and kingdom—and by the frankness, the candor, of its writers.
In view of the many attacks made upon the Bible, greater than those made upon any other book, its very survival proves that its vitality is unequaled. It has been and is bitterly opposed by totalitarian regimes, both political and religious. These have not only propagandized against the Bible but have made it difficult to obtain. Two striking examples that might be mentioned are Franco’s Spain and Khrushchev’s U.S.S.R.
Vitriolic attacks upon the Bible continue to be made by atheists, agnostics, humanists and Unitarians. Scientific theories are expounded as scientific fact even though those theories keep changing and contradict each other. During 1959 the centenary celebration of Darwin’s Origin of the Species serves as an occasion to heap scorn, contempt and ridicule upon “the creation myth of the Bible.” Yet all such have failed to diminish the distribution of the Bible.
The Bible has continued without peer in spite of the harm done to it by its supposed friends. Many have turned from it because of the hundreds of conflicting creeds, all claimed to be based on the Bible. On the one hand fundamentalists do incalculable harm by their unreasoning literal interpretations of the Bible, and on the other hand the modernists raise a hue and cry because Christians accept the Bible as God’s Word. Giving vent to their feelings, they exclaim: “What a travesty of the Christian faith this idolatry of a book called the Bible has been! . . . How can one understand what the Bible says without knowledge of what the Bible is?” Unfortunately, for ever so many clergymen today the Bible is not what Jesus said it is: the Word of his Father, Jehovah God.—John 17:17.
Its supposed friends harm the Bible not only by their contradictory and unscriptural teachings but also by their unscriptural practices. Wars, political corruption, materialism and crime mark the nations of Christendom that give lip service to the Bible. No wonder the peoples of the Orient view the Bible with skepticism.
Truly the Bible’s survival in spite of all this opposition and misrepresentation gives further proof of its being without peer and of its claim to be of divine origin. It underscores the soundness of its own testimony concerning itself: “The vegetation becomes withered, and the flower falls off, but the word spoken by Jehovah endures forever.”—1 Pet. 1:24, 25.
Current evidence of the Bible’s vitality recently appeared in the press. A report showed that the Bible has been translated, wholly or in part, in 1,136 different languages. Of these, 215 are of the entire Bible and 273 of the complete Christian Scriptures, which of themselves are larger than the average modern novel. In 1958 one American Bible society alone distributed more than 16.6 million copies of the Bible and added three new languages to the number of tongues in which it now appears, bringing the total to 1,136.—Time, May 25, 1959.
In passing it might be observed that the very willingness of the friends of the Bible to devote their time, means and even their lives to the translation, publishing and world-wide distribution of it is yet another evidence of the Bible’s being without peer. Where is there another book from which its readers reap so much benefit as to impel them to make such sacrifices? In comparison, where are the Koran or Veda publishing societies and missionaries? At present the publication and distribution of the Bible is in its third billion.
In view of all the foregoing it seemed rather strange that an April, 1959, newscast in the United States reported that, as to the number of languages in which the Bible had been translated, it had been eclipsed by a number of other books. This report placed the books of Lenin first. Next came Jules Verne, best known for his Eighty Days Around the World, followed by the plays of Shakespeare. Away down the line came the Bible. What the announcer failed to state, however, was that this listing applied only to the year 1957, and had no bearing whatever on the total number of translations in which the various books appeared. The UNESCO report also showed that a total of 27,978 different books, in sixty-five countries and in more than two hundred languages, had been published that year, more than half of which were novels. How long the many books on scientific subjects will remain authoritative is anybody’s guess.
All of this calls to mind the words written by a wise king some three thousand years ago: “To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh. The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear The true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” To that end one needs, not the writings of Lenin, Jules Verne and Shakespeare, but the one Book that still is the most widely translated and distributed, the Book still without peer, the Word of God, the Bible.—Eccl. 12:12, 13.