Recently, I was moved to read about the story of 13-year-old Hannah Foy, a young girl from Missouri who had decided to read the whole Bible in one year. She completed her goal a week early and proudly shared the news with her mom and friends. When telling her mom about her Bible experience she described it as “the best year of my life.”
The next day she was tragically killed while on the way to a youth group event in Branson. Her story has inspired a generation of young people to begin reading their Bibles again.
The Bible is an incredible work, but it's more than a book. The Bible is a conversation between God and his people–first the Israelites, and now everybody. When you pick up a Bible, you hold God's voice and his words, spoken over millennia. It's like a conduit between mankind and God.
There's a good chance that you own at least one Bible. Many people have more than one. In our modern age, the Bible is available more than ever before. Paperback, hardbound, and digital copies are easily attained at any store and on our phones. Even so, here are four facts that will surprise you.
The original text contained no punctuation or verse numbers
Nowadays, we are very focused on verses. We know much of the Bible because of the verses we learn and quote. John 3:16, Romans 12:1, or Philippians 4:13 are popular go-to verses when we need encouragement or inspiration, however, the original manuscripts contained no verse numbers and no punctuation.
This is true for a couple of reasons. First, the original Bible was mostly written in Hebrew and Greek, and some Aramaic. These languages do not utilize modern day punctuation. To make matters worse more complicated, they are almost completely written in capital letters, called ‘uncials,' and Greek doesn't even use spaces in between words.
It's the job of the translator to figure out how to structure each sentence from the context of the passage.
There's a bunch of verses missing from your Bible
There are at least 16 verses that you're likely to find missing from the Bible that is sitting on your shelf, that is unless you have a King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The reason is simple. For more than 100 years, the most widely used version of the scripture was the KJV. King James commissioned the translation of the Bible into the common language of English. Scholars used manuscripts of Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and even some Latin to translate the Bible.
However, the manuscripts used in the 1604 translation are not the earliest, nor the most accurate Biblical writings. Since the translation of the KJV, newer manuscripts have been discovered, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in 1968.
The newer manuscripts provide a more accurate translation of the Bible, and since the numbers were already assigned by the KJV of the Bible, it wasn't possible to renumber all of the verses or chapters of the Bible. Therefore, some are missing.
Go ahead, try to find these verses in your Bible. You probably won't find them.
- Matthew 17:21
- Matthew 18:11
- Matthew 23:14
- Mark 7:16
- Mark 9:44 & 9:46
- Mark 11:26
- Mark 15:28
- Luke 17:36
- John 5:3–4
- Acts 8:37
- Acts 15:34
- Acts 24:7
- Acts 28:29
- Romans 16:24
There are additional books of the Bible we don't use
There are seven additional books known as “The Apocrypha” and used by some churches. The books are called Tobit, Judith, Wisdom (also called the Wisdom of Solomon), Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and some additions to the book of Esther.
The Catholic church and some Greek Orthodox churches still use these and recognize them as canon. The reason that the books are not included in your Bible is a rather long and complicated tale. The short version of the story is that early church fathers (4th century AD) disagreed on their reliability as true scripture. Some decided to keep them and some did not.
While we don't include them in scripture, they are
The Bible is the most widely read book of all time…by far
You're probably not surprised to find out that the Bible is the best selling book of all time. Since the development of the printing press, more than 5 billion copies of the Bible have been printed and sold. That's almost one Bible per person on the earth!
True, books like Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling have sold well, but not like the Bible—not even close. As a matter of fact, you can add the sales of all of those books together and the Bible still outnumbers them by more than 4-billion books.
Plus, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book. Missionaries devote their entire lives to learning obscure languages just so that the Bible can be translated for remote tribes in the deepest parts of the earth. No one does that for Harry Potter
So, when is the last time you picked up your Bible and appreciated it for the amazing collection of writings and inspiration that it is? If you haven't read it in a while I encourage you to spend some time with this incredible book. If you're not sure how or where to start, I wrote a piece called “3 Simple Suggestions to Help You Read Your Bible.”