I’m reading a book entitled In the Beginning There Were Stories by William Bausch. The subtitle of the book is “Thoughts about the Oral Tradition of the Bible”, and Bausch is making a case that to adequately understand the Scriptures they need to be seen as the written form of what were initially oral stories.
One of the early chapters, on the nature of the Bible as a book, carries the same title as this post and features the following wonderful quote about approaching the Bible:
It’s like going to the library. Yes, it’s one building, but it has a history section, a literature section, a science section, a poetry section, a mystery section, a fiction section, a biography section, and so on. When we go to a library, you and I adjust our minds and expectations to the shelf and section we choose. In other words, we don’t expect objective statements from poetry or history from science fiction. If I’m reading an Agatha Christie murder mystery with Hercule Poirot, I’m not reading it the same way or with the same assumptions as I would were I reading Grandpa’s last will and testament. So, why should all seventy-two books of the Bible say the same thing in the same way? Yet that’s what people expect.
William J. Bausch, In the Beginning There Were Stories: Thoughts about the Oral Tradition of the Bible (Mulgrave, Vic.: John Garratt Publishing, 2004), pp 26-27. ISBN: 1-920721-16-9.