Read an Excerpt
Everything You Want to Know about the Bible
Try this quick quiz.
What Is It?
* It is a book, a best seller that most people on the planet have at one time read or at least casually glanced at.
* It has touched countless people with its insights and information.
* The English-language version is now distributed in over seventy countries.
* It opens doorways and tells us a lot about ourselves and our world.
* It is to be found in pretty well every library on the planet.
* It is available in thirty-seven foreign-language translations.
* Sales of this book are phenomenal, totalling somewhere up near the 100-
million mark worldwide.
And the name of the book?
What was that you said? The Bible? Sorry, no. Wrong. Do not pass Go.
Do not collect two hundred dollars.
It is actually Guinness World Records. Now, the Guinness is a good read and has some pretty impressive sales figures. And it also contains life-changing information, like the fact that in 1998 some guy blasted a strand of spaghetti nineteen centimetres* from one nostril. On every measurable scale, however,
Guinness is chicken feed when compared to the world's best-selling book, which is, as you already know . . . wait for it . . . trumpet fanfare, please! (bup-duddabup,
bup-bup-bup-baaaa) . . . the Bible.
It has been translated into over 2,200 languages and dialects. As a point of comparison, the works of William Shakespeare have been translated into only 50 languages. Bible Societies are currently working in over 200 countries producing translations in almost 500 new languages. They distribute over 500
million Bibles and Bible portions annually.
In the past twenty years, over 100 million copies of the Good News Bible have been printed. In China alone, almost 2.5 million Bibles are distributed each year. Despite its 'thees' and 'thous' from the seventeenth century, 13
million copies of the King James Bible are sold every year -- to say nothing of the umpteen other versions that are walking out of bookshops around the globe every second of every day.
In the past two centuries, an estimated 5 billion (yes folks, not thousand,
not even million, but billion, with a B* -- that's 5 with nine 0s after it) Bibles have been printed. Wouldn't you just love to be the publisher who signed up the contract for that print run!
These figures are pretty staggering. In fact, they are so big it almost defies comprehension. So think of it like this: for about the past two hundred years,
a Bible has been sold every few seconds of every minute of every hour of every day. At the same sales rate, the Guinness World Records would have sold out after only a few years.
If you were to stack these Bibles one on top of each other, you would have a tower 78,000 kilometres** tall. It would take the space shuttle travelling at full tilt over two hours to get to the top of the tower, and if the tower ever fell over, it would knock the earth out of orbit and start another ice age.
Or think of it like this: if you were to lay all these Bibles end to end in a single line, they would . . . well, let's just say they would go lots and lots of times around the world and then make a three-lane bible-paved expressway up Mount Everest just because it was there. But the awesomeness of the Bible goes beyond simple sales figures. It is an awesome book that has had a critical impact on the shape of our world. For almost two thousand years, billions of people have been influenced by it, whether indirectly as the basis of law and morality in their country or directly as their personal guidebook to life, both physical and spiritual.
Half the people you know were probably named after someone in the
Bible -- like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Ringo . . . Dan, Sarah, Eve,
Adam, Mary, Jesus (if you live in South America), Rachel, Liz, Becky, Debbie,
Mike, Zac, Joe, Josh, and on top of that, who doesn't know at least one Maher-
* No other book even comes close to it.
* No other book is held in such high regard.
* No other book has been smuggled in so many car boots across dangerous borders.
* No other book has appeared so often in the top drawer of hotel bedside tables.
* No other book has been so widely studied (except maybe Pride and Prejudice).
* No other book has caused so much debate and controversy.
* No other book has been 'sworn' over so much in courtrooms.
* No other book is so misunderstood by people who've never read it.
* No other book has had so many people living their life by it.
* No other book has had so many people who died for it.
Which leaves us with only one question: Why? Why is the Bible so popular,
so translated, so widely read and so massively published? Because the pages make good cigarette paper? Don't think so. Because of the illustrations?
No, because everyone knows Phantom comics have the best illustrations.
It is because the Bible tells us about God. If you were to put the Bible into a nutshell (you'd need a really big magnifying glass to read it), if you were to mortar and pestle it down into a single definition, it would be this:
The Bible shows us how to be in relationship with God.
Which is the biggest and most exciting topic of all time. But more of that in the chapters to come.