Posts belonging to Category Bible

Melody in F (The Prodigal Son)

I first heard this fun, frolicking, alliterative version of “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” back in the 1980’s when Jack Hayford read it out loud on his radio program. I was living in California at the time and really enjoyed Hayford’s preaching. I happened to tape the show and wrote the words down later. With Tim Keller’s new book about to be released (The Prodigal God), I thought it would be fun to unfurl it here. Be sure to read it out loud for maximum effect!

MELODY IN F – Author unknown (possibly Phil Kerr – see comments below)

Feeling footloose and frisky, a feather-brained fellow forced his fond father to fork over the farthings, and flew far to foreign fields and frittered his fortune feasting fabulously with faithless friends.

Fleeced by his fellows in folly, and facing famine, he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farmyard. Fairly famishing, he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from fodder fragments. “Fooey, my father’s flunkies fare far finer,” the frazzled fugitive forlornly fumbled, frankly facing facts.

Frustrated by failure, and filled with foreboding, he fled forthwith to his family. Falling at his father’s feet, he forlornly fumbled, “Father, I’ve flunked, and fruitlessly forfeited family favor.” The far-sighted father, forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch a fatling from the flock and fix a feast.

The fugitive’s fault-finding brother frowned on fickle forgiveness of former folderol. But the faithful father figured, “Filial fidelity is fine, but the fugitive is found! What forbids fervent festivity? Let flags be un-furled! Let fanfares flare!” Father’s forgiveness formed the foundation for the former fugitive’s future fortitude.

Note: See Luke 15:11-32 for the original version.

Related post: Parable of the Prodigal Puppy

Codex Sinaiticus Online (and P46)

Codex Sinaiticus | Mark 1 | Folio 217b
                      (Mark 1 archive: BL folio: 217b scribe: A)

For the first time ever, Codex Sinaiticus is available to read and study online.

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.

Only portions of the Codex are available right now, but by next July the entire Codex will be available, along with transcription, translation and search functions. (You can also read portions of Codex P46 online at the University of Michigan Library. P46 contains the earliest surviving copy of the Letters of Paul.)

There was a time when you would have to travel the world to study manuscripts like these in a museum. Hopefully we will continue to see the digitization of manuscripts made available to all for research and study.

Related article: Scholars Plan to Reunite Ancient Bible Online

Bible Still Recognized as Top Holy Book

From the Christian Post:

A new Barna survey shows that more Americans accept the Bible as “holy” or “sacred” than they would other books. Respondents of the survey for The Barna Group identified around 12 books they thought fit the bill as “sacred literature” or “holy books.” The list included expected titles such as the Bible and the Koran and others such as Quiet Strength by football coach Tony Dungy. However, the Bible stood out by far from other texts with 84 percent of Americans deeming it a holy book.

Only three books were recognized as holy by at least 1 percent of Americans. The Koran trailed behind the Bible in second place with 4 percent; the Book of Mormon was labeled by 3 percent as sacred/holy; and the Torah was deemed holy by 2 percent of the public.

I was glad to see 84 percent of the respondents accepted the Bible as holy but puzzled why only 2 percent accepted the Torah. The Torah (also known as the Pentateuch) refers to the first five books in the Bible. So if the Bible is holy, by definition the Torah is too. Actually more people should embrace the Torah as a holy book than the Bible. Jews would not view the whole Bible as from God, but both Jews and Christians together would accept the first five books of the Bible as holy. I am guessing that many of the respondents did not know that the Torah is actually part of the Bible.

Starter List for Reading the Bible

Here is R. C. Sproul’s recommended starter list for people who have never read the Bible. The list is from R.C.’s book 5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow.

Old Testament overview:

  • Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
  • Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
  • Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
  • Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
  • 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
  • 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
  • 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
  • 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
  • Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
  • Nehemiah (the restoration of Jerusalem)
  • Amos and Hosea (examples of minor prophets)
  • Jeremiah (an example of a major prophet)
  • Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)
  • Psalms and Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)

New Testament overview:

  • The Gospel of Luke (the life of Jesus)
  • Acts (the early church)
  • Ephesians (an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
  • 1 Corinthians (life in the church)
  • 1 Peter (an introduction to Peter)
  • 1 Timothy (an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
  • Hebrews (Christology)
  • Romans (Paul’s theology)

What do you think are the most important books to read in the Bible first?

Let the Reader Understand

Ben Witherington points out that the word “reader” in Bible times had a different meaning than it does today.

Both in Mk. 13.14 and in Rev. 1.3 the operative Greek word is ho anaginōskōn a clear reference to a single and singular reader, who in that latter text is distinguished from the audience who are dubbed the hearers (plural!) of John’s rhetoric.

As Mark Wilson recently suggested in a public lecture at Ephesus, this surely is likely to mean that the singular reader is in fact a lector of sorts, someone who will be reading John’s apocalypse out loud to various hearers. We know for a fact that John is addressing various churches in Asia Minor (see Rev. 2-3), so it is quite impossible to argue that the reference to ‘the reader’ singular in Rev. 1.3 refers to the audience. It must refer to the rhetor or lector who will orally deliver this discourse to the audience of hearers.

I would suggest that we must draw the same conclusion about the parenthetical remark in Mk. 13.14, which in turn means that not even Mark’s Gospel should be viewed as a text, meant for private reading, much less the first real modern ‘text’ or ‘book.’ Rather Mark is reminding the lector, who will be orally delivering the Gospel in some or several venues near to the time when this ‘abomination’ would be or was already arising that they needed to help the audience understand the nature of what was happening when the temple in Jerusalem was being destroyed.

Bible Wordles

Click here to learn about The Bible Memory Version!

Here are some more Bible Wordles for your viewing pleasure. (Click on a picture for a larger image.) First, here is the New Testament in a Wordle:
Wordle | New Testament (ESV)
                        Most prominent words in the New Testament:
                                        “Lord God Jesus Christ”

Here is a Wordle for the Psalms:
Wordle | Psalms (ESV)
                            Most prominent words in the Psalms:
                        “Lord God shall; steadfast love forever”

And here is a Wordle for the whole Bible:

Wordle | Whole Bible (ESV)
                                Most prominent words in the Bible:
                                            “Lord God said”

Greg Gilbert at Church Matters analyzed the Wordles for different books of the Bible and came up with the following prominent words. They make for pretty good summaries of each book I would say!

  • The Gospels = “Jesus said”
  • Romans = “God Christ law righteousness through faith”
  • 1 Corinthians = “God Christ body brothers”
  • Hebrews = “God made covenant through blood high priest”

Related: Click here to learn about The Bible Memory Version.

The Bible is to Theology as Creation is to Science

I found the following diagram helpful in understanding the tensions that sometimes exist between science and Biblical faith.

                            Bible:theology :: Creation:science
              (The Bible is to theology as creation is to science)

The diagram distinguishes between: 1) Scripture and theology, and 2) creation and science. Scripture is God’s Word and therefore free from error. The physical creation is God’s work and therefore will never be in conflict with God’s word. However, theology is man’s study of Scripture, just as science is man’s study of creation. As such, theology and science are both susceptible to error and can be in conflict with each other.

Thus when science and theology conflict, we should not rush to judgment about which side is wrong. Rather we should continue to test our theology against the evidence of Scripture and our science against the evidence of the physical world. When we get our theology and science correct, there will be no conflict between the two.

I like this model because it affirms:
    1) the truth of God’s word,
    2) the order of God’s world, and
    3) the value of both theological and scientific endeavor.

Note: The diagram comes from David Heddle, associate professor of physics at Christopher Newport University. Heddle is currently teaching a Sunday School class on science and faith at Grace Baptist Chapel in Hampton, VA. He is posting his weekly notes online at GBC Sunday School. You can find an outline of the series here.

Related post: God’s Providence and Scientific Investigation

A Reader’s Hebrew Bible

A Reader’s Hebrew Bible

Zondervan just released A Reader’s Hebrew Bible. (This is the counterpart to their earlier release, A Reader’s Greek New Testament.)

Ideal for Hebrew students and pastors, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible saves time and effort in studying the Hebrew Old Testament. By eliminating the need to look up definitions, the footnotes allow the user to read the Hebrew and Aramaic text more quickly, focusing on parsing and grammatical issues.

A Reader’s Hebrew Bible offers the following features:

  • Complete text of the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible using the Leningrad Codex (minus critical apparatus)
  • Shaded Hebrew names that occur less than 100 times
  • Footnoted definitions of all Hebrew words occurring 100 times or less (twenty-five or less for Aramaic words)
  • Context-specific glosses
  • Stem-specific glossed definitions for verb forms (Qal, Piel, Hiphil, and so forth)
  • Ketib/Qere readings both noted in the text and differentiated appropriately
  • Marker ribbon

You can view some sample pages from Genesis here. This looks like a helpful resource for anyone with an intermediate knowledge of Hebrew.

HT: Between Two Worlds

Believing the Bible Book List

The Desiring God site has posted an excellent list of books on the theme of “Believing the Bible.” This is a list that John Piper put together for students in his Why We Believe the Bible seminar for The Bethlehem Institute.

The books are divided into the following three categories:

  • The Canon of the New Testament
  • The Reliability of the New Testament
  • Responses to Recent Critics

I am familiar with most of the books on the list and would highly recommend them to you. Let me encourage you to check the list out and perhaps read one or two books from each category. You will most certainly grow in your faith and in your confidence in the Scriptures.

Related posts:

The Bible vs the Koran

The Economist recently ran an article on the Bible versus the Koran. The article focused mostly on the business side of marketing the two books but had some interesting things to say along the way. Here are some excerpts from the article.

CHRISTIANS and Muslims have one striking thing in common: they are both “people of the book”. And they both have an obligation to spread the Word—to get those Holy Books into the hands and hearts of as many people as they can …

Spreading the Word is hard. The Bible is almost 800,000 words long [while] … the Koran is a mere four-fifths of the length of the New Testament … Yet over 100m copies of the Bible are sold or given away every year. Annual Bible sales in America are worth between $425m and $650m; Gideon’s International gives away a Bible every second. The Bible is available all or in part in 2,426 languages, covering 95% of the world’s population.

The Koran is not only the most widely read book in the Islamic world but also the most widely recited (“Koran” means “recitation”). There is no higher goal in Muslim life than to become a human repository of the Holy Book; there is no more common sound in the Muslim world than the sound of Koranic recitation.

Reciting the Koran is the backbone of Muslim education. One of the most prized honorifics in Islamic society is “hafiz” or “one who has the entire scripture off by heart”. Do so in Iran and you get an automatic university degree. The great recitors compete in tournaments that can attract audiences in the hundreds of thousands—the world cups of the Islamic world. The winners’ CDs become instant bestsellers …

There is a difference, however, between getting and understanding a Holy Book. Here both Christianity and Islam suffer from serious problems. Americans buy more than 20m new Bibles every year to add to the four that the average American has at home. Yet the state of American biblical knowledge is abysmal. A Gallup survey found that less than half of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis), only a third know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Billy Graham is a popular answer) and a quarter do not know what is celebrated at Easter (the resurrection, the foundational event of Christianity). Sixty per cent cannot name half the ten commandments; 12% think Noah was married to Joan of Arc. George Gallup, a leading Evangelical as well as a premier pollster, describes America as “a nation of biblical illiterates”.

Muslims greatly prefer to read the Koran in the original Arabic. Yet the archaic language and high-flown verse, while inspiring, can also be difficult to understand even for educated Arabic speakers. And only 20% of Muslims speak Arabic as their first language. Illiteracy rates are high across the Muslim world. Many students of the Holy Book do not understand much of what they are memorizing.

What are your thoughts on the article?

HT: Evangelical Outpost

Recommended Children’s Story Bibles

Reading the Bible Through in a Year Series:
      1. Free Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
      2. Books to Help You Read through the Bible
      3. Recommended Children’s Story Bibles

If you are looking for a good story Bible to use with your children, here are some excellent choices. The ones we used with our kids were good, but I like these even better. I wish they had been available when our children were younger.
The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Points to Jesus as the center of every Bible story. As the subtitle says: “Every story whispers his name.” Recommended for ages 4-8.

The Big Picture Story Bible
The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm and Gail Schoonmaker. Presents the individual stories of the Bible within the bigger storyline of God’s love for the world. Focuses on God’s “big promise” that was eventually fulfilled through Jesus. Recommended for ages 4-8.


Mighty Acts of God, by Starr Meade. Taking a panoramic, chronological look at the character of God from a Reformed perspective, 90 Bible stories focus on a particular trait or truth about God to help children better understand their heavenly Father. Includes applications and discussion questions. Recommended for ages 4-10.


Read-N-Grow Picture Bible
Read-N-Grow Picture Bible, by Libby Weed and Jim Padgett. Large comic-book format with simple text placed beneath realistic pictures. Faithful adaptations of the Biblical stories. Recommended for ages 4-8.


Step into the Bible Step into the Bible, by Ruth Graham (daughter of Billy Graham). This family devotional presents brief re-tellings of 100 Bible stories accompanied by photographs along with brief discussion questions and memory verses. Each devotion takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and has been used by four generations of the Graham family.

The Child’s Story Bible
The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine F. Vos. More than two hundred stories from the Old and New Testaments faithfully retold in simple language with illustrations. Recommended for ages 6-12.
I also have fond memories of this story Bible that my parents read with me and my siblings when we were kids.
The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes
(The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, by Kenneth Taylor)

What resources have you found helpful for reading through the Bible with children?

Related post: 5 Reasons to Read God’s Word This Year

Reading the Bible Through in a Year Series:
      1. Free Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
      2. Books to Help You Read through the Bible
      3. Recommended Children’s Story Bibles

Note: The Bible Memory Version is available for purchase here at my website (in ePub or Kindle format) and also through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can download a free e-reader here.

Books to Help You Read Through the Bible

Reading the Bible Through in a Year Series:
      1. Free Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
      2. Books to Help You Read through the Bible
      3. Recommended Children’s Story Bibles
Yesterday, we looked at several Bible reading plans designed to help you read through the Bible during the year. Today I would like to recommend several book resources which will help you do the same. I own all four of these books and am happy to recommend them to you.

The One Year Bible

The One Year Bible – There are a number of these available in different bindings and translations, but they all operate on the same principle. The One Year Bible contains the entire text of the Bible divided into daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. You simply open the Bible to the day’s date and read the selections for that day.

For the Love of God, by D. A. Carson

For the Love of God Volume 1 and For the Love of God Volume 2, by D. A. Carson – Carson’s books are based on the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan that in the course of one year will guide you through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once. The books also work as a devotional, containing Carson’s thoughts and reflections on the various Scriptures read for that day. The volumes are independent of each other, so you do not need both of them to read through the Bible. Or, if you like, you can use one volume one year and the second volume the next.

Through the Bible, Through the Year, by John Stott

Through the Bible, Through the Year, by John Stott – Stott’s book offers daily readings that take you through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with an emphasis on both the “big picture” of the story of God and the nature of God as Trinity. The book features three sections that follow the church calendar. From September to December, Stott focuses on how God is revealed in Old Testament times; January through Pentecost, the life of Christ in the Gospels; and May through August, the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.

Through the Bible in One Year, by Dr. Alan B. Stringfellow

Through the Bible in One Year, by Dr. Alan B. Stringfellow – Stringfellow’s book is more of a workbook format with 52 weekly lessons that bring you through all 66 books of the Bible in a year. There are assigned readings for each week followed by a weekly lesson with study notes and questions on the passages read. Great for individuals, groups or families, Stringfellow’s book will help you to learn the major themes, the key verses and the central messages of every book in the Bible.

What other books can you recommend? (Note: Tomorrow we will look at recommended Children’s Story Bibles.)

Related post: 5 Reasons to Read God’s Word This Year

Reading the Bible Through in a Year Series:
      1. Free Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
      2. Books to Help You Read through the Bible
      3. Recommended Children’s Story Bibles

Note: The Bible Memory Version is available for purchase here at my website (in ePub or Kindle format) and also through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can download a free e-reader here.