Why is the Bible—the most popular and culture-shaping text in the world—still the least understood book of all time? What are the life-changing themes woven through the mosaic of the Bible’s various stories? How can the Bible’s collection of history, poetry, genealogy lists, and mystifying prophecies best be seen?
Bible Gateway interviewed Steve Green (@SteveGreenHL), author of This Beautiful Book: An Exploration of the Bible’s Incredible Story Line and Why It Matters Today (Zondervan, 2019).
Why do you call the Bible a beautiful book (especially considering that it includes graphic content about the ugly side of sin)?
Steve Green: The Bible is an incredibly honest book about humanity’s need for rescue. It acts as a mirror, forcing us to see ourselves as we really are. But it doesn’t just leave us there. It lifts our gaze upward, pointing us to our only hope.
Throughout the Bible, 40 different authors weave the same thread of a single storyline: redemption. Over and over, their story is the same. We’re broken. The penalty for sin is death, and all of humanity is in the same boat. We’ve fallen away from God, but in his compassion, he rescues us.
We can’t appreciate the story of a savior until we’ve seen the need for a rescue. The Bible’s raw honesty about the ugly side of sin only magnifies the beauty of redemption.
How does the novel Les Misérables play into your book’s theme?
Steve Green: I went to see the live Broadway production of Les Misérables and I was lost the entire show. Every word of dialogue was sung and I couldn’t follow the plot. Determined not to give up on this classic story, I went home and later watched the movie version. Following the plot was much easier with spoken dialogue, and I fell in love with the timeless tale of redemption.
Reading the Bible can feel like my experience with Les Misérables. We get lost among all the different characters, and while we’re sure it’s a good book, we can’t seem to make heads or tails of the plotline. But knowing the story makes all the difference. I wrote This Beautiful Book as a way to understand the Bible’s story—to help readers discover the plotline so they can go back to the Bible and enjoy its depth.
How has founding the Museum of the Bible impacted your faith and your understanding of the Bible?
Steve Green: Many of us take the Bible for granted because we don’t know its history. Before discovering the world of biblical artifacts, I cared about my Bible, but I wasn’t much different than anyone else. It wasn’t until I started taking trips to Istanbul, to Israel, and later to London that my interest in ancient biblical manuscripts and artifacts grew.
As I explored artifacts, I was dumbfounded. When it comes to archaeological evidence for the Bible, it’s not as if there are only one, two, or even ten artifacts. There are literally tens of thousands of them. Each carries a different amount of importance. And they stack on top of each other, like the shelves of the library of history, offering us a mass collection from which to learn. Each item adds a brick in the wall of evidence for the Bible.
What are the Bible’s bold claims and what do they demand of people?
Steve Green: The biggest and boldest claim of the Bible is that there is a God and that the Bible is his Word. From the very outset, the Bible assumes there is a God, starting with, “In the beginning God …” (Gen. 1:1). It claims to be telling the story of God.
The Bible repeatedly refers to itself as the Word of God. The phrases “word of God,” “words of God,” “word of the Lord,” or “commandments of the Lord” appear more than 350 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Over and over, the Bible is claiming to be God’s Word.
Another consistent theme throughout the Bible is its insistence that it is instructive and relevant for living. Moses, the lawgiver, said it strongly when he told the Israelites that the Word of God was their very life. “He said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day … They are not just idle words for you—they are your life” (Deut. 32:46–47). With such bold claims, how could anybody take the Bible seriously? Yet many have.
The Bible’s claims demand that we examine their validity. As C.S. Lewis writes, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” If the Bible is myth, it should be tossed aside and forgotten. If it’s true, it demands our full attention. I invite you to investigate it for yourself with an open mind.
This Beautiful Book is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Steve Green is the President of Hobby Lobby and along with his wife, Jackie, co-founders of the Museum of the Bible. He grew up in Oklahoma City. At age seven, he glued picture frames together for the family start-up business. With his father (David Green) as CEO, Steve became the President of that little start-up business which is now known as Hobby Lobby—the nation’s largest privately held arts and crafts retailer. Over the years, Steve’s been on a journey to experience the Bible as one story, one beautiful story. He’s the author of This Beautiful Book and This Dangerous Book.
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