What Is the Bible?

Kristie Anyabwile
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What kind of book is the Bible? Is it B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)? Is it a recipe book showing you how to put a bunch of ingredients together resulting in a tasty treat? Is it a massive whodunit book that provides clues about a mysterious character or set of events you won’t understand fully until you get to the end? Is it fact or fiction? Literal or figurative? Prose or poetry? Many people have attempted to distill what the Bible is through common analogies that all break down at some point. The Bible is wholly true and fully reliable ( John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16–17). It is inspired truth meant to clearly articulate who Christ is so that our hearts are transformed to know and love Him deeply and to live for Him fully.

What Is the Bible?

The Bible is a message from God written in epic fashion as a collection of anthologies to chronicle the story of Jesus’ redemption of sinners and His appeal for us to live considering His work on our behalf. An epic is a very long poem that tells a story. In an epic story, virtue drives the hero. He or she works to serve the greater good. We are drawn to our heroes’ world. Their interests become our interests; their passions become our passions.

Learning From a Different Epic Story

In the Eragon fantasy book series, a young boy named Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, embark on a mission to bring the entire world of Alagaesia out from under the evil influence of Galbatorix. The world of Alagaesia is comprised of various people groups—dwarves, elves, Urgals, dragons, and humans. Their cultures and interests are at odds with each other, but they are challenged to lay those differences aside to defeat the encroachment of Galbatorix. None of their cultures will survive if he is allowed to reign unchecked. Galbatorix has stolen what is most precious to these societies to amass unrivaled power for himself. It soon becomes clear that the fate of Alagaesia will rest on Eragon. Can he and Saphira find a way to defeat Galbatorix? Unbeknownst to Eragon, a powerful force has guided and helped him along his journey. It is only when his need is most desperate that he is made aware of the guidance of this force. Even then, Eragon used every worldly means in his attempt to destroy Galbatorix. In the end, it would not be through might that evil would be destroyed. Evil would finally be destroyed through a breaking of mind and spirit.[1]

“Jesus breaks into a world full of competing interests. For Christians, the interests of Jesus become our interests.”

Every epic good-versus-evil story, like Eragon, reminds me of the story of Scripture, the truest and most heroic and epic story that has ever been known. The Bible is one epic story, organized as an anthology. Traditionally, an epic is presented as a poem. The Bible is not a poem (though it has lots of poetry in it), but it contains many of the other elements of an epic. It’s otherworldly, ancient, and heroic, with strong themes of bravery and overcoming great odds for the benefit of humanity. It focuses on overcoming intense trials in view of a glorious future. Though there are many stories and books and themes, and though it spans thousands of years, it’s written by the finger of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and all about one person, the Lord Jesus, and how from Him and through Him, and to Him are all things. Jesus breaks into a world full of competing interests. For Christians, the interests of Jesus become our interests. His passion, to take the gospel to the whole world, becomes our passion. He is our ultimate hero who lived a perfect life, died to save humanity from our sins and the sinful influence of the world and Satan, rose three days after death to showcase His power over death and the resurrection life that exists for those who believe in Him, and left us the deposit of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us to know Him and live for Him.

For more on what the Bible is and how to read it, check out Kristie’s book Literarily which you can find below.

[1] The four books about Eragon’s adventures comprise Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle (New York: Penguin, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012).

For Further Reading:


by Kristie Anyabwile

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