Adam didn’t have a Bible.
Abraham didn’t have a Bible.
Moses didn’t have a Bible. Stories from his era were oral tradition until about 1000 years later.
David didn’t have a Bible. But he wrote some songs that ended up in it later.
Solomon didn’t have a Bible. But he wrote and collected some proverbs that ended up in it later.
Ezra (“The Scribe”) compiled the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament) around 500 BCE.
Jesus and the disciples didn’t have a Bible, though they had access to portions of Ezra’s compilation at various synagogues.
Paul/Saul of Tarsus didn’t have a Bible, though he had access to a portion of Ezra’s compilation.
Christian congregations prior to 100CE did not have a Bible, though some had access to a portion of Ezra’s compilation and a few congregations had some access to “New Testament” writings by the apostles.
Christian congregations prior to 400CE did not have a definitive Bible. Illiteracy was much higher then, so hand-written copies of the Bible (or at least portions) were available to the wealthy and educated (including of course priests).
Christian congregations prior to about 1500CE did not have a Bible. Only 180 copies of Gutenberg’s first edition of the Bible were printed and copies of it cost about three years wages for an average clerk. This was a few years after he first made profits from printing thousands of indulgences for the church.
Think about it – all of this history gone by and NO BIBLE available for the common person. It’s only been available for the last 500 years to people with the means. Now there are so many copies you can purchase one cheaply… but it used to be quite expensive, and is known as the “best-selling book of all time”. A LOT of money has been made in the last 500 years from selling Bibles…
Q1. If the Bible is so important to our life (and after-life) as some religious people claim, why would the God behind it all wait so long to make it available to everyone?
Q2. If the Bible is so understandable and so important for church unity, why would the church splinter into tens of thousands of denominations once the Bible was finally available to the masses?
Q3. If the Bible is the single best path to truth, why did Jesus promise something ELSE to his followers to guide them into all truth instead?
Religion wants to put layers and layers between you and God. Religion wants to control the narrative. Religion wants to have the authority to define terms so if Jesus or the Bible say something that exposes it, Religion can just re-define things and push the focus elsewhere instead.
Jesus wanted us to focus on what we value and how we live in this world with each other. His way is motivated by love. Religion says it’s all about the after-life (and if you get it wrong, God is your Eternal Torturer). This way is motivated by fear.
Jesus and his followers wanted us to be responsive to the leading of “The Spirit” so we are always ready to do good, to show mercy and compassion, and to be willing to sacrifice because of our ever-growing love. Religion wants us to be responsive to the teachers who tell us what Jesus “really meant”, even when The Spirit tells our hearts otherwise. Religion wants to get in between us and The Spirit and cry “fake news” whenever we are led to do something contrary to what Religion wants.
All you have to do is SEE IT. Open your eyes and watch how those who want to control you use fear as their primary motivator. They’ll sometimes add guilt and shame to the equation. Just observe. They’ll spell it right out for you as they try to increase your fear in order to increase their control.
Jesus, on the other hand, was about setting people FREE – free from the religious, economic, political, and social bondage. Jesus was showing us the way to “abundant life”… the “good life”. He sometimes called this kind of life “aionios”, which was translated as “eternal”… but it referred to the timeless quality of this life, not its duration. And most of us have experienced those occasions where time almost seems to not even pass, where the day could go on forever. That’s a GOOD time. That’s the kind of life Jesus offers – the kind that doesn’t get old.
Nobody knows if there is an after-life and what it’s like. Nobody. It doesn’t matter how many people write books or make movies about it, nobody knows. And that’s OK because even though that is religion’s focus, it’s not Jesus’ focus. And you don’t need a Bible to tell you that… or a Bible teacher to interpret it for you… because there is nobody qualified to stand between you and God and tell you to ignore the very Spirit of God who is trying still to guide us into all truth.