Breathtaking Something

Apparently, the traditional narrative order of passages in the Bible isn’t useful enough; but no fear an American website has the answer!

You know, I’ve always been impressed with the way that the Bible is organised. The big structure of the books from Genesis and Exodus through to Revelation provides a connected narrative that frames the individual stories. Not only that, but within the individual books, the chapters and verses all seem to be well organised. Chapter one verse one is followed by chapter one verse two and on into chapter two and so on. It all seems to make sense to me and hangs together rather well.

However, it seems that the traditional ordering of the verses in the Bible isn’t quite useful enough and the Top Verses website has come up with an improvement.

You will like TopVerses because we sorted every Bible verse by popularity. Now search the Bible and find verses in a useful order.

Ah, just what we need; a useful order for Bible verses because the old way of ordering things in order to get a message across wasn’t useful enough! What we need is the verses ordered by their popularity on the Internet. What?!

The lack of Biblical understanding behind this statement is quite breathtaking.

If you treat the Bible as a source of isolated sayings which can be picked at random according to their popularity, then you have missed the point entirely.

I wrote about this site a few years ago and my comments still stand:

It makes no more sense to chop the Bible up into different bits and to separate them than it would to reorder the sentences of Lord of the Rings. I love Lord of the Rings, it’s a great book and sometimes I’ll sit down and read a favourite chapter, but those chapters only make sense because I know the whole book. It is the same with the Bible. It uses many literary genres: history, poetry, proverbs and prophecy, but it tells one story. To pick out one verse as a top verse makes no sense – each verse only makes sense as part of the broader narrative.

According to Top Verses the number one verse is John 3:16 (no surprises there):

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

This is of course a rightly famous part of the Bible. But look at it closely; the whole story of God loving the world and having to give his Son only makes sense when you understand the narrative of creation and fall in Genesis. After all, if the fall hadn’t happened, God’s love would be demonstrated in very different ways. And the notion of how and why God gave his Son isn’t actually filled out until the death and resurrection of Jesus. In other words, you can’t understand John 3:16 without understanding what went before it and what comes after it. Reading the Bible in context doesn’t just mean reading the paragraph that a verse occurs in, it means understanding where the verse fits in God’s big story.


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