I have written before about the value of the Bible to almost anyone, regardless of faith or its absence.
I have just thought of something I omitted. A special thought for writers. Someone asked me recently about my own reading. I mentioned lots of crime writers, historical novelists and a few other well-known authors. Then I realised that I had forgotten to mention that I read the Bible quite a lot.
“Oh, but surely,” was the response, “that’s just for your spiritual or moral guidance – nothing to do with writing?”
Well, of course, we writers need our spiritual and moral guidance as much as anyone, but there are ways in which the Bible can be a help to you, specifically as a writer.
- There are lots of great stories. Many have been drawn on by writers down the ages, as have Shakespeare, Chaucer and other classical works.
- Nowadays, there are lots of different translations and paraphrases, in English as well as other languages. Reading different versions helps you see how you can express the same thought in many different ways.
- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all told the story of Jesus. There are duplications but it is fascinating to see how each one brings his own emphasis to it, by what he leaves out as much as by what he puts in.
- It has been suggested that John is the most different because he was the last to write his account and assumed his readers had read one or more of the others. He wanted to concentrate on things they had not mentioned, as well as bringing us his own understanding. This shows how you can produce different stories from the same basic material.
Finally, if you are upset at Donald Trump’s election, if it has shaken your faith in…whatever you thought you had faith in, read the Book of Daniel in the Bible. A lot of it is hard to understand, but I noticed when I last read it that God used some pretty unpleasant kings to fulfil his purposes. Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Belshazzar. I would not have voted for any of them. There’s hope yet. We have to balance faith and doubt.