The is no such thing as "The Bible."
I believe that scholars and laymen alike are using this term indiscriminately without explaining or clarifying what they actually mean. For example:
Christian and Jewish believers would obviously not agree on what should be considered to be the “Word of God.”
But less obvious is the fact that my initial statement is relevant, even when only Christian believers are involved. This phenomenal statement is based on two sets of realities:
The variables that originated during the development of the Scriptures over the past 2500 years.
The original documents have been gone for even thousands of years. Mistakes were made all along the process of copying and translating.
Each and every individual involved in this process had or has his or her own personal mindset, formed according to his or her background, education, socio-economic situation, and a myriad of other factors. Some even had other agendas than producing the perfect product.
The differences that are present today in what one particular individual would call “My Bible”, or a group would call “Our Bible.”
Christians and Jews differ.
Hundreds (if not thousands) of translations differ.
Interpretations of exactly the same words differ.
The dictionaries that translators are using have conflicting views on what the original authors wanted to convey to his readers. Ad infinitum.
So, in a nutshell, what do I believe?
I believe that we are merely gazing into an extremely dim image in a mirror (1 Cor. 13:12), trying our best to see a clearer image of what we believe to be “The Word of God” or “The Bible.”
God in turn, in his infinite wisdom, is constantly revealing himself to us in greater detail. This is a process which I believe will continue until He reveals himself to us fully in the next era.
In the meantime, I am thankful for those texts that I have to my disposal, and will keep on studying an as wide as possible variety, and then submit myself to Him to convince me of the truth.
In addition, I believe that God is revealing himself to mankind, not only by means of Scripture, but also by means of Nature.
To me, the latter speaks simply and clearly, without misunderstanding and/or controversy. Even a child can look up into the night sky, or hold a sparrow and know we are dealing here with something way out of the grasp of our human minds.
Therefore, to me “God” is just a word we humans use to name the incomprehensible being that created everything from nothing. A being that allowed a myriad of species to develop, and then decided that one species should be more special than any other, by giving it what we call a “soul”, and so become the crown of his/her creation.
For the past sixty years I have had the privilege of getting better acquainted with him/her. I have come to realize that the universe has no end, and therefore that s/he has no end: Neither in time, nor in place. I have seen that what s/he created is absolutely perfect and good, so I have come to believe that s/he is perfect and good. And then I remember: the birds are displaying his/her glory par excellence!
As a result, I now call him/her not only “God”, but also “Creator”, “Omnipotent One”, “All-wise One”, “Father”, “Mother”, “Perfect One”, and “Good One.”
But superseding all of these titles is the one I believe says it all:
I see “Love” everywhere and every day.
I see “Love” on the subway for example.
I see it in the eyes of a grandpa, across the aisle from me, looking down at his grandson on his knee. I see it a few seats away in the comforting arm of the elderly farmer around the shoulders of his wife. Both probably on a subway for the first time in their seventy or more years, and obviously amazed by the technological wonders surrounding them. I see it in the smile of the young girl in the corner next to the door, looking up at her Romeo, who has his arms tight around her waist, both of them completely oblivious to the stares of some fellow passengers. I see “Love” whenever and wherever someone cares, and it confirms time and again: where there is “Love”, there is no selfishness, no greed, no hate, no bitterness, no grudges, and no need for revenge.