The Book with Many Covers
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the place of the Bible in Christian life.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a collection of different Bibles, preferably different versions of the Bible. For example, King James, New International Version, Good News, The Message and a children’s Bible. If possible, have a Bible in a language other than English.
- You will also need two readers to read the Bible passages in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.
Optional: you may also wish to show books from other religions.
Explain that each religion has its own book(s) of religious teaching. These play a vital part in defining what their followers believe. For example:
- Sikhs revere the Guru Granth Sahib, a collection of hymns. This scripture has a central place both in their lives and in their place of worship, the gurdwara.
- Jewish scriptures are also important for Christians. The first section of Jewish scripture is the Torah, or written law. (This is the same as the first five books of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible.) The second section, Prophets, tells the history of the Jews settling in the Promised Land and contains the writings of prophets such as Isaiah and Hosea. Writings, the third section, includes the psalms, wisdom literature such as the Book of Proverbs and some short books such as Ruth.
- Followers of Islam will agree that the Qur’an is the focus of their faith. Sometimes, its place is summed up in these terms: ‘Islam is the Qur’an and the Qur’an is Islam.’
For all Christians, knowledge of the Bible is important because it tells how the nature of God becomes known through the events of history and what this means for the past, present and future.
Show the selection of Bibles.
Explain that it took nearly 400 years for Christian Church leaders to decide what should be in the Bible and what shouldn’t.
Until the sixteenth century, the only versions were in Hebrew, Greek and Latin - the languages of scholars. Then, Martin Luther translated the Bible into his own language, German. Today, the full Bible can be read in over 636 languages and the New Testament alone can be read in 1,442 languages.
Having the Bible available in different versions and languages illustrates the search for a greater understanding of God and his love for all people. The same message can be told in different languages and in different ages. Language - words and their meaning - changes over time, but Christians believe that God’s love remains the same forever.
The New Testament part of the Bible contains stories about the time when Jesus was on Earth and shortly after he returned to heaven. Christians believe that Jesus’ teaching is very relevant today. For example, listen to the following words that Jesus said.
Reader 1: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. (Luke 10.27)
Reader 2: ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies.’ (Matthew 5.43-44)
Time for reflection
Loving our neighbours and even our enemies is one of the fundamentals of Christian belief. It is a practice that is not easy, but it has the capacity to change the world.
There are still places in the world that do not have the Bible translated into their language. There are places today where reading the Bible is not allowed. However, as we heard earlier, it can be read in over 636 languages, so if it is so popular and read in so many places, maybe we should have a go at reading it!
Help us to be ‘Bibles’ to those around us,
Showing your love to those around us.