That’s the question that ran through my head as I pondered a display outside of Borders at the local mall.
There on the table were all varieties of Bibles. Not King James or The Message, but The Grilling Bible, The Diabetic Bible, and The Cooking for Kids Bible.
I’d already seen other examples of secular Bibles. A few weeks ago in my Bible at the Grocery Store post, I included a picture of The Barbecue Bible.
For Christmas last year (or was it 2 years ago?), I received The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible.
In these books, “Bible” means the definitive guide, the final authority, everything you ever needed to know.
As someone who writes books, I understand the appeal of a catchy title. I understand why, from a marketing perspective, this is a clever title for instructional guides.
But as someone who writes and teaches in hopes of convincing people that the Bible itself offers far more than rules, that it can be read as literature whose stories invite conversation about our lives, I look at these titles and feel that my own quest is doomed. The more that popular culture reinforces the idea that “Bible” means “authority,” the less people who don’t accept the authority of the Bible are to pick it up and encounter its profound narratives.
I find it ironic that the label both pays tribute to the status of the Bible and also makes it less likely that the uninitiated will ever open its cover.