+JMJ+ Welcome to the introduction of a new Thursday series where we will explore the Story of Salvation. I’ve been wanting to write about the Bible and salvation history for some time now but have only mentioned it here and there in the past. When I was a kid (either in the 7th or 8th grade or maybe a freshman in high school) and a Methodist, I read the Bible straight through. I’d gotten one at church and, bookworm that I was (and am), I set myself the goal of reading it from cover to cover. And I did. I didn’t understand most of what I read, but I kept at it. Parts of it were beautiful and I’ve maintained my love of the Psalms to this day.
My Bible was a Protestant one, an RSV (Revised Standard Version) published in the sixties, so it didn’t have all the books. It was missing Wisdom and Sirach to mention just a couple, books that are some of my favorite ones now. As a matter of fact, I checked just now and the RSV still doesn’t include those books. So sad, they are not to be missed.
A few hundred years ago non-Catholics rejected the books of the Bible that they thought were not written originally in Hebrew, siding with Jewish tradition (or at least one version of it) rather than Christian tradition. Boggles the mind. But after the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the twentieth century, and the books in question were represented among the scrolls written in Hebrew, the argument against those books fell apart. Yet even today some Bibles don’t include them while many other non-Catholic publishers have put them back in. The books I’m talking about are: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach), Baruch, First and Second Maccabees, and parts of Esther and Daniel. If you want to read more about the differences between Catholic and non-Catholic Bibles, and how we got the Bible, I’ll recommend a couple of resources at the end of this post.
What I want to talk about now is the reason to even bother reading the Bible. One reason is to get a bird’s eye view of salvation history. And that’s what I’ll be focusing on in this series. Very well, but what is salvation history? It’s the story of God’s plan recorded for us in the Bible in certain books (fourteen according to the study material developed by Jeff Cavins) which act as a sort of framework for reading the rest of the books. These fourteen books offer a narrative, a history of God’s action as He forms His people through and in time. It’s not exactly history as we think of it in our day, it’s more of a poetic view, getting at the meaning of events more than anything else. It’s the story of how God forms His family, our family, and it’s not hard to understand if one reads these fourteen books and sets the others aside for the moment. Once you get a handle on this framework, then you can see how and where the other books fit in, and the Bible begins to make a whole lot more sense. I wish I’d had something like this all those years ago when I first began reading the Bible. It might even have saved me many years of wandering in the desert of new age ideas, seeking as I was to understand Christianity and the Scriptures.
The Narrative Timeline of Scripture: 12 Periods, 14 Narrative Books
- Early World: Genesis (1–11)
- Patriarchs: Genesis (12–50)
- Egypt and Exodus: Exodus
- Desert Wanderings: Numbers
- Conquest and Judges: Joshua, Judges; supplemental ‐‐ Ruth
- Royal Kingdom: 1 and 2 Samuel; 1 Kings (1‐11)
- Divided Kingdom: 1 Kings (12‐22); 2 Kings; supplemental ‐‐ Jonah
- Exile: 2 Kings (17, 23‐25); supplemental ‐‐ Daniel
- Return: Ezra; Nehemiah; supplemental ‐‐ Esther
- Maccabean Revolt: 1 and 2 Maccabees
- Messianic Fulfillment: Luke
- The Church: Acts of the Apostles
(The above list was taken from the Great Adventure Bible Timeline Study, see below.)
If you want to get a head start, you can get a copy of any of the last three sources in the list at the end of this post and begin reading. I can only provide a sketch of salvation history in this series, so I encourage you to get at least one of these sources to study alongside these posts, and dig in.
That’s it for this very brief introduction. Join me for the next few Thursdays as we explore the story of salvation. After this series is finished, I have others planned. I’m not sure how many parts this one will have, but probably not more than ten.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- Where We Got the Bible, by Henry Graham. Paperback. (Affiliate link, see Full Disclosure below.)
- Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger, 2nd edition, by Gary Michuta. Paperback, Kindle. (Affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.)
- Our Father’s Plan, series by Jeff Cavins and Scott Hahn. Video series, from EWTN Religious Catalogue.
- The Bible Timeline Study, part of the Great Adventure series by Jeff Cavins. See this page with introduction and options.
- A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love In Scripture, by Scott Hahn. Paperback, Kindle. (Affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.) Logos or Verbum format. (Requires Logos or Verbum software.)
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