7 Fascinating Facts that Make the Bible Unique
The Bible is a unique book. There is no other book that even stands in its category. Below are seven factors that show how the Bible stands apart from all other books in history. We list many more facts in the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
1. Unique in Authorship. The Bible was written by roughly forty different people from a whole range of backgrounds. Authors include kings (Solomon), fishermen (Peter), doctors (Luke), military leaders (Joshua), tax collectors (Matthew), and even some who are unknown. Biblical writers include almost every type of person: wise and foolish, faithful and treacherous, rich and poor, innocent and guilty, and young and old.
2. Unique in Literary Genre. The Bible is written in a multitude of distinct literary forms (or genres). It includes poetry (Song of Songs), history (Exodus), law (Leviticus), historical biographies (Gospels), songs (Psalms), wise sayings (Proverbs), letters (e.g., Romans), and more. Other ancient literary works utilize a multiplicity of literary genres, but the biblical authors use them in order to focus their audience’s attention on one supreme metanarrative.
3. Unique in its Languages. The Bible is written in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). Each of these dialects has a particular way of using words, painting images, and describing reality. Quite obviously, most books are written in one language alone.
4. Unique in its Teachings. The Bible contains unique teachings not found in any of the other religious texts of the world. For instance, Christian Scriptures uniquely teach that salvation is by grace alone, a free gift from God to anyone who will receive it. There are other religions that offer forms of grace, but none that offer grace as a no-strings-attached gift (e.g., Ephesians 2:8-9).
5. Unique in its Impact. The Bible has shaped Western civilization more than any other book. Its influence is unmistakable on art, music, literature, history, government, and so on. And despite the common mantra, the Bible was not a hindrance to the development of science. In fact, quite the opposite is true: Christian theology was essential for the rise of science.
6. Unique in its Circulation. From early handwritten manuscripts, to the invention of the printing press, to the ubiquity of the Internet, the Bible is the most widely circulated book in history. Rarely does a book reach the bestseller list or sell a hundred thousand copies. But the Bible has sold billions of copies and been printed tens of billions of times. No other book is even close.
7. Unique in its Survival. No other written work has been as critiqued, scrutinized, or challenged as the Bible. The Bible has survived the attack of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd-4th centuries, 18th century biblical criticism, and 20th century postmodern theory. There is currently a resurgence of scholarship defending the reliability of the Bible.
The Bible is undoubtedly a unique book. Of course, this does not mean it’s true. But it should be an invitation for the curious reader—the truth seeker—to inquire about its message.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.