Bible Books2Urumuri Social Centre (USC) is hosting a series of conferences which will run through 2017. The conferences are meant to help the audience discover and appreciate the wealth unfolded in the Scriptures.

The topic for the month of February was about the “Geography, History and Formation of the Bible”. The conference sought to lead the Bible users to a better understanding of its message by taking them through the Bible’s space delimitations, time evolution and how it resulted into different Bible canons used by different Judeo-Christian religions.

According to Fr. Martin Mudendeli, SJ, the Scriptures that make up the Bible emerged from the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin. In the Old Testament, different regions such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Sinai Desert and others are mentioned according to the movements of the people of Israel and their ancestors. For the New Testament, the Scriptures follow the steps of Jesus in different parts of Israel (Galilea, Samaria and Jerusalem) and of His disciples who spread the Gospel in Greece and the rest of the Roman Empire.

History in the Bible is told according to periods and moments of change between them. The periods are defined mostly by the political situation of the Israelites. The Bible history runs from the period before Patriarchs and Matriarchs (Prehistory) to the Roman period (from 63 B.C. to the New Testament and after). It also runs through the Judges period, the Unified Kingdom, the division of the Kingdom and the successive invasions by the then rising powers.

With regard to the formation of the Bible as a collection of God-inspired books designed to be a people’s life guidance, Fr. Martin, SJ contends that “it is important to keep in mind that the Bible like Constitutions is inclusive and exclusive”. Each Bible canon takes books and excludes others according to what suits its users. Among the most popular Bible canons contentions are observed in the Old Testament composition whereby, for instance, the Hebrew Canon counts 24 books only; the Greek translation of the Hebrew Canon has 46 books; while the Catholic Canon carries 46 books; the Protestant Canon is with 39 books; and the Orthodox Canon has 45 books.

In conclusion, Fr. Martin, SJ cautioned that the fact that Scriptures are presented disproportionally in different Canons, this should not be a reason for quarrels among different religions. Instead, he advised that everyone should feel free to uphold the Canon of their choice but they should also remain open to other Bible Canons for a better understanding of the variations behind the determination of those canons.

 

By Nsabimana Marie Ange,
Communications Assistant at RWB Jesuit Development Office

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