THE WORLD'S GREATEST LIBRARYTHE REASON FOR ITS PRE-EMINENCE
David L. Cooper, Th.M., Ph.D., Litt. D.
THE title of this chart is The World's Greatest Library. These words are not empty but are freighted with the greatest meaning possible. Ashurbanipal, one of the great Assyrian kings, collected at Nineveh, his capital, one of the great libraries of the ancient world. At Alexandria, Egypt, the Ptolemies founded what in that day proved to be the world's greatest library. Its destruction was one of the great calamities which have struck the earth, in that much valuable information concerning the ancient world was wiped out at one blow. Today there are many and famous libraries. For instance, at the Vatican in Rome, one of the world's great collections of manuscripts and books has been gathered. The Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris likewise is one of the world's famous libraries. Our own Congressional Library at Washington undoubtedly stands in the foremost ranks of the accumulation of the world's knowledge in the form of something like two million volumes (according to a statement which I heard in Washingtonunofficially however). At the famous universities of Oxford and Cambridge mammoth collections of books are to be found. But of all the libraries in the world, however, according to information which I have received, the British Museum in London is the greatest. It was my privilege in 1936 and '37 to take advantage of its facilities in pursuing my research work.
After we have faced the facts and looked, at things as they are and have given ample credit where it is due, I am bold to assert that the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, God-breathed, a volume consisting of sixty-six books, is indeed the world's greatest library. There is no volume which can be compared to it. It is indeed peerless. All of the works of men combined pale into insignificance in comparison with it. The world's greatest thinkers who have studied the Scriptures and have surveyed the fields of human thought acknowledge this Holy Book of God as occupying the first place in literature, judged from every standpoint.
There are reasons for men's pronouncing things good, better, or best; or, on the other hand, as poor, poorer, poorest. There evidently, is a reason why the best thinkers and writers pronounce the Bible as the best of all literature in existence. The reason is that it was God-breathed and written by holy men of God as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:21)AIDS TO BIBLE STUDY
Abundant and overwhelming is the proof that the Scriptures are God-breathed. No open-minded truth-seeker can weigh the evidence for the divine origin of the Scriptures and can arrive at the conclusion that the books of the Bible were written by uninspired men.
There are many lines of proof which lead men to this conclusion, but I shall speak of only one. There is an absolute unity which pervades these sixty-six books that were written over a period of four thousand years by something like forty or more different writers, who lived under dissimilar circumstances and varying environments. That this greatest library of the world was thus given to the human family over a period of approximately four millenniums is evident from an investigation of all of the data. God, during the first four thousand years of human history, spoke at various times. This is seen from the fact that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a prophet who spoke for God. Jude quotes one of his prophecies. Lamech, likewise, was a prophet, who uttered a prophecy as is seen in Genesis 5:28-31. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are likewise called prophets (Ps. 105:13-16). Abraham, according to Genesis 26:5, "obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." This statement God made to Isaac. There were statutes, commandments, and laws given by the Lord and obeyed by Abraham who lived approximately four hundred years before Moses. We are therefore forced by the evidence to conclude that God gave His revelation in part during the twenty-five hundred years from Adam to Moses. (For a full discussion of this point see Chapter 1 of my volume, Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled.)
The evidence therefore is positive that God at various times through the period from Adam to Christ broke the silence and gave that portion of the revelation of His will that met the crises and conditions which obtained at the time of His speaking.
A careful examination of all the Scriptures shows that the plan which is announced in Genesis 3:15 is consistently carried through the Scriptures. This verse is the text of the Bible. All that follows is but the unfolding of that one divine purpose which runs through the ages and which will culminate in the "dispensation of the fullness of the times" when God will head up all things under the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). There are no contradictions in the Scriptures. To the superficial reader there appear some disagreements, but upon thorough investigation those things which seem to be discrepancies prove to be glorious, convincing harmonies.
Should sixty-six books, written by menforty-odd authorsover a period of forty centuries be brought together in one volume, there would exist irreconcilable incongruities. Should one challenge this statement, let him select sixty-six volumes written by as many men during the same length of time and under as many various circumstances as those under which the inspired authors wrote. Then let him examine these writings and prove that there is the unity which is manifested through-out the Scriptures. Gentlemen, it cannot be done! The Bible is unique from this standpoint. The Bible is a miracle. There is not one chance in a billion that it could have been produced by uninspired men. It is the wonder book of all the ages and is properly entitled "The World's Greatest Library."
No one can claim to be truly educated who has not a working knowledge of this marvelous collection of books of Holy Writ. This fact has been recognized by the outstanding thinkers of the centuries.
The Greek mathematician, Euclid, is reported to have told the young Ptolemy once, "There is no royal road to geometry." This statement was made to the young prince when he wanted to know it there were not an easier way to gain a knowledge of that science. To those who are wishing to master the Scriptures or to obtain a working knowledge of them, I would say that there is no royal road to such a goal. There is but one way to become acquainted with the Scriptures, which is to study them faithfully with an eye single to know and to do the will of God.
Though one must study very hard to acquire a knowledge of the Scriptures, there are certain aids which will assist very materially in the acquisition of biblical knowledge.
In making recommendations to one who is not acquainted with the vast amount of biblical helps, I would like to suggest in the first place that an earnest student of the Bible should procure the revised translation of the Scriptures. Such a Version, according to my opinion, is essential to the proper understanding of the oracles of God.
There are today a number of editions of the Bible that contain notes and helps, which are indispensable for the beginner. There are also some reference Bibles that are not of great practical value. A person should be very careful, in view of this situation, that he knows what he is purchasing before procuring one. If anyone obtains any such Bible with helps, he should be very careful not to use the notes as a crutch. On the contrary, he should with an open mind study the suggestions and arrive at his own conclusionsby the help of God.
A good concordance of the Scriptures is of great valueespecially for the young student. By this means he can, when he learns to use this help, find any passage for which he is looking.
Maps of Bible lands are indispensable to allthe young student and the mature Christianin order that they might have a clear picture of the portion of Scripture which they are studying. There are several such excellent works by sane, sound, scholarly authors. Any one of these will be of great service to the student. A good encyclopedia is likewise indispensable.