Is the Bible a book that can be studied like any other or is it something more than that? Is the Bible the Word of God or just the words of God? Let me suggest that a simple answer is not always possible and sometimes “both/and” is the best option.
The Bible is a collection of ancient texts. While the Bible is primarily a religious text much of it’s bulk, particularly the Old Testament, is made up of history, poetry and wisdom sayings. It presents chronicles of the kings of Israel and long lists of genealogy. The sacred texts of the Old Testament form the basis of Judaism, the monotheistic religion of ethnic Jews. Much of the New Testament is made up of letters written by Christian leaders providing instructions to churches and individuals. So just like studying any other book we can identify the author, the intended audience and aspects of the culture and society of the time period. Some of the books are narrative while others are prose, poetry, etc. There is no denying that the Bible is a book.
The Bible is more than the sum of its parts. Yes the texts are ancient and the Hebrew language in particular is archaic; but the Bible is also dynamic. All scripture is given by the inspiration of God so yes there were people that wrote it down but God is ultimately the author. The Bible contains the words of God and is the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Bible is the written Word and Jesus is the living, incarnate Word. God was speaking to Moses at Mount Sinai and through the first century Apostles. God is speaking to us through his Word. He spoke in times past, he speaks today and he will speak to future generations tomorrow. God communicates to us through the Holy Spirit, the church, other believers, preachers and Bible teachers. The Bible is ancient and relevant; God spoke through the prophets of Old to ancient people and to you and I. Those are the keys to expositional preaching; beginning with what the text is literally saying (exegesis) and then moves into what it says to us (application).
How is this possible? I’m going to quote a passage of scripture out of context but with good reason. When asked about salvation, who could be saved, Jesus replied “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” Other writers use the language of analogy well. C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia as an allegory of Christianity. Aslan the Lion is a character that instills in the reader truths about the Christ. The story is about one thing while teaching about another. It’s very similar to what Jesus did with parables. The Bible uses the same premise as other clever writers but to a much greater degree because his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The prophets did more than make good guesses; God exists outside of the constraints of time. He is always right now. Time had definite beginning and will have a finite end but it’s a system that God created and lives outside of. He is before there was time. His word is forever established in heaven and his mercies are new every morning. The Bible is a book and to the unbeliever may be just a book. The believer, filled with the Holy Spirit, finds life and truth inside that book. God lives and breaths inside the pages of that book; and online, and on your cell phone app. The Bible transcends what it means to be a book. We are to hide the word of God in our hearts.