People of the Book

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As I approached Piazza Novena, scores of artists and painters littered the ancient rough stone street in the center of this village square. Little restaurants with tiny tables and animated waiters kept tourists content with food and drink as they enjoyed the sunny day in the heart of Rome.

We had visited the city several times and had already been through the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica. We had seen the Colosseum and dozens of other colorful landmarks. We had taken our pictures and dodged the beggars and street vendors as best we could. Yet this piazza fascinated me. There was so much action and enthusiasm among the local artists who were plying their wares and showcasing their talents one last time before the tourist season ended.

When I saw the oil painting, I knew I wanted to own it. My wife thought me mad (not the first time) and wondered why I would buy something so dull and dark. You see, this painting spoke to me of the missing dimension in this timeless landscape of history. With the tons of chiseled stone and the devotion to the human body displayed throughout the city, there was an affront to the visual senses everywhere. Whether it was the twisted and distorted male warrior flexing his muscles or the lovely curves of a goddess, everywhere there was a tease for the eyes.

This painting, however, was that of an old man reading a book while a disciple peered gingerly over his shoulder. There it was! In the maze of majestic grandeur of idols and art, there was a haggard old man reading something important. The twinkle in his eye and the determination to understand a word or sentence resonated with me. In my mind, that was a representation of the people of the Book—the Holy Bible.

Christians are readers. They have to be, since God forbids image-based worship. To know God is to read His Word. This amazing book, almost as old as man himself, requires us to read.

Christ started His ministry by standing up in the synagogue to read the Scriptures. Christians from the beginning of the Church read the historical accounts of God's intervention with man. Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost was laced with historical references found in what we call the Old Testament. Stephen was stoned to death after sharing his knowledge of the Book and suggesting that the Messiah had arrived.

How about you? Do you read the Book often? Your faith will only grow if you connect with the timeless worldview offered within its pages. History and tomorrow's news are all there for you to read and to understand. As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

To better understand the significance of the Bible and how it was written, request or read our booklets Is the Bible True? and How to Understand the Bible.

I have many wonderful pictures of our Feast in Italy, but one dark (and some say dull) oil painting will probably speak to me the most in the years to come. An old man reading the Book! VT

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