Christians, who equate God’s Word with every word in the Bible, use the Bible to end conversations rather than as a conversation starter. Their mantra, their bumper sticker, goes “If God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” The fundamentalist slogan ignores diversity within the Bible and a long history of conversation/debate in both the history of Judaism and Christianity.
The Bible does not “say” anything. Put a Bible in the middle of a room some time and see how long you have to wait until the Bible says something, which is not the same thing as what you think the Bible is “saying” to you. The Bible has to be interpreted. And what honest interpreters of both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible admit is that interpretation is no easy matter.
I find Jews to be particularly honest about the role of scripture, reason, and debate in theological method. Take for example, the Talmud, which contains the foundations of Halakha - the religious laws that inform the daily lives of observant Jews. The Talmud’s existence is evidence that the Hebrew Bible is not sufficient in and of itself. The Hebrew Bible, like the Christian’s Bible, can be both ambiguous, confusing, and have holes in it, matters which are not addressed in the contemporary life of its readers.
William Kremer, of the BBC World Service, in his article The Talmud: Why has a Jewish law book become so popular? portrays the Talmud as a book which filled in some of the gaps of the Hebrew Bible and preserved arguments about various texts.
Every imaginable topic is covered, from architecture to trapping mice. To a greater extent than the other main Jewish holy book, the Torah, the Talmud is a practical book about how to live. . . .
But the Talmud is perhaps better described as a prompt for discussion and reflection, rather than a big book of Do’s and Don’ts.
‘The Talmud is really about the conversation and the conversation never ends,’ says Rabbi Dov Linzer, of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah School in New York. It is a distillation not just of oral law, but also the debates and disagreements about those laws – with different rabbinic sources occupying a different space on the Talmudic page. Mixed in with it all are folk stories and jokes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24367959
Christians have much to learn from their Jewish sisters and brothers, especially when it comes to interpretation of scripture.
May God help Christians to be more honest and humble as we read the Bible , the Church’s book. And may our reading of the Church’s book enable us to be more what God would have us to be, and not less. Too often Christians choose to emphasize parts of the Bible which do not match up to the life and love of Jesus.
 There actually is not one Bible. Christianity has a manuscript tradition, and there are some significant differences between manuscripts. Fundamentalist chatter about “original manuscripts” is nothing more than an illusion. Thousands of decisions, many of which are debatable, are made so that a Bible can be produced.