Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 13, 1966

Russians And The Bible


The following brief article appeared last month in TIME Magazine, and is worthy of interested study:

A Bestseller In Russia

According to the official Soviet Encyclopedia, Moses was a myth and the Bible is simply a collection of unedifying tall stories. Nonetheless, God's word has all of a sudden become a bestseller in Russia. Last month, Moscow's Publishing House for Political Literature brought out a new book called Biblical Stories containing Lamb-like retellings of Old Testament passages, illustrations in color drawn from classical Western art, and sardonic commentaries by two atheist editors. Within a few hours, the entire first edition of 100,000 copies was completely sold out.

The express purpose of Biblical Stories is to expose the purely human origin of the Old Testament, although the explanatory notes are somewhat less militant in tone than most Russian references to Scripture. Editor Zenon Kosimovsky, surprisingly enough, concedes that many of the passages of the Bible have been authenticated by historical evidence and that David may have been a real person who wrote some of the Psalms. Lest readers be carried away by such admissions, Alexander Osipov, an ex-priest turned unbeliever, warns in a critical epilogue against taking the Bible seriously as a historical document. None of this discouraging propaganda, however, had much effect on religious Russians, most of whom have had to rely on Bibles printed before the Revolution. Even Scripture edited by atheists, apparently, is better than no Scripture at all.

One unanswerable argument for the divine origin of the Scriptures is the fact that they answer a need of the human heart which nothing else on this earth can satisfy. God is our Maker and Creator; and he has perfectly adapted his revelation to the needs of his creature. This short story from TIME illustrates what we are saying. Note that the Russian "bestseller" is not really the text of the Bible, but is only "Biblical Stories": and, furthermore, the very purpose of the printing is to warn people against taking the Bible seriously. But in spite of that the entire first edition (100,000 copies) was completely sold out within a few hours!

Every human being lives in two worlds --- one outer, one inner. The outer world is beyond our control, and is filled with violence, evil, tornadoes, floods, car wrecks, illness, wars, and unbelievable cruelty of both man and nature. The inner world is that which takes place within a man's own heart and life as it responds to and reacts against the outer world. And over that inner world God's grace and God's gospel enable any man who will accept the one and obey the other to have full control. The Russian people, under oppression and dreary regimentation for more than half a century, can still grasp hungrily for even a "slanted" version of the Word of God! There is a reaching out, a searching hunger that no amount of propaganda and brain-washing can totally destroy. David said it like this: " As the heart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2.)

Even "sardonic commentaries by two atheist editors" could not fully destroy the tremendous appeal of God's holy word. Which leads us to a brief comment on Biblical translations --- we have yet to find one so poor and false that the honest seeker after truth could not find God's plan of eternal salvation CLEARLY set forth in it! Admittedly many translations are slanted and perverted so as to support a particular doctrine or tradition (as witness the Catholic Bible, the Jehovah' s Witnesses' translation, etc. ), but, even so, in spite of the errors and obvious mistranslations, God's will is still available in them for the man who truly wants to obey him.

And if the Russians ever put out a "translation" instead of mere Biblical Stories, we would surmise that even from their translation, no matter how badly mutilated the text might finally be, God's will could still be ascertained.

F. Y. T.