Although more people may watch television than read books, the thousands of TV shows available pales in comparison to the millions of books to choose from.
In fact, there were so many books already written in ancient times that Ecclesiastes 12:12 says “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.” — New King James Version.
With so many books being made today, how do you determine which ones are worth reading and which are a waste of time? The answer to that question may depend on what you want to get out of them.
For example, many lonely hearts in search of love may find comfort in romance novels. But some experts warn of a subliminal danger linked to romance novels. Several women have admitted they found themselves becoming discontent with their husband or boyfriend because they were nothing like the men in romance novels.
Others find escape in reading murder mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, poetry and nonfiction novels. While such entertainment is always a personal decision, many Christians have kept a healthy distance from spiritistic books in imitation of the example set by early Christians at Acts 19:19:
“Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.” — New King James Version.
Reading books should be refreshing instead of “wearisome to the flesh.” It should feed the soul. That’s why it’s so important to choose our reading material wisely. Even in ancient times readers had to be selective in the books they read. Why? There were many ancient writers with historical, philosophical, mystical, poetical and biographical books often professing to be sacred or of Divine origin.
The controversial books of the Apocrypha, for example, may have made for interesting reading. But they were not officially accepted as inspired by God due to inaccuracies and contradictions of Scriptures already held sacred for centuries. Much study of these book could become “wearisome to the flesh.”
Jerome, considered the best Hebrew scholar of the early church, wrote in his prologue to the Bible books of Samuel and Kings, “This prologue of the Scriptures can serve as a fortified approach to all the books which we translate from the Hebrew into Latin; so that we may know that whatever is beyond these must be put in the apocrypha.”
In his Select Letters, CVII, Jerome wrote to a woman named “Laeta” on the education of her daughter and advised, “Let her avoid all the apocryphal books, and if she ever wishes to read them, not for the truth of their doctrines but out of respect for their wondrous tales, let her realize that they are not really written by those to whom they are ascribed, that there are many faulty elements in them, and that it requires great skill to look for gold in mud.”
Having browsed the apocryphal books of Enoch, Maccabees and other fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, I do not disagree with Jerome. It seems the best evidence against these books as being listed among the sacred pages of the Holy Bible is the Apocrypha itself.
Commenting on books written long after the death of Jesus’ Apostles such as “The Gospel of Thomas,” “Acts of Peter,” “Acts of Paul” and many others, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible said, “Many of them are trivial, some are highly theatrical, some are disgusting, even loathsome.”
While they may make for interesting reading, none of them were accepted as inspired of God and were officially excluded from the Holy Bible. Of course skeptics have asked how can anyone be sure all the right books got in and all the wrong books were left out?
It is the belief of millions that the Almighty God who controls this vast universe can surely control what information is included in a book He inspired. Efforts have been made over many centuries to destroy the Bible, remove God’s name from His own book and discredit the sacred truths inside it — all in vain.
It remains the best-seller of all time, the most widely read book in history and the only book available in whole or in part to 98 percent of the world. Read it for yourself and see if it isn’t “profitable.” — 2 Timothy 3:16.
Experts say books that improve our chances of leading a happy and fulfilling life involve social science, history, poetry, philosophy and religion. The Bible satisfies all of these spectrums of life in some form, including inspired prophecies undergoing fulfillment, Divine promises and Basic Instructions Before Living Eternally or (B.I.B.L.E.).
So, have you read any good books lately?
*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more than 100 Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.