A Parable about Books

Not sure I agree with the moral of the parable, but for those of us who acquire books endlessly, it is worth thinking about. I don’t find the polarity between Bible and other books to be consistent with how I view and use my books. They are tools to help me understand the Bible and connect it with life and the surrounding culture. Perhaps it also reflects that I do much more with reference works and not that much with practical stuff; the reference works point me toward the text and theological substance and tend to have a longer half-life. And probably given my particular career path as an academic, things are a bit different.

As a counterweight to the parable, I have a cartoon in my office with a man looking up at a tall bookshelf as he says “Books are not worldly things!”

Nonetheless, I’m trying not to be a book hoarder. Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly limited my purchase of books outside my academic field (e.g., I only get commentaries when I really need them, not just because they are available). Slow progress, but progress. Using the Logos electronic system is also changing the dynamic here. More electronic books changes shelf, cost and usability considerations. It’s not the size of the library in the end that matters, and I think that is the point.


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