That’s what Ravi Vyas does in a review for a famous Indian English-language daily. It makes a fascinating read. He calls the Bible “the climate of thought” of Western civilization. True enough. Some key graphs:
It is inevitable that [Western] writers would look into the mirror of this fountainhead to find their inspiration, much as we look into our classics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In many ways, the Psalms, Proverbs and Job [are] the classic of all classics because all the Big Questions in literature can be traced back to them.
Readers who encounter the Bible for the first time must bear in mind that, in spite of its physical appearance as a single book, it is a library. Pick up a book and one usually begins at the beginning, intending to read it all at one go; but that is not how one uses a library; there one chooses what to pick out from the shelves what appears to be more congenial. So it is with the Bible. You don’t read it consecutively from beginning to end. But once you start, you will go back to it, because the Bible, along with Shakespeare’s plays published only a few years later, lies at the heart of Western culture, shaping emotional history, law, language and literature — and much else besides. It is a climate of thought.
By Bible, of course, he means the King James Bible. It’s that Bible Vyas introduces to his readers. I can’t say I blame him.
Vyas lists ten universal themes which characterize the Bible: God; covenant; promise, threat, and fulfillment; law and righteousness; sacrifice and expiation; purity and holiness; suffering, exile and restoration; and finally, wisdom. An interesting choice. I’m not saying the list is perfect, but it strikes me as better than many.