How do we know the Bible is not a book of fairytales?
Fairytales are about magical or imaginary characters in equally fantastical lands or places (“Long ago, in a far away land, there lived…”). The point of telling the story is to invite the audience into the fantasy, away from this world.
In contrast, the Bible is written (at least in part) to make the point about how its stories fit into the history of the real world — our world. Regions, cities, rivers and seas are named so that readers familiar with the landmarks will know exactly where events took place. Monotonous genealogies attach ancient characters to extant and identifiable people groups. Even if a sceptic rejects that Boaz was King David’s great grandfather, or that there ever was a Boaz or a King David, there is no denying that the intention of the book of Ruth is to depict a real man named Boaz as the great grandfather of a real king named David who was born in a real city named Bethlehem, which is not many miles outside of Jerusalem — the same Jerusalem in the real news of today. Because Scripture is intended to be about real people in the real world, there is no sense in which it fits the category of fairytales.
The question serves to make a point, though. Many Christians, if not most, read Scripture as if it is a fairytale, albeit with real consequences. Yes, even Christians make that mistake. For example, we think of Israel as Holy Land. In truth, it is just land. We think the Sea of Galilee is magical. In truth, it is a beautiful lake just like so many in our own regions. Inadvertently and silently, we preface our Scripture readings with, “Long ago, in a far away land…”.
One great reason for visiting Israel, or any biblical site, is to overcome that sentiment — to swim in actual waters where Jonah could have drowned or climb stone steps where the apostles taught. Visiting Israel is not special because the land is holy, but because the land is, well, just land. Jesus was not born in Bethlehem because it is a magical place but because it is in the world where we live — a real world in need of a real Saviour.
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