I might have included
Chapter 2 as well. This second Creaton Story is perhaps equally important, so
I've created a link to it, for those interested in reading the one alongside the
Given recent debate about the public display of this next
passage, as well as its crucial place at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition,
and, indeed, the ethics and values of western culture itself, my second choice
has to be:
Like the Creation Story,
there are actually two versions of the Ten Commandments, and I've included a link
to version two as well.
In third position is the most memorable and
most popular passage in the entire Bible. How do I know this?
once part of a committee that had to replace the Bible that was sitting on the
altar in the Chapel of the hospital in my home town in Ohio. The Chapel was open
to the public 24/7, so that people could come in at any time of the day or night,
seeking the solice of prayer and scripture. The result: almost every year the
Bible had to be replaced because just one page was worn thin to the point of disintegration.
On that page was:
Selecting the fourth and final
passage from the Hebrew Bible was difficult. Having selected two passages from
the first five books of the Bible, know as the books of Moses or the Pentateuch,
and having selected another passage from the Psalms, I did not want to leave the
Hewbrew Bible without a passage from the prophets, for these books link the two
testaments together and anticipate the Christian revelation, even as they reflect
all that has come before.
Because it conveys the unity and consistency
of the Bible perhaps more powerfully than any other, my selection in the number
four position is:
Here the prophet
envisions the coming of a "wounded healer" who liberates by taking the
sorrow of the world unto himself.
And that brings us to the Christian
Bible. The Gospel of John is not the first book in the Christain Bible, but its
opening chapter echoes the Creation Story, taking the reader back the the very
beginning of time:
This passage conveys the highest and in many ways most profound statement of Christ's
divinity of any chapter in the entire Bible. In one, powerful and sweeping text,
we move from the creation of the world to its consummation, from beginning to
the end, echoing God's saving actitity throughout history, while anticipating
Christ's return at the end of time as the "Son of Man."
From the sublime reaches of St. John, we move quickly back down to earth, to the
here and now. Among the most familiar, and most moving of all the words of Jesus
are those collected in St. Matthew's Gospel in what has come to be known as the
Sermon on the Mount. Here is the first of three chapters containing the essential
teaching of Jesus, in position six:
A "man of sorrow,
aquainted with grief" were the words of Isaiah, and in the story of Christ's
crucifixtion, those words find fulfillment. The Passion Narrative encompases three
chapters in St. Luke's gospel. Here is just one; in position seven:
The story of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection might not have been told so
widely, nor have become the master narrative of the new Christian faith, had it
not expanded into a full blown message of salvation by the apostle Paul. One of
the most widely studied and deeply beloved passages in all of Paul's letters is
the single chapter that occupies position eight. This passage is not just a profound
statement of the Christian message, it soars with such eloquence that it has become
the most frequently read passage in Christian funeral services all around the
No list of memorable passages in the Bible,
would be complete without Paul's equally eloquent poem of praise to the power
of love. If Romans 8 is present in most Christian funerals, as an expression of
Christain hope in life eternal, this passage is the one most frequently read in
Christian weddings. In position 9:
God is the "beginning and the end," affirms the Bible, the Alpha and
the Omega. So in position ten we arrive at the last book of the Bible, and the
most vivid description in all of sacred scripture of our destiny as a faithful
people. At the end of time, those who are caught up in eternity shall see the
coming of a "new heaven and a new earth," where all our worldly suffering
has passed away. In position ten:
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.