The phrase “people of the book”, as far as I’m aware, originates in Islam, and is usually used referred to the three religions that respect the Torah: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Obviously the way in which we each “respect” the Torah is worlds apart, not to mention how we interpret it; the only thing we have in common is that really just the book.  Several Christian traditions have come to refer to themselves as “people of the book”, in reference to the Old and New Testaments together, and I’ve read that there are some Jews that refer to themselves along similar lines also.

And why not?  It makes sense: our respective religions are particularly focused on a central book that defines us.  Most of the rest of the major world religions have no single identifiable constitution or text that sets the precedent for or holds authority over its members like we do.

And so, at least in the sort of evangelical circles I grew up in, there is a culture of having a Bible for everywhere you go.  You have one at home, you have one under the bathroom sink, one in the car, one at the office at work, and so on.  You have one to study and take notes in and another to read to the kids.  Always gotta have a Bible nearby.  I suppose now that most people have smart phones, this trend may have lessened somewhat.

But you know what isn’t on a phone app (yet)…?  The Prayer Book.  As Anglicans we’re not just “people of the book”, we’re “people of the books.”  The Bible is our rule for doctrine, and the Prayer Book is our rule for worship.  There’s no comparing the two when it comes to ultimate authority, but on the level of practical use we are a two-book people.  (And if you want a singing congregation, add the hymnal as the third book!)

Imagine, especially if you’re a clergyman, making a point of having your prayer book (or an extra prayer book) virtually everywhere you go.  If you came from that evangelical culture that did this with Bibles, perhaps you can make the jump with the Prayer Book too?

Just a thought. 🙂

2 thoughts on “People of the Books

  1. compact printed car version. In the meantime. So I just downloaded the pdf to my smart phone. It’s awkward and cumbersome to find what you want on it if you’re with another person. On sudden sick calls, I find myself grabbing my small size BCP 1979 which lives in my card door for quick reference to prayers for healing and psalms.


  2. Sure it is – I have several PDF versions on my iPad, and the 1979 at least is a Kindle book.
    I have an entire theological (and numerous other topics) library


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