The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Joy Cousans, Vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since June 2017
Skip navigation

» Site Navigation

Vicar's Letter

October 2023

Reverend Joy Cousans, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

The French philosopher Voltaire once said, 'A hundred years from my death the Bible will be a museum piece.' A hundred years after his death the French Bible Society set up its headquarters in Voltaire's old home in Paris! Far from being a museum piece, the Bible is still a worldwide bestseller. The original text was written in Hebrew and Greek, and swiftly translated into Latin. King James commissioned the first official English translation of the Bible and a copy was put in every church in England. Jeremiah Radcliffe, vicar of Eaton Bray from 1583-1586, was invited in 1605 by King James to translate the Bible. He was one of 60 theologians and linguists who used original sources of Hebrew, Greek and Latin texts to produce the Authorised Version, otherwise known as the King James Bible.

The Bible is not like a novel- one book which you read from cover to cover. It is a library of books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The Old Testament includes books on history, law, poetry, proverbs, psalms, lamentation and prophecy. In the New Testament we find biography, letters, history and prophecy. There really is something for everyone. The history of how the Bible came into being is fascinating. We have no record of the composition of any of the books of the Bible. Authorship was not 'a thing' in the ancient world. Professor John Barton in his book 'What is the Bible?' (SPCK 1997) writes: 'In the ancient world ...books- and especially religious books- 'grew' rather than being written by an individual author.' The exception is St Paul 'a named individual whose authentic letters were transmitted in exactly the form he had sent them to the churches he corresponded with.' (Barton p36)

The Bible is not divine dictation but rather 'God-breathed'. It was written by human authors who were influenced by the times they lived in. But Christians believe they were also guided by God's Holy Spirit. There are shafts of beauty and truth breaking through everywhere. The Bible is there to be read. But how do we begin to read such a rich and diverse book? I would start with one of the Gospels- the story of Jesus. Mark is the shortest, with only 16 chapters. If you read one a day it would take just over a fortnight.

What then does the Bible say? It has been described in many ways, but one description which resonates with me is 'God's love letter to the world.' Becoming familiar with the whole of Scripture gives us the fullest possible picture of God and his Son, Jesus. As we read the Bible, we discover what God is like. We find a God who never changes; a God who keeps his promises. Amazing as it may seem, the Bible reveals that God always loves humanity and each of us as individuals. He created us in his image and we are precious to him; he listens to us and cares for us. And as we read the Bible, we discover

what God's desires are for his world. We learn that Jesus came to save human kind and bring us back into relationship with God; that the way to true fulfilment is to live life God's way. Jesus tells us that God longs for human beings to care for one another, for God and for the whole of creation.

As the nights draw in, how about taking time to read the Bible? You may find it more inspiring than you expect!

With every blessing,

Joy, Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough

Letter Archives


Other Years

About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.