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The Best Book of the Year

It’s the time of year for those “Best of” lists. You know the ones. Best movies of the year, best technology gadgets, best books of the year, and so on. I work in the area of book publishing, so the book lists are the ones I follow closely.

There are so many book lists out there that it’s difficult to identify a single title as the undisputed Book of the Year. If you go by Amazon, which sells 42 percent of all the books in the world, the “most read” book in 2017was A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. According to Goodreads, the most popular book was Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.

Christianity Today named Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren as its Book of the Year, a selection I completely agree with. It’s an extraordinary book. In the world of Christian fiction, The Christy Award™ Book of the Year was presented to Charles Martin’s Long Way Gone. Another fine choice.

Yet for all the book lists, there’s one title conspicuously missing. Not only is it the most read and best selling book of 2017, but it is also the all-time leader since books were first printed, a position it’s held for 561 years.

Of course, I’m talking about the Bible, first published in printed form in 1456 by Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith and metalworker who loved books. He printed 200 copies of the Bible that year, and within three decades hundreds of printing presses across Europe produced tens of thousands of books and Bibles in many languages.

Thanks to the printing press, knowledge about God and the person of Jesus Christ has reached every corner of the globe. More than 6 billion Bibles have been printed since Gutenberg’s day, making the Bible the most popular book ever written. And even though you won’t find the Bible on any bestsellers lists, there’s no book that even comes close to its popularity.

And those are just the printed Bibles. In the age of digital, countless Bibles are being read on electronic screens. Just one Bible app, YouVersion, has been downloaded more than 200 million times.

Not only is the Bible the most popular book in the world, but it is also the greatest piece of literature ever written—mainly because the Bible contains the most important story every told. It’s the story of God and humanity from creation to the end of the world. Even more, it’s the story of Jesus, who appears in every book of the Bible—not necessarily by name—but always for who he is: the one sent to show us God’s love.

If the Bible is the written word of God, then Jesus is the Living Word. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.” Jesus came to show us God and to fulfill everything written about him in the Bible. If all we had was a great book about Jesus—but Jesus had never come to reveal God to us in person—then all we would have is a great book.

But Jesus did come to live among us. It’s as if God, the author of the Bible, wrote himself into the plot of his story. Imagine! Anyone who reads this great piece of literature can have a personal relationship with the author. Try doing that with any other book you’ve ever read.

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Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.