Tim Mackie | What is the Bible? - New Podcast Episode!

In this episode, Jim Stump is joined by Tim Mackie, one of the founders of BibleProject. Tim’s transformation from West-coast skateboarder, to Bible student, to video producer may seem surprising, but his unorthodox journey to faith has given him a unique perspective and passion for the Bible. Tim discusses the history of the Bible, explores the context in which it was written, and demonstrates what it looks like to bring the Bible into relevance for the people of today.


Mackie shined explaining what his program is attempting to do, a much needed resource in deepening spiritual growth

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Oh, awesome. We love Bible Project!


As translators yourselves, what do you make of the question I bumbled around asking Tim, about the difference between “the Bible” and “the story of the Bible”? Is the Bible Project re-presenting the Bible, or merely talking about the Bible? And if the latter, is that what all translations are doing? And if so, do Muslims have it correct with their doctrine of scripture that we ought to just teach everyone the original language rather than translating it??

Thanks @Vienne, and welcome to the Forum!

That was my favorite part! :slight_smile:

There is a whole area of study/practice called Scripture Engagement and I think that is what he is doing. The goal of translation is to create a text that renders “the Bible” in a clear, accurate, natural, and acceptable way to another culture and in another language. But that in itself is usually is not enough to impact communities and change lives. You have to intentionally make connections between the story (or stories) of the Bible and the stories people are living out right now. You have to get people to “engage.” So Bible Project is making those connection points more explicit, so the text has more of an opportunity to impact and transform.

Fifty years ago or so, the prevailing thought in minority translation work was that if you could hand people a Bible that was really well translated and teach them to read, the Holy Spirit would do the work and a church of faithful disciples would organically spring up. There was this conception that “the Bible is the greatest missionary” because the pure word of God in the heart language of the people would be better than cross-cultural workers who would be bringing with them their own blind spots and cultural additions to the gospel. But in reality, handing people a Bible, no matter how well translated, generally doesn’t lead to them becoming orthodox Christians. People need to be discipled. They need the message of the Bible contextualized for their time, place, and cultural questions. They need embodied examples of the gospel lived out in front of them. That’s the Scripture engagement part.


Thigh obviously not directed at me I wanted to share concerning are muslims correct in wanting us to learn the original languages of the scriptures.

I definitely don’t believe so. After all God have the apostles the ability to speak in tongues so all nations could hear the gospel and the apostles were able to lay hands on those they wanted to pass on this gift of tongues. It was also a gift used to jumpstart the Jewish, Samaritan, and Gentile advancements.

But it’s definitely beneficial to study the original language to pick up on nuances otherwise missed. The original language showcases the difference between hell and hades while some Bible like the KJV wrongly changes much of it to just hell. But it’s not required to learn these languages, or even know the exact perfect translation, to obtain the message of the gospel.

I’m really looking forward to this one because Mackie is one of my favorite teachers on the word. It’s helped me tremendously. I also like how Jon constantly asks clarifying questions to make it all come together for scholars and laymen.

(Minor complaint: when I went to the transcript, the ‘Reader View’ only shows the title. :slightly_smiling_face:)

It is a myth that the vast majority of people are going to be capable of attaining the level of fluency in the original languages to be able to pick up on any nuances. We’re better off reading multiple translations in languages we are already fluent in.


I agree. But nonetheless, for someone whose interested into really digging deep into the nuances of the stories it’s beneficial. But it’s not required.

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Don’t forget though that the Bible was not written in a single language. In fact… it was written over such a long period of time that some of what we consider the original language could have been a translation from an earlier text or earlier story telling tradition.

I like the bible project. Although i dont agree with all their possitions. For me they really make the bible an alegory story connected to each other which is not always the case

I have been greatly encouraged at Biologos interviewing Tim Mackie. The Bible Project is a great resource explaining so much of the Bible in a way that is so easily accessible. Their clear presentation of the gospel is therefore a great tool in making the gospel clear. (Minor issues can be addressed separately). As Tim indicated when he referred to Ephesians and the diversity of ways God has equipped His church - the diversity is rich but bring clear glory to God. (A diversity which is also a theme in all of creation).
For Biologos to interview someone like Tim makes a clear statement then of how Biologos can also be about reading the Bible as it was intended to be read. As Tim put in, considering the Bible’s human agency while being God’s word to us. So many try to make the Bible more of a “golden tablets falling from heaven”. To consider the gramatical-historical context of the Bible’s text is so relevant to what Biologos stands for that I find encouraging.
Tim’s points about the image of God was also encouraging in the context of Biologos. We cannot scientifically see the image of God in us. Yet this is what is so unique about humanity. While addressing questions of human origins we cannot see when this happens as the image of God will not be in the fossil record. As Tim put it, it is a different question than what the Bible addresses.
Thank you for interviewing Tim Mackie.


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Hi Colin. Thanks for the encouragement. And welcome to the Forum (though that welcome is a few months late!).

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I really liked the most recent episode.