Books Culture

The Book I’ll Never Read

Pr. James Hageman
Written by Pr. James Hageman

There is a book on my shelf that I will never read.

It’s not because it is offensive or pornographic. It is not because it’s expression and ideas are beyond my abilities. It’s not because it is written in Urdu or Sanskrit.

The technical name of the book is Beinecke MS 408, but commonly it is called The Voynich Manuscript. And I’m not the only one who can’t read it. No one can.

The author who “wrote” the book (we don’t know who he or she was either) did so in a coded language that no one has ever decoded. No computer algorithm has unlocked its mysteries, and no linguist has detected its tongue. So what use is it? Why does it sit on my shelf?

Well, it is a beautiful book. The script flows, and the many diagrams adorning its pages are intriguing and colorful. But as for understanding its contents? No way.

But the book reminds me of those who read the Bible apart from faith in Christ Jesus. Those who read this way read with a veil that obstructs their view. Paul writes about those who read the Old Testament without faith in Jesus: “Their minds were hardened. For to this day when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted” (2 Corinthians 3). They cannot understand the book, no matter the ingenuity of their scholarship or the depth of their human understanding.

But when one turns to Jesus the veil is lifted. Suddenly the Scripture makes sense. Everything is about Jesus. The Holy Book becomes, not a light we look at to gape and squint, but the light that lightens our life. That’s because Scripture brings Jesus, who is the Light of the World, to us. Both Old Testament and New present to us the Redeemer of the world. To receive Him by faith is to lift the veil, unlock the door, and possess the key to the code.

About the author

Pr. James Hageman

The Rev. James Hageman is the pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Overland, Mo. He graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

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