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Many Books

When considering images for the cover of this issue, we decided that a stack of books would be especially appropriate for several reasons.

First of all, this quarter’s theme is the “Book of Life” and deals with the yet-future time when “the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). How many books would it require to record just one person’s actions? What about one’s thoughts? Now consider that God has recorded the deeds of everyone who has ever lived. While we can’t be certain of the means by which God is doing this, or whether there are literal books of works being written in heaven, we are assured that such records will be used in that day.

Secondly, while researching articles and preparing our comments on the Book of Life, we studied the Scriptures and then sought the thoughts of other writers on this subject. One book turned into three, three became ten, ten led to thirty, and eventually nearly fifty sources had been consulted. The more we read, and the more we searched the Scriptures, the more we became aware of the complexity of the subject we had decided to pursue, and the lack of a clear consensus when it comes to all of its details. We trust that you will find the result of our study, given in the next article, to be of profit. You will notice that in laying it out we have sought to separate what is clearly taught about the Book of Life in Scripture from what we feel can only be proclaimed with certainty when we reach the day in which we will know even as we are known. While we do have our opinions regarding how the verses in question should be interpreted, we have decided rather to present some of the Scriptural evidence and lines of thought that have led to differing conclusions concerning the finer points of this interesting topic.

The third reason for selecting this issue’s cover comes from the included articles on DNA, which has often been referred to as the “book of life.” With the recent announcement of the completion of the sequencing of the human genome, and with this year marking the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, it is a fitting time to consider the staggering complexity seen in even the tiniest parts of God’s creation. It has been said that the information contained in an amount of DNA the size of a pinhead would fill a stack of books piled from the earth to the moon 500 times. The Psalmist was rightly led to declare: “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret…. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written” (Psalm 139:14-16).