They found a book. It went from high priest to civil servant, from civil servant to king. The king was shattered when he read it.
In September last year, the States passed a new Jersey Law - the Legal Deposit (Jersey) Law. At the time of writing it awaits approval by Her Majesty the Queen.
The Law will require a person who publishes a book in Jersey to deposit a copy with the Jersey Library. It will apply to any work that is published in printed form (and may be extended to include electronic or other forms). . In that way we shall not lose our heritage but preserve and recall it. But will that stop shock-horror discoveries like that which befell King Josiah and his people 2,600 years ago?
The Christian Bible is, in fact, a "Legal Deposit" in the same sense used in the title of Jersey's new Law. The Bible contains 66 separate books - 39 in the "Old Testament" and 27 in the “New Testament”.
The 39 OT books were not originally collected together by Christians but, in fact by the Jewish nation - the descendants of a man called Israel who lived around 2000 BC. Over many centuries this nation saw itself (and was seen by others) as very special. Almighty God was with them. They accumulated these 39 books, written by different people over many centuries, because the books recorded and expressed the very identity of the family. There are history books, songs, advisory (wisdom) literature and even "Star Wars" type books (apocalyptic genre).
So these were the "Legal Deposit" of that family nation - the books of the Hebrew Bible. And Christians took hold of them all (in the first century AD), without exception and without addition, and said, "These are ours, thank you very much".
Why? Because running through them all are incidents, records, prophecies, parallels that all point to a Messiah - a Saviour who would come into the world not only for that nation but for all people. And Christians saw that this Messiah had, indeed, come. He was Jesus Christ, born 0 AD, who was condemned by the leaders in Israel in AD 33, was betrayed, denied and deserted by his disciples at the same time, was executed as a criminal - and rose from the dead. (“Messiah” (Hebrew) = “Christ” (Greek))
What about the New Testament and its 26 books? Well, all of those books were written after AD 33 and in the first century. They are, again, all about Jesus Christ.
How did they come to be "deposited" together? Well, many copies of the books were made and circulated in that century and later. The books became well known and were powerful in changing men and women. Four were eyewitness records of the life, works and teaching of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (as he was known). Others were letters addressed to Christians in various places. And there was even one written in the apocalyptic genre. Quite quickly a “Legal Deposit” emerged because these were constantly referred to and accepted – and transformed people.
Sometimes folk say today, "There is no evidence for Jesus Christ outside the Bible." Well, that's not correct – partly because writers like Josephus (born AD 37) wrote of Jesus. More importantly, those who accumulated the "Legal Deposit" of books for the New Testament gathered these books from different authors and sources and brought them together - so all will now be in the "Deposit"; there are no more.
Back to King Josiah in 630 BC. He tore his clothes when he re-discovered the Book of the Law (part now of both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible).
It is important that books published in Jersey will be able to be rediscovered - tomorrow.
It is more important that the books about Jesus Christ are re-discovered - today.