- Is the Bible much more than a religious significance but a historical, cultural and social heritage of the people?
Here's my answer, what's yours?
Regardless of how one looks at the Bible it stands unique in its importance.
It has guided the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people for thousands of years. It established and maintained their culture, their customs and holidays, their calendar, their legal system, their dealings with other peoples -- hence facilitated their survival -- it led to the re-establishment of the Nation of Israel in 1948, it records their history and is the most accurate of any ancient works in what it records bar none. Its manuscript sources dwarf all other ancient works into comparative insignificance in terms of sheer volume of the texts and consistency of content. There is no area of life on this planet that has not been directly shaped and/or influenced by biblical (and/or biblically based) religion and culture.
The Christian faith emerged from the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible or "Old Testament") and the paradigms it establishes and that faith has set the course of world history for the past 1700 years. Through the Christians and Jews the Bible inspired the creation of the US Constitution and our form of government. Because of biblical (ie Jewish and Christian religion) untold numbers of hospitals, medical centers, food banks, orphanages, emergency services, abused and battered women's shelters, have been built; charities of all sorts, the Red Cross, the Christian Children's Fund, Salvation Army, etc. etc. have flourished for the good of humanity. Languages and even the printing press were advanced or created to convey the Bible (the Bible was the first book even printed with a printing press!). Because of the Bible women were gradually elevated in society above their historically accepted lower status to the point that today in Jewish and Christian lands they are approaching complete social equality. Slavery was outlawed and equal rights bestowed regardless of race, ethic heritage etc.
Paul's statement that in Christ there is neither male nor female, Jews nor Gentile etc. did more towards this development toward equality for all than any other factor (Galatians 3:28).
Most everything good about the modern world you can think of came to us through or because of our shared faith in the Bible.
And of course so did much of what is wrong with the world. Wars have been fought and justified based on biblical doctrinal differences. Some Christians and Jews still use the Bible to condemn others and to deny their religious and secular equality and civil rights. Prior to modern times many cited the Bible to justify racism, slavery etc. and groups like the KKK were regarded as Christian coalitions by many. Many Christians (and some Jews) still use the Bible to attack certain minority segments within our societies. Extremes include people like Fred Phelps however milder versions of his views are heard throughout much of the Christian world. The Bible is often abused although its own teachings are inclusive of God's love for us all.
Islam plagiarized and fundamentally altered the Bible (and other works including the Indian Vedas and Zoroastrian Avesta) and has ruled much of the Eastern world based on that usurped biblical authority for the last thousand plus years.
The Deen of Islam (the religious aspect of Islam) is now the largest single religion on earth (when Catholicism and Protestant Christianity are viewed separately) and it is growing and spreading fast.
The Ummah of Islam (the political aspect of Islam which bases its authority on the Deen or religion of Islam) appears to be successfully conquering Africa and Europe and establishing itself firmly in the US and other Western countries as it seeks to transform our once Judea-Christian lands into Sharia compliant caliphates/dictatorships.
Sharia Law (Islamic law) is now a serious global threat to freedom everywhere on earth. It is based on the falsely-claimed biblical authority granted to Abraham through his son Ishmael -- Jews and Christians accurately trace their authority through Abraham's son Isaac.
So, the Bible forms the very heart of world history, politics, art and culture and has even modified religions like Hinduism (with the introduction of the Bhakti sects etc), Buddhism (to a lesser degree through teachings like "Pure Land Buddhism") etc. By its authority most Pagan (nature based) religions/cultures have ceased to exist (despite the modern Neo-Pagan movements).
The Bible is THE foundation stone of the world quite literally. As John wrote: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God... John 1:1 The Word (the Torah) is the essence of what is revealed in the Bible, the Word of God.
As that Word is now being progressively dismantled and rejected (for the past 100 or so years) our societies are crumbling into materialism and becoming devoid of real meaning.
I hope this isn't too much information for you, but the significance of the Bible is immense in all areas of life. If you have further questions feel free to write back.
~ John of AllFaith