The most stolen books according to Publisher’s Weekly is by author rather than by title. Literate thieves love everything Charles Burkowski wrote. The most stolen text, amassed by comparing a number of lists is the Bible.
The book that states twice, first in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5, “You shall not steal” is shoplifted more than most other choices in the bookstore. The irony is not that any person in America can get a Bible for free, a tradition most widespread by the Gideon Society but probably accommodated graciously by any church with a front door. Even the prison will give an inmate a copy of the Bible in Solitary Confinement.
The irony is The Bible does not contain the answers these thieves are seeking. Excuse me, the Bible does not contain “The Answers” that the desperate are seeking. People who believe and people who do not believe read the Bible and find all sorts of knowledge: folk beliefs, anthropology, philosophy, theology, history, songs, poems, wisdom sayings and ancient oracles. There may be only one God but the Bible gives us an array of ideas of how one might perceive God, from the All-knowing God of Genesis 1 to the God who exists but the human cannot fathom in Job 38.
The most depressing point of a stolen Bible is that the text is incomprehensible without a teacher. A theologian is going to read the text with a certain bias while a biblical scholar is going to teach the text using the tools of Literary Criticism. Answers: the Bible is best understood as generating questions, big ones about life and it meaning to small ones about the definition of word. The Bible is the product of a process and the study of the Bible is a process as well. One should seek out the text to find the questions; to find the answers, find a teacher.