I decided the other day that I want to hide a geocache of my own, now that I've managed to find so many. The difference is - I wanted to make sure my cache was a difficult one to find. Not one of those lift-the-lamp-skirt or look-in-the-crotch-of-the-tree caches you find so many of. So I came up with an inventive design and the perfect location. The next trick was to come up with a good clue.
So, building on the reading I've done in non-canonical Christian literature, I dug up a passage from the Gospel of Thomas that works perfectly for where I want to put the cache. The only problem with the passage I want to use: apparently no one has heard of the Gospel of Thomas!
When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to take a class called "Bible Lit." The point of the class was to study the Bible and literature from other religions and compare them and their messages from a literary perspective. It gave me a much different view of certain religious texts than I'd ever had before, and exposed me to writings I'd never heard of. For instance, I had never known that there were books left out of the Bible. When you think of the Bible as a collection of books rather than as a single manuscript, though, this makes perfect sense ... it just wasn't something that had occurred to me in the past.
So while from a faith perspective I consider the Bible the end-all be-all definitive document, it's still important to be familiar with other writings from the same time period. They offer differing perspectives on events and provide context for what might be a passing mention of a custom or tradition in the canonical scriptures.
Being well-read is vital to learning and thinking for yourself in any sphere, even more so when that sphere is as important to your life as your faith is. Marketers read one another's work. Scientists review other researchers' experiments. Knowing what other people think regarding a topic is almost as good as knowing what you think about the topic ... so reading competing scripture falls right in pace with reading the scripture you hold to be definitive.