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A Latin Bible handwritten in 1407 AD.

The Bible is a collection of short books recording the history of the world, ancient Israel, the life of Jesus Christ, and the early Christian Church. It contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament[1] written by 40 different authors over 1500 years. [2] No other book in history is as popular, or as revered, nor as diverse in context as the lives of those who wrote it.

Due to its being prized as the coveted word of God, the Bible has been better preserved, and translated into more languages, than any other book in history. Original manuscripts can be found in the oldest written languages on Earth, and it also contains one of the longest running genealogical sequence known to exist, spanning approximately 4,000 years. There is simply no other book in existence that offers a better chronological record of the early history of the Earth.

Creationists hold a number of views regarding the reliability of the Bible, ranging from strict inerrancy[3] to substantive accuracy. However, all Christians agree that the Bible is history, not mythology or allegory, because the text itself is so obviously historical in style and content unless otherwise implied within the text through a historical-grammatical exegesis.

The word "Bible" had its origins in an ancient Phoenician seaport called Byblos, which was so-named as a result of the trade and manufacture of writing material based on the papyrus or byblos reed, used extensively in antiquity for making scrolls and books. The Greek word biblos was based upon this, and it came to be the word for book (a small book was termed biblion), and by the 2nd century AD, Greek Christians had called the Scriptures τα βιβλία, ta Biblia ("the books") which was transferred to Latin by dropping the ta; the word made its way to Old French where the plural was dropped in favor of the singular, hence becoming the English word Bible.[4][5][6]


Main Article: Biblical canon

The Bible is an ancient collection of writings, comprised of 66 separate books, written over approximately 1,600 years, by at least 40 distinct authors. The Old Testament contains 39 books written from approximately 1500 to 400 BC, and the New Testament contains 27 books written from approximately 40 to 100 AD. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) is the same as the Christian Old Testament, except for its book arrangement. The original Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew, with some Aramaic, while the original New Testament was written in common Greek.[7]

The Old Testament

Main Article: Old Testament
11th century manuscript of the Hebrew Bible with Targum.

The Old Testament, also called the Hebrew Bible (Hebrew: כִּתְבֵי הַקּדֶשׁ, Kitvei HaKodesh, The Holy Scriptures) or Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ״ך, Tanakh , acronym for Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim)[8], consists of thirty-nine books. The books themselves were originally written in Hebrew, and later on in the Aramaic language of Palestine. The Greek language Old Testament was written after the conquest of Alexander the Great around 130 BC and is known as the Septuagint. This implies an even earlier date of an established Old Testament canon generally accepted to fall within the 5th century to 3rd century BC (400 to 200 BC).[9]

Deuterocanonical Books

Main Article: Deuterocanonical books

The Deuterocanonical books (Greek: "Second Canon") are seven books, included in the Septuagint, which Catholics and Orthodox include in the Old Testament, but which Protestants generally do not. Classically they were called member of::Apocrypha by Protestants. But today the word Apocrypha denotes a class of literature that includes these deuterocanonical books plus several others of varying reputation for historical validity.

The New Testament

Main Article: New Testament

The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven books and letters, written by eyewitnesses and by people who attained testimony from eyewitnesses.[10] Being that the oldest extant manuscripts are in Greek and the context of hellenization that helped develop the culture of first century Palestine, scholars have determined that the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Completed before 100 AD the emphasis of the New Testament is the life, teachings, crucifixion, death, resurrection and gift of salvation of Jesus of Nazareth.

NT Wright, an influential New Testament scholar, paints a quick picture of the history of reading the New Testament in his book The New Testament and the People of God. Wright recommends reading the New Testament as not only historical but theological, contexts enabling Christianity to maintain a practice of historical theology. However throughout the history of reading the NT there have been;

... four ways (pre-critical, historical, theological and postmodern readings) correspond very broadly to three movements within the history of Western culture in the last few centuries. The first belongs to the period before the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century; the second, to the major emphasis of the Enlightenment, sometimes known as 'modernism' or 'modernity'; the third, to a corrective on the second, still from within the Enlightenment worldview has begun to break up under questioning from many sides, and which has become known as 'postmodern.'[11]

Literal Translation

Some English translations of the Bible are strictly renderings from the original languages (mostly Hebrew and Greek) word for word or as close as possible, called literal rendering. Other English Bibles maintain a popular tone allowing paraphrasing. For instance, the New International Version (NIV) differs in word choice when compared to the New American Standard (NASB).

A literal translation of the NASB has rendered the text as close as possible to the original languages.

Division into chapters and verses

The division of the Bible in chapters is attributed to Hugo de Sancto Caro, a Roman Catholic Cardinal about A.D. 1240. The division of the chapters of the Old Testament in verses is attributed to Rabbi Mordecai Nathan, a famous Jewish teacher, about A.D. 1445. Robert Stephens made the verse division of the New Testament in the 16th century.[12]

Books of the Bible

The following table lists the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are linked to the searchable index at BibleGateway.com

Old Testament

New Testament

Bible Translations

See Also


  1. Unger, Merrill F (1988). Harrison, R. K.. ed. The New Unger´s Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press. pp. 169-171. ISBN 0-8024-9037-9. 
  2. Slick, Matthew J. "The Bible." Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, 1995. Accessed January 8, 2008.
  3. Archer, Gleason L (1982). Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publisher House. pp. 7. ISBN 0-310-43570-6. 
  4. Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1967, p. 143. See also Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1966.
  5. Moulton, James H., and others. A Grammar of New Testament Greek (two volumes), edited by Wilbert Francis Howard, T&T Clark Publishers, Harrisburg, PA (1985); originally published 1920, Edinburgh, Scotland.
  6. Blass, Frederich, and others. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, translated by Robert W. Funk; University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL (1961); German edition Grammatik des Neutestamentlichen Griechisch Friedrich Rehkopf, editor, 14th edition. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976.
  7. History of the Bible by All About The Journey.
  8. Unterman, Alan (1997). Dictionary of Jewish Lore & Legend. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0500279847. 
  9. Old Testament By Wikipedia
  10. Lecture with Dr. Peter Williams on the evidence that builds a case for eyewitness accounts in the New Testament By Lanier Theological Library. Mar 23, 2011
  11. The New Testament and the People of God by NT Wright, page 7. Fortress Press, 1992
  12. Smith, William (1979). Smith´s Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers. p. 438. ISBN 0-87981-033-5. 

External Links

Bible Societies

Online Bible Texts






Commentaries and analysis