The Bible is a book consisting of sixty-six smaller books, written by numerous
authors over a period of 1,600 years. The word “Bible” is derived from a Latin word
THE BIBLE’S PURPOSE
The Bible is the revelation of God to man. Its main purpose is man’s redemption,
providing instruction on salvation. Its main theme is Jesus Christ. The Bible not
only reveals God’s plan for the redemption of man, but also provides man with a basic
understanding of God’s nature and
These sixty-six smaller books became part of the Bible through a process called canonization.
The word canon is derived from a Greek word kanon and means a measuring stick. The
canonization process involved measuring or examining these books to ensure they were
truly God’s Word. The three main elements used for canonization included:
(1) apostolic authorship
(2) usefulness to the early church and
(3) conformity with the teachings of Jesus and orthodoxy (regula fidei)
Over time, various councils met to formalize those books which would constitute the
Bible or canon. Bible scholars completed the canonization process by the fourth century
in 325 AD and hence we have our current Bible.
THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Bible consists of two main parts or testaments: the Old Testament and the New
Testament. TheOld Testamentconsists of thirty-nine books and is divided into four
· the Law which includes the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch)
· the historical books
· the books of poetry and wisdom
· the Prophets
The Old Testament includes the same books as the Hebrew Bible, though they are arranged
in a different order.
THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament is comprised of the remaining twenty-seven books and is generally
divided into three main parts:
· the historical books, such as the Gospels and Acts,
· the epistles
· prophecy which encompasses Revelation
Though thirty-six men of varied backgrounds, social levels and occupations wrote
the Bible, it is amazingly cohesive. This is because the Holy Spirit penned the Bible
through the writings of these men; it is “god-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). This cohesiveness
also gives great evidence to its divine authorship. “Above all, you must understand
that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For
prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they
were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21). The Holy Spirit allowed
the Bible to be written by different men, using their personalities and unique traits,
and yet still provided perfect harmony for its main theme. Thus, Scripture is the
inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. It is errorless, flawless and complete.
TRANSLATINGTHE BIBLEINTO ENGLISH
The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The majority
of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, except for parts of Ezra, Daniel, and
a few phrases in Genesis 31:47 and Jeremiah 10:11; all of which were written in Aramaic.
The New Testament was written in Greek, except for a few expressions which appear
in Aramaic. Interestingly, each language has its own uniqueness and specialty.
· Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people, is known for its conciseness, having
only twenty-two consonants and no vowels. It is a vivid language that pictorially
· Though Aramaic was used in ancient times, it became widely used by the Jews
during their captivity. Since Aramaic served as the international language of trade,
the Jews adopted the language, though scholars and religious leaders still learned
· Greek is known for the richness of its language. It is precise and complex,
allowing the writer great depth in expressing a thought. Greek was widely used during
New Testament times due to the process of Hellenization.
Translating the Bible into its current day English and other languages has been a
long and arduous process. Many Christians have suffered and died to provide us with
the precious Word of God in an understandable form. One of the earliest translations
is known as the Septuagint, which translated the Old Testament into Greek in 250
BC. Later, St. Jerome translated the Old and New Testaments into Latin, often referred
to as the Latin Vulgate. In 1484, John Wycliffe translated the first complete English
Bible from the Latin Vulgate in an effort to provide the common people with a Bible.
Opponents persecuted and killed many of his followers for owning and reading this
Bible. Some time later in 1530, William Tyndale translated the Bible from the original
languages into English. Believing Tyndale committed heresy, the king of England burned
Tyndale at the stake, as well as his translations of the Bible. Finally, in 1611,
King James I authorized the first English Bible.
The Bible has been translated into more than 1,000 different languages and currently
circulates around the globe. Today, numerous translations of the Bible exist, such
as the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the Living Bible,
the King James Version, etc. The primary difference in these translations relates
to how the original manuscripts have been translated. Some translations, like the
New American Standard, King James Version, and New King James Version, utilize a
word for word translation. Other translations, like the New International Version
and the New Living Translation, employ a thought for thought translation. Finally,
some translations, like The Living Bible and The Message, are a paraphrase.
Taken from Lorraine’s Bible study A Call to Godly Womanhood. Copyright 2004. All