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Whom have I

in heaven but you?  

And earth has nothing

I desire besides you.

 

PSALM 73:25

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         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 biblia,

which means

books.

 

 

THE BIBLES 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

will.

 

CANONIZATION

 

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. The Old Testament consists of thirty-nine books and is divided into four main areas:

 

·   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.

 

TRANSLATING THE BIBLE INTO 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 describes ideas.

 

·      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 Hebrew.

 

·      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 rights reserved.

What is the Bible?

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