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The Holy Bible, opened to the Book of Isaiah.

The Bible, or the Holy Scriptures, is the collection of texts sacred to Judaism and Christianity, and consists of two parts: the thirty-nine books of the Jewish faith known as the Tanakh, or the Old Testament, to which additional books are recognized by Christians; and the twenty-seven books and letters of the New Testament of the Christian faith. Originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the Bible has been translated in more than two thousand languages; in terms of sales and distribution the Bible is the most-widely distributed, largest-selling book in history;[1] the over-all influence and impact the Bible has had on literature, culture, and history is beyond calculation. Most Christians, Protestant and Catholic, agree on the books of the New Testament, but the Protestant Bible includes 66 books of the Old Testament while the Catholic Bible includes an extra 7 books, for a total of 73.[2] The Protestant Bible has 593,493 words in the Old Testament and 181,253 words in the New Testament.[3]

800px-Crop Book of Isaiah 2006-06-06.jpg

Old Testament
New Testament
The Gospels


The Virgin Birth

See also


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 A.D. Greek Christians had called the Scriptures ta Biblia (τα βιβλία 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. (Unger, pg 143; Moulton; Blass)

Books of the Bible

The Old Testament

Old Testament layout
Jewish Christian
Genesis Genesis
Exodus Exodus
Leviticus Leviticus
Numbers Numbers
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy
Joshua Joshua
Samuel Judges
Kings Ruth
Isaiah 1st Samuel
Jeremiah 2nd Samuel
Ezekiel 1st Kings
The Minor Prophets 2nd Kings
Psalms 1st Chronicles
Proverbs 2nd Chronicles
Job Ezra
Song of Songs Nehemiah
Ruth Esther
Lamentations Job
Ecclesiastes Psalms
Ester Proverbs
Daniel Ecclesiastes
Ezra Song of Solomon
Chronicles Isaiah
The Minor Prophets
Dates of each Book
Old Testament New Testament
Genesis, 1440-1400 B.C. Matthew, A.D. 60-65
Exodus, 1440-1400 B.C. Mark, A.D. 60-65
Leviticus, 1440-1400 B.C. Luke, A.D. 58-65
Numbers, 1440-1400 B.C. John, A.D. 95
Deuteronomy, 1440-1400 B.C. Acts, A.D. 58-65
Joshua, 1400-1360 B.C. Romans, A.D. 58
Judges, c. 1020 B.C. 1st Corinthians, A.D. 57
Ruth, c. 1090 B.C. 2nd Corinthians, A.D. 57
1st Samuel Galatians, A.D. 56
2nd Samuel Ephesians, A.D. 62-63
1st Kings, 609-600 B.C. Philippians, A.D. 58-60
2nd Kings, 609-600 B.C. Colosians, A.D. 61-63
1st Chronicles, c. 400 B.C. 1st Thessalonians, A.D. 52
2nd Chronicles, c. 400 B.C. 2nd Thessalonians, A.D. 53
Ezra, c. 400 B.C. 1st Timothy, A.D. 62-65
Nehemiah, c. 400 B.C. 2nd Timothy, A.D. 65-66
Esther, 464-425 B.C. Titus, A.D. 65
Job, 1440-1400 B.C. Philemon, A.D. 65
Psalms, 1004-965 B.C. Hebrews, A.D. 63-64
Proverbs, 965-925 B.C. James, A.D. 63-64
Eccleisiastes, 965-925 B.C. 1st Peter, A.D. 64
Song of Solomon, 965-925 B.C. 2nd Peter, A.D. 65
Isaiah, 785-697 B.C. 1st John, A.D. 90-100
Jeremiah, 587-538 B.C. 2nd John, A.D. 90-100
Lamentations, 587-538 B.C. 3rd John, A.D. 90-100
Ezekiel, 592-572 B.C. Jude, c. A.D. 70-75
Daniel, 539-520 B.C. Revelation, A.D. 96-98
Hosea, 753-731 B.C.
Joel, 835-796 B.C.
Amos, 787-747 B.C.
Obadiah, 848-841 B.C.
Jonah, 771-754 B.C.
Micah, 715-687 B.C.
Nahum, 661-612 B.C.
Habbakuk, 625-608 B.C.
Zephaniah, 621-608 B.C.
Haggai, 520 B.C.
Zechariah, 520 B.C.
Malachi, 455 B.C.

The Old Testament, also called the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, 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 version written after the conquest of Alexander the Great is known as the Septuagint. Melito, a bishop of Sardis in Lydia (in what is now Turkey), is said to have coined the phrase Old Testament about A.D. 170. The Old Testament is divided in three parts (hence, "Tanakh") within the Jewish community: the Torah ("Law"), or Pentateuch, the five books of Moses; Nevi'im ("Prophets"), and Ketuvim ("Writings,” or Hagiographa). Here the arrangement of the books differs somewhat from the Old Testament as used by Christians, however the actual writing of each book remains the same.


The Five books of Moses, in their Hebrew and English names:

  • Bereisheet ("in the beginning"), or Genesis
  • Shemot (“names”), or Exodus
  • Vayikra (“and God called”), or Leviticus
  • Bemidbar (“in the Wilderness”), or Numbers
  • Devarim (“words”), or Deuteronomy

The first eleven chapters of Genesis provide the account of the Creation, the history of God's early relationship with humanity, and the Deluge of Noah. The remaining thirty-nine chapters detail the account of God's covenant with the early Hebrew nation, led by the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (or Israel), and one of Jacob's children, Joseph. It tells the beginnings of God's chosen people, of how God commanded Abraham to leave his family and home to settle in the land of Canaan, and how the Children of Israel later moved to Egypt. The remainder of the Torah, beginning with Exodus, tells the story of the great Hebrew leader Moses, and of the Hebrews through their sojourn and slavery in Egypt, their escape from bondage, and their wanderings in the desert until they finally enter the Promised Land.


The Nevi'im is the story of the rise toward, and ultimately reaching, the Hebrew monarchy; the sad period of anarchy and revolt leading to the division into the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel; and the prophets who judged the kings of both in God's name. It ends with the conquest of both kingdoms and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Minor Prophets are considered a single book in the Nevi'um; in Christianity they have been split into twelve separate books and named for their authors.


The Ketuvim, or "Writings," contain lyrical poetry, philosophical reflections on life, and the writings of the prophets and other Jewish leaders during the exile in Babylon.

David has been named as the author of the Psalms; Solomon is believed to have written Song of Songs in his youth, the Proverbs in his prime, and Ecclesiastes during his old age. The prophet Jeremiah is thought to have written the aptly-named Lamentations at the beginning of the exile in Babylon. The Book of Ruth is the only biblical book that centers entirely on a non-Jew, a Moabite who married a Jew and became an ancestor of both David and Jesus Christ. Esther is unique as it is the only book in the Bible not to mention God. Moses is considered to be the author of Job.


Although the Old Testament is written by many human authors, New Testament authors claim that these men were writing under the inspiration of God.

The apostle Paul wrote that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). Similarly the apostle Peter wrote, "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 1:20-21).

The New Testament

The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven books and letters, written by the early Christian community, and written primarily in Greek. The emphasis of the New Testament is the life, teachings, and gift of salvation from the central figure of the whole work, Jesus of Nazareth. These books are grouped into the following:

The Gospels

The Gospels contain the history of Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles are a continuance of the Gospels, documenting the history of the early church, beginning immediately following Jesus' death and resurrection. Of the authors, only Matthew and John had met Jesus; they were among His disciples during His earthly ministry. Mark was a companion of Peter, and his gospel was the first to be written down, about A.D. 50. Luke is considered the author of both his gospel and the Acts.

Pauline Epistles

These are letters written to various early Christian communities by the Apostle Paul.

Paul has been attributed by many as the author of Epistle to the Hebrews, but several others, such as Barnabas, Silas, Stephen, Apollos and Priscilla are also claimed to be the author. The controversy, however, does not affect the genuiness of the epistle. (Unger, pg. 748)

General Epistles


The Book of Revelation is the last work in the New Testament as well as the whole Bible, written close to A.D. 100 by the Apostle John during his exile on the Greek island of Patmos. Revelation is concerned with the condition of the Seven Churches of Asia before going deeply into a description of the last days prior to the beginning of the Millennial Age.

History of the Bible

Printers copy of a page from a Gutenberg Bible, printed in Germany about 1469.

The oldest books of the Bible are certainly the five books of the Torah and Job. In 1st Kings 6:1, Solomon is stated to have begun building the Temple "in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come up out of the land of Egypt". It had been established by scholars and historians that Solomon had begun building the Temple in the fourth year of his reign, or 961 B.C., making the date of the Exodus under Moses to have been 1441 B.C. During the following forty years Moses wrote the Torah and Job, completing them before his death at Mt. Nebo about 1400 B.C. According to Biblical scholar and historian Robert D. Wilson the Torah as it stands dates from the time of Moses, the five books constitute one continuous work, and was written by a single individual, Moses himself (Wilson, pg 11).

The remaining books of the Old Testament were written at various times since the death of Moses, with Malachi, the last Old Testament book, being written about 455 B.C. During this period each of the books was written and re-written on parchment or papyrus, with the editors taking great care in their work; a single Biblical book hand-written today can take weeks to complete. The older scrolls were disposed of by burial or systematic destruction when worn from normal usage; as a result, the oldest surviving examples of Biblical manuscripts are those which have been carefully preserved either by direct actions of people (such as monasteries), or by removal from forces of decay. Currently, the oldest surviving manuscripts are those found within the caves of Qumran in 1948 and known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating between 250 B.C. to A.D. 70; the complete Isaiah scroll of this collection dates to 150 B.C.

Around 200 B.C. the Septuagint, a Greek-language version of the Old Testament, was completed. This was due to the Hellenization of large areas of the Middle East after the conquest of Alexander the Great, making Greek the de-facto language for everyday communications and business. The Septuagint marks the first time in history that the Bible was translated into a foreign language.

Old Testament Apocrypha

The Apocrypha was written during the four hundred years between the last book of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. The term itself comes from the Greek word apokruphos ("hidden" or "concealed"), and although they have an actual history and literary value, the fourteen books which make up the Apocrypha have been rejected as canonical by both the Jewish faith and most denominations of the Christian church due to historical, geographical, or literal inaccuracies; the teaching of doctrines which contradict inspired Scripture; and a lack of elements and structure which give genuine Scripture its unique characteristic (Unger, pg. 70). The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, among others, include the Apocrypha in their versions of the Bible, considering them to be canonical. The following are the books which are most frequently referred to by the title Apocrypha:

Between 90-95 A.D. the Jewish Council of Jamnia revised the canon of the Old Testament, ensuring that the books involved conformed to the Torah, were written in the Hebrew language, written in Palestine, and written before 400 B.C. As a result, the Apocrypha was removed from the canon. [4]

Early New Testament history

This tenth-century Egyptian codex was donated to Pope Eugenius IV by the Coptic delegates at the Council of Ferrara-Florence. Translated from a Coptic original, it is one of the earliest Arabic versions of any part of the New Testament, none of which can be dated before the late eighth or ninth centuries.

In 1st Timothy 5:8, Paul quoted as scripture "the laborer is worthy of his hire." This line is found nowhere else in the Bible except Matthew 10:10 and Luke 5:7. In 2nd Peter 3:15-16, Peter classes Paul's letters with "other scriptures". Both lines are indicative of the writing down and general use of the New Testament prior to A.D. 60 (Halley, pg. 741-742). Spurious "gospels" which are known to have appeared by A.D. 100, make references to the New Testament. Clement of Rome, writing in his own letter to the Corinthians in A.D. 95, refers to Matthew, Luke, Corinthians, Hebrews, 1st Timothy, and 1st Peter (Halley, pg. 743).

The oldest surviving New Testament fragment of which there is a reliable date is the John Rylands Fragment (P52) of the Gospel of John, dating from 117-138 A.D., just decades from when the Gospel was first written. [5] The time span between the writing of the New Testament and the oldest surviving fragments are well under two hundred years. By comparison, Greek classics such as Herodotus, Plato, Euripides, and Homer have a time span well over a thousand years each between the date of the oldest known fragment of writing and the time period they were first written.

The Vulgate

Jerome, a Latin scholar deeply interested in the study of the Scriptures, completed the second edition of the Bible in the Latin language. The Vulgate was meant to replace the inaccuracies of the earlier Vetus Latina, the standard Bible of the early Catholic Church. Jerome had moved to Jerusalem in 382, and set to work on what eventually became a fresh translation of the Bible from the Greek of the Septuagint to translating the New Testament into Latin; from 390-405 he decided to re-translate his Old Testament directly from the Hebrew then in use by the Jewish community. The Vulgate had a marked influence in church history, and remained the standard Latin Bible in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries; such was the length of time in use that it was finally replaced by the Nova Vulgata in 1979.

Gutenberg's Bible

Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany invented the first mechanical printing press in 1448. His machine consisted of a large press which when cranked down, pressed a sheet of paper upon a platform in which were set thousands of inked metal letter typefaces (called "movable type"), set in place to read for a particular page. The first book in history printed by this method was the Gutenberg Bible, in the Vulgate version, of which 180 were printed, and approximately 50 survive today in varying conditions around the world. The Gutenberg Bible marked another first: Bibles could be mass produced to get into the hands of many more people at a lower cost than if they were printed by hand.

Wyclif's Bible

The first translation of the Bible into English was made under the supervision of the English cleric John Wyclif in the 1380's, with the assistance of Nicholas Hereford and John Purvey. Wyclif held that the Bible should be placed directly in the hands of the people, but was this was opposed by the English Church hierarchy of his day; indeed, one of Wyclif's opponents, Henry Knighton, compared giving the Bible to the people in English to "casting pearls before swine". Archbishop Arundel of Canterbury promulgated a ban on all English Bibles in 1407, and possession of one was considered evidence of heresy.

Wyclif's was a scholarly translation, based on the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew texts, but was found to be unweildy due to its adherence to Latin grammar (in which, for instance, verbs tend to be at the end of sentences). A second Wycliffite translation was prepared late in this period, which avoided this problem, but due to the fact that it could only be distributed in manuscript form, it was an expensive volume. Outside of the nobility and gentry, it was more common to see only a single Gospel, or a copy of the Psalms, than an entire Bible, which cost more than the average working person could earn in a year.

Over the next century, its form of English gradually became antiquated, leading English Protestants such as William Tyndale to feel that an entirely new translation was needed.


During the middle of the 16th century there was a renewed sense of the need to get the Bible directly into the hands of the common man; prior to that the Bible was restricted to readings in the Church alone. The Reformers were a group of people who were shocked at the differences between what the Roman Catholic Church was practicing as opposed to what the Bible stated can or cannot be done (this was one of the causes of the Reformation). At great cost to themselves, the Reformers began the work of translating the Bible in the various languages of Europe; the printing press would ensure the newly-translated Bibles would be mass-produced.

William Tyndale was committed to getting the Bible in the hands of his English countrymen. Expressing open defiance of the Pope, Tyndale declared that if God would spare his life he would make it possible for even an ordinary farmer to know more about the Scriptures than the Pope. [6] Tyndale's translation of the New Testament was completed by 1525. By April, 1526, 6,000 copies were printed and delivered to England. Official opposition led to the destruction of most of them. Nevertheless, the printing press rendered it impossible to completely suppress such a book, and new copies were printed and smuggled into England Tyndale was arrested and charged with heresy for his efforts on May 21, 1536, and was executed the following year. His efforts at translating the Bible led to the Matthews and Bishop's Bibles, then finally to the King James Version, where ninety percent of the text closely follows Tyndale's translation.

Authorised or King James Version

The internet has increased the availability of the Bible world-wide. Shown here is a screenshot to E-Sword, a freely-downloadable Bible study program. [2] (Rick Meyers, 2007)

In 1601 King James I selected forty-seven of the ablest scholars in England to undertake the creation of a standard Bible in English, based upon careful translations of the Masoretic Text used by the Jewish community, and the best Greek translations (especially the Textus Receptus) then available. The scholars were divided into six committees in Oxford, Westminster, and Cambridge, with each scholar had dedicating himself to doing a portion of the Bible, often consulting each other to check the flow and harmony of the work in progress. The result was the 1611 Authorised Version, known in America as the King James Version.

The effects of the Authorised Version were profound. Using less than 2,500 different words in its vocabulary, this Bible was written in a poetic style matched by few. The work influenced the writings of Shakespeare. John Milton has numerous images taken from this Bible in his Paradise Lost. The direct style of writing caused it to be easily available to the common man. Poets and writers, such as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and many others were deeply inspired by it. It altered the course of English history, with England growing to a world power since the book's publication; when asked by a visiting dignitary what made England great, Queen Victoria pulled out her copy of the Bible and declared "This is the secret of England's greatness." [3]

Other versions

Today, the Bible is available in many versions across the English-speaking world, and has been translated into languages spoken by the vast majority of people on Earth, and even portions into a recently-created language from the fictional world of Star Trek, Klingon. [7] The past two decades saw the emergence of Internet use; the creation of the Bible as a software program was inevitable, and several, such as E-Sword and Theophilos, are available at no cost with a wealth of Bible-study material as well.

Bible Scientific Foreknowledge

Bible scientific foreknowledge holds that the Bible shows an understanding of scientific knowledge beyond that believed to exist at the time the Bible was composed. Many Christian scientists and apologists such as the Christian scientists and apologists at Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and CreationWiki assert that the Bible contains knowledge that shows an understanding of scientific knowledge beyond that believed to exist at the time the Bible was composed.[8][9][10]

Humor in the Bible

For a more detailed treatment, see Humor in the Bible.

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, contains irony, puns, sarcasm, etc. For example:

After noticing that his father-in-law Laban was not treating him as in the past, Jacob decided to flee with his family. Rachel, one of Jacob’s wives, stole her father Laban’s teraphim (statues used for idolatry and/or divination). Laban pursued them and intercepted them in the Gilead mountains (Genesis 31:30): "Why have you stolen my gods?" Laban said to Jacob. The Midrash comments that it cannot be much of a god if it can be stolen (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 74:8). Jonsson (1985, 44-45) suggests that there is humor (albeit "rough" humor) in the fact that, not only was Laban deceived, but his idols were actually underneath his daughter Rachel’s posterior while she claimed that the "manner of women" was upon her. This idol did not get much respect. [4]

Bible Versions

See also

External links

Bible societies

Online, internet, and downloadable Bibles







Commentaries and analysis



  • Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1966).
  • Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1967).
  • Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI (1965).
  • Wilson, Robert D. A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, Sunday School Times, Inc, Philadelphia, PA (1926).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bauer, Walter. Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Scriften des Neuen Testaments und der frühchristlichen Litteratur. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, editors; 6th edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, Germany (1988). Heading βιβλίον, columns 281-82.


  1. The Bible continues to be the best-selling book ever. Americans alone buy 25 million Bibles a year, according to Publisher's Weekly. Bible sales are now reaching $609 million a year, with specialty Bibles available for myriad "niche" audiences, from motorcycle riders to campers, brides and archaeologists. "Immerse," a water-resistant Bible for troops overseas, is now available from publisher Bardin & Marsee. Polls: Most believe Bible as God's word - Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times - May 30, 2007]
  2. The Catholic Bible includes these books that are not included in the Protestant Bible:
    1. The Wisdom of Solomon
    2. Tobit
    3. Sirach
    4. Judith
    5. 1st Maccabees
    6. 2nd Maccabees
    7. Baruch [1]
  5. N.T. Ancient Manuscripts
  7. Klingon Bible Translation Project
  8. Bible Scientific Foreknowledge