The Bible Is An Unusual Book
In a survey of the Bible, one soon discovers that it is a most unusual book and that it has no comparison to any other book that ever was written. Other books on religion are quite different from the Bible. Whether one consults the Hindu Vedas, the Mohammedan Koran, the Confucian Five Classics, or the Jewish Talmud, the Bible clearly stands alone as a comprehensive statement of faith.
The Bible is an unusual book. In spite of its diversity, it has continuity, beginning in Genesis and ending in the book of Revelation. In its contents are included moral and political law, history, poetry, prophecy, and letters.
In Christian faith the unity of the Bible, in spite of its diversity of subject matter and authorship, is traced to the work of the Holy Spirit rather than to a human penman. The difficulty of producing a book like the Bible can be seen in the fact that if one could choose from all the literature in the world and could select from forty different authors ranging in time for 1,500 years, it would be impossible to create a second Bible equal to what the Bible is itself. Though some have attempted to explain the Bible on naturalistic grounds as simply revision of other current books on religion, the Bible stands as a supernatural production, uniquely different, self-consistent, and presenting a united picture of God and the world.
Does It Matter If Jesus Really Did And Said What Is In The Gospels
Yes. For faith to really be of any value, it must be based on facts, on reality. Here is why. If you were taking a flight to London, you would probably have faith that the jet is fueled and mechanically reliable, the pilot trained, and no terrorists on board. Your faith, however, is not what gets you to London. Your faith is useful in that it got you on the plane. But what actually gets you to London is the integrity of the plane, pilot, etc. You could rely on your positive experience of past flights. But your positive experience would not be enough to get that plane to London. What matters is the object of your faith — is it reliable?
Is the New Testament an accurate, reliable presentation of Jesus? Yes. We can trust the New Testament because there is enormous factual support for it. This article touched on the following points: historians concur, archaeology concurs, the four Gospel biographies are in agreement, the preservation of document copies is remarkable, there is superior accuracy in the translations. All of this gives a solid foundation for believing that what we read today is what the original writers wrote and experienced in real life, in real places.
John, one of the writers sums it up well, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”12
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When Was The Old Testament Compiled
The story of how the Old Testament books of the Bible is a saga of Gods faithfulness. The Old Testament books were collected and compiled is an epic narrative worthy of its own book . While some rabbis point to a general assembly of religious leaders that recognized the books of the Bible, this did not happen until well after the people of God were already using the Scriptures in worship. Therefore, just as in the development of the New Testament, the Old Testament books of the Bible were recognized by the people of God as the Word of God. Indeed, the development of the Old Testament seems to have taken place according to turning points in Israels history. This would include the Exodus, the taking of Canaan, the appearance of the monarchy in Israel with Saul and then David, the fall of Jerusalem and the exile in Babylon. And, finally, the restoration of the Israelite people to Jerusalem and the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. Zondervan Academic has an excellent summary in their article How Did We Get the Old Testament?
And Don Stewart with BlueLetterBible.org explains,
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What Was The Language Of The Old Testament
Ancient Hebrew was the tongue of the ancient Israelites and the language in which most of the Old Testament was penned. Isaiah 19:18 calls it the language of Canaan, while other verses label it Judean and language of the Jews .
Ancient Hebrew is a Semitic language that dates back past 1500 B.C. Its alphabet consists of 22 characters, all consonants , and is written from right to left.
While Hebrew remained the sacred tongue of the Jews, its use as a common spoken language declined after the Jews return from exile . Despite a revival of the language during the Maccabean era, it was eventually all but replaced in everyday usage by Aramaic. Modern Hebrew can trace its ancestry to Biblical Hebrew, but has incorporated many other influences as well.
An Overview Of The Old And New Testaments
The Old Testament begins with the book of Genesis, which tells the story of how the world was created, and how God anointed his chosen people and taught them how to live. This includes famous stories like those of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah’s Ark.
After Genesis, the different books of the Old Testament relate the trials of the Israelites as they endure centuries of enslavement or captivity under different empires. There is a general pattern where God sends a prophet to teach the Israelites how to live and to lead them from hardship, but over time they lose faith and find themselves suffering new hardships. The most famous example is Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt–the people are impious and must wander the desert for forty years before their descendants can enter the promised land.
Some of the other important episodes from the Old Testament include the rise of King David, the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Babylonian Captivity. The Old Testament also includes various sayings and songs about morality, god, and other esoteric subjects.
The New Testament is concerned with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, which are the basis for Christianity. His life story is told in the four Gospels . Almost all of the other books are letters written by Saint Paul or other Christian teachers, discussing their beliefs or giving advice.
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Set Aside What Religious Tradition Says And Discover Who Wrote The Bible According To The Scholars Who Have Examined The Actual Evidence
Wikimedia CommonsA depiction of Paul the Apostle writing his epistles.
HOLY BOOKS HAVE A REACH that goes far beyond what virtually all works of literature can ever accomplish. Unlike, say, The Great Gatsby, the Bible is a text upon which millions and millions of people have based their entire lives.
That fact can be good or bad, and its often been both over the many centuries throughout which Christians have been reading the Bible and Jews have been reading the Torah. But given its immense reach and cultural influence, its a bit surprising how little we really know about the Bibles origins. In other words, who wrote the Bible? Of all the mysteries surrounding the Bible, that one may be the most fascinating.
Were not completely ignorant, of course. Some books of the Bible were written in the clear light of history, and their authorship isnt terribly controversial. Other books can be reliably dated to a given period by either internal clues sort of the way no books written in the 1700s mention airplanes, for instance and by their literary style, which develops over time.
Religious doctrine, of course, holds that God himself is the author of or at least the inspiration for the entirety of the Bible, which was transcribed by a series of humble vessels. About the best that can be said for that notion is that if God really did write the Bible through a millennium-long sequence of various authors, he was certainly doing it the hard way.
Other Names And Titles
The New Testament uses several titles to refer to Jesus. However, some terms that are commonly used in the Christian tradition rarely appear in the New Testament, e.g. the exact term “Savior” appears only once, and is uttered by the Samaritans in John 4:42. The title “Nazarene” applied to Jesus has been also used to designate Christians in Syriac and Arabic traditions.
The title “Chosen one” or “Elect one” is used twice in Luke’s gospel: eklektos is used in 23:35 when the rulers mock Jesus, while eklelegmenos is used in 9:35 when Jesus is baptized. James R. Edwards notes that the phrase is used repeatedly in 1 Enoch, but was associated in Jewish thinking with triumph and glory, rather than with suffering.
Christian theologians such as Thomas Aquinas have produced significant arguments analyzing various names and titles for Jesus. In John 8:58 Jesus says: “Before Abraham was born, I am.” The phrase “I am” was considered a name for Jesus by Aquinas who considered it the most proper of all divine names, for Aquinas believed it to refer to the “being of all things”.
One of the titles preceded by an “I am” assertion of Jesus is the “Bread of Life” title in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life: he who comes to me shall not hunger.” The Bread of Life Discourse takes place in the Gospel of John shortly after Jesus feeds the crowds with five loaves of bread and two fish.
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All 66 Books Of The Bible Agree
But here is the wonder of it all: When the 66 books of the Bible with their 1,189 chapters made up of 31,173 verses are brought together , we find perfect harmony in the message they convey. As the great scholar F. F. Bruce noted: The Bible is not simply an anthology there is a unity which binds the whole together.
The Bible writers gave Gods messages by voice and pen while they lived, and when they died, their writings lived after them. These prophetic messages were then gathered together, under Gods leading, in the book we call the Bible.
Structure Of The Bible
In Judaism, the scriptures are called the Tanakh and are recognized as comprising 24 books divided into three categories: The Pentateuch , The Prophets, and The Writings. Christianity, which appropriated the Tanakh and claimed it as their own early theological history, call it the Old Testament. Early Christian writers, years after the probable date of the death of Jesus, penned the gospels and The Book of Acts. Paul the Apostle wrote most of the epistles which make up the 27 books of the Christian New Testament and whose theology informs the gospels. The Book of Revelation, attributed to John of Patmos, is the last book of the Christian Bible.
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Variations In Recent Translations
A number of Bible verses in the King James Version of the New Testament are not found in more recent Bible translations, where these are based on modern critical texts. In the early seventeenth century, the source Greek texts of the New Testament which were used to produce Protestant Bible versions were mainly dependent on manuscripts of the late , and they also contained minor variations which became known as the Textus Receptus. With the subsequent identification of much earlier manuscripts, most modern textual scholars value the evidence of manuscripts which belong to the Alexandrian family as better witnesses to the original text of the biblical authors, without giving it, or any family, automatic preference.
Diversity Of Bible Writers
Those who wrote the Bible lived at different times, some separated by hundreds of years. In many cases they were complete strangers to one another. Some Bible writers were businessmen or traders others were shepherds, fishermen, soldiers, physicians, preachers, kingshuman beings from all walks of life. They served under different governments and lived within contrasting cultures and systems of philosophy.
Alphabetical List Of Old Testament Authors
- Amos: The book of Amos
- Daniel: The book of Daniel
- David: Psalms
- Ezekiel: The book of Ezekiel
- Ezra: The book of Ezra
- Habakkuk: The book of Habakkuk
- Haggai: The book of Haggai
- Hosea: The book of Hosea
- Isaiah: The book of Isaiah
- Jeremiah: 1st and 2nd Kings, Lamentations, the book of Jeremiah
- Joel: The book of Joel
- Jonah: The book of Jonah
- Joshua: The book of Joshua
- Malachi: The book of Malachi
- Micah: The book of Micah
- Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
- Nahum: The book of Nahum
- Nehemiah: The book of Nehemiah
- Obadiah: The book of Obadiah
- Solomon: Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Solomon
- Zechariah: The book of Zechariah
- Zephaniah: The book of Zephaniah
Brief Synopsis & Commentary
The book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, tells the story of the creation of the universe, the world, and humanity, the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and the great flood which God sent on the world because of the evil of mankind. Following the flood, Noah‘s children repopulate the earth and the narrative then follows the stories of his descendents who are the Hebrew ancestors of the men who wrote the stories. The tale of Joseph and his coat of many colors brings the Hebrews from their land of Canaan to Egypt where, the Book of Exodus explains, they became slaves.
They were led from Egypt to freedom by the great lawgiver Moses who then passed his leadership to his second-in-command Joshua son of Nun whose army lay waste to the region of Canaan so the Hebrews could claim it as the land promised to them by their God . Following the establishment of the people who called themselves Israelites in the land, famous kings such as David and his son Solomon ruled and great prophets such as Jeremiah and Isaiah, Ezekial and Jonah preached the will of their God.
Who Decided Which Books To Include In The Bible
In his best-selling novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” Dan Brown wrote that the Bible was assembled during the famous Council of Nicea in 325 C.E., when Emperor Constantine and church authorities purportedly banned problematic books that didn’t conform to their secret agenda.
Except that’s not how it really went. “The Da Vinci Code” was fiction, but Brown wasn’t the first to credit the Council of Nicea with deciding which books to include in the Bible. Voltaire, writing in the 18th century, repeated a centuries-old myth that the Bible was canonized in Nicea by placing all of the known books on a table, saying a prayer and seeing which illegitimate texts fell to the floor.
In truth, there was no single church authority or council that convened to rubber stamp the biblical canon , not at Nicea or anywhere else in antiquity, explains Jason Combs, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University specializing in ancient Christianity.
“Dan Brown did us all a disservice,” says Combs. “We don’t have evidence that any group of Christians got together and said, ‘Let’s hash this out once and for all.'”
What evidence scholars do have in the form of theological treatises, letters and church histories that have survived for millennia points to a much longer process of canonization. From the first through the fourth centuries and beyond, different church leaders and theologians made arguments about which books belonged in the canon, often casting their opponents as heretics.
Was The New Testament Written In Hebrew
Many people assume that the New Testament was written in Hebrew as well, but by the time the gospels were being written, many Jews didnt even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire. Whats interesting about Biblical Greek is that it didnt use a high-class or complicated style it was written in koine , a language that could be understood by almost anyone, educated or not.
Its amazing to see how the Word of God has traveled through languages and cultures. It began in the language of his chosen people, adopted the language of the Roman world, and now exists in over 2,000 different languages. Far from being a static, one-language text, the Bible actually embraces translation and cross-language accessibility by its very nature. Whether you read the Bible in its original languages or in one of thousands of modern tongues, its a blessing to be able to read Gods word today just as it was read thousands of years ago.
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