The Bible is a collection of the most logical books and letters ever written. It includes the most beautiful book ever written, the Gospel of Luke, and the most profound book ever written, the Gospel of John.
Shorter than you might think, the Bible consists of two parts: 27 short books and letters of the New Testament of the Christian faith, and 39 books recognized by both Christianity and Judaism, known as the Old Testament. The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the Old Testament in Hebrew; both have been translated into more than 2000 languages.
The Bible is the biggest-selling book in history. In addition, the Bible has had an immense positive influence on literature, culture, and history.
Most Christians, Protestant and Catholic, agree on the 27 books of the New Testament, but the Protestant Bible includes 39 books of the Old Testament while the Catholic Bible includes an extra 7 books, for a total of 73. The Protestant Bible has 593,493 words in the Old Testament and 181,253 words in the New Testament.
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|
|The Minor Prophets||2nd Kings|
|Song of Songs||Nehemiah|
|Ezra||Song of Solomon|
|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 Christian order of the the books of the Bible follow the Chronology of the events and the personages being related, while in the Jewish order, though there is a chronological framework, the order follows more the importance, influence, "weight of usage" within Judaism. Thus, for orthodox Judaism, The Torah of Moses (the 5 books of Moses) come first, and are the most authoritative of all Scripture. Under the Pharasaic theory that the Moses was given the Oral law explicating how the written law was to be applied, at the same time as he was given the written law contained in the Bible, and that oral law passed on through the generations, the Mishna and the Gemara composing the Talmud is equally authoritative with the Torah of Moses. Then the Prophets come next in authority. But the Prophets are broader than considered by the Christian ordering. The Prophets do include what Christians call the Former and the Latter, or the Major and the Minor prophets, but it also includes what Christinns consider History - such as the books of the Kings. The last in authority for every day life of the Jew in terms of "regulation", actually form a great influence in the Synagogue worship - the Writings, with a heavy emphasis on the Psalms.
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 ("Prophets") 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.
- I Samuel
- II Samuel
- I Kings
- II Kings
- The Minor Prophets
- Book of Job
- Song of Songs, also called Song of Solomon in the Christian Bible.
- Book of Ruth
- Ezra, divided into the two books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Christian Bible.
- Books of Chronicles
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.
The melodies of the Old Testament
The Hebrew of the present day Old Testament is composed of the Hebrew consonents and, added on at a later stage, the vowels. Along with these two elements, other signs were added which indicated the melodies that were sung along with the words or phrases. Some of the signs were positioned above the individual consonents, some below, and some to the side. Some of these melody signs were associated with others providing a musical pattern that corresponds with the opening of a thought, similar to the beginning of a sentence (ex. "merkha"), the continuation of a thought (ex. "munakh"), tying in one word with the following, as one melody flowed into the next, the "resting" or completion of a thought, much in "the same way that a comma (ex. "azla"), though not ending a sentence, makes for the "semi"-ending or minor completion of a thought, a major break in the run of thoughts ("etnachta"), though the run of thought would be resumed until the major completion ("sof pasuq"), much in the same way the a period brings to a stop and a completion as a sentence ends. Thus the musical signs in the Hebrew text also provide an interpretion of the text current to the times in which the signs were incorporated as part of the text. The signs that tie one word to another providing one thought are called "conjunctive" signs and the signs that separate words and the thought of them are called "disjuctive". An example of the use of these signs to interprete the Hebrew text is the well known prophesy of the One to come. The Hebrew letters can either be understood to read "His name shall be called Wonderful counsellor of the mighty God", or "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God." The melody signs (called in Hebrew "Ta'mei HaMikra) decide for the latter. After "Wonderful" there is a disjuctive, after "Counsellor" there is a disjuctive, and after "Mighty" (but adj. after the noun in Hebrew order) there is a conjunctive. It is possible to reconstruct to some extent the melody and the interpretation of the Old Testament current in the first century and therefore the melody and the interpretation of Jesus Himself. This is because of the following: the present day melodies of the various dispersions of the Jews are to a great extent different one from the other. Some of these dispersions are the Ashkenazi, representing the Jews exiled from Israel by the Romans in 70 A.D. and then on to the Rhine Valley,and then onto parts of Eastern Europe, Western Europe, America, etc. the Sephardim who saw the beginnings of their disperion from Spain in the 15th Century and then on to Greece, Turkey, North Aftrica. Holland, and America, the Yemenites, the Bnei Israel of India, the Jews of Ethiopia, etc. etc, Yet, with the diversity in melodies of the Scriptures, there are certain features which are either identical or strikingly similar. Musicologist, Joel Segal, pointed out over 40 years ago, that that could only have been possible if these dispersions were at one time together in the same place. The only time that all these dispersions were together in the same place was prior to the great dispersion of the first century and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
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 Apocryphal books had been used in both Israel and Egypt and are part of the Old Testament in the Greek language used by Jews all over the Greek speaking world - particularly Alexandria, Egypt. This version is called the Septuaginta. The Septuaginta fell into disuse among Jews for two reasons - 1. Greek speaking Christians were using the Septuaginta in their efforts to bring Jews to faith in Jesus Christ 2. A number of the Apocryphal books were also apocalyptic, that is, focusing on the last days, the KIngdom of God in battle against the kingdoms of this world and the downfall of this world's empires. This was considered dangerous and liable to provoke Rome against the Jews. Alternative Greek translations to the Septuaginta, which was considered "loose", were adopted by the Rabbis. These were the translations of three proselytes to Judaism, Theodosious, Aquillas, and Symmachus. The Jewish Rabbinic "Council" of Jamnia (Yavneh on the Mediterraenian coast of Israel) in 90 A.D., under the leadership of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, effectively excluded the Apocraphal books (along with the Septuaginta) from the Jewish Canon by requiring, for a book to be considered canonical, that it have been written in Hebrew (and Aramaic). Actually, a number of the apocryphal books, or portions thereof, had been written originally in Hebrew, most notably, the Book of Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) found in Hebrew at Qumran with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but this was unknown to Yohanan Ben Zakkai and the Council of Jamnia in the first century. Under the impetus of Renaissance learning, Protestant scholars, now able to translate the Bible directly from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, instead of having to go through the Latin Vulgate, went directly to the Hebrew text. But this was the Hebrew text (eventually to be called the "Massoretic text") of the canon of books that had been authorized by the Council of Jamnia. In this way, most Protestant churches came to not include the Apocryphal books in their Canon of Scripture.
The following are the books which are most frequently referred to by the title Apocrypha:
- 1 Esdras
- 2 Esdras
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- Book of Tobit
- Book of Judith
- Book of Wisdom
- Ecclesiasticus, also known as Sirach
- Book of Baruch
- Epistle of Jeremiah is sometimes listed as separate book or the last chapter of Baruch
Additions to the book of Daniel
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. 
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 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.
The Pauline Epistles are letters (epistles) written to early Christian communities written by the Apostle Paul.
- Epistle to the Romans
- First Epistle to the Corinthians
- Second Epistle to the Corinthians
- Epistle to the Galatians
- Epistle to the Philippians
- Epistle to Philemon
- First Epistle to the Thessalonians
- Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
- Epistle to the Ephesians
- Epistle to the Colossians
- First Epistle to Timothy
- Second Epistle to Timothy
- Epistle to Titus
- Possibly the Epistle to the Hebrews
Liberal Bible scholarship over the last two centuries has denied that Paul wrote Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus; and doubted that he wrote Colossians and 2 Thessalonians. However, all the epistles listed above except Hebrews say they are written by Paul. As they are authoritative Scripture which "cannot lie", their claims should be believed.
There is speculation that Paul may have written the Epistle to the Hebrews, which does not mention an author; however, it could easily have been written by any early Christian except for Timothy, who is mentioned by name in the final chapter. The controversy, however, does not affect the genuineness of the epistle. 
- Epistle of James
- First Epistle of Peter
- Second Epistle of Peter
- First Epistle of John
- Second Epistle of John
- Third Epistle of John
- Epistle of Jude
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.
Most Fundamentalists hold to "Dispensationalism", a theory of the meaning of Revelations and other prophecies that was developed in the 19th century and is summarized in the Scofield Reference Bible (1909, 1917).
Non-uniformity of language and style of original Scriptures
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament, in the original languages of Hebrew (and Aramaic) and Greek, exhibit a non uniformity of style and language. This is in sharp contrast to most modern translations which treat the Scriptures throughout as if it was one book instead the many books they are. Modern translations can be erudite, dignified, folksy and common, clear and geared for the "common man", or replete with language resonant with literary associations for the "accomplished" reader. But they are that way througout. The Biblical originals, on the other hand, for example in the Hebrew, have imbedded within narrative of one period, as the narrative of the deeds of the prophets Debora, a similar poetic recounting in a much more ancient and even archaic Hebrew, probably emanating from a chant from the time of Deborah herself. The same with the narrative and poetic portions concerning Moses. There are even different Hebrew languages from the same period but different authors, having come from different origins and cultural levels.
For the New Testament, an example of non-uniformity can be found in the stark differences of languages in the Gospel of Luke, written by Luke the physician. The early accounts, those concerning the birth of Jesus and early life, are written in a stilted and often crude Greek while the rest of the Gospel is written in fine Greek befitting of the background and ability of a learned physician. But when the stilted and crude Greek is retranslated, word for word and phrase for phrase, into the Hebrew current in the first century in most parts of Israel, it becomes excellent Hebrew - Mishnaic Hebrew. This is because of the intent and fastidiousness of Luke, who derived his material, as he says, from people that had been "on the scene" , and his success in transmitting it faithfully as he had received it. Both the Old and New Testaments, for various reasons, exhibit little or no concern to "level through" or override the content of what they are saying by stylistic considerations.
Although the Old Testament is written by many human authors, New Testament authors know 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).
Formation of New Testament and Jewish technical transmission
In the first century and prior, the ear was more important than the eye, as far as retaining in memory. Jews would receive orally, that is, from hearing, the laws that they believed originated with Moses and then passed them on to others, down through the generations.It was important to link the present rabbis by names who taught it with the rabbis by name who had passed it on to them, on back as far as possible to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This was the startling difference of Jesus. By saying "You have heard it said, but I say unto you..." , He was by-passing Moses and the others after and getting His teaching direct from the Father.
This Jewish way of receiving (QBL) and handing on (MSR) is summed up in the lead saying of the "Ethics of the Fathers" tractate of the Mishna, "Moses received Torah from God at Sinai. He transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets, the prophets to the members of the Great Assembly [Sanhedrin] (1:1)." The teaching thus transmitted was memorized word for word by groups of disciples (Talmidim) together, thereby minimizing, by the common knowledge and plublic repetitions, all innovations and errors, though there might well have been "stylizing" for ease of retention and recall. receiving and handing on (transmission), receiving and handing on.
This methodology, with its technical Hebrew terminology appears in the New Testament with the same technical meaning and purpose, for how the earliest Christian teaching was carried on prior to the formation of the New Testament and during the time of its formation. This ensured the validity of the teaching and its authenticity going back, not to Moses, but to the time of Jesus Himself. "For I handed over (Gk. pare'doka, Heb. MSR) to you at the first what I also received (Gk. pare'labon, Heb. QBL) that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures..." l Cor. 15:3. Paul knew all of the "deposit of faith" three ways, in the usual "collaborative" way of God - from Scriptures (the Old Testament), from experience (seeing the living Christ on the road to Damascas), and from authenticated oral tradition/transmission involving "receiving" and "handing on".
Authority of Bible in religious communities
The role of the Bible in the life of differing communities varies widely by both the inner tenents of the community and the outer influences bearing on the community.
Orthodox Judaism through the centuries, while it was only marginally affected by growing secularization and modern learning, held to a "differing level of level of authority" understanding of the authority of the Hebrew Bible. This did not imply a different level of inspiration, but rather that importance to the regulation of life was prime for the Torah of Moses, the 5 books of the Law. But the Pharasaic teaching also posited an Oral Law given to Moses by God that was passed on through the centuries through Joshua, the prophets, pairs of Rabbis, until this day. The Oral law is found in the Talmud (Mishna and the Gemara together) The oral law became the decisive interpreter, teacher and regulator of the Written Law and determined the course of Jewish Orthodox life. The second section of the Old Testament, the Prophets, is known to the Jewish Community primarily through the synagogue readings of the prophets, the Haftorah, that are assigned to conclude the weekly reading of the Law. The Psalms, the most formative of all the Writings, besides being common throughout the synagogue services, are used in various devotional prayer contexts. Orthodox Judaism has little been affected by modern Higher Criticism of the Bible. Reformed Judaism, originally developed in Germany, and Conservative Judaism, to a lesser extent, have been greatly affected.
Mainline Protestantism, represented in the major churches and their seminaries, has greatly been affected by "modernism" based on advanced scholarly research, especially from Germany in the 19th century. The "Higher Criticism" ignored God's participation in the production of Scripture. Prime among these theories is the Documentary theory of Penteteuch origins (Wellhausen- Graff) that posit that Moses wrote little or nothing, Instead the Bible originated in four sources coming from various periods. These are sources are termed J (for the use of "Jehovah" for the name of God), E (for the use of "Elohim"), P (priestly), and D (Deutoronomic). The spirit of the New Testament is far more important than the text of either Testament for modern Protestant theology.
Orthodox Jewish critique of Documentary theory
Jewish Orthodox scholars have pointed to flaws of the Documentary Hypothesis. For instance, Orthodox Jewish Scholar Cassuto has pointed out that rather than the names for God varying according to author and period, they vary according to emphasis from the same period, that of Moses - "Jehovah" being used for the God in his dealing with His covenental people Israel, and "Elohim" being use when His dealing with mankind are emphasis. Likewise the two terms usually translated "making a covenant", lkhrot brit (to "cut" a covenant) and lehaqim brit (to "raise" a covenenat) are not from two sources but mean different things - to initiate a covenant and to fulfill a covenant.
Evangelical Protestantism belives strongly in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the whole Bible and has been the most receptive of Biblical Authority. Believing in full inspiration of the all Scripture does not mean to evangelicalism equal importance of all Scriptures for the healthy growth of the Christian community. This is because Evangelicalism, following Scripture's own understanding, believes in progressive revelation throughout Biblical time, culminating in Jesus Christ, and no further (thus obviating the role of Tradition). Thus Evangelicalism, does not hold to the application of Mosaic Legislation, and other biblical elements that Orthodox Judaism holds to. This applies to faith and to morals. The Mosaic regulation on executing a rebellious child does not present a problem to evangelical thought as, according to Paul and Hebrews, the Law has been rendered obsolete by the New Covenant. The Destruction of the Temple and the place for sacrifice of all kinds, present no problem for evangelicalism, as they did for Judasim, as Christ's sacrifice on the cross has now "fulfilled" the proscriptions of the Law and the ceremonials attached. Thus there is a sort of Levels of Authority understanding for evangelicalism similar (but for different reasons) to the levels of authority of Judaism.
Evangelical Churches vigorously promote the reading of Scripture through Sunday sermons and Bible study programs. Emphasis is placed on "each one understanding". Coupled with American individualism, and lack of tradional vehicles of authority, this sometimes leads to spinterring and each man's interpretation "is as good as any other". Nevertheless, the "Fiundamentals" defined in 1910 are strongly retained by the Evangelical Churches - the divinity of Christ, His death for sins and Resurrection from the dead, His second coming.
The Orthodox Churches througout the world, whether of Greek, Russian, Rumanian, the various middle eastern varieties, emphasis the synod (Council) of Bishops, basis on the example of the "Council" of Jerusalem in the book of Acts, as the God authorized agent of interpretation and application of the Scriptures. Understanding that Jesus' words, " He (the Holy Spirit) wil lead you into all truth", Orthodoxy believes that the synod of bishops, none of whom are individually infallible, are given guidance from the Holy Spirit so that the Scriptures are rightly applied to the Christian Community enabling the Church to never stray from Christ. That is, the Church is given "indefectability". A minority Orthodox Church thought holds to "infallibility" in synodal decision rather than or instead of "indefectability". Scripture in the Orthodox churches are butressed by creedal formulations, the decisions of belief of past synods, and are less susceptible to the modern Higher Criticism. The Resurrection of Christ, virgin birth, return of Christ from Heaven to Earth, are all part and parcel of these churches. Individual interpretation of Scripture and manner of life are limited then by the teaching authority (the magisterium) granted to the Epsicopate - the Synod of bishops.
The Roman Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Churches have a strong sense of the Authority given to the Bishops by Christ to teach, interpret, defend the Faith and therefore to exercise the responsibility to interprete Scripture to the Faithful. But since Vatican ll, there has been an increased effort to bring Scripture knowledge to the laity and now there has been an increase of Scripture reading and study programs throughout most sections of the Church. This as been abetted by the Catholic Charismatic movement which has had the effect of promoting individual appropriation of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit and with that, the devotional and intellectual use of Holy Scriptures. However, the role of "Majesterium", that is the Teaching Authority, strongly sets limits to individual interpretation. The Roman Catholic church understands that though the Majesterium is given to all the bishops, the definitive exercise is limited to one bishop - the bishop ov Rome, the Pope. Further, it is believed that the Pope, when declaring dogma (teaching) ex-Cathedra (from the chair) speaks infaillibly (on matters of faith and morals). The first time the Pope has promulgated dogma ex-cathedra was to promulgate the doctrine itself of Papal Infallibility. The Pope , through the Vatican prelates and all the bishops can regulate much of Catholic community life, and some of the regualtion based on the interpretation of Scripture or the application of interporetation of Scripture. An example of this is the prohibition of abortion. The Church has accepted most of the modern Higher Critical methodology of Scripture, including the Documentary theory of origins first developed within German Protestantism. But the effects of this on the tenents of the Christian Faith are much mitigated due to the creedal affirmations of the Church developed centuries ago and Papal authority. This the Roman Catholic Church does not waver on the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, the death and resurrection of Christ, and the second comming.
Evangelical Understanding of the History of the Bible
Rejecting the "Higher Criticism" accepted by the mainline Protestant denominations, Evangelicals and many Catholics hold to a more traditional history of the Bible. This section summarizes their views.
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.
Early New Testament history
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.  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 second translated version of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament (after the Greek Septuaginta) was the Aramaic language Peshitta. In 36 A.D., both the Queen of Adiabene (the last existing Province of the hated and feared by the Jews Assyrian Empire), known in Greek as Queen Helena (not the mother of Constantine) and known to the Jews as Queen ShlomZion ("Peace of Zion"), and her son King Ezad were converted to Judaism. Queen Helena's conversion, as wiell as others of the Kingdom, furthered the already developing translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in her Kingdom's language -Aramaic. That developing translation came to be known as the Peshitta - meaning simple or common speech, in much the same way as the Hebrew Bible would be translated into Latin by Jerome, with extensive help from a Rabbi,and the resultant translation would be called the Vulgate - meaning simple or common speech. The Peshitta, retaining elements of the then Jewish "Targumic" (interpretive) and other Jewish understandings of the Hebrew Bible (seeMidrash), is primarily based on the Pre-Masoretic Hebrew Scriptures - though certain books, such as the Prophet Isaiah,are translations primarily from the Septuagint The development of the Old Testament Peshitta translation is held by some to have taken place alternatively in Adiabene's nearby neighbor Edessa.
As Thomas and his followers went to India, others (possibly Adai (Thaddeus), the Galilean from Caesarea Phillipi among them) arrived in Adiabene, and having gone probaly to the synagogues first, as did the Apostle Paul), they found already, if not a populous, then an elite governmental element, conversant with the Biblical message in Aramaic. From these people, hearing the preaching of the messengers from Israel ,came believers in Jesus Christ, and soon after, came the translation of the Greek New Testament Scriptures into Aramaic, and so the Peshitta was added to by inclusion of the New Testament in Aramaic. Unlike the Greek canon of the New Testament Scriptures, the Peshitta originally did not include the following books: the Second Epistle of Peter, the Second Epistle of John, the Third Epistle of John, the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelation. But these books translated into the Syriac (as Christian Aramaic is known) are part of the Peshitta now and used by the Aramaic based churches, primarily in India and the Middle East - the Syrian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East (Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East), the Indian Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, the Syro-Malabar Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Adiabene and its surroundings then became the sending center for a mission to the East that would eventually, taking advantage of the newly rediscovered monsoon winds blowing for months across the Arabian sea, making it possible for ships to no longer hug the coasts, and taking advantage of the "Silk Road" all the way from Antioch in Syria to China, take the message of Jesus Christ to India (bringing about the Aramaic (Syriac) language churches of Kerala) and even to China itself. And so, the Peshitta, written in the Middle East, become the Scriptures, for a while, of the Far East Churches of Jesus Christ, particularly in India.
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.
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 Latin version, of which 180 were printed, and approximately 50 survive today in varying conditions around the world.
The Gutenberg Bible marked another first: printed Bibles could be mass produced to get into the hands of many people at a low cost. They first had to be translated out of Latin into a common language, and Martin Luther made the great German translation, 1522-1534. The Protestant Reformers emphasized that laymen should study the Bible, and printing made it possible to go beyond the interpretationsd shown in stained glass windows to the actual text.
English language versions of the 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.  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
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."
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.  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.
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. It may be noted that the sense of what is humorous varies from people to people and from nation to nation, as well as varying from age to age. What caused a chuckle, smile, or laughter in the biblical "genre" was more connected with satisfaction at the vindication of righteousness among men. Thus to our day and age, and the commonality of people, for believers and non believers, the meaning of the spewing up of Jonah on the shores (even the great fish could not stomach him!) might be viewed as God working out His original will in history, Jonah flight from responsiblity being aborted, for the "days and ages" of the Bible, there was the added satisfaction derived from the understanding that God was not mocked by the rebellion of Jonah. Likewise that the "many cattle" also found repentence and acceptance by God, would not have brought the smile of glee, mingled with doubt, but the smile of satisfaction that God's wide heart found its exultant victory over the measly, narrow perspective of the renagade prophet. There was no shame to stifle the Biblical chuckle at the "hows" of the vindication of God's justice. Yet, what we consider humorous also appears:
- 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. 
The Bible has been translated many times and in many ways so anyone, from the youngest child to the learned scholar, can read the entire scpripture in their language and reading level. A Latin version is the Latin Vulgate Bible. Here are some common English versions:
- American Standard Version
- Amplified Bible
- English Standard Version
- Good News Version
- King James Version
- Living Bible
- New American Standard Version
- New English Bible
- New International Version
- New King James Version
- Revised Standard Version
- Revised Version
- Conservative Bible - still a work-in-progress here at Conservapedia
- Bible exegesis
- Evidence supporting the Bible
- Bible prophecy
- Biblical accuracy
- Famous Bible paintings
- Aramaic Church
- Essay: The Way of Salvation
- Conservative Bible Project
- Inspiration of Holy Scripture: An Eastern Christian and Jewish Perspective
- New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective
- Messianic Prophecies
- Gospel reading in the Church: the Turgama
- American Bible Society
- United Bible Society
- The International Bible Society (New York/Colorado Springs)
- World Bible Translation Center
- Wycliffe Bible Translators
- La Biblia In Spanish.
Online, internet, and downloadable Bibles
- Hebrew-English Bible (JPS 1917 translation; includes Hebrew audio)
- XML Hebrew-English (KJV) Bible
- Old Testament in Hebrew
- Latin Vulgate — Latin Vulgate with parallel Douay-Rheims and King James English translations
- SacredBible.org — Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible
- Jerome's Latin Vulgate (405 A.D.)
- AudioBible — Audio version of the King James Version.
- Blue Letter Bible — On-line interactive reference library continuously updated from the teachings and commentaries of selected pastors and teachers who hold to the conservative, historical Christian faith.
- E-sword — Downloadable Bible for Windows.
- The Online Bible North America — Downloadable Bible for Windows.
- Theophilos Bible program
- American Standard Version.
- English Standard Version from Good News/Crossway (the publisher).
- King James Version with dictionary.
- King James Version.
- New Living Translation
- New Revised Standard Version.
- World English Bible.
- King James Version built using AJAX technologies, with Strongs and Greek Morphological Codes by Robinson.
- The Hypertext Bible with side-by-side translations in English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at the Internet Sacred Text Archive
- Bible Gateway at GospelCom.net text search in any one of many translations in numerous languages.
- Bible Read-Through — read through the Bible in a year aid.
- TheFreeBible.com Bible software downloads
- Interlinear (word-by-word) translation of the Christian Bible Hebrew and Koine Greek
- http://www.aramaicpeshitta.com/aramaic_nt_resources.htm - Aramaic New Testament resources
- Over 40 versions of the Bible
- Eastern and Western Armenian Bible
- Online Bible (King James Version & Old Testament)
- Bible — Louis Segond de 1910
- Complete Sayings of Christ
- Crosswalk.com Parallel Bible
- Blue Letter Bible
- Recovery Version Bible
- Turkish Bible (Turkish Old and New Testament)
- Bible Timeline
- My Jewish Learning.com
- American Bible Society to search NASB, KJV, CEV, ASV and others.
- University of Virginia Library KJV word proximity search.
- Many translations in English, verse by verse
- Nava Karar NT Translation from Greek to Marathi
- Gender-neutral Bible translations.
- Word-for-Word vs.Thought-for-Thought translation Outlines the difference between formal and dynamic equivalent translation philosopy.
- Klingon Bible.
Commentaries and analysis
- Bible study topics - Bible studies and exposition online
- Biblical chronology by Alan Montgomery, B.Sc.(Hon)
- Biblical History, The Jewish History Resource Center — Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- Judaica Press Translation — online Jewish translation of the Tanakh.
- Reading and Understanding the Bible.
- Source for Bible Answers.
- Amazing Facts Bible Studies.
- Learning Bible Today — a historical approach the Bible.
- John Gill's Exposition of the Bible — verse by verse commentary.
- Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible — unabridged.
- Topical References
- Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedia
- Achtemeier, Paul J., ed. Harper's Bible Dictionary (1985), 1190pp; mainstream scholarship
- Ackroyd, P.R., ed. The Cambridge History of the Bible: From the Beginnings to Jerome; the West from the Fathers to the Reformation; the West from the Reformation to the Present Day (3 vol 1978), standard summary of scholarship; excerpt and text search vol 1; excerpt and text search vol 2; excerpt and text search vol 3
- Coggins, R.J. Introducing the Old Testament (Oxford University Press: 1990), 172pp. online edition
- Morgan, Robert, and John Barton. Biblical Interpretation (Oxford University Press: 1988), 342 pp online edition
- Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob, ed. The New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (NIDB) (5 vol 2009), the latest mainstream scholarship
- Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1966; new edition 2006); Evangelical
- Unger, Merril F. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, (2006); 1416pp; Evangelical
- Unger, Merril F. Unger's Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL (1967); Evangelical.
- Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI (1965); Evangelical
- Sandys-Wunsch, John. What Have They Done to the Bible: A History of Modern Biblical Interpretation 2005) Scholarly history of transations and interpretations to 1900; excerpt and text search
- Williamspn, Peter. Catholic principles for interpreting scripture: a study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission's The interpretation of the Bible in the Church (2001); Catholic; excerpts and text search
- 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.
- ↑ Christianity adds a few additional books to the Jewish Old Testament.
- ↑ 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]
- ↑ The Catholic Bible includes these books that are not included in the Protestant Bible:
- The Wisdom of Solomon
- 1st Maccabees
- 2nd Maccabees
- Baruch