The Bible, What is it?

The Bible

By Rev. Jack Barr

What is it? Where Did It Come From?

The term "Bible" is from the Greek biblia, plural of biblion, a diminutive of biblos (book), from When were the Books of the Bible Written?

byblos (papyrus). In ancient times papyrus was used in making the paper from which books were manufactured. By about the fifth century the Greek Church fathers applied the term biblia o the hole of Christian Scriptures.

In the New Testament, the Old Testament is usually referred to as the scriptures (Matt. 21:42; 22:29; Luke 24:32; John 5:39; Acts 18:24). Other terms used are "scripture" (Acts 8:32; Gal. 3:22), the "Holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:2; 2 Tim. 3:15).

The Bible is a collection of books, that the word came to be used in the singular, emphasizes the fact that behind these many books there lies a wonderful unity.

The names "Old" and "New Testament" have been used since the close of the second century to distinguish the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. "Testament" is used in the New Testament to render the Greek word diatheke (Latin testamentum ), which in classical usage meant "a will", but in New Testament was used to translate the Hebrew word berith, "a covenant". Strictly therefore, "Old" and "New Testament" mean "Old" and "New Covenant," the reference being to the covenants God made with His elect people in the two dispensations.

The books of the Bible are written mostly in Hebrew, the language spoken by the Israelites in Canaan before the Babylonian Captivity, but during the captivity, the Israelites learned and spoke the language called Aramaic or Chaldean which was the language in Babylon, and so some parts of some of the books were written in Aramaic. (Ezra 4:8 - 6:18; 7:12 - 26; Jer 10:11; Dan. 2:4 - 7:28). The ancient Hebrew text consisted only of consonants, since the Hebrew alphabet had no written vowels. Vowel signs were invented by the Jewish Masoretic scholars in the sixth century and later.

Except for a few words and sentences, the New Testament was composed in Greek, the language of ordinary intercourse in the Hellenistic (Greek) world (note: Greek was used as an international language at this period of time, everyone knew Greek regardless of their language of birth). The difference of New Testament Greek from classical Greek used to be a cause of bewilderment to scholars, but the discovery, since 1890's of many thousands of papyri documents in the sands of Egypt has shown that the Greek of the New Testament is identical with the Greek generally spoken in the Mediterranean world in the first century.

The Protestant Bible in general use today contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The 39 Old Testament books are the same as those recognized by the Palestinian Jews in New Testament times. The Catholic Bible adds to these, seven more books (Tobit. Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 & 2 Maccabees, plus the two so called additions to Esther and Daniel). These books are not considered to be canonical (sacred) and are not accepted by the Jews or the Protestants. They are recognized as historical only and not inspired. All branches of the Christian Church are agreed on the New Testament canon.

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