Tonight we started exploring the Bible and its background a little more. What are its parts? Where did it come from? Who were its writers? Can it be believed?
The guys over at The Bible Project have a run-down of the Bible’s origins.
Some of the essential statistics follow:
- The Bible is not just one book, but for Protestants it is a collection of 66 distinct documents written by over a dozen different writers.
- The earliest texts were composed around 2000 BC, the latest documents of the New Testament were written in the late 1st century (80-90AD).
- The original languages of the biblical books were Hebrew, Greek, and a little bit of Aramaic.
- The Old Testament includes:
- The five books of the Law (Torah) sometimes called “the five books of Moses” or Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
- Books of the history of Israel (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah)
- Books of Wisdom or Poetry (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations)
- Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel)
- Minor Prophets (look it up)
- The New Testament books include:
- Gospels or retellings of the life of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
- The story of the Church (Acts of the Apostles)
- Letters from the Apostle Paul or “Pauline Epistles” (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon)
- Letters from other Apostles or “General Epistles” (Hebrews, James, Jude, Peter, John)
- And Revelation (which is in a category of its own)
Here is my 10 second explanation of the Bible: it is the story of the people who gave the world Jesus, and the testimony of the people who knew him.
But the Bible is much more than that, not easily summed up in a few words or even a few pages. Since the beginning of the church, Christians have cherished the scriptures as their guide from God. We call the Bible, “the word of God,” because we believe the story of Jesus, his people, and the people who knew him can teach us about God’s truth unlike any other book in the world!
The Bible comes from a very different culture than our own. In the modern world dominated by a very analytical and scientific worldview, readers have raised questions about how to understand the Bible when sometimes there appear to be contradictions within the Bible. Not all 66 books and not all of the dozens of authors recount the various stories of the Bible in exactly the same way. On top of that, the Bible includes some fantastic stories of the miraculous that defy many of our assumptions about what is possible in the world. So the question is asked: can the Bible be trusted as a reliable account of real events?
Christians believe that God has used many diverse authors to tell his story we find in the Bible, and those different authors will bring different perspectives, different types of literature, and different cultural ways of describing the truth. To modern readers, these can appear as discrepancies, but ancient readers understood the remarkable coherence of the Biblical story. They were careful to preserve the stories handed down from generation to generation. Before 1945, our oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament were only dated back to the 12th century. Then in 1945 an incredible archeological discovery of “The Dead Sea Scrolls” gave us manuscripts of the Old Testament almost a thousand years older than anything we had before. The most amazing part of the discovery: they had almost no change over the course of 1000 years, showing how very carefully the original stories had been preserved!
The Bible is our best source to know who Jesus is and how he shows us God. I can tell you all kinds of reasons why many scholars find the Bible to be a reliable source of truth, but the best way to figure it out is to read it for yourself. Read it prayerfully, listen for God’s voice speaking to you as you read it. You’ll find it can change your life.
Journaling Questions this Week:
Read Genesis 1:1-27
- In verse two, how does the Bible describe the world before God starts working?
- What phrases are repeated over and over in this story?
- Why do you think God created the world?