Lesson 01.01

What is the Bible?


"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,"
(Heb. 4:12).
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     The Bible is the literary source of the Christian religion.  It is the inspired and inerrant word of God, a collection of 66 books (39 in the OT and 27 in the new), written by over 40 different authors, from 1500 B.C. to about 100 A.D., on three continents, and in three languages:  Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  These men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). They wrote not in words of human wisdom but in words taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13).
     The Bible has played an important role in the history of civilization, especially in Western Europe.  It's truths have shaped countless millions and helped to form nations by influencing lawmakers.  It has been quoted in literature, has inspired movies, and been the subject of intense debate.  It is the world's best selling book.
      The Bible describes God's creative work of both the earth and mankind, the fall of man, the expansion of the nations, the formation of laws, and the rise and fall of many nations.  But the Bible is particularly about God's dealings with the nation of Israel, His covenantal promises to them, the prophecies and fulfillment of the Messiah.  In particular, the New Testament is the inspired revelation of God, through the apostles, concerning the work and Ministry of Jesus, as well as the growth of the church.  In short, the Bible is about Jesus (John 5:39).
      Within the pages of the Bible is great wisdom and truths.  It is not a scientific book, nor is it intended to be.  Instead, it claims to be the revelation of God to his people.  It claims to record the past and predict the future.  It claims to tell us what the distant future will be and that the ultimate destiny of people will end in either eternal salvation or eternal damnation.

The Protestant Christian Canon

Old Testament New Testament
 
Pentateuch
- 5 books
     Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Historical Books - 12 books
     Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First Samuel, Second Samuel, First Kings, Second Kings, First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.

Poetical - 5 books
     Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

Prophetical - 17 books
     Major Prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
     Minor Prophets - Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

 
Historical Books
-  5 books
     Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts

Pauline Epistles - 13 books
     Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians. 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Non-Pauline Epistles - 9 books
     Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation

 

Note:  Some authors attribute Hebrews to Paul.

Other Books?

     There are other books mentioned in the Bible that are not part of the Bible.

  1. The Book of Wars - Num. 21:14
  2. The Book of Jasher - Josh. 10:13
  3. The Chronicles of David - 1 Chron. 27:24
  4. The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah - 2 Chron. 27:7; 35:27; 36:8
  5. The Book of the Kings of Israel - 1 Chron. 9:1; 2 Chron. 20:34.
  6. The Words of the Kings of Israel - 2 Chron. 33:18.
  7. The Decree of David the King of Israel  - 2 Chron. 35:4.
  8. The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer - 1 Chron. 29:29
  9. The Chronicles of Nathan the Prophet - 1 Chron. 29:29
  10. The Book of Gad - 1 Chron. 29:29 
  11. The Book of the Prophet Iddo - 2 Chron. 13:22
  12. The Words of Shemaiah the Prophet - 2 Chron. 12:15
  13. The Deeds of Uzziah by Isaiah the Prophet - 2 Chron. 26:22; 32:32
  14. The Book of Jehu - 2 Chron. 20:34
  15. The Record book of Ahasuerus - Esther 2:23; 6:1
  16. The Book of Remembrance - Mal. 3:16
  17. The Book of Life - Dan. 12:1; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 20:11; 22:19
  18. The Book of Judgment - Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12
  19. The seven-sealed book - Rev. 5:1, 13
  20. An angel's book - Rev. 10:2

     These other books are not Scripture.  They were never intended to be included in the Bible.  The Jewish and the Christian community has never recognized these books as being parts of the Bible. Their existence does not mean that the Bible is not complete, nor does it mean that they were taken out of the Bible.  The fact is that they never were part of the Bible to begin with.

When was the Bible formed?

     The Bible was fully gathered and recognized by the end of the fourth century.  Church councils convened to establish what the accepted books of the Bible would be. 

“no canonical lists appear before around A.D. 150…The inclusion of Revelation was a matter of considerable disagreement. The second and third Letters of John, 2 Peter, and Jude were often not included, and Hebrews was sometimes omitted. At the same time, writings not found presently in our canon of twenty-seven were sometimes cited. The twenty-seven-book Latin Vulgate (Vg.) of Jerome (late fourth century) exerted considerable influence upon what books were generally recognized; moreover, provincial church councils held at Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) recognized a twenty-seven-book NT canon.1

    God used the councils of men to establish His canon of scripture.  It was the Christian church that recognized God's word, not determined it.

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Five years after establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Puritans started in Boston the first elementary school supported by tax money. In 1647, they passed an ordinance which marked the beginning of the US Public School system.  Among other things, the ordinance required at least 1 qualified teacher for every 50 householders, and a grammar school in every town of more than 100 families. It also put the Bible in the center of its curriculum, asserting that it is “one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures.

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1.
Achtemeier, Paul J., Publishers Harper & Row, and Society of Biblical Literature. Harper's Bible Dictionary. electronic ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1996, c1985

 


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