What is the Bible?

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, tà biblía, "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred of Judaism and Christianity. They consider the Bible to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans. The Bible texts include theologically-focused historical accounts, hymns, proverbs, parables, didactic letters, sermons, poetry, and prophecies.


According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any other book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled." As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.


The Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible (mid-15th century)

Textual History


By the 2nd century BCE, Jewish groups began calling the books of the Bible the "scriptures" and they referred to them as "holy", and Christians now commonly call the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible "The Holy Bible" or "the Holy Scriptures."

The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne. The bible is usually cited by book, chapter, and verse. The oldest extant copy of a complete Bible is an early 4th-century parchment book preserved in the Vatican Library, and it is known as the Codex Vaticanus.


Development History


Timothy H. Lim, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Edinburgh, says that the Old Testament is "a collection of authoritative texts of divine origin that went through a human process of writing and editing." He states that it is not a magical book, nor was it literally written by God and passed to mankind.


The Isaiah Scroll, Dead Sea Scrolls
The Isaiah scroll, which is a part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dates from the 2nd century BCE.

In Christian Bibles, the New Testament Gospels were derived from oral traditions in the second half of the first century. The period of transmission is short: less than 40 years passed between the death of Jesus and the writing of Mark's Gospel.


The Apocrypha


The word “apocrypha” comes from the Greek word meaning "hidden" or "secret." The Apocrypha books were deemed too sacred to be read by the general public and were kept in secret only to be read by initiates of a religious group. Christians today say that apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin.


Deuterocanonical (Catholic, Assyrian, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches):

Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Additions to Daniel

Orthodox only: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Odes


What Books are Included in the Bible?



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