About the Bible

The Old Testament.

Our Old Testament is the Hebrew scriptures used by Jesus and still used by Jews today. The Old Testament has been translated from Hebrew into many languages. One of the early translations, before the time of Jesus, was into Greek and called the Septuagint (meaning ‘the 70’ because 70 scholars translated it. Writers use the shorthand LXX - Roman numeral 70) For some reason the order of the books is different, some books are divided into two, and different titles are given.
The first followers of Jesus were Jews, but after his resurrection non-Jews soon became Christians. These non-Jews spoke Greek but not Hebrew so they used the Septuagint which is why Christian Bibles follow the order, division and titles of that, rather than the Hebrew.

The Hebrew Old Testament is divided into 3 sections:
-The Law (Torah) has 5 books:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
-The Prophets (Nebhim), 8 books:
Former Prophets - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings
Latter Prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah , Ezekiel, The Twelve (minor prophets)
-The Writings (Kethubim), 11 books:
Poetical Books - Psalms, Proverbs, Job
Megilloth - Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ecclesiastes
Historical Books - Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles.

B : The New Testament
The New Testament is made up of the following:
-Gospels (4 books): Matthew , Mark, Luke, John
-Acts of the Apostles (1 book)
-Epistles - letters (21 books): Romans - Jude
-The Revelation to John

C : The Apocrypha
In Roman Catholic Bibles, and in some others you will find the Old Testament Apocrypha.
These books were never part of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. They were largely written in Greek and describe events that took place after about 300BC, that is after the time described in the Old Testament but before the coming of Christ. Some Jews living away from Israel used the Greek translation of their Scripture and the Apocryphal books were included in this.
As the Christian faith spread to Greeks many people did not know Hebrew and so used the Septuagint.
Protestants have seem some value in the Old Testament, for example the Church of England position is that these books ‘are read by the church for examples of life and instruction in behaviour’ they should not be used ‘to establish any doctrine’. But, they are not treated as God-breathed Scripture in the way that the other Old Testament scriptures are.

What the Bible is:
The Bible is ‘God-breathed’, it is written by human authors but by the Holy Spirit.
Article 6 of the Church of England Articles of Religion reads:
Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation. Consequently whatever is not read in Scripture nor can be proved from Scripture cannot be demanded from any person to believe it as an article of faith. Nor is any such thing to be thought necessary or required for salvation.
The bible has two parts, one part written
Before Christ - BC - which leads up to Christ and points to Christ, the Old Testament as we call it, and one part written
Anno Domini - AD - telling us about the first coming of Jesus and how we should respond and live now as we await his return.

What the Bible is not?
The Bible is not God. It is not an object of our worship, nor should reading the bible be an end in itself.
The bible teaches us how to live:
All Scripture is God-breathed .....so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy chapter 3 verses 16 & 17
But more than this it directs us to Christ:
‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.
These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to
come to me to have life.’ John chapter 5 verse 39

From beginning to end the Bible is about Jesus, here is its great purpose that through it we might come to Christ and in him have life.

© David Phillips 1995-2021