The Bible

Image – David Ball: via Wikipedia

The word Bible comes from the Latin after the Greek biblia, or “books.” Biblia is a form of byblos, meaning the papyrus paper exported from the ancient Phoenician port city of Biblos.

Also known as the Holy Bible, the Bible is a collection of writings complied over centuries, containing the Sacred Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. Although some fundamentalists don’t like to explore the idea, mature biblical scholars, using various archeological findings and scholarly techniques, generally agree that many books of the Bible attributed to one author were likely not written by that author; possibly they were written by many authors and compiled over time.

The debates are fast and sometimes furious. But to most sober-minded people, it seems that in many books, the Bible did not drop down from God into mind of a single prophet/author.

This assertion does not, however, necessarily mean that the Bible does not come from God. Not unlike the idea of intelligent design (vs. creationism), the evolution of the Bible could very well have been overseen or, if you prefer the religious word,  inspired by the Lord.

Jews and Christians each use the word “bible” but the Jewish scriptures and the Christian Bible differ.

The 39 books of Jewish Scripture are written in Hebrew, except for a few passages in Daniel and Ezra, which are written in Aramaic.

The Old Testament (or Jewish Bible) recounts God’s involvement with mankind from creation to the beginning of the Israelite’s religion, up to around the 2nd-century BCE.

The Christian Bible contains the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. The New Testament is regarded by Christians as a “new covenant” between God and his people, focusing on the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and the formation of his early apostolic church.

Several early texts competed for inclusion into the orthodox canon. The Old Testament was not decided upon until 100 CE, at the council of Jabneh. Disagreements continued until 1546, however, at which time the council of Trent declared several books as canonical which Protestants would later regard as apocryphal (texts not recognized as holy scripture but containing some merit).

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The Old Testament used by the Roman Catholic Church is the Jewish Bible plus seven other books (and additions); some of the additional books were originally written in Greek, as was the New Testament.

The Old Testament used by Protestants consists of the 39 books of the Jewish Bible. The remaining, unused books and additions are called the Apocrypha by Protestants, which are generally known as deuterocanonical books by Roman Catholics. However, many Catholics use the word Apocrypha to describe all that lies outside their Authorized Bible.

An early indication of a canonical list matching today’s New Testament is found in the 39th Easter letter of Athanasius in 367 CE, designating 27 books of the New Testament in addition to the Old Testament canon.

The New Testament (Christian Scripture)

The Gospels and Acts

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts of the Apostles

The Epistles or Letters

  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Book of Revelation or Apocalypse of St John

The Old Testament (Christian and Jewish Scripture)

Books of the Law (known as the Pentateuch)

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

Historical Books

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther

Books of Poetry and Wisdom

  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon

Books of the Prophets

  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

The Apocrypha†

  • 1 Esdras
  • 2 Esdras
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Additions to Esther
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Ecclesiasticus
  • Baruch
  • Epistle of Jeremiah
  • Prayer of Azariah
  • Song of the Three Young Men
  • History of Susanna
  • Bel and the Dragon
  • Prayer of the Manasseh
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

† The Roman Catholic Church includes Tobit, Judith, all of Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus and Baruch in its canon.


  1. Nice synopsis of the Bible. In the traditional Catholic circles I run in there is a tendency to literalism that causes all sorts of problems and arguments. One of the more amazing ones, to me anyway, is whether the Earth orbits around the Sun. Some biblical texts (I forget exact chapter and verse) either say or imply that the Earth is the center of the solar system and everything orbits around earth. Some people become quite heated defending this position. So it goes…

    Liked by 1 person

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