What is the Bible?

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The Bible is an anthology made up of 66 texts, written in 3 different languages by at least 40 authors over the course of almost 1,500 years. These books were written by mostly Jewish authors at different times and to different audiences for different purposes. The subject of every book is God, who He is, and how He relates to the people and the universe that He created.

The story of the Bible starts with the creation of the universe and of people, who were created in God’s own image. Those people very quickly fall into sin and rebellion against God and His rules. The rest of the Bible is about God’s redemption story – His plan to bring those people back to Him and back to perfection.

The anthology is broken into two sections, or testaments, the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The Old Testament consists of books or texts that were written before Jesus Christ was born (about the year 4 BC, or BCE). The Old Testament tells the story of the creation, the fall, and then follows the people of Israel, whom God set apart from the other people of the world as special, and how He related to His people, what He expected of them and how they consistently disobeyed Him. God’s relationship with Israel was complicated because they continued to fall away from Him into sin.

The New Testament consists of books or texts that were written after Jesus Christ was born (and they are all about Him too!). These books tell the story of the birth, ministry, life, death, and resurrection from the dead of a very special man named Jesus (who came from the people of Israel, which is what that was all about), who was literally God’s son (He had no human father, only a mother because His father was God). The first half of the New Testament tells the story of Jesus and His friends and how they changed the Roman world in the first century AD (BCE). The second half consists of letters written by His friends and relatives after He was executed by the Romans and tell of who He is, and how people should live because of those truths. They also say that Jesus is coming back one day to bring those who believe in Him to heaven and those who don’t to judgment and punishment for their sins.

 

The Bible is not only about God, but it claims to be written by God, via divine inspiration through human¬†authors. In fact, a large part of the Old Testament records prophets writing down the very words God had spoken to them. The New Testament contains many words and quotations of Jesus Christ Himself, who claims to be God come to earth in human form. The apostle Paul, one of Jesus’ close friends, tells us in 1 Timothy 3:16 that “All scripture is inspired by God [literally ‘God-breathed’], and useful for teaching and training in righteousness”.

The last book of the Bible was written over 1,900 years ago. It was fully assembled into one book as we see it now by about 300 AD (BCE). There were other texts written by other people who were alive at the time of Jesus, but they have not been included in this divinely inspired anthology mostly because they disagreed in some major aspect with the consensus of the rest of the books and their teachings, which early Christians realized meant they must be mistaken. The books of the Bible tell a unified story of God and agree on His attributes and character. There are many other reasons to think the Bible is divinely inspired as well. We can take this far into the weeds. But that is for another post.

It’s a great book, and I highly encourage you to read it.

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