GETTING TO KNOW THE Bible
Due to the nature of this essay, we've used several different Bible versions, as noted


 

INTRODUCTION

The Bible is a book read by millions of people the world over by many different faiths: Jewish citizens live by the Old Testament portion, while Christians tend to focus on the New Testament . Muslims consider the Bible a holy book as well (although they don't revere it as highly as their Quran). Mormons also acknowledge the Bible (though they put more faith in their Book Of Mormon).

The Bible is a text that has a vast amount of historical information in it, as well as instructions for how we ought to live. This makes it the most important book that we could read. The purpose of this page is to help those who are unfamiliar with the Bible to become familiar with this special book. Let's take a look around the Bible and see what there is:

 

A LOOK AT THE CONTENTS

The Bible is a book written through the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17 -- ASV) and is divided into two major sections: The Old Testament, (a.k.a. "The Torah") and The New Testament (a.k.a. "The Gospel"):

Old Testament
The Old Testament gives a vast amount of historical information concerning the beginnings of Judaism and it's ancient culture. It is composed of 39 mini books. It begins with God's creation of everything (Genesis 1:1 -- ASV) and contains the accounts of various kings, and peoples, nations, and biographies. It also contains the prophecies of various Jewish holy men, the book of Psalms (which is mostly poetic songs), and is rich in historical value. Much of what is contained in the Bible has been verified by archaeological evidence. Roughly two thirds of the Bible is the Old Testament.

The first five books of the Bible are collectively named "The Pentateuch", a.k.a. "The Books of Moses". The Pentateuch details the beginnings of creation, the origin of sin, the beginnings of Judaism (from which Christianity branched from), and details regarding the original Jewish Law Covenant. :

Genesis,
Exodus,
Leviticus,
Numbers, and
Deuteronomy

After the Pentateuch comes the Historical Books. These tell of various battles, the lives of various important people, the rulership of Israelite kings, genealogies, and much more. The book of Esther is especially interesting because it tells of a queen who saves her nation from genocide. This section includes these books:

Joshua,
Judges,
Ruth,
1 Samuel,
2 Samuel,
1 Kings,
2 Kings,
1 Chronicles,
2 Chronicles,
Ezra,
Nehemiah, and
Esther

The next section of the Bible includes books of lyric and prose. This includes the following books:

Job
(with a long vowel "o"): This is the account of a man who was very conscientious towards God. Because of his love for God, Satan chose to try to break the man's faith to make him denounce God. Instead of breaking Job's faith Job clung to God, even when his own friends and wife turned against him. In the end, Job's faith won and God blessed him greatly for it.
Psalms:
This book has more than one author. Each chapter of Psalms is a poetic song. These songs were written over a long period of time. Some of the authors are: David, The Sons of Korah, Asaph and various others.
Proverbs:
This is a book of wise sayings mostly spoken by king Solomon (son of David), but also by Agur (Proverbs chapter 30) and Lemuel the king (Chapter 31).
Ecclesiastes
This is a book filled with the wisdom of King Solomon. Much imagery and sage advice is contained within.
Song Of Solomon
(a.k.a. "Canticles" and "Song of Songs"): This is the tale of a love story, though it is also symbolic of Christ's relationship with His Church.

The following section of the Bible belongs to the various prophets, and lists the Major Prophets first, and then the Minor Prophets. The titles of "Major" and "Minor" do not reflect the importance of their messages, instead they reflect the length of the books: The Major Prophets tend to be longer than the Minor Prophets.

The Major Prophets include :

Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations (Written by Jeremiah)
Ezekiel, and
Daniel.

Next is the section of the Minor Prophets, which includes:

Hosea,
Joel,
Amos,
Obadiah,
Jonah,
Micah,
Nahum,
Habakkuk,
Zephaniah,
Haggai,
Zechariah and
Malachi

"Malachi" marks the end of the Old Testament. There is about a four hundred year gap between the book of Malachi and the beginning of the New Testament's first book, Matthew. It is interesting to note that most of the Minor and Major prophets are quoted by people throughout the New Testament.

New Testament
The New Testament starts with the birth of Jesus Christ and proceeds to show the beginnings of Christianity. It is composed of 27 books. It contains, not only the account of Jesus Christ's life, but also the progression and growth of the newly formed Christian congregation.

The first four books are frequently referred to as "The Gospel", and contains eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ's life as well as the beginnings of the Christian congregation. This section includes:

Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts
(Not a Gospel, but history of the Church beginnings)

Although the writers of the Gospel accounts knew each other, they weren't always together at all times. Therefore, each one's account is written a little differently from each other. The book of Acts contains the account of Christ's ascension to heaven, the conversion of Saul/Paul and the history of the beginning of the newly formed Christian church.

The next several books are inspired letters written by the converted apostle Paul to the various congregations that Paul evangelized to. These are called the "Pauline Epistles". These books are:

Romans,
1 Corinthians,
2 Corinthians,
Galatians,
Ephesians,
Philippians,
Colossians,
1 Thessalonians,
2 Thessalonians,
1 Timothy,
2 Timothy,
Titus, and
Philemon.

After Philemon is a book called

Hebrews

...written by an unknown person.


The next books are called the "General Epistles", and consist of these books:

James, (written by the human half brother of Jesus),
1 Peter, (Written by the apostle Peter)
2 Peter, (written by the apostle Peter)
1 John, (written by the apostle John)
2 John, (written by the apostle John)
3 John (written by the apostle John) and
Jude (another human half brother of Jesus).

After these epistles comes the final book of the Bible:

Revelation,

Revelation is sometimes titled "The Apocalypse". Revelation/The Apocalypse is prophetic of the future, beginning with the time period that will happen just before Christ returns.

Throughout the Bible, each book is divided into sections called "chapters", and each chapter is divided into smaller sections called "verses". Therefore, when you come across a scriptural reference, you can find exactly where it would be in the Bible. For example, if you are given the reference of "Genesis 1:2"(KJV), that means it is in the book of Genesis (which is the very first book in the Bible), chapter one, verse two. It goes from largest to smallest: The book, its chapter, and its verse.

 

VARIOUS Bible VERSIONS

If you go to your local library or book store you can find some of the different Bible versions that are in print today, and you can also find them online.

In many versions the name of God is actually spelled out. We will "landmark" this in the Scripture at Psalm 83:18:

In some versions, the name is the English form: "Jehovah" (2001 Translation, American Standard Version, Darby Translation, King James Version, Young's Literal Translation), and in some versions it is the Hebrew form: "Yahweh"(The Bible in Basic English, Holman Christian Standard Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, World English Bible). Other versions substitute the word "LORD". There are also place names in the Bible that incorporate God's proper name into them: Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24 -- (YLT), (HCSB footnotes). Some versions use older language (thee, thou, etc.), some use contemporary language, and yet others paraphrase the Scriptures. Some contain only the New Testament portion, while others are complete with the Old Testament. Despite these differences, the message in the Bible remains the same. Therefore, don't be confused by the different versions, for they all tell the same story. Any of you who have already perused through this website will see we made the effort to quote Scripture from different Bible versions. We did this, in part, to help familiarize readers with the various Bible versions available today.

If you want a comprehensive web directory of online Bible versions, please click here.

It is important to note here that some Bible versions, such as the Douay-Rheims, have alternative spellings for some of these book names and an alternative sequence in Bible chapters and verses, so please be aware of this in order to avoid confusion. For example, compare the verse sequence of Psalms chapter 83 with the King James Version here, and the Douay-Rheims version here; and the name of the Biblical book of Zephaniah in the King James Version (KJV) here compared to the Douay-Rheims version of the name here.

There is a wide variety of Bible versions printed. Some of the most common English language versions are the King James Version, New King James Version, American Standard Version, New American Standard Bible , Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the New International Version, . These are only a few of the many versions that contain solely canonical Scripture. Canonical Scripture is that which is contained in the "canon"; the canon is Scripture that is fully determined to be inspired from God across all Christian denominations.

Some versions, such as the New American Bible, Douay-Rheims, and the New Jerusalem Bible, contain other Scriptures aside from the canon. These other Scriptures are called the "Apocrypha" or "Deuterocanonical Books". You will usually find these extra books in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox denominations.

 

CONCORDANCES

For many people, study of the Bible can be made easier by using a concordance. A concordance is a book that indexes all the words in the Bible so that you can find an appropriate Scripture. For example, if you want to look for that Scripture that says something about a rooster crowing just before Christ's murder, but aren't sure where it is, you'd look in the concordance under words such as: rooster, cock, or crowing. Under each of those words the concordance will list little blurbs of Scripture in Biblical order, and you can find the one which matches what you're looking for. It's best to use a concordance which matches your Bible version, but even if they don't match you can still navigate through. Here are some links for online concordances for those of you who are interested:
Strong's Concordance with Hebrew & Greek Lexicon
Biblestudytools -- Concordances
Biblica.com Concordance

 

MARGINALS

Many Bibles include little footnotes and other notations in the margins and between columns and these little notes are useful for your personal education, so please be sure to read them. We invite you to get a Bible, take a good look, and don't rush the reading.

 

DON'T HAVE A Bible?

If you don't happen to have money to buy a Bible, don't let that worry you: Contact any of your local churches they will be glad to give you a free Bible (If you run into a church that requires you to pay money for the Bible, it isn't a genuinely God-based church; contact the next church on your list). You can also download free Bibles and Bible study software onto your computer at e-Sword.net .

 

NON-ENGLISH BibleS

For online Bibles in languages other than English, please browse the following links:
http://www.Biblegateway.com/versions/
http://www.ethnicharvest.org/Bibles/


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