The Bible – History and How-To's

                                                                                                                                               

The Bible is God’s word. It is either the literal words of God and Jesus or words inspired by God and written by authors such as apostles, disciples and prophets. When you are reading the Bible you are reading a very powerful book. The Bible is timeless and infinite, just like God. The Bible gives vast amounts of information and revelation. It tells us how much God loves us, how to be in relationship with the Lord and how he wants us to live. It is the most widely read book in the world, it has been read and spoken about by billions of people for thousands of years. The Bible holds the knowledge of truth. The Bible is used as a confirmation that people are telling the truth.

To give an overview, the Bible is separated into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each of these two sections contains many books. The Bible starts with the first book called Genesis in the Old Testament. The first accounts in Genesis begin with God’s creation of the world, the creation of Adam and Eve, Noah and the great flood and then extend into God establishing himself as the God of Abraham, who is known as the father of Israel. It tells about Abraham’s son Isaac and the son of Isaac named Jacob who lived in the area of what is now Israel. During this time, Joseph, who was the son of Jacob and Abraham’s great grandson, after a series of events, relocated the Jewish people south to Egypt. Life was good at first but then as time went on the Jewish people, also known as Hebrews, became slaves of the Egyptians.

Then after hundreds of years in Egypt, Moses brought millions of Hebrews out of Egypt and away from slavery and brought them back to their homeland in what is now Israel where Abraham had first lived. The Jewish people then established their kingdom there. The Old Testament then covers the time of King David, who wrote many of the Psalms and his son King Solomon whose writings appear in the book of Proverbs. Towards the middle of the Old Testament it tells about the kings of the Jewish people after Solomon in books called Chronicles and Kings. Further on there are books with the names of prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah who predicted the Jewish people would eventually be defeated and taken into exile by the northern Babylonian kings who were very powerful at the time. This was because at that time the Jewish people had fallen into idol worship. Because they had turned away from God, they were defeated and did go into northern exile but eventually were allowed to come back to their homeland years later. This exile and return happened many hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

The New Testament covers the period of time of Jesus’s earthly life 2000 years ago until when the early Christian church was created. This was again in the the area we now know as Israel which was now under Roman domination. The New Testament begins with the earthly life, three year ministry and crucifixion of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus' frequently used parables in his teaching. These parables are brilliant stories Jesus told to illustrate particular points. The Book of Acts then comes after the Gospels when the early church was being established by the Apostle Paul and the first Christians. The New Testament then covers the writings of Apostle Paul which are letters that make up two-thirds of the New Testament. There are also writings of the disciples of Jesus such as James, Peter and John. The New Testament also includes the book of Hebrews which is thought to have been written by Apostle Paul, even though the writer remains unidentified. The Bible ends in Revelations which is written by John, giving visions he had from God that are very prophetic about the future of the world and what is to happen to it in the end times.

 

More about The Bible to Help Understand It

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible have books. Each book has chapters and each chapter has verses. That's why when you see a specific verse listed such as Proverbs 3:5, this means the verse is in the book of Proverbs in the 3rd chapter and the 5th verse. That’s how you can locate Bible verses. It is good to learn how to navigate in the Bible and know the approximate locations of the books in the Bible. You can read the Table of Contents in the Bible to familarize yourself with this. Basically, get to know which books are in the beginning, in the middle and towards the end. This also comes with time and experience. When you are in Bible studies or in church, even experienced Christians that have been reading the Bible for years can have a tough time finding a verse and that’s Ok. A lot of hurried page turning goes on!

The Bible was originally hand-copied by scribes in ancient times and later by monks on manuscripts. Later in it was printed with the arrival of the printing press. There are now many versions of the Bible. Years before the modern versions became available there was primarily the King James Version. The Kings James Version is called that because it was translated from Greek and Hebrew into English during the time of King James I rule in England in the beginning of the 1600’s. This version is written in old English, many people who where raised on it love it and that’s certainly their preference. This version is full of thee's and thou’s. For me it’s a bit difficult to read because of the old English. I prefer the modern translations although it’s good when looking at specific Bible verses to compare and contrast the different translations, including the King James. They all are saying the same thing but possibly with different words which can give you additional insights into a specific verse.

With the modern versions, there are several, I’ll name a few of them: The New International Version ( NIV), the Amplified Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, the New Living Translation (NLT), the New King James Version and the Message Bible. These are all great versions and easy to read. They all have plain modern language. The NIV version is commonly given out in churches if they give you a free Bible. I use the New Revised Standard Version and the NIV and I might look at The Amplified Bible for a different outlook on a specific verse. The Amplified Bible has many parenthesis giving different words to “amplify” the original words. The Message Bible has the most modern language of all and it is great, although it does not have have the chapters and verses marked off. That can make it a bit challenging to find a specific verse quickly. There are other accepted translations of the Bible available in Christian bookstores. If I was going to recommend a version to start with, I would say the NIV or the NLT.

When reading the Bible, you don’t necessarily have to start in the beginning and end at the end. Reading the Bible takes time. As a new Christian, I recommend starting in the gospel of John in the New Testament with the life of Jesus and then read through the letters of the Apostle Paul also in the New Testament such as Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians and Colossians, then go from there. Read the Bible slowly. Have it become your friend. Start treasuring it and the time you spend with it. You can highlight versus in the Bible with different highlighter colors when you find a verse that specifically speaks to your heart or underline it with pen. You should treat your Bible with respect, however you can also mark it up the way you want to. Some people have many Bibles, the family Bible which is never marked up and their working Bible which is all marked up. If your working Bible begins to fall apart because you are using it so much and the binds come loose, that’s Ok. You can get a new one. I’ve heard it say a Bible that is falling apart shows a life that isn’t.