What is the Bible?
What is the
Bible? Is a question often asked by both believers and
unbelievers. What makes this book so special and so hated in
nations, such as Saudi Arabia and North Korea, having a Bible
could mean prison or death. Even in the United States, the
presence of a Bible could get you fired or reprimanded. So,
what’s the big deal about a book?
for this reaction stems from the contents and history of the
Bible. In short, the Bible claims to be the inspired Word of
God, the communication from the creator of the Universe to
His creation. If this claim is true, then it implies God is the
final authority (Through His Word) and that other views contrary
to the Bible are wrong, and people, like nations just don’t like
The book the
“Bible” claims moral authority over humanity, including people
and governments. Hostility to the Bible is not new, throughout
much of the Bible’s history; the words in the book were born
translation of the Bible into English is a story in itself, on
how people suffered death, some burned at the stake for
translating the Bible into a language spoken by the common
masses. The Romans, who wanted to maintain their gods and
goddess, persecuted the early church, collecting, and burning
the early Bibles. Nearly, two thousand years later the
Communists, in Russia, China and North Korea did the same,
forbidding the Bible, burning copies and persecuting Christians
who trust its words.
is designed to examine the history of the origin of the Bible,
not so much the evidence, since that is covered under another
topic, Apologetics. Here the goal is to unravel the
story behind the Bible, how the Bible became the Bible.
Significance of the Bible
claim of inspiration
is an issue, causing the most consternation, if the Bible is
“True”, and then its views on moral issues would mean others are
wrong. Issues such as abortion, gay rights and promiscuity are
judged as sin in the Bible. If the Bible were the Word of God,
then those who hold such views would be considered out of the
will of God, for this reason the Bible becomes the issue. Since
no one wants to be wrong, the Bible is the subject of attack.
The Bible however, is more then just a moral book. The Bible
illuminates the reality of our existence. Four important points
revealed in the Bible.
The Bible clearly defines itself as the
communication of God to His creation, through men known as
prophets. God’s communication to His creation defines His
being. God identifies Himself to those He created, that He
created the Universe and life and He alone determines what is
Right and Wrong.
20 To the law
and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this
word, it is because there is no light in them
God defines the purpose of man
also lets humanity understand who we are, what is the purpose
of life? We are not animals who exist for short time and
cease to be. We are created in the image of God, For His glory.
(Gen.1:27, Psalm 19:1)
God declares His plan of Redemption
Through the Bible, God declares His plan for Redemption,
providing the details through prophecy, how His plan would be
accomplished. Seven-hundred years before the birth of Jesus,
Isaiah described the death of God’s servant the Messiah
who would die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
In Daniel, 539 years before the birth of Jesus, we are given the
exact day the Messiah would die. (Daniel 9;24-27)
God declares our future
The Bible also tells us we are eternal beings, created in the
image of God, with an eternal destiny. For those redeemed,
their destiny is with God, for those without redemption,
separation from God. Through scripture, God gives us a glimpse
of eternity, both with and without Him.
the word Bible mean?
origin of the word Bible can be traced to the city of
Byblos located on the Phoenician (Lebanon) coast,
20-miles north of modern Beirut. Byblos is one of the oldest
inhabited cities in the world, from this city Papyrus was
exported throughout the Aegean world; Papyrus came to be
known as (byblos, byblinos), because it was exported from
the city. Hence, the Bible came to be the “Papyrus” book.
produced from the reed plants, which grew along the Nile River.
These sheets of Papyrus were then stitched together to from a
scroll, the scroll was then rolled and unrolled until the
specific area of text was reached.
was discovered that the sheets of Papyrus could be stacked on
top of each other and stitched down the middle and folded,
forming the early versions of the modern-day book, called a
codex. According to Paul D. Wegner, one of the earliest
uses of term occurs in Daniel 9:2 in the Septuagint.
Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament produced
probably between 250 and 100 B.C., uses the word biblia in
Daniel 9;2 to refer to Jeremiah’s words, which may have been in
the form of letters or a collection of prophets. Early
Greek-speaking Christians employed the plural form biblia
(ta biblia [“The books”]) to refer to the entire
collection of Old and New Testament books,….
is the Bible?
Bible is actually a collection of books inspired by the
Holy Spirit revealed through men known as prophets over a
1500-year period, in three distinct languages, Hebrew
Aramaic and Greek. These inspired books, collected
into one volume, are referred to as the Bible.
Sixty-six books compose the Bible, written by more then forty
authors. The authors of the Bible are from diverse backgrounds,
and countries. These authors included among others, Moses an
official in Egypt, Amos a farmer, Daniel a minister in Babylon,
Jeremiah and Ezekiel priests, Peter and John fishermen, Matthew
a tax collector, Luke a physician and Paul a Pharisee.
The books, though written through time by diverse people are
unified in purpose and meaning, pointing the reader/hearer
toward the direction of redemption. The Bible is God’s
revelation of Himself, to His creation. In the Bible, God
demonstrates His desire for His creation, to have relationship
with the people He brought into existence. The Bible however,
demonstrates how sin separated man from God, and how God plans
to redeem us to Himself.
The Need for
ask, why does God need to reveal Himself though the writings of
men, rather then by nature by itself? Nature clearly reveals
the existence of God, through creation via the Cosmological
(Cosmos) and Teleological (Design) arguments we see the need for
Cosmological argument demonstrates the need for a
First-cause (Intelligent-designer) in the creation of the
universe. An effect (The Universe) needs a cause greater then
itself. Therefore, a finite universe requires God, the Cause
(The First Cause)
Teleological argument demonstrates the need of an
intelligent designer, who creates life out of the inanimate
matter. The complexity and design of life requires the need for
Super-intelligence beyond the creation, since the cause
(God) is always greater the effect (Life).
logic of God’s existence demonstrated through creation, unless
God chooses to reveal Himself through Special Revelation,
knowledge of His identity would be limited to what can be
observed in the universe.
through His Spirit, God revealed Himself to individuals, who
wrote down His words, and transmitted His revelation over time,
to later generations, the Inspired words, came to be known as
the Bible. Paul and Peter testify to the inspiration of the Old
Testament. Since the Bible for them was the Old Testament.
Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private
interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:20-21
prophecy, God demonstrates His unique nature, and character,
telling the end at the beginning. By revealing the end at the
beginning God reveals the Super-natural nature of scripture,
which He Himself can only be the Cause. Since revelation of the
future is not in the natural realm of this world, it is beyond
nature, it is super-natural.
"I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went
forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I
did them, and they came to pass. 4 Because I knew that you were
obstinate, And your neck was an iron sinew, And your brow
bronze, 5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you;
Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, Lest you
should say, 'My idol has done them, And my carved image and my
molded image Have commanded them.' Isaiah 48:3-5
proves his authorship of scripture through prophecy,
demonstrating his command over time and nature, to those seeking
what languages was the Bible written?
was originally written in three languages, the Old Testament was
written primarily in Hebrew with portions in Aramaic and the New
Testament written in Koine Greek.
of the Old Testament written in Aramaic are Ezra 4:8-6:18;
7:12-26; Daniel 2:4 to 7:28 and Jeremiah 10:11. Aramaic, a
language related to Hebrew, was the common language of the land
after the exile in 586 B.C. While Hebrew remained the sacred
language of the nation, Aramaic became the common language,
since it was spoken in Babylon, the land of their captivity.
Testament was written in Koine (Common) Greek as opposed
to classical Greek. This was the common Greek spoken in the
Greek-speaking world in the 1st century.
Why is there
an Old and New Testament?
Bible is divided into two parts an Old Testament and a
New Testament. The word “Testament” however, does not fully
convey the meaning behind the Hebrew word,
from which it draws its meaning. From Beriyth, we
translate the word covenant, which means a treaty or an
alliance. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments (Covenants)
are centered around two covenants an Old Covenant and a
Old Covenant, through the prophet Jeremiah and others, there was
anticipation of a coming, greater Covenant, a new covenant,
which would supersede and fulfill the older covenant.
the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of
Judah 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their
fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out
of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was
a husband to them, F23 says the Lord. 33 "But this is the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those
days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write
it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be
My people. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and
every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all
shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,
says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin
I will remember no more." Jeremiah 31:31-34
referring to the shedding of his blood at Calvary inaugurated
the “New Covenant”, referred to in the book of Jeremiah, with
His death at the Cross.
28 "For this
is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many
for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28
Messiah became the sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, and
whoever receives Jesus, through faith, receives forgiveness of
sins, having redemption.
the concept of covenant mean?
Testament centers around the “Covenant” or treaty God made with
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Prior to Abraham, the Bible in
the first 11 chapters deals with the history of humanity from
the creation of world (Genesis 1), to the fall of man (Gen. 3).
Genesis then traces humanity from the fall to the flood in
Noah’s day (Gen. 7-8), to the division of nations (Gen. 11).
In the 12th
chapter, God separates Abraham from his family calling him to
the land of Moriah (Jerusalem), where God establishes a Covenant
relationship with him and his offspring. Through Abraham’s
offspring, specifically through his son Isaac and grandson
Jacob, God promised to bring redemption to the world, through
their descent, the Messiah (The Son of David) would pay for the
sins of the world. (Isaiah 53)
understand what God meant by this Covenant, we need to examine
the way a covenant was sealed between two parties. First animals
would be killed and their bodies split in two and laid on the
ground with the two halves placed opposite each other. Then the
two parties would walk down through the animal halves together,
solidifying the agreement. Both parties saying, if either
fails in their agreement, then may they be split in two as
these animals. (Jeremiah 34:18)
15, after Abraham cuts the animals in two and lays them down,
God alone passes between the animal halves. Declaring to
Abraham, that his agreement is unilateral (one-sided), that the
Lord Himself will fulfill His words to Abraham and His
descendents, and that if He (God) does not fulfill His
agreement, may God be split as the animals.
17 And it
came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that
behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that
passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the Lord made a
covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given
this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River
Genesis 22, Abraham in a test of faith, is told to take his son
Isaac, his only son,
to the top of Mt. Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. Just when
Abraham was about to slay Isaac, God prevents the sacrifice.
God then provides a male sheep, a ram in place of Isaac.
12 And He
said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him;
for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld
your son, your only son, from Me." 13 Then Abraham lifted his
eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a
thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and
offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And
Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as
it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The Lord it shall be
provided." 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a
second time out of heaven, 16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn,
says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not
withheld your son, your only son 17 blessing I will bless you,
and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of
the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your
descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 "In
your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,
because you have obeyed My voice." Genesis 22:12-18
22:18, God promises through the seed (offspring) of Abraham all
the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Scripture here looks
forward to the coming of the Messiah, who would fulfill the law
by His death and usher in a greater covenant a New Covenant,
with the forgiveness of sins.
Later as the descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob multiplied
and became a nation. The twelve sons of Jacob became the twelve
tribes of Israel.
When they were delivered out of Egyptian captivity under the
hand of Moses (1450 B.C), God established the Mosaic Law
or Covenant, demonstrating the righteousness required by God, to
be part of the Abrahamic Covenant. The penalty of sin was
death, atoned for by animal sacrifice. The animal’s death showed
consequences of sin and the need for atonement before a
However hard they tried, the nation failed to keep the law,
demonstrating mankind’s bankrupt state, our inability to be
righteous by works. This resulted in God fulfilling His words in
the Mosaic covenant (Deuteronomy 28-31), judging the descendents
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with the destruction of Jerusalem
and the scattering them during the Babylonian captivity in 586
"Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; 3 "and say to them, 'Thus
says the Lord God of Israel: "Cursed is the man who does not
obey the words of this covenant 4 "which I commanded your
fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from
the iron furnace, saying, 'Obey My voice, and do according to
all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be
your God,' Jeremiah 11;2-4
inability of man to fulfill the righteous requirements of the
Law, caused God to provide the sacrifice and look forward to the
day of a new and greater covenant, an everlasting covenant.
'then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear
Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.
40 'And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I
will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear
in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Jeremiah
Covenant fulfilling the Old
Messiah, fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law, His
death foretold hundreds of years before his birth initiated the
New Covenant, God’s new agreement with creation, based on
the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus fulfilled the law
for all who believed, the book of Hebrew’s connects the Old
Covenant with the New, demonstrating the Old covenant as a
foreshadow of the New. Isaiah 700-years before the birth of
Jesus, foretold of the atoning death of the Messiah, who would
pay for the sins of the world.
And they made His grave with the wicked-But with the rich at His
death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in
His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put
Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He
shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure
of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.Isaiah 53:9-10
1 For the
law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the
very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices,
which they offer continually year by year, make those who
approach perfect.9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your
will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the
second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through
the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews
confirmed his death as the beginning of the New Covenant in
three of the four gospels, see Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke
22;20. In the New Covenant, the Laws of God are written on the
hearts of humanity, as the Spirit of God dwells in man.
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is
the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:20
Authority of the Bible
authority of the Bible is the chief source of guidance for both
Jews and Christians. However, Jews only acknowledge the Old
Testament as inspired, while Christians acknowledge both Old and
New Testaments as inspired.
Testament writings are known as the Tanakh, which is an
acronym, combining the three sections of the Hebrew Bible
(Old Testament). The Torah (Five books of Moses), the
Nebiim (the prophets), and the Kethubim (the
writings). ( See Chart Below)
of books in the Tanakh are the same as in the Protestant Bible,
however they are arranged in a different order. The Catholic
Bible has seven additional books in the Old Testament known
as the Apocrypha.
a great deal of emphasis is placed on the Oral Tradition,
which is viewed as inspired by the Rabbinical authority.
Between the first and second centuries, the traditions of the
Rabbis were collected into a work known as the Mishna.
The Talmud (The Palestinian and Babylonian) are commentaries
on the Mishna, written in the 4th to the 6th
centuries, and compiled in books.
Bible both Old and New Testaments is the source of authority for
Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics. Catholics view the
Apocrypha as inspired.
Catholics in contrast to Protestants put a great deal of
emphasis on the traditions of earlier Church fathers and popes.
We will cover this in detail in further classes.