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The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, tà biblía, "the books") is a canonical collection of texts considered sacred in Judaism or Christianity. Different religious groups include different books within their canons, in different orders, and sometimes divide or combine books, or incorporate additional material into canonical books. Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon.
The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, contains twenty-four books divided into three parts; the five books of the Torah ("teaching" or "law"), the Nevi'im ("prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("writings"). The first part of Christian Bibles is the Old Testament, which contains, at minimum, the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible divided into thirty-nine books and ordered differently than the Hebrew Bible. The Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches also hold certain deuterocanonical books and passages to be part of the Old Testament canon. The second part is the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books; the four Canonical gospels, Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one Epistles or letters and the Book of Revelation.
By the 2nd century BCE Jewish groups had called the Bible books "holy," and Christians now commonly call the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible "The Holy Bible" (τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια, tà biblía tà ágia) or "the Holy Scriptures" (η Αγία Γραφή, e Agía Graphḗ). Many Christians consider the whole canonical text of the Bible to be divinely inspired. The oldest surviving complete Christian Bibles are Greek manuscripts from the 4th century. The oldest Tanakh manuscript in Hebrew and Aramaic dates to the 10th century CE, but an early 4th-century Septuagint translation is found in the Codex Vaticanus.
The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne and is now usually cited by book, chapter, and verse. The Bible has estimated annual sales of 25 million copies, and has been a major influence on literature and history, especially in the West where it was the first mass printed book.
The English word Bible is from the Latin biblia, from the same word in Medieval Latin and Late Latin and ultimately from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία ta biblia "the books" (singular βιβλίον biblion).
Medieval Latin biblia is short for biblia sacra "holy book", while biblia in Greek and Late Latin is neuter plural (gen. bibliorum). It gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae) in medieval Latin, and so the word was loaned as a singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe. Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια ta biblia ta hagia, "the holy books".
The word βιβλίον itself had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book". It is the diminutive of βύβλος bublos, "Egyptian papyrus", possibly so called from the name of the Phoenician sea port Byblos (also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece. The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books") was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books (the Septuagint). Christian use of the term can be traced to ca. 223 CE. The biblical scholar F.F. Bruce notes that Chrysostom appears to be the first writer (in his Homilies on Matthew, delivered between 386 and 388) to use the Greek phrase ta biblia ("the books") to describe both the Old and New Testaments together.Hebrew Bible Main article: Development of the Hebrew Bible canonThe Nash Papyrus (2nd century BCE) contains a portion of a pre-Masoretic Text, specifically the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer.
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and accentuation.
The oldest extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the 9th century CE, and the Aleppo Codex (once the oldest complete copy of the Masoretic Text, but now missing its Torah section) dates from the 10th century.
Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ"ך) reflects the threefold division of the Hebrew Scriptures, Torah ("Teaching"), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings").Torah Main article: Torah See also: Oral Torah
The Torah (תּוֹרָה) is also known as the "Five Books of Moses" or the Pentateuch, meaning "five scroll-cases". The Hebrew names of the books are derived from the first words in the respective texts.
The Torah comprises the following five books:
The first eleven chapters of Genesis provide accounts of the creation (or ordering) of the world and the history of God's early relationship with humanity. The remaining thirty-nine chapters of Genesis provide an account of God's covenant with the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (also called Israel) and Jacob's children, the "Children of Israel", especially Joseph. It tells of how God commanded Abraham to leave his family and home in the city of Ur, eventually to settle in the land of Canaan, and how the Children of Israel later moved to Egypt. The remaining four books of the Torah tell the story of Moses, who lived hundreds of years after the patriarchs. He leads the Children of Israel from slavery in Ancient Egypt to the renewal of their covenant with God at Mount Sinai and their wanderings in the desert until a new generation was ready to enter the land of Canaan. The Torah ends with the death of Moses.
The Torah contains the commandments of God, revealed at Mount Sinai (although there is some debate among traditional scholars as to whether these were all written down at one time, or over a period of time during the 40 years of the wanderings in the desert, while several modern Jewish movements reject the idea of a literal revelation, and critical scholars believe that many of these laws developed later in Jewish history). These commandments provide the basis for Jewish religious law. Tradition states that there are 613 commandments (taryag mitzvot).Nevi'im Main article: Nevi'im
|8. 12 minor prophets|
Nevi'im (Hebrew: נְבִיאִים Nəḇî'îm, "Prophets") is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim. It contains two sub-groups, the Former Prophets (Nevi'im Rishonim נביאים ראשונים, the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Nevi'im Aharonim נביאים אחרונים, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets).
The Nevi'im tell the story of the rise of the Hebrew monarchy and its division into two kingdoms, ancient Israel and Judah, focusing on conflicts between the Israelites and other nations, and conflicts among Israelites, specifically, struggles between believers in "the LORD God" and believers in foreign gods, and the criticism of unethical and unjust behavior of Israelite elites and rulers; in which prophets played a crucial and leading role. It ends with the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians followed by the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.Former Prophets
The Former Prophets are the books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. They contain narratives that begin immediately after the death of Moses with the divine appointment of Joshua as his successor, who then leads the people of Israel into the Promised Land, and end with the release from imprisonment of the last king of Judah. Treating Samuel and Kings as single books, they cover:
The Book of Joshua (Yehoshua יהושע) contains a history of the Israelites from the death of Moses to that of Joshua. After Moses' death, Joshua, by virtue of his previous appointment as Moses' successor, receives from God the command to cross the Jordan River.
The book consists of three parts:
The Book of Judges (Shoftim שופטים) consists of three distinct parts:
The Books of Samuel (Shmu'el שמואל) consists of five parts:
A conclusion of sorts appears at 1 Kings 1-2, concerning Solomon enacting a final revenge on those who did what David perceived as wrongdoing, and having a similar narrative style. While the subject matter in the Book(s) of Samuel is also covered by the narrative in Chronicles, it is noticeable that the section (2 Sam. 11:2-12:29) containing an account of the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chr. 20.Kings
The Books of Kings (Melakhim מלכים) contains accounts of the kings of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, and the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon until the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.Latter Prophets
The Latter Prophets are divided into two groups, the "major" prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets, collected into a single book.Isaiah
The 66 chapters of Isaiah (Yeshayahu ) consist primarily of prophecies of the judgments awaiting nations that are persecuting Judah. These nations include Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Israel (the northern kingdom), Ethiopia, Egypt, Arabia, and Phoenicia. The prophecies concerning them can be summarized as saying that Yahweh is the God of the whole earth, and that nations which think of themselves as secure in their own power might well be conquered by other nations, at God's command.
Chapter 6 describes Isaiah's call to be a prophet of God. Chapters 35-39 provide material about King Hezekiah. Chapters 24-34, while too complex to characterize easily, are primarily concerned with prophecies of a messiah, a person anointed or given power by God, and of the messiah's kingdom, where justice and righteousness will reign. This section is seen by Jews as describing an king, a descendant of their great king, David, who will make Judah a great kingdom and Jerusalem a truly holy city.
The prophecy continues with what can be characterized as a "book of comfort" which begins in chapter 40 and completes the writing. In the first eight chapters of this book of comfort, Isaiah prophesies the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of the Babylonians and restoration of Israel as a unified nation in the land promised to them by God. Isaiah reaffirms that the Jews are indeed the chosen people of God in chapter 44 and that Yahweh is the only God for the Jews as he will show his power over the gods of Babylon in due time in chapter 46. In chapter 45:1 the Persian ruler Cyrus is named as the messiah who will overthrow the Babylonians and allow the return of Israel to their original land. The remaining chapters of the book contain prophecies of the future glory of Zion under the rule of a righteous servant (52 & 54). Chapter 53 contains a poetic prophecy about this servant which is generally considered by Christians to refer to Jesus, although Jews generally interpret it as a reference to God's people. Although there is still the mention of judgment of false worshippers and idolaters (65 & 66), the book ends with a message of hope of a righteous ruler who extends salvation to his righteous subjects living in the Lord's kingdom on earth.Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu ) can be divided into twenty-three subsections, and its contents organized into five sub-sections:
In Egypt, after an interval, Jeremiah is supposed to have added three sections, viz., ch. 37-39; 40-43; and 44. The principal messianic prophecies are found in 23:1-8; 31:31-40; and 33:14-26.
Jeremiah's prophecies are noted for the frequent repetitions found in them of the same words, phrases, and imagery. They cover the period of about 30 years. They are not in chronological order.Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel (Yehezq'el ) contains three distinct sections.
The Twelve, Trei Asar (תרי עשר), also called the Twelve Minor Prophets
|Psalms Proverbs Job|
|Song of Songs Ruth Lamentations Ecclesiastes Esther|
|Daniel Ezra – Nehemiah Chronicles|
Ketuvim or Kəṯûḇîm (in Biblical Hebrew: כְּתוּבִים "writings") is the third and final section of the Tanakh. The Ketuvim are believed to have been written under the Ruach HaKodesh, but with one level less authority than that of prophecy.The poetic books
In Masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stitches in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields Emet אמ"ת, which is also the Hebrew for "truth").
These three books are also the only ones in Tanakh with a special system of cantillation notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.The five scrolls (Hamesh Megillot)
The five relatively short books of Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Book of Esther are collectively known as the Hamesh Megillot (Five Megillot). These are the latest books collected and designated as "authoritative" in the Jewish canon even though they were not complete until the 2nd century CE.Other books
Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics:
The following list presents the books of Ketuvim in the order they appear in most printed editions. It also divides them into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot.
The Three Poetic Books (Sifrei Emet)
The Five Megillot (Hamesh Megillot)
The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud (Bava Batra 14b-15a) gives their order as Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.
In Tiberian Masoretic codices, including the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order is Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.Canonization
The Ketuvim is the last of the three portions of the Tanakh to have been accepted as biblical canon. While the Torah may have been considered canon by Israel as early as the 5th century BCE and the Former and Latter Prophets were canonized by the 2nd century BCE, the Ketuvim was not a fixed canon until the 2nd century of the Common Era.
Evidence suggests, however, that the people of Israel were adding what would become the Ketuvim to their holy literature shortly after the canonization of the prophets. As early as 132 BCE references suggest that the Ketuvim was starting to take shape, although it lacked a formal title. References in the four Gospels as well as other books of the New Testament that many of these texts were both commonly known and counted as having some degree of religious authority early in the 1st century CE.
Many scholars believe that the limits of the Ketuvim as canonized scripture were determined by the Council of Jamnia c. 90 CE. Against Apion, the writing of Josephus in 95 CE, treated the text of the Hebrew Bible as a closed canon to which "... no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable..." For a long time following this date the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny.Original languages
The Tanakh was mainly written in biblical Hebrew, with some portions (Ezra 4:8–6:18 and 7:12–26, Jeremiah 10:11, Daniel 2:4–7:28) in biblical Aramaic, a sister language which became the lingua franca of the Semitic world.Septuagint Main article: Septuagint
The Septuagint, or LXX, is a translation of the Hebrew scriptures and some related texts into Koine Greek, begun in the late 3rd century BCE and completed by 132 BCE, initially in Alexandria, but in time elsewhere as well. It is not altogether clear which was translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised.
As the work of translation progressed the canon of the Greek Bible expanded. The Torah always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon but the collection of prophetic writings, based on the Nevi'im, had various hagiographical works incorporated into it. In addition, some newer books were included in the Septuagint, among these are the Maccabees and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. The Septuagint version of some Biblical books, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Jewish canon. Some of these apocryphal books (e.g. the Wisdom of Solomon, and the second book of Maccabees) were not translated, but composed directly in Greek.
Since Late Antiquity, once attributed to a hypothetical late 1st-century Council of Jamnia, mainstream Rabbinic Judaism rejected the Septuagint as valid Jewish scriptural texts. Several reasons have been given for this. First, some mistranslations were claimed. Second, the Hebrew source texts used for the Septuagint differed from the Masoretic tradition of Hebrew texts, which was chosen as canonical by the Jewish rabbis. Third, the rabbis wanted to distinguish their tradition from the newly emerging tradition of Christianity. Finally, the rabbis claimed for the Hebrew language a divine authority, in contrast to Aramaic or Greek - even though these languages were the lingua franca of Jews during this period (and Aramaic would eventually be given the same holy language status as Hebrew).
The Septuagint is the basis for the Old Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Christian Old Testament. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches use most of the books of the Septuagint, while Protestant churches usually do not. After the Protestant Reformation, many Protestant Bibles began to follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional texts, which came to be called Biblical apocrypha. The Apocrypha are included under a separate heading in the King James Version of the Bible, the basis for the Revised Standard Version.Incorporations from Theodotion
In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew, which more closely resembles the Masoretic text. The Septuagint version was discarded in favour of Theodotion's version in the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE. In Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the 2nd century, and in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the 3rd century. History does not record the reason for this, and St. Jerome reports, in the preface to the Vulgate version of Daniel, "This thing 'just' happened." One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the book.
The canonical Ezra-Nehemiah is known in the Septuagint as "Esdras B", and 1 Esdras is "Esdras A". 1 Esdras is a very similar text to the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, and the two are widely thought by scholars to be derived from the same original text. It has been proposed, and is thought highly likely by scholars, that "Esdras B" – the canonical Ezra-Nehemiah – is Theodotion's version of this material, and "Esdras A" is the version which was previously in the Septuagint on its own.Final form
Some texts are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew. These additional books are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah (which later became chapter 6 of Baruch in the Vulgate), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.
Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic text are grouped together. For example the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"). In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paralipomenon (Παραλειπομένων—things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.
|The Orthodox Old Testament||Greek-based name||Conventional English name|
|Ἰησοῦς Nαυῆ||Iêsous Nauê||Joshua|
|Βασιλειῶν Αʹ||I Reigns||I Samuel|
|Βασιλειῶν Βʹ||II Reigns||II Samuel|
|Βασιλειῶν Γʹ||III Reigns||I Kings|
|Βασιλειῶν Δʹ||IV Reigns||II Kings|
|Παραλειπομένων Αʹ||I Paralipomenon||I Chronicles|
|Παραλειπομένων Βʹ||II Paralipomenon||II Chronicles|
|Ἔσδρας Αʹ||I Esdras||1 Esdras;|
|Ἔσδρας Βʹ||II Esdras||Ezra-Nehemiah|
|Τωβίτ||Tobit||Tobit or Tobias|
|Ἐσθήρ||Esther||Esther with additions|
|Μακκαβαίων Αʹ||I Makkabees||1 Maccabees|
|Μακκαβαίων Βʹ||II Makkabees||2 Maccabees|
|Μακκαβαίων Γʹ||III Makkabees||3 Maccabees|
|Ψαλμός ΡΝΑʹ||Psalm 151||Psalm 151|
|Προσευχὴ Μανάσση||Prayer of Manasseh||Prayer of Manasseh|
|Ἆσμα Ἀσμάτων||Song of Songs||Song of Solomon or Canticles|
|Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος||Wisdom of Solomon||Wisdom|
|Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ||Wisdom of Jesus the son of Seirach||Sirach or Ecclesiasticus|
|Ψαλμοί Σαλoμῶντος||Psalms of Solomon||Psalms of Solomon|
|Ὡσηέ Αʹ||I. Osëe||Hosea|
|Ἀμώς Βʹ||II. Ämōs||Amos|
|Μιχαίας Γʹ||III. Michaias||Micah|
|Ἰωήλ Δʹ||IV. Ioel||Joel|
|Ὀβδίου Εʹ||V. Obdias||Obadiah|
|Ἰωνᾶς Ϛ'||VI. Ionas||Jonah|
|Ναούμ Ζʹ||VII. Naoum||Nahum|
|Ἀμβακούμ Ηʹ||VIII. Ambakum||Habakkuk|
|Σοφονίας Θʹ||IX. Sophonias||Zephaniah|
|Ἀγγαῖος Ιʹ||X. Ängaios||Haggai|
|Ζαχαρίας ΙΑʹ||XI. Zacharias||Zachariah|
|Ἄγγελος ΙΒʹ||XII. Messenger||Malachi|
|Ἐπιστολή Ιερεμίου||Epistle of Jeremiah||Letter of Jeremiah|
|Δανιήλ||Daniêl||Daniel with additions|
|Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα||IV Makkabees||4 Maccabees|
A Christian Bible is a set of books that a Christian denomination regards as divinely inspired and thus constituting scripture. Although the Early Church primarily used the Septuagint or the Targums among Aramaic speakers, the apostles did not leave a defined set of new scriptures; instead the canon of the New Testament developed over time. Groups within Christianity include differing books as part of their sacred writings, most prominent among which are the biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical books.
Significant versions of the English Christian Bible include the Douay-Rheims Bible, the Revised Standard Version, the Authorized King James Version, the English Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the New International Version.Old Testament Main article: Old Testament
The books which make up the Christian Old Testament differ between the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants churches, with the Protestant movement accepting only those books contained in the Hebrew Bible, while Catholics and Orthodox have wider canons. A few groups consider particular translations to be divinely inspired, notably the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Peshitta, and the English King James Version.Apocryphal or deuterocanonical books
In Eastern Christianity, translations based on the Septuagint still prevail. The Septuagint was generally abandoned in favour of the 10th-century Masoretic Text as the basis for translations of the Old Testament into Western languages. Some modern Western translations since the 14th century make use of the Septuagint to clarify passages in the Masoretic Text, where the Septuagint may preserve a variant reading of the Hebrew text. They also sometimes adopt variants that appear in other texts e.g. those discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A number of books which are part of the Peshitta or Greek Septuagint but are not found in the Hebrew (Rabbinic) Bible (i.e., among the protocanonical books) are often referred to as deuterocanonical books by Roman Catholics referring to a later secondary (i.e. deutero) canon, that canon as fixed definitively by the Council of Trent 1545-1563. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if Jeremiah and Lamentations are counted as one) and 27 for the New.
Most Protestants term these books as apocrypha. Modern Protestant traditions do not accept the deuterocanonical books as canonical, although Protestant Bibles included them in Apocrypha sections until the 1820s. However, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches include these books as part of their Old Testament.
The Roman Catholic Church recognizes:
Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches include:
There is also 4 Maccabees which is only accepted as canonical in the Georgian Church, but was included by St. Jerome in an appendix to the Vulgate, and is an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible, and it is therefore sometimes included in collections of the Apocrypha.
The Syriac Orthodox tradition includes:
The Ethiopian Biblical canon includes:
and some other books.
The Anglican Church uses some of the Apocryphal books liturgically. Therefore, editions of the Bible intended for use in the Anglican Church include the Deuterocanonical books accepted by the Catholic Church, plus 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, which were in the Vulgate appendix.Role in Christian theology Further information: Sola scriptura and Christian theology
The Old Testament has always been central to the life of the Christian church. Bible scholar N.T. Wright says "Jesus himself was profoundly shaped by the scriptures." He adds that the earliest Christians also searched those same scriptures in their effort to understand the earthly life of Jesus. They regarded the ancient Israelites' scriptures as having reached a climactic fulfillment in Jesus himself, generating the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah.New Testament Main article: Development of the New Testament canon
The New Testament is a collection of 27 books of 4 different genres of Christian literature (Gospels, one account of the Acts of the Apostles, Epistles and an Apocalypse). Jesus is its central figure. The New Testament presupposes the inspiration of the Old Testament (2 Timothy 3:16). Nearly all Christians recognize the New Testament as canonical scripture. These books can be grouped into:
General epistles, also called Catholic epistles
Revelation, or the Apocalypse
The New Testament books are ordered differently in the Catholic/Protestant tradition, the Slavonic tradition, the Syriac tradition and the Ethiopian tradition.Original language See also: Language of the New Testament
The mainstream consensus is that the New Testament was written in a form of Koine Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the Conquests of Alexander the Great (335–323 BC) until the evolution of Byzantine Greek (c. 600).Historic editionsThe Codex Gigas from the 13th century, held at the Royal Library in Sweden.See also: Biblical manuscript and Textual criticism
The autographs, the Greek manuscripts written by the original authors, have not survived. When ancient scribes copied earlier books, they wrote notes on the margins of the page (marginal glosses) to correct their text—especially if a scribe accidentally omitted a word or line—and to comment about the text. When later scribes were copying the copy, they were sometimes uncertain if a note was intended to be included as part of the text. Over time, different regions evolved different versions, each with its own assemblage of omissions and additions.
The three main textual traditions of the Greek New Testament are sometimes called the Alexandrian text-type (generally minimalist), the Byzantine text-type (generally maximalist), and the Western text-type (occasionally wild). Together they comprise most of the ancient manuscripts.Development of the Christian canons Main articles: Development of the Old Testament canon and Development of the New Testament canon
The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the 4th century a series of synods produced a list of texts equal to the 39, 46(51),54, or 57 book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo in AD 393. Also c. 400, Jerome produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (see Vulgate), the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time. A definitive list did not come from an Ecumenical Council until the Council of Trent (1545–63).
During the Protestant Reformation, certain reformers proposed different canonical lists to those currently in use. Though not without debate, see Antilegomena, the list of New Testament books would come to remain the same; however, the Old Testament texts present in the Septuagint but not included in the Jewish canon fell out of favor. In time they would come to be removed from most Protestant canons. Hence, in a Catholic context, these texts are referred to as deuterocanonical books, whereas in a Protestant context they are referred to as the Apocrypha, which means "hidden", the label applied to all texts excluded from the biblical canon but which were in the Septuagint. It should also be noted that Catholics and Protestants both describe certain other books, such as the Acts of Peter, as apocryphal.
Thus, the Protestant Old Testament of today has a 39-book canon—the number of books (though not the content) varies from the Jewish Tanakh only because of a different method of division—while the Roman Catholic Church recognizes 46 books (51 books with some books combined into 46 books) as the canonical Old Testament. The Eastern Orthodox Churches recognise 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151 in addition to the Catholic canon. Some include 2 Esdras. The Anglican Church also recognises a longer canon. The term "Hebrew Scriptures" is often used as being synonymous with the Protestant Old Testament, since the surviving scriptures in Hebrew include only those books, while Catholics and Orthodox include additional texts that have not survived in Hebrew. Both Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament Canon.
The New Testament writers assumed the inspiration of the Old Testament, probably earliest stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God".Ethiopian Orthodox canon Main article: Ethiopian Biblical canon
The Canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is wider than the canons used by most other Christian churches. There are 81 books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. The Ethiopian Old Testament Canon includes the books found in the Septuagint accepted by other Orthodox Christians, in addition to Enoch and Jubilees which are ancient Jewish books that only survived in Ge'ez but are quoted in the New Testament, also Greek Ezra First and the Apocalypse of Ezra, 3 books of Meqabyan, and Psalm 151 at the end of the Psalter. The three books of Meqabyan are not to be confused with the books of Maccabees. The order of the other books is somewhat different from other groups', as well. The Old Testament follows the Septuagint order for the Minor Prophets rather than the Jewish order.Divine inspiration Main articles: Biblical inspiration, Biblical literalism, Biblical infallibility, and Biblical inerrancy
The Second Epistle of Timothy says that "All scripture is inspired of God." (2 Timothy 3:16-3:17) Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, that God, through the Holy Spirit, intervened and influenced the words, message, and collation of the Bible. For many Christians the Bible is also infallible, and is incapable of error in matters of faith and practice, but not necessarily in historic or scientific matters. A related, but distinguishable belief is that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, without error in any aspect, spoken by God and written down in its perfect form by humans. Within these broad beliefs there are many schools of hermeneutics. "Bible scholars claim that discussions about the Bible must be put into its context within church history and then into the context of contemporary culture." Fundamentalist Christians are associated with the doctrine of biblical literalism, where the Bible is not only inerrant, but the meaning of the text is clear to the average reader.
Belief in sacred texts is attested to in Jewish antiquity, and this belief can also be seen in the earliest of Christian writings. Various texts of the Bible mention divine agency in relation to its writings. In their book A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William Nix wrote: "The process of inspiration is a mystery of the providence of God, but the result of this process is a verbal, plenary, inerrant, and authoritative record." Most evangelical biblical scholars associate inspiration with only the original text; for example some American Protestants adhere to the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which asserted that inspiration applied only to the autographic text of Scripture. Among adherents of Biblical literalism, a minority, such as the King-James-Only Movement, extend the claim of inerrancy only to a particular translation.Versions and translations Further information: Bible translations and List of Bible translations by languageA Bible handwritten in Latin, on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. This Bible was transcribed in Belgium in 1407 for reading aloud in a monastery.
The original texts of the Tanakh were mainly in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic. In addition to the authoritative Masoretic Text, Jews still refer to the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, and the Targum Onkelos, an Aramaic version of the Bible. There are several different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, mostly differing by spelling, and the traditional Jewish version is based on the version known as Aleppo Codex. Even in this version there are words which are traditionally read differently from written, because the oral tradition is considered more fundamental than the written one, and presumably mistakes had been made in copying the text over the generations.
The primary biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint. In addition, they translated the Hebrew Bible into several other languages. Translations were made into Syriac, Coptic, Ge'ez and Latin, among other languages. The Latin translations were historically the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament.
The earliest Latin translation was the Old Latin text, or Vetus Latina, which, from internal evidence, seems to have been made by several authors over a period of time. It was based on the Septuagint, and thus included books not in the Hebrew Bible.
Pope Damasus I assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome in AD 382. He commissioned Saint Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin. This translation became known as the Latin Vulgate Bible and in 1546 at the Council of Trent was declared by the Roman Catholic Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Rite.
Since the Protestant Reformation, Bible translations for many languages have been made. The Bible continues to be translated to new languages, largely by Christian organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Mission and the Bible society.
|6,800||Approximate number of languages spoken in the world today|
|1,500||Number of translations into new languages currently in progress|
|1,223||Number of languages with a translation of the New Testament|
|471||Number of languages with a translation of the Bible (Protestant Canon)|
Biblical criticism refers to the investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as authorship, dates of composition, and authorial intention. It is not the same as criticism of the Bible, which is an assertion against the Bible being a source of information or ethical guidance, or observations that the Bible may have translation errors.Higher criticism Main articles: Higher criticism and Lower criticism
In the 17th century Thomas Hobbes collected the current evidence to conclude outright that Moses could not have written the bulk of the Torah. Shortly afterwards the philosopher Baruch Spinoza published a unified critical analysis, arguing that the problematic passages were not isolated cases that could be explained away one by one, but pervasive throughout the five books, concluding that it was "clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses . . ." Despite determined opposition from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the views of Hobbes and Spinoza gained increasing acceptance amongst scholars.Archaeological and historical research Main articles: Biblical archaeology school and The Bible and history
Biblical archaeology is the archaeology that relates to and sheds light upon the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures (or "New Testament"). It is used to help determine the lifestyle and practices of people living in biblical times. There are a wide range of interpretations in the field of biblical archaeology. One broad division includes biblical maximalism which generally takes the view that most of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is based on history although it is presented through the religious viewpoint of its time. It is considered the opposite of biblical minimalism which considers the Bible a purely post-exilic (5th century BCE and later) composition. Even among those scholars who adhere to biblical minimalism, the Bible is a historical document containing first-hand information on the Hellenistic and Roman eras, and there is universal scholarly consensus that the events of the 6th century BCE Babylonian captivity have a basis in history.
The historicity of the biblical account of the history of ancient Israel and Judah of the 10th to 7th-centuries BCE is disputed in scholarship. The biblical account of the 8th to 7th centuries BCE is widely, but not universally, accepted as historical, while the verdict on the earliest period of the United Monarchy (10th-century BCE) and the historicity of David is unclear. Archaeological evidence providing information on this period, such as the Tel Dan Stele, can potentially be decisive. The biblical account of events of the Exodus from Egypt in the Torah, and the migration to the Promised Land and the period of Judges are not considered historical in scholarship. Regarding the New Testament, the setting being the Roman Empire in the 1st century CE, the historical context is well established. There has been some debate on the historicity of Jesus, but the mainstream opinion is that Jesus was one of several known historical itinerant preachers in 1st-century Roman Judea, teaching in the context of the religious upheavals and sectarianism of Second Temple Judaism.Criticism Main article: Criticism of the Bible
In modern times, the view that the Bible should be accepted as historically accurate and as a reliable guide to morality has been questioned by many mainstream academics in the field of biblical criticism. Most Christian groups claim that the Bible is inspired by God, and some oppose interpretations of the Bible that are not traditional or "plain reading". Some groups within the most conservative Protestant circles believe that the Authorized King James Version is the only accurate English translation of the Bible, and accept it as infallible. They are generally referred to as "King James Only". Many within Christian fundamentalism—as well as much of Orthodox Judaism—strongly support the idea that the Bible is a historically accurate record of actual events and a primary source of moral guidance.
In addition to concerns about morality, inerrancy, or historicity, there remain some questions of which books should be included in the Bible (see canon of scripture). Jews discount the New Testament, most Christians deny the legitimacy of the New Testament apocrypha, and a view sometimes referred to as Jesusism does not affirm the scriptural authority of any biblical text other than the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.