Torrey Clark Contributing columnist
September 27, 2013
According to one estimate, the Bible has been printed over 6 billion times. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Bible Society, 85 percent of households in America own at least one copy of the Bible. The Guinness Book of World Records states, “There is little doubt that the Bible is the worlds best-selling and most widely distributed book.”
But, how much do we know about this book? Why has it been so popular? Where did it come from? What is in it? Why should we care? These are all valid questions that deserve answers.
To begin, the Bible claims that all 66 books are ultimately ascribed to God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). However, to accomplish this, God used human penman to actually write the texts themselves. The human authors of the Bible were very diverse. Included in their ranks were kings, statesmen, business and economics experts, military men, tax collectors, physicians and religious officials, to name a few.
The Bible was written over a period of history spanning approximately 1,500 years and was written by a total of 40 human authors. They were often times separated by time and geography from each other, which is amazing considering the unity of message the Bible exhibits.
The term “Bible” actually comes from a Latin word, “biblia,” that means “books.” The Bible is actually an anthology of sorts of 66 books. The Christian Bible divides these 66 books into two main parts.
The first part is traditionally called the Old Testament. The term “testament” actually means “covenant.” This consists of the first 39 books of the Bible. In this section, there are four main divisions.
The first division is known as the “Law” (or the Pentateuch). It begins with Genesis and ends with Deuteronomy. The second division is known as the books of history. It begins with Joshua and ends with Esther. The third division is called the “wisdom literature” (or poetical books). This includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. The fourth and final section of the Old Testament is known as the prophets.
The prophets could actually be divided into two subsections, the first of which is the “major prophets.” They are not “major” because they are more important than the rest, but because of their relative length. These include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel. The second subset of the prophets is known as the “minor prophets.” These include the last twelve books of the Old Testament.
The second part of the Bible is known as the New Testament. It has four divisions as well. The first division is known as the gospel accounts. This includes Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The second division is the historical book of Acts. The third section is known as the epistles.
An epistle is simply a letter, which means that these books were written originally as letters to individual Christians, Christian churches or groups of churches. They are generally divided between the “Pauline epistles” (the letters written by the apostle Paul) and the “general epistles,” which would include the rest. The final division is the apocalyptic book of Revelation.
The two testaments are not viewed as being two separate stories, but rather two parts of he same story. One has said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and that the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. This statement is based upon Jesus’ own words: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Furthermore, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). And again, Jesus said, “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).
“The Law and the Prophets” and “the Scriptures” were two colloquial ways of saying “the Old Testament.” That was their Bible. So, in other words, Jesus is saying that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, that the Old Testament testifies of Him and that all things in the Old Testament must be fulfilled concerning Him. So the New Testament is the record of how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, i.e. “the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”
The Bible is not a disjointed and unrelated hodgepodge of 66 books. It is 66 books that make up the Book. The overarching message of this book is the redemption of mankind from sin through Jesus Christ to the glory of God. Everything in the Bible ultimately relates back to this theme in some way. Jesus Christ can be seen in every book of the Bible, including the Old Testament.
May God bless those who earnestly seek to know about Him and His Son through the Word He has given to us.