B. The Bible covers history from beginning to end, emphasizing God’s relationship with man.
1. Genesis through Ester are know as the historical books.
a. The first book in the Bible, Genesis, begins in the beginning, with the creation of the world, the universe, and Mankind. Initially God and man have a close relationship, but eventually Adam and Eve choose to disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit. At this point they can no longer walk in the Garden with God and talk to him face to face.
As Genesis continues mankind continues reject God until only Noah and his family are left following God. God then decides to destroy the world with a flood saving only Noah and his family. After the flood Noah’s descendants repopulate the world and God chooses Abram to have a special relationship with him. God renames Abram Abraham and Abraham follows God as do his descendants Isaac and Jacob. Jacob has twelve sons who become the twelve tribes of Israel. One of Jacobs sons, Joseph, is sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt, but through God’s intervention Joseph becomes the second most powerful man in Egypt and is able to save his family from a famine. The Israelites spend the next 400 years in Egypt and become a nation of more than a million people. Unfortunately, they are also enslaved by the Egyptians and treated badly.
b. In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the people of Israel then cry out to God and God sends Moses to deliver His people. After delivering his people from Egypt God calls themselves to himself at Mount Sinai and gives them the law. He then leads them to the Promise Land, but the people are unwilling to obey and to go into the land, so He leads them back to wander in the wilderness until the generation that rejected him died off.
c. Joshua tells the story of the conquest of the Promise Land by the people of Israel.
d. Judges tells about the revivals and rejections as Israel is lead by a series of religious/political leaders known as Judges.
e. Ruth tells the story of a godly woman during the period of the judges (she is the grandmother of King David).
f. Samuel is the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets. It covers the Israelites rejection of God as king and the appointment of first Saul and then David as kings of Israel.
g. I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles cover the kings of Israel and Judah as they alternately followed and rejected God. Eventually, both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah fall into apostasy and are taken into exile by the Babylonian Empire.
h. Ezra and Nehemiah skip ahead to the return of Israel from captivity in Babylon.
I. Ester tells how a Jewish woman saves the Jewish people from genocide.
2. Job through Song of Solomon are grouped together because they are poetry.
a. Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible and occurs some time toward the end of Genesis. It addresses the issues of human suffering and the sovereignty of God.
b. Psalms is the hymnal of the Jewish people. Most of the Psalms were written by King David and a few more were written by Solomon and his choir director Asaph.
c. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon were written my Solomon. Proverbs is about wisdom, Ecclesiastes about the insufficiency of wealth, and the Song of Solomon covers marital love.
d. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekial cover prophecy during the end of the period of the kings.
e. Daniel covers the life and prophecy of Daniel as he served in Babylon.
f. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obediah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.cover the prophecies of their authors during the period of the kings, the Babylonian Captivity, and the return to the Promise Land.
3. The New Testament begins with the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
a. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus’s immaculate conception, birth, his sinless life, his teachings, his death, burial, and resurrection.
4. The book of Acts is a history of the first few years of the church.
5. Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalaonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude are called epistles.
a. Epistles are letters written by apostles to the churches in various locations or to the church in general. They help to clarify how to apply Jesus’s teachings to the lives of people in the Church.
6. Revelation is a prophetic book that tells about the end of the world.
a. It was written by the apostle John at the end of his life and was dictated to him by Jesus in a vision on the Island of Patmos. It gives instruction to seven literal churches that existed in Johns day and then spends most of it’s time on the end of the world and Jesus’s eventual victory over death and sin.
C. It is the most published, most translated, most read book in the World.
D. Its claims:
1. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own
interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. II Peter 1:20-21
2. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. II Titus 3:16
3. And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6
4. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Luke 16:17
5. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. I John 5:13
6. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
II. How do we know we have what was written?
A. The Bible is the best documented text from antiquity.
1. The Iliad is the second best documented text from antiquity. It has 643 manuscripts and manuscript
fragments with a 30 percent by-letter variability. There are major variations in themes, characters, and plots.
2. The Bible has 26,000 manuscripts and manuscript fragments dating from antiquity with a 2 percent by-letter
variability. There are no variations in themes, characters, or plots.
3. The Bible’s historical accuracy is supported by:
a. Flavius Josephus (Jewish Historian)
b. Tacitus (Roman Historian)
c. Thallus Circa (Historian AD 52)
d. Pliny the Younger (Governor of Bithynia)
e. Lucian (Greek writer and historian)
III. How were the 66 books of the Bible chosen?
A. Books were chosen based on the basis of their authorship, authenticity, consistency with the rest of scripture, prophecy, and their acceptance by the people of God.
B. This process was formalized at several points in history, generally as a response to outside pressure like: persecution or heresy. These included:
1. The Council of Jamnia 90 A.D. (Old Testament only).
2. The Synod of Hippo in A.D. 393 listed the 27 books of the New Testament (but these books had been widely accepted by the Church and church leaders for centuries).
3. No church council nor church father accepted the Apocrypha during the first four centuries of the church, and many spoke against it. The Apocrypha was not officially added to the canon, by the Catholic Church, until 1546 A.D. at the Council of Trent.
IV. What are Translations?
A. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, since most of us don’t read those languages, the Bible has been translated (written down in a new language while keeping the original meaning).
1. In 2003 the whole Bible had been translated into 414 languages, the New Testament into 1,054, and work is ongoing in 2,300.
2. There have been approximately 700 translations into English.
B. Why are there so many English translations?
1. There ave been English Christians for a long time and language changes over time. Wyclif first translated the Bible into English in 1384. I have tried to read portions of it and it looks closer to German than English to me. By 1526 English had changed considerably and Tyndale published and English Bible reflecting more modern English. Then again in 1611 the King James Bible updated the English again. Over time more and more updates were made as English, not the Bible changed.
2. Translation is hard and there will always be questions over subtleties. Do you translate word for word, sentence by sentence, or thought by thought? Do you try to translate illustrations into another culture or translate the words and let people try to understand the foreign culture?
3. Do you have an agenda? Unfortunately, several “translations” have been undertaken by people who want to try to change the Bible, not convey it more clearly. Thomas Jefferson “translated” the Bible removing all references to miracles and the supernatural.
4. How do you choose a translation? You can read the preface of the Bible to see the principles employed during translation, the quality checking process, and the choices made in which manuscripts to include. You can talk to experts and read commentaries about the translations, or even become a scholar yourself. You can choose from several of the well accepted versions available today. If you are looking for a first Bible that is well translated and easy to read I would recommend the NIV (New International Version). If you want the absolute best, most accurate, scholarly translation available, and don’t mind a graduate school reading level get the NASB (New American Standard Bible).
V. Suggestions for further reading:
The Origin of the Bible, Philip Westley
Comort: A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and Willaim Nix
A Ready Defence, Josh McDowell
The New Testament Documants: Are they Reliable? F.F. Bruce
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell