The Bible has shaped the laws and politics of many western countries, and influenced language, music and art. Today it continues to inspire many millions of Christians around the world.

  The Bible is a remarkable collection of ancient writings Christians believe to be Godís revelation to us. The Bible tells the story of Godís relationship with his greatest creation Ė people. Most Christians agree that God inspired the writers as they recorded his words.

  The Bible has two parts, the Old Testament (the time before Jesus) with 39 books, and the New Testament (during and after Jesusí life), with 27. The 39 books of the Old Testament also form the Hebrew Bible (the Torah) of the Jewish people.

  The books and letters in the Bible were written by many different people over a period of more than a thousand years. Some of the writers were kings, royal officials, poets and even one doctor, while others were uneducated fishermen. Historians are unsure of who the author was for a few of the books.

  The Bible was written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the language the original people of Israel spoke. A few parts were written Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek, the spoken language of the time.

  The Bible's books arenít in chronological order. It's a collection of individual writings compiled into one series over time. Because of this, the Bible jumps around in time as you read it. The Bible contains narratives, wonderful stories, songs, wisdom literature, decrees, and letters written by religious leaders.

  The Old Testament is composed of history, laws, poetry, wisdom and prophecies. It contains the story of the Hebrew people and how God looked after them, sometimes necessarily like a stern parent. He imposed fairly strict rules and guidelines for their lives, both to keep them 'on the straight and narrow', and to help them stand out from the peoples they were living amongst.

The New Testament is made up of four Gospels, one history book, twenty-one letters and one book of prophecy. It tells the story of Jesus' life, how he came to earth to save us from sin by sacrificing himself for us. He revealed that many of the stern laws, sacrifices and restrictions imposed on the Hebrew people to help them live Godly lives were no longer necessary; now all that was needed for a person to see heaven was to accept Jesus as their Saviour, ask forgiveness for their sins, and accept that he died and rose again.

ďFor God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.Ē   John 3:16

  In the New Testament, the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John deal with the life, the person, and the teachings of Jesus, as he was remembered by the Christian community.

  •   The Gospel of Matthew is the story of Jesusí life, death, and resurrection, focusing on his role as the true king of the Jews.

  •   The Gospel of Mark is a short account of Jesusí ministry, which highlights his authority and servanthood.

  •   The Gospel of Luke is the most thorough story of Jesusí life, and includes eyewitness accounts in an attempt to tell the full story of Jesus. Luke was a doctor, which accounts for the meticulous nature of this Gospel.

  •   The Gospel of John lists stories of signs and miracles with the hope that readers will believe in Jesus.
  The Acts of the Apostles continues the story of Christianity from the Resurrection of Jesus (his return to life three days after being crucified) to the end of the career of Paul.
Various letters, called Epistles, are correspondence between people of the early Christian church. Many letters were written by Paul, who helped meet the needs and problems of early Christian congregations.

  The longest book of the Bible is Jeremiah. This prophet wrote in the twentieth chapter of his book: "But if I say, 'I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot". (Jeremiah 20:9)

The Bible | Resources

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