What Is The Bible?
The major theme of the Bible, its two major divisions, specific books included, and why, despite all the objections, it’s still the inerrant Word of God.
The Bible is a collection of 66 ancient books, written by about 40 different authors in 3 languages. The Bible is ultimately the story about God and his creation. It reveals how men and women were created in the image of God, but sinned and broke God’s law. Yet God loved his people and sent his son Jesus to die for their sins. Finally, God set up a kingdom through Jesus which will last forever.
The Bible is the most well-read book on the planet.
According to Wycliffe.net, as of 2017 the Bible has been completely translated into 670 languages while portions of Scripture have been translated into 3,312 total languages. No other book comes close in total translations. But what does the Bible contain?
In this post, I will explore the contents and major theme of the Bible, its two major divisions and 66 books, and explain why, despite all the objections, it’s still the inerrant Word of God.
Contents & Major Theme of the Bible
The Bible is a collection of 66 ancient books, written by about 40 different authors, and in 3 languages. It was composed over a span of 1,500 years. The Bible contains several writing styles including narrative, history, poetry, parable, law, and prophecy. The Bible is the authoritative book for the Christian church and is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
Though the content is diverse, the Bible is ultimately the story about God and his creation. It reveals how men and women were created in the image of God, but sinned and broke God’s law (Genesis 3). Yet God loved his people and sent his son Jesus to die for their sins (John 3:16). Finally, God set up a kingdom through Jesus which will last forever (Psalm 145:13).
Here’s a brief overview of the Bible from the Bible Project: “What Is The Bible?”
Two Sections of the Bible: The Old & New Testaments
The Bible is divided into two major sections. The first section is the Old Testament or Tanakh in Hebrew (תַּנַ”ךְ). The Old Testament was written by prophets like Moses, King David, Isaiah, Daniel, and others. There are 39 books in the Old Testament divided into 4 sections:
Pentateuch / Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Historical: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.
Poetic: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
Prophetic: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel (Major Prophets); Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Minor Prophets)
The second section of the Bible is the New Testament. The New Testament records the historical events of the life of Jesus the Christ. It also describes the early church and includes letters to churches and individuals in the 1st century AD. There are 27 books in the New Testament divided into 5 sections:
Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Pauline Epistles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
General Epistles: Hebrews*, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude,
*Some scholars attribute Hebrews to Paul.
Other Books In The Bible?
The Old and New Testament are received by all three major divisions of the Christian church (Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox). Protestants limit the number of Old Testament books following the traditional Jewish books accepted at the Council of Jamnia (AD 90).
However, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches accept more Old Testament-era books compared to Protestants. The Catholic and Orthodox traditions accept these “Apocryphal” or so-called “Deuterocanonical” books and this can be a contentious area in theological circles. The Cripple Gate’s article on Why These 66 Books should be help to wade through some of the issues.
Objections To The Bible?
As noted above, the Bible’s distribution in unparalleled. No other book has been more widely translated, read, or believed. However, not everyone believes the Bible. Unbelievers have charged that the Bible includes things like contradictions, false ideas about the physical world, stories that violate known scientific laws, and more.
However, these challenges are not always as strong as they first seem. Every challenge can either be answered directly or where they can’t be refuted, there is more than one way to interpret the text. That is why I still affirm the Bible is infallible, inerrant, and accurate in every matter it addresses.
CARM.org put together a tremendous resource that addresses many difficulties critics have leveled against the Bible. If you have a question about a specific passage, checkout Bible Difficulties.
Next Step: Read The Bible
The Bible is the most influential text in all of human history. It has withstood the test of time, numerous critical assaults, and a host of other attacks, but it continues to be one of the most respected books in the world.
Decide for yourself.
Blue Letter Bible: Quick Summary of Each Book of The Bible
Cripple Gate: Why These 66 Books?
CARM.org: Bible Difficulties