What is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of ancient writings which are God’s revelation to the human race. It has everything – poetry, history, letters, prophecies… In the Bible we meet many different, exciting people with various backgrounds, each with a unique story and destiny. The most important of them is, of course, Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, the man who in one short lifetime of about 33 years – of which only three included active public ministry – changed the course of history forever. No one before or since has ever, with such modest resources, had such an impact as to change the lives of billions of people. When you read about him in the Old and the New Testament you will understand why!
The Bible is a book that you can read again and again throughout your lifetime. It was written by different people, ranging from kings to prisoners of war, over a period of approximately 1,600 years, but even though it was written thousands of years ago, it always speaks to us, and we can discover new things in it every day. Throughout the ages people have again and again made the same amazing discovery: these ancient texts are about me!
It is a book that doesn’t try to make the world or the people in it more beautiful than they are. It describes life as it was for the people during that time, and as it is for us today. This is why the Bible will always be relevant, meaningful, and important. Whatever our experiences throughout life, we can always discover new aspects of the Bible that we didn’t see before.
With the exception of two authors whose ethnic identity is disputed (Job and Luke), the entire Bible was written by the Chosen People, the people of Israel, and the majority of it was written right here, in the land of Israel.
Over 6,000 languages are spoken in the world today. The Bible, or parts of it, is available in 2,508 different languages (figures from UBS, Dec. 31, 2009). UBS is currently involved in translation projects in over 600 languages!
Each generation has the right to have the Bible in a language that is understandable so that people can put its message into practice in their lives and receive guidance to interpret and understand life from a godly perspective.
The Bible contains 66 books and is split into two parts, The Tanakh – the Old Testament, and the Brit Chadasha – the New Testament. The Tanakh has 39 books and is divided into three parts in the Jewish tradition: the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim (Law, Prophets and Writings). These three parts can also be subcategorized in different ways. The Protestant Christian tradition has the same books but follows a slightly different order. Orthodox and Catholic Christians include a number of additional books in their Old Testament (commonly referred to as the Deuterocanon or Apocrypha) and some additional material in books accepted by Protestants (Daniel and Esther). Those same 39 books are counted as 24 in the Jewish tradition. The difference happens because a number of books are combined and counted as one in the Jewish tradition, but were divided into more than one book in the Christian tradition. The content remains the same. These books include the Trei-Asar (Twelve-Prophet book) that were divided according to the individual prophets in the Christian tradition (Hoshea to Malachi), and four additional books that were divided in two by the Christian tradition – the book of Samuel, the book of Kings, the book of Chronicles and the book of Ezra–Nehemia.
The “Brit Chadasha” (literary, “New Covenant”) is a term that is taken from Jeremiah 31, where it signifies the new agreement between God and the people of Israel and subsequently with all the people of the world, and by which all can come to God through faith in Yeshua haMashiach, God’s son.