The Holy Bible: An Introduction

Philip P. Eapen

The Bible is a library of sixty-six books written over a period of over a 1000 years by men who were inspired by God. The first section consisting of thirty-nine books were written prior to the birth of Christ and are collectively known as The Hebrew Bible. The Jews regarded these books as their holy scriptures. To this collection of divinely inspired writings were added twenty-seven books written after the birth of Christ, in the first century AD. This latter set of books is known as the New Testament.

In this article:

The Bible is a library of sixty-six books written over a period of over a 1000 years by men who were inspired by God. The first section consisting of thirty-nine books were written prior to the birth of Christ and are collectively known as The Hebrew Bible. The Jews regarded these books as their holy scriptures. To this collection of divinely inspired writings were added twenty-seven books written after the birth of Christ, in the first century AD. This latter set of books is known as the New Testament.

Get your own copy

The easiest way to access a Bible is to install a Bible app on your mobile device. The YouVersion Bible app is a popular choice. There are other apps such the Olive Tree app and the Logos Bible Study app or even the Bible.is audio Bible app.

Although there are online electronic copies of the Bible that may be accessed using a computer or a mobile device, it is certainly useful to acquire a hard copy of the Bible if you can afford it. Of course, Bibles don’t come cheap. However, you may be able to find a good discount at a local Christian bookshop during, for instance, the Christmas season. Good leather-bound volumes may be available at a throwaway price because of an unnoticeable manufacturing defect.

Stick to one version and to a single edition for your regular reading so that you will be able to memorize Bible verses and develop a ‘photographic memory’ of the pages. To ensure that your copy lasts a very long time, make a good investment and get a good, leather-bound edition with a reasonably large print. You could also buy a cheaper hardbound Bible and get it leather-bound.

Versions of the Bible

There are several Bible versions (translations) available today in the English language. Even a single English translation may get published in two different ways to address different grammar and spelling preferences of the British and the American people! For a beginner, all these versions can be a little confusing.

Why do we have various versions? It’s because different preferences when it comes to the style and usage of language. At a deeper level, the philosophy of the translators of these version differ. Some translators prefer a very strict word-for-word translation. Others prefer meaning-for-meaning translation. They capture the meaning of a word or phrase and express it in today’s idiom. Some go even further and take their liberty to produce a paraphrased edition.

For instance, compare how the various English versions render Proverbs 6:6 (that is, the book of Proverbs, chapter 6, verse 6):

Now, it is for you to read and discover for yourself that the Bible indeed is God’s holy Word. Read it prayerfully and allow God to speak to you.

“Stop being hateful! Quit trying to fool people, and start being sincere. Don’t be jealous or say cruel things about others. Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved.” The ‘pure spiritual milk’ St Peter refers to is the Holy Bible. A Christian needs to feed on this vital milk to grow spiritually. The Bible is also like a mirror that shows us our faults. The more we read it, the more we get purified if we take deliberate steps to cleanse our life from all known sins.

We feed on the holy Scriptures by either reading it ourselves or by listening to it. In the ancient times, not everyone could afford to own a copy of all the sacred scrolls. Even today, people who belong to oral cultures find it easier to listen than to read. Further down this web page, you will find links to audio versions of the Bible. Whether you read or listen to the Scriptures, it is vital to develop a daily habit of reading the Bible systematically.

Why should we read the Bible systematically and regularly? It is to help us think about it through the day and night. If it goes out of sight, it goes out of mind! If the word of God will rule our thoughts, we will be careful to obey God constantly. God told Joshua, a newly appointed leader of His people,

“Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed.” Joshua 1:8 CJB

The Bible has books of history, poetry, prophecy, letters, and a special kind of books called the Gospels. If you are new to the Bible, you could start reading from the beginning—Genesis, the book of beginnings. Or, you could start reading one of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke or John—in the New Testament. You could also browse through the book of Proverbs, a collection of wise sayings that require no prior knowledge of any other biblical book. Or, you could go through the Psalms, a collection of 150 sacred hymns, prayers, and songs of adoration and use those as your own prayers.

Christians who are serious about reading the Bible usually read the Bible cover to cover every year. Some manage to read the Good Book twice or even thrice. While some prefer to read the Bible, using a Bible Reading Plan that follows the order of the books, those who are aware of the chronology of the events tend to follow the chronological order of the books. Therefore, they may read the book of Job soon after they read the creation account in Genesis.

Similarly, they may read the letter to the Thessalonian church before they read the letter to the Romans because the former was written before the latter. There are others who prefer to have a ‘balanced diet’ by including portions from the Hebrew Bible, the Psalms or Proverbs and from the New Testament in their daily reading menu. The book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, and it makes an excellent reading every day of the month. The Navigators Book-at-a-time Bible Reading Plan encourages readers to read through each book of the Bible.

If you are comfortable with the YouVersion Bible App or other electronic versions of the Bible, please note that these apps provide a wide variety of reading plans with reminders and helpful statistics about your reading habit.

 

 


About the author

Philip Eapen, an environmental scientist by training, devoted his life to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ ever since he realized that the world needs Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything else. Apart from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, Philip teaches Christians in order to equip them for service. He is supported by donations from readers; he also runs a small ‘tent-making’ business. Philip is married to Dr. Jessimol and they are blessed with three sons and a daughter.

Date: May 1, 2010

 

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