THE BIBLE

Considered to be the greatest book ever written; after all, it is the universal belief that it is the actual words of God. According to Wikipedia, the bible has sold more than 2.5 to 6 billion copies worldwide, making the bible the best-selling book in history. At present time, the bible has over 1,700 version in over 1,200 languages according to the American Bible Society’s bibles.org.  However, according to christianlingua.com, at least one part of the Bible has been translated into 3,312 of the 7,097 know languages in the world. Even if you do not believe that the bible is the real word of God, it is hard to discern that for thousands of years this single book has influenced global cultures, languages, arts, music, architects, philosophies, politics, and history. Most of history reflect positive attitude about the bible but there have been and still there are times that many analysis of the bible is perilous and sedition. Regardless of one’s position, we cannot disregard the epic publications of the Bible in print. In any case, it is prudent to say, the Bible is popular!

The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old and the New Testament. The Old Testament beings with an introduction of a singular God who created the world and all its inhabitants. It then goes on to explain God’s unique relationship with his chosen people-the Hebrews, and its historical record of God’s covenant with Abraham and Moses. The Old Testament is credit with “many of the standards and commandments laid down in the Catholic Bible, the Old Testament is taken from many writings from the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew’s bible is known as the Torah (meaning teaching) or the Pentateuch ( meaning 5 scrolls or books). The  five books in the Torah are as follow:

  1. “Bereshit (be-ray-sheet; recognized as Genesis, meaning in the beginning)
  2. Shemot (sh-mote; recognized as Exodus, meaning names)
  3. Vayikra (va-yikra; recognized as Leviticus, meaning He called
  4. Bamidbar (ba-midbar; recognized as Numbers, meaning in the desert)
  5. Devarim (d vaveem; recognized as Deuteronomy, meaning words)”[1]

 

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The New Testament tells the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as well as the salvation of mankind. In addition, the New Testament explores the events occurring in the first century of the new religion- Christianity. Christians writers of the New Testament utilized cannon Scriptures from the Old Testament to verify and/or legitimized the fulfilling prophecy of Jesus’s existence in the New Testament. In the Catholic Bible, the Old Testament is much longer than the Hebrew Bible because Catholic editors added canonical Scripture stories that are not part of the Hebrew’s Bible. A side note to the word ‘Old Testament”. That phrase was composed in the second century by “Melito of Sardis”, who was the bishop of Sardis. Sardis was  near Smyrna in Western Anatolia, now Turkey. Bishop Melito was a proficient witness in Christianity around 180A.D.

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The Bible is the source to the “meaning of life”. It is believe that some of the books of the Old Testament were actually dictated by God while over 40 selected men guided by the hand of the Holy Spirit wrote the rest of the books over a thousand years. The Catholic Bible is comprised of a total of 73 books; 46 books from the Old Testament plus 26 books of the New Testaments while, the Protestant Bible total number of books is 66. The Protestant Bible is  missing 7 books and six chapters from Esther and 3 chapters from Daniel that the Catholic Bible has. The Catholic Church call the Protestant’s missing books the “Apocrypha”, meaning writings not accepted as canon or Scripture. They are also referred by the Catholic Church as the “Deuterocanonical” Books, meaning they are not part of the Hebrew Bible while “Protocanonical” books are part of the Hebrew Bible. The 7 Protestant Bible missing books are:

  1. Baruch
  1. Judith
  2. Wisdom
  3. Ecclesiasticus/Sirach
  4. 1Maccabees
  5. 2Maccabees
  6. Tobit

Why is the Protestant Bible different from the Catholic’s bible? Because of Luther! Initially, Luther wanted to kick out some New Testament Books as well, including James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation.  He actually said that he wanted to “throw Jimmy into the fire”, and that the book of James was “an epistle of straw.” What is strange is that Luther eventually accepted all 27 books of the New Testament that the Catholic Pope Damasus I (the first) had approved of in 382 AD, but didn’t accept his Old Testament list, preferring instead to agree with the Jews of 90 AD. Luther really didn’t care much for Jews, and wrote an encyclical advocating the burning of their synagogues, which seems like a dichotomy. Why trust them to come up with an accurate canon of scripture when you hate and distrust them so much?  And why trust the Catholic Church which he called “the whore of Babylon” to come up with an accurate New Testament list?”[2]  Luther also wanted to remove Revelations, Esther, Hebrews, Jude, and the Epistle of James. Other Protestant leaders wanted to remove book. Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin bother had issues with the Book of Revelation. They could not understand it nor interpret it. John Calvin called it unintelligible and Zwingli called it unbiblical. 

“Some Protestants claim that the “Apocrypha” (i.e., the Deuterocanonical Books) are not quoted in the New Testament so, therefore, they are not canonical. First, this is not true. Second, going by that standard of proof, we would have to throw out Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah because none of these Old Testament Books are quoted in the New Testament. Many non-Catholic Christians like to accuse Catholics of “adding” Books to the Bible at the 16th century Council of Trent. This is absolutely, 100% false. This Council, among other things, simply affirmed the “ancient, accepted books” in the face of Protestant tinkering. How could Luther have relegated the deuterocanonical books to an appendix if they had not already been accepted in the first place? The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1454 — and it included the deuterocanonical Books. How could the Church have “added” them at the Council of Trent that began 91 years later? I defy any Protestant to find a Bible in existence before 1525 that looked like a modern Protestant Bible! Most Protestant Bibles included the deuterocanonical Books until about 1815, when the British and Foreign Bible Society discontinued the practice! And note that Jews in other parts of the world who weren’t around to hear the Council of Jamnia’s decision in A.D. 100 include to this day those “extra” 7 books”[3].

One may ask, what does the Council of Jamnia’s decision have to do with the Protestant Reformation? Well, “around A.D. 90-100, after the Temple fell, a rabbinical school was formed by Johanan ben Zakkai. The “Council of Jamnia” (also called “Jabneh” or “Javneh”) is the name given to the decisions made by this pharisaic school. I repeat: the gathering at Jamnia was a Jewish, not a Christian, “council” consisting of Pharisees some 40 years after the Resurrection of our Lord. At that time, Jews were being scattered, and the very existence of Jewry per the Pharisees’ vision of “Jewry” was being threatened. At this time, too, Christianity was growing and threatening that same Jewish identity, resulting in severe persecution of Christians by Jews. In reaction to these things and to the fact that “Nazarenes” (i.e., “Christians”, who at that time were overwhelmingly Hebrew) used the Septuagint(Greek version of the Hebrew Bible) to proselytize other Jews, Zakkai convened the Jamnian school with the goals of safeguarding Hillel’s Oral Law, deciding the Jewish canon (which had theretofore been, and possibly even afterward remained, an open canon!), and preventing the disappearance of Jewry into the Diaspora of the Christian and Roman worlds. So, circling their wagons, they threw out the Septuagint that they had endorsed for almost 400 years. Note that at the time of Christ, most Jews spoke Aramaic, Latin (the official language of the area), and/or Greek (the lingua franca at that time), not Hebrew, which was a sacred language used by priests for the Hebrew liturgy. In any case, a new Greek translation was created by Aquila — but one without the ancient Septuagint’s language that proved more difficult for the Jews to defend against when being evangelized by the Christians, the point being that any idea that a book “had” to have been written in Hebrew to be “Biblical” was not the issue. Moving the story along: in other words, the great Protestant “Reformers” decided against the canon held dear by the Apostles in favor of a canon determined by Pharisees some 40 years after Jesus rose from the dead — the same Pharisees who denied the Truths of the entire New Testament, even accusing the “Nazarenes” of stealing Jesus’ body from the tomb and lying to the world! (Interestingly, it was Zakkai’s successor, Gamaliel, who forced the “Nazarenes” out of the synagogues. Gamaliel also made it obligatory for Jews to pray the “Prayer of Eighteen Petitions,” the 12th petition, which is still prayed today, known as the birkat, being “For apostates may there be no hope, and may the Nazarenes and heretics suddenly perish.”) And do you know why the Book of Maccabees was thrown out by the Jewish Council? Because the Council was conducted under the auspices of the Flavian Roman Emperors and they decided that particular book, which tells of the Maccabean Revolt, might be inflammatory and incite rebellion by the Jews. So, all those Protestant Bibles are lacking the Book of Maccabees, which speaks clearly of praying for the dead, because a pagan emperor pressured the Pharisees, around 40 years after the Resurrection of Christ, to exclude it. And lest anyone is still tempted to think that it was the “Roman Church” that came up with these books and that they were not written by pre-Christ Jews (an assertion I have actually read at “Messianic” websites), Jews in other parts of the world who didn’t get news of the Council of Jamnia’s decisions still use those “extra” 7 books to this very day (research the canon used by Ethiopian Jewry).”[4]

The Bible has everything a reader can possibly want to keep his/her interest in a great novel. More than a novel, the bible is full of riddles, mysteries, poems, and parables assisting mankind to decipher the key to eternal happiness.  The historical stories revealed will surely get anyone’s attention. The Bible has anecdotes of man’s creation, global floods, romance, love, rags to riches, treachery, seduction, adultery, murder, battles, destruction, famines, plagues, invasions and conquering nations, slavery, great architectures, wisdom, fatherly advice, warnings, forgiveness, miracles, goodness, evilness, temptations, fasting, torture, sacrifice, crucifixion and raising the dead back to life.  The Bible provides marriage and money counselling and advice regarding how to raise children, how to deal with neighbors, kings, employees, employers and how to worship. There are recommendations how to serve wine, who to invite to weddings, how to invest money, established contracts, treat the poor and how to feed 5000 people. I am especially fond of the stories about Jesus disproving the laws of gravity, economics, chemistry, and biology. But mostly it is the story of love, love, love, and more love. It is the story of revelation-God reveling himself to us.

In his national bestselling biography “King David”, author Jonathan Kirsch describes the bible “as a patchwork of ancient texts that were composed by countless authors and editors, men, and women alike, over a period of a thousand years or so. Among the strands of the biblical tapestry are history and biography, myth and legend, poetry and prayer, sacred law and secular law, rites of animal sacrifice and rituals of sympathetic magic, carpentry instructions and dermatological procedures, military tactics, and dietary advice, and much else beside. The various biblical sources lived and worked at different times and places in the distant past, each one serving his own or her own moral, political, and theological agenda, each one putting words into the mouth s of biblical characters, and each one putting his own spin on the history of ancient Israel”.  I might add that this can also be a similar description to ancient Christianity.

The Bible is a book of unity-one God. The God revealed to Abraham is the same God of Noah, Moses, David, Jesus, all the prophets and you and I.  For reason unknown except to God, God revealed himself to the many characters in the bible in the way they could relate and understand. However, in the end, God is still God-the Alpha and Omega! The first part of the bible known as the Old Testament supports the second part of the bible, known as the New Testament. The New Testament is fulfilling what the Old Testament has predicted. In simple words, the Old Testament reveal where we as man came from and the New Testament shows man where he needs to be. All in all, the Bible is an inspiring book whereupon man can learn the truth about God and how Jesus Christ is the world’s redemption. Regarding science and the bible they often clash. The bible does not support proof but relies on faith whereas science is noncommittal on faith but concurs on the scientific verification. The bible explains who did what and how while science explains the how and when.

Again from the book “King David”, author Jonathan Kirsch explains his understanding of why there are conflicting stories and passages in the Bible. “As bits and pieces of what we now call the Bible were compiled and collated, revised, and redacted, and sometimes even censored by generation after generation of authors and editors, people and events were combines and conflated. The same story was sometimes told two or three times, each in a slightly different version; words, phases, and whole passages were sometimes cut out, put aside, and restored in a different place. As a result, here and there in the biblical text we are able to glimpse a landscape that is profoundly at odds with the theology of the Bible”.

How did the Bible come about? Factual oral historical traditions passed down from one generation to the next until compiled on to papyrus then parchment then finally to paper manual scripts. Only a few fragments of the earliest known bible has survived. “In about 367 AD, St. Athanasius came up with a list of 73 books for the Bible that he believed to be divinely inspired. This list was finally approved by Pope Damasus I in 382 AD, and was formally approved by the Church Council of Rome in that same year.  Later Councils at Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 AD) ratified this list of 73 books.  In 405 AD, Pope Innocent I wrote a letter to the Bishop of Toulouse reaffirming this canon of 73 books. In 419 AD, the Council of Carthage reaffirmed this list, which Pope Boniface agreed to.  The Council of Trent, in 1546, in response to the Reformation removing 7 books from the canon (canon is a Greek word meaning “standard”), reaffirmed the original St. Athanasius list of 73 books”[5]. Then, Pope Damasus I commissioned Eusebius Hieronymus, otherwise known as Saint Jerome, to translate all of the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible into one language-Latin, the official language of the Empire at that time. This became known as the Vulgate Bible.  For the next 1500 years the Bible was reprinted and copied by hand, sanctioned, and protected by the Catholic Church. It took Martin Luther, a Catholic priest and Augustinian monk, to change the bible format. Credit with initiating the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther shortened the Catholic version of the Old Testament from the 46 books to that of the Hebrew 39 book version. However, the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent decided to keep the canon of 46 books. Today the Catholic bible contains 73 books while the Protestant Bible is confined to 66 books. The 7 additional books that the Catholic Church includes go back to 250BC- when the Greek Bible was authorized.

The three major religions: Christians, Jews and Muslims all track their origin to the Old Testament. Muslims view The Old Testament as a book to be respected- but it is also a book with historical facts that are fouled. To the Jewish people it is Tanakh- canon of the Hebrew Bible. To all Christians, the Old Testament is the beginning of God’s disclosure of who He is and the promises of salvation while the New Testament is the story of Christianity. There are many critics who continue to try and discredit the validity of the Bible as the true word of God. Yet these so called scholars will defend the authenticity of a few fragile parchments dating back to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The scribes of the Old and New Testament understood their duty of recording and protecting the word of God as a very sacred task. In 2 Peter 2:20-21 God protects His sacred words; “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the God for you?[6]

People read the Bible for many different reasons. Some people find hope, strength, encouragement, courage, and peace. Others read the Bible to feel closer to God while many may read for the sheer enjoyment of a historical and dramatical true story. I read the bible to heighten my spiritual growth and to renew my Catholic’s belief that God is exactly who He says He is. I also read the Bible to walk in faith and not by sight. To me, the bible is like an onion that has to be peeled back over and over to gain insight and understanding. What I may read yesterday does not make sense to me but what I read today may knock me off my horse because I finally understood the meaning. I read the bible so that I may proselytize the true- that believing in Jesus is the only way to know the Father and inheriting everlasting life. So, why do you read the Bible?

Interesting facts about the bible:

  • The word Gods occurs 4,370 times.
  • The word Jehovah occurs 6,855 times.
  • The word Lord” occurs 7,736 times.
  • The word Jesus appears 700 times between the Gospels and Acts.
  • The word God is not mentioned in the book of Esther & Song of Solomon
  • A Bible in the University of Gottingen is written on 2,470 palm leaves.
  • There are 8,674 different Hebrew words in the Bible (KJV), 5,624 different Greek words, and 12,143 different English words.
  • The Bible devotes some 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but over 2000 verses on money and possessions.
  • The Bible can be read aloud in 70 hours.
  • Salt is mentioned more than 30 times in the Bible.
  • There are 49 different foods mentioned in the Bible.
  • Almonds and pistachios are the only nuts mentioned in the Bible.
  • Seven suicides are recorded in the Bible.
  • The only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible is the cat.
  • Longest Word — Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1)
  • Longest Verse — Esther 8:9.
  •  Shortest Verse — John 11:35.
  • The Bible has a total of 1,198 Chapters. 260 in the New Testament & 929 in the Old Testament
  • There are 3,566,480 letters in the Bible and a word count of about 773,746.
  • The Bible, in whole or in part, is now available in more than 1100 different languages and dialects. The oldest person in the bible was actually Methuselah. He died at the age of 969 years old.
  • There were two men in the bible that never died! Their names were Enoch and Elijah and God took them to heaven.
  • The strongest man in the Bible was Samson. The wisest man in the Bible was Solomon.
  • The greatest warrior was Gideon. With God’s help he defeated 135,000 Midianites.
  • The acclaimed King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 mistresses or concubines as they were called back then.
  • The tallest man in the bible was Goliath who was massive at 9 and a half feet tall.
  • Psalm 118 is in the middle of the entire Bible. Psalm 117, before Psalm 118 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119, after Psalm 118 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118? If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters? 1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible.  Its central important message: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in man”. [7]

[1] Onlinechecklists from Depute 2021

[2] CatholicBible101.com. “The Bible”

[3] Catholic Silent Crusder.com, April 9, 2014

[4] Ibid.

[5] Catholic Bible 101.com

[6] 2 Peters 1:20-21 bid. Pp. 1357

[7] Cinirajassociate.com/library/www.christianlibrary.org/…/facts.htm;July 1, 20015 PASTOR PAUL

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