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The Bible is a collection of documents, or books, which is at the heart of both the Christian and Jewish faiths.
Many of the books contain history or similar accounts of events, but it is always history told against a background of faith. It is not just the story of certain events or characters, but the story of God in action both in history and in the lives of people.
As well as history the Bible contains many other sorts of writing, including songs, prayers, poetry, biography, letters and prophecy. Contrary to the popular view, prophecy is not about foretelling the future. It is the teachings or writings of people called prophets, who declared Godís message to the people of their day.
Godís message, as declared by the prophets, was sometimes encouragement or promise. At other times it could be some instruction, or even a judgement or a warning. The prophets did not usually set out to foretell the future, but often the message had relevance beyond the time when they spoke or wrote. Promises and warnings, for example, usually relate to what will happen, or may happen, in the future!
The Christian Bible contains two sections. The first section, usually called the Old Testament, is the larger of the two. It is also the Bible of the Jewish faith and is shared by both religions. It is often referred to as the Hebrew (or Jewish) Scriptures.
The Old Testament tells the story of the people of Israel up to about 400 years before the time of Jesus, including how they got their Law, which includes the Ten Commandments. It also contains a lot of prophecy, including promises that Christians believe were fulfilled by the coming of Jesus.
There is a list of the books of the Old Testament below, with page numbers for the church Bibles and a brief note of what they are.
The second, smaller, section, called the New Testament, contains the books which are special to the Christian faith. It includes the Gospels, the accounts of the life of Jesus.
Most of the other books in the New Testament are actually letters, written by St Paul and other early church leaders. Many of them were addressed to some of the new Christian communities which grew up in the first century AD (CE) after Jesusí death and resurrection. Some were addressed to other Christian leaders. The letters were written to explain the faith and deal with various problems that arose. With the Gospels they are the prime source of our understanding of the Christian message.
There is a list of the books of the New Testament below, with page numbers for the church Bibles and a brief note of what they are.
In the New Testament there are sometimes references to 'Scripture' or 'the Scriptures'. These mean the Old Testament, which was the Bible, or Scripture, already in existence when the New Testament books were being written and the events they describe were happening.
Christians believe that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is not just a collection of writings about the faith but the inspired Word of God, and that God speaks to us, and reveals himself to us, in and through it. That doesn't mean all Christians believe every word is literally true. After all, God can speak to us through stories as well as history - as Jesus did in his parables. But it is all true in the sense that it reveals the truth about God and what he does - and our relationship with him.
(The front section of our church Bibles)
The Old Testament is the 'Bible' that people had in the time of Jesus Ė the Hebrew Scriptures. It is the first (and bigger) part of our church Bibles.
in the front section of our Bibles
|Genesis||1||The books of the Jewish Law Ė including the early history of Israel
c. 2000-1200 BC (BCE)
|Joshua||199||Books which tell the later history of Israel and stories from the same time
c. 1200-400 BC (BCE)
|Job||464||Books of songs, poetry and 'wisdom'.|
|Song of Solomon||634|
|Isaiah||640||Books containing the writings, sayings or stories of the Prophets.|
(The back section of our church Bibles)
The New Testament contains the writings special to the Christian faith. It is the second (and smaller) part of our church Bibles.
Most books have a 'short' title by which they are known (eg 'Matthew'), which appears first. The full title follows in brackets, (eg, 'The Gospel of Matthew').
in the back section of our Bibles
|Matthew (The Gospel of Matthew)||1||The Gospels - accounts of the life of Jesus|
|Mark (The Gospel of Mark)||33|
|Luke (The Gospel of Luke)||53|
|John (The Gospel of John)||88|
|Acts (The Acts of the Apostles)||114||An account (by St Luke) of the growth of the early church after Jesus' death and resurrection|
|Romans (The letter to the Romans)||147||Letters from or attributed to St Paul|
|1 Corinthians (The 1st letter to the Corinthians)||162|
|2 Corinthians (The 2nd letter to the Corinthians)||175|
|Galatians (The letter to the Galatians)||184|
|Ephesians (The letter to the Ephesians)||189|
|Philippians (The letter to the Philippians)||193|
|Colossians (The letter to the Colossians)||197|
|1 Thessalonians (The 1st letter to the Thessalonians)||200|
|2 Thessalonians (The 2nd letter to the Thessalonians)||203|
|1 Timothy (The 1st letter to Timothy)||205|
|2 Timothy (The 2nd letter to Timothy)||209|
|Titus (The letter to Titus)||212|
|Philemon (The letter to Philemon)||214|
|Hebrews (The letter to the Hebrews)||215||Letters from other early Christian leaders|
|James (The letter of James)||226|
|1 Peter (The 1st letter of Peter)||229|
|2 Peter (The 2nd letter of Peter)||233|
|1 John (The 1st letter of John)||236|
|2 John (The 2nd letter of John)||239|
|3 John (The 3rd letter of John)||240|
|Jude (The letter of Jude)||241|
|Revelation (The Revelation to John)||242||A book of prophecy - with warnings and encouragements, and the promise that, despite tribulation (graphically described!), salvation is assured.|
If you think it would be useful to have a copy of these tables or notes you can download a copy ('pdf' format) which you can print. Click on the link for the download, and you will be able either to open it directly and print it from your browser (if your browser supports this) or to save it to disk and open it with Adobe Reader later. You may like to keep a print in your Bible.
If you do not have Adobe Reader visit the Adobe Website to download and install a free copy of Adobe Reader.
© Copyright David Gray 2006
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