The Bible (from Koine Greek , tà biblía, 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthology--a compilation of texts of a variety of forms--originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. These texts include instructions, stories, poetry, and prophesies, among other genres. The collection of materials that are accepted as part of the Bible by a particular religious tradition or community is called a biblical canon. Believers in the Bible generally consider it to be a product of divine inspiration, while understanding what that means in different ways.
The origins of the oldest writings of the Israelites are lost to antiquity. There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Jewish Hebrew Bible canon was settled in its present form. Some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty (140-40 BCE),[a] while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later. The Dead Sea scrolls are approximately dated to 250 BCE-100 CE and are the oldest existing copies of the books of the Hebrew Bible of any length. Tanakh is an alternate term for the Hebrew Bible composed of the first letters of the three parts of the Hebrew scriptures: the Torah ("Teaching"), the Nevi'im ("Prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("Writings"). The Torah is also known as the Pentateuch. The Masoretic Text, in Hebrew and Aramaic, is considered the authoritative text by Rabbinic Judaism; the Septuagint, a Koine Greek translation from the third and second centuries BCE, largely overlaps with the Hebrew Bible.
Christianity began as an outgrowth of Judaism, using the Septuagint as the basis of the Old Testament. The early Church continued the Jewish tradition of writing and incorporating what it saw as inspired, authoritative religious books. The gospels, Pauline epistles and other texts coalesced into the "New Testament". In the first three centuries AD, the concept of a closed canon emerged in response to heretical writings in the second century. The list of books included in the Catholic Bible was established as canon by the Council of Rome in 382, followed by that of Hippo in 393 and Carthage in 397. Christian biblical canons range from the 73 books of the Catholic Church canon, and the 66-book canon of most Protestant denominations, to the 81 books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church canon, among others.
With estimated total sales of over five billion copies, the Bible is widely considered to be the best-selling publication of all time. It has had a profound direct influence on Western culture and history.[b] The study of the Bible through biblical criticism has indirectly impacted culture and history as well. The Bible is currently translated or being translated into about half of the world's languages.
The Bible is not a single book, it is a collection of books whose complex development is not completely understood. The oldest books began as songs and stories orally transmitted from generation to generation before being written down. The Bible was written and compiled by many people, some of whom are unknown, from a variety of disparate cultures.
British biblical scholar John K. Riches wrote:
[T]he biblical texts were produced over a period in which the living conditions of the writers - political, cultural, economic, and ecological - varied enormously. There are texts which reflect a nomadic existence, texts from people with an established monarchy and Temple cult, texts from exile, texts born out of fierce oppression by foreign rulers, courtly texts, texts from wandering charismatic preachers, texts from those who give themselves the airs of sophisticated Hellenistic writers. It is a time-span which encompasses the compositions of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Sophocles, Caesar, Cicero, and Catullus. It is a period which sees the rise and fall of the Assyrian empire (twelfth to seventh century) and of the Persian empire (sixth to fourth century), Alexander's campaigns (336-326), the rise of Rome and its domination of the Mediterranean (fourth century to the founding of the Principate, 27 BCE), the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (70 CE), and the extension of Roman rule to parts of Scotland (84 CE).
Considered to be scriptures (sacred, authoritative religious texts), the books were compiled by different religious communities into various biblical canons (official collections of scriptures). The earliest compilation, containing the first five books of the Bible and called the Torah (meaning "law", "instruction", or "teaching") or Pentateuch ("five books"), was accepted as Jewish canon by the 5th century BCE. A second collection of narrative histories and prophesies, called the Nevi'im ("prophets"), was canonized in the 3rd century BCE. A third collection called the Ketuvim ("writings"), containing psalms, proverbs, and narrative histories, was canonized sometime between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE. These three collections were written mostly in Biblical Hebrew, with some parts in Aramaic, which together form the Hebrew Bible or "TaNaKh" (an abbreviation of "Torah", "Nevi'im", and "Ketuvim"). The transmission history of the Tanakh spans approximately 3000 years.
Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria and elsewhere in the Jewish diaspora considered additional scriptures, composed between 200 BCE and 100 CE and not included in the Hebrew Bible, to be canon. These additional texts were included in a translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Koine Greek (common Greek spoken by ordinary people) known as the Septuagint which began as a translation of the Torah made around 250 BCE and continued to develop for several centuries. The Septuagint contained all of the books now in the Hebrew Bible, reorganized and with some textual differences, with additional scriptures interspersed throughout.
The Masoretes began developing the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible in Rabbinic Judaism near the end of the Talmudic period (circa 300-500 CE), but the actual date is difficult to determine. In the sixth and seventh centuries, three Jewish communities contributed systems for writing the precise letter-text, with its vocalization and accentuation known as the mas'sora (from which we derive the term masoretic). In the seventh century, the first codex form was produced, and in 1488, the first complete printed press version of the Hebrew Bible was produced.
During the rise of Christianity in the 1st century CE, new scriptures were written in Koine Greek about the life and teachings of Jesus, whom some believed was the messiah prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures. Two collections of these new scriptures, the Pauline epistles and the Gospels, were accepted as canon by the end of the 2nd century CE. A third collection, the catholic epistles, were canonized over the next two centuries with Revelation being the last book accepted into the canon in the fourth century. Christians called these new scriptures the "New Testament", and began referring to the Septuagint as the "Old Testament".
Between 385 and 405 CE, the early Christian church translated its canon into Vulgar Latin (the common Latin spoken by ordinary people), a translation known as the Vulgate, which included in its Old Testament the books that were in the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. The Vulgate introduced stability to the Bible, but also began the East-West Schism between Latin-speaking Western Christianity (led by the Catholic Church) and multi-lingual Eastern Christianity (led by the Eastern Orthodox Church). Christian denominations' biblical canons varied not only in the language of the books, but also in their selection, organization, and text.
A number of biblical canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents from denomination to denomination. Christians have held ecumenical councils to standardize their biblical canon since the 4th century CE. The Council of Trent (1545-63), held by the Catholic Church in response to the Protestant Reformation, authorized the Vulgate as its official Latin translation of the Bible. The church deemed the additional books in its Old Testament that were interspersed among the Hebrew Bible books to be deuterocanonical (meaning part of a second or later canon). Protestant Bibles either separated these books into a separate section called the "Apocrypha" (meaning "hidden away") between the Old and New Testaments, or omitted them altogether. The 17th-century Protestant King James Version was the most ubiquitous English Bible of all time, but it has largely been superseded by modern translations.
The Bible is one of the world's most published books, with estimated total sales of over five billion copies. As such, the Bible has had a profound influence on literature and history, especially in the Western world, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type.[b] According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating."[b] John Riches, professor of divinity and biblical criticism at the University of Glasgow, provides the following view of the diverse historical influences of the Bible:
It has inspired some of the great monuments of human thought, literature, and art; it has equally fuelled some of the worst excesses of human savagery, self-interest, and narrow-mindedness. It has inspired men and women to acts of great service and courage, to fight for liberation and human development; and it has provided the ideological fuel for societies which have enslaved their fellow human beings and reduced them to abject poverty. ... It has, perhaps above all, provided a source of religious and moral norms which have enabled communities to hold together, to care for, and to protect one another; yet precisely this strong sense of belonging has in turn fuelled ethnic, racial, and international tension and conflict.
The books of the Bible were initially written and copied by hand on papyrus scrolls. No originals survive, and the oldest currently existing scrolls, the Dead Sea Scrolls, are those discovered in the caves of Qumran in 1947. These scrolls date between 250 BCE and 100 CE and are the oldest existing copies of the books of the Hebrew Bible of any considerable length. The earliest manuscripts were probably written in paleo-Hebrew, a kind of cuneiform pictograph similar to other pictographs of the same period. The exile to Babylon most likely prompted the shift to square script (Aramaic) in the fifth to third centuries BCE. From the time of the Dead Sea scrolls, the Hebrew Bible was written with spaces between words to aid in reading. By the eighth century CE, the Masoretes added vowel signs. Levites or scribes maintained the texts, and some texts were always treated as more authoritative than others. Scribes preserved and changed the texts by changing the script and updating archaic forms while also making corrections. These Hebrew texts were copied with great care.
The textual history of New Testament texts is quite different. The Hebrew Bible is three times the length of the New Testament, was composed over a long period of time, possibly three thousand years, and was subsequently carefully copied by trained scribes throughout that same extended period. In contrast, copies of the gospels and Paul's letters were made by individual Christians very soon after the originals were written. There is evidence in the Synoptic Gospels, in the writings of the early church father's, from Marcion, and in the Didache that Christian documents were in circulation before the end of the First century. Paul's letters were circulated during his lifetime, and his death is thought to have occurred before 68 during Nero's reign. Most early copyists were not trained scribes. James R. Royce explains that "The story of the manuscript tradition of the New Testament is the story of progression from a relatively uncontrolled tradition to a rigorously controlled tradition ...".
The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, but this only increases the difficulties associated with its textual history. Only a half dozen papyrus manuscripts of the New Testament were known and edited before the twentieth century, but the discovery of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri in Egypt provided 54 of the current 127 NT papyri representing 124 manuscripts as well as 12 majuscules (a style of lettering). Their dates run from the beginning of the second century (P 52) to the eighth century, constituting just over 2% of all Greek NT manuscripts, with sixty-two dating to the late third and early fourth centuries. Chester Beatty and Bodmer added 8 more to the elite group of early papyri. The book of Revelation has its own textual history and is found in only about 300 manuscripts.
Existing New Testament manuscripts also include about 300 great uncial codices, which are vellum or parchment books written in block Greek letters, mostly dating between the 3rd and 9th centuries CE; and about 2,900 minuscules, written in a cursive style (using connected letters) that superseded uncials beginning in the 9th century. These manuscripts differ in varying degrees from one another and are grouped according to their similarities into textual families or lineages; the four most commonly recognized are Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine.
The Qumran scrolls attest to different biblical text types. In addition to the Qumran scrolls, there are three major manuscript witnesses (historical copies) of the Hebrew Bible: the Septuagint, the Masoretic Text, and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Existing complete copies of the Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, date from the 3rd to the 5th centuries CE, with fragments dating back to the 2nd century BCE. The Masoretic Text is a standardized version of the Hebrew Bible that began to be developed in the 1st century CE and has been maintained by the Masoretes since the latter half of the first millennium CE. Its oldest complete copy in existence is the Leningrad Codex, dating to c. 1000 CE. The Samaritan Pentateuch is a version of the Torah maintained by the Samaritan community since antiquity and rediscovered by European scholars in the 17th century; the oldest existing copies date to c. 1100 CE.
All biblical texts were treated with reverence and care by those that copied them, yet there are transmission errors, called variants, in all biblical manuscripts. A variant is simply any deviation between two texts. Textual critic Daniel B. Wallace explains that "Each deviation counts as one variant, regardless of how many MSS attest to it." Hebrew scholar Emmanuel Tov says the term is not evaluative; it is simply a recognition that the paths of development of different texts have separated.
The majority of variants are accidental, such as spelling errors, but some changes were intentional. Differences in the Hebrew Bible include memory differences, lexical equivalents, semantic and grammar differences, shifts in order, and some intentional changes for updating doctrine. Intentional changes in New Testament texts were made to improve grammar, eliminate discrepancies, harmonize parallel passages, combine and simplify multiple variant readings into one, and for theological reasons. Bruce K. Waltke observes that one variant for every ten words was noted in the recent critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, leaving 90% of the Hebrew text without variation. The Fourth edition of the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament notes variants affecting about 500 out of 6900 words, or about 7% of the text.
With a literary tradition spanning two millennia, the Bible has been the single most influential book of all time. It has been a cornerstone of Western culture and many other cultures across the globe. From practices of personal hygiene to philosophy and ethics, the Bible has directly and indirectly influenced politics and law, war and peace, sexual morals, marriage and family life, letters and learning, the arts, economics, social justice, care giving and more.
The Bible has been used to support and oppose political power, even inspiring revolution and "a reversal of power" because God is so often portrayed as choosing what is "weak and humble (the stammering Moses, the infant Samuel, Saul from an insignificant family, David confronting Goliath, etc.) to confound the mighty". Biblical texts have been the catalyst for political concepts like democracy, religious toleration and religious freedom. These have, in turn, inspired movements ranging from abolitionism in the 18th and 19th century, to the civil rights movement, the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and liberation theology in Latin America.
Critics view certain biblical stories to be morally problematic and accuse the Bible of advocating for slavery, supersessionism, the death penalty, violence, patriarchy, sexual intolerance and colonialism. Some say it has been used to justify, and even inspire, genocide. The Bible has been the source of many peace movements around the world and efforts at reconciliation.
The roots of modern concepts of human rights and many modern laws can be found in the Bible's teachings on due process, fairness in criminal procedures, and equity in the application of the law. Judges are told not to accept bribes (Deuteronomy 16:19), are required to be impartial to native and stranger alike (Leviticus 24:22; Deuteronomy 27:19), to the needy and the powerful alike (Leviticus 19:15), and to rich and poor alike (Deuteronomy 1:16,17; Exodus 23:2-6). The right to a fair trial, and fair punishment, are also found in the Bible (Deuteronomy 19:15; Exodus 21:23-25). Those most vulnerable in a patriarchal society -- children, women, and strangers -- are singled out in the Bible for special protection (Psalm 72:2,4).
The Bible advocates care for the sick, hungry and poor. This led to the first hospital for the poor in Caesarea in the fourth century and, eventually, to modern health care. The biblical practices of feeding and clothing the poor, visiting prisoners, supporting widows and orphan children has had sweeping impact.
The Bible has directly and indirectly influenced literature: St Augustine's Confessions is widely considered the first autobiography in Western Literature. The Summa Theologica, written 1265-1274, is "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." These both influenced the writings of Dante's epic poetry and his Divine Comedy, and in turn, Dante's creation and sacramental theology has contributed to influencing writers such as J. R. R. Tolkien and William Shakespeare.
Biblical teachings on sexual morality changed the Roman empire and the millennium that followed. Scriptures dealing with sexuality are extensive. Subjects include: the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15), sexual immorality, divine love (1 Corinthians 13), mutual self-giving (1 Corinthians 7), bodily membership between Christ and between husband and wife (1 Corinthians 6:15-20) and honor versus dishonor of adultery (Hebrews 13:4) among others.
Influence on Western learning has been formidable. For centuries after the fall of Rome, all schools were church schools, and outside of monastic settlements almost no one had the ability to read or write. These schools eventually led to the West's first universities in the Middle Ages. Protestant Reformers wanted all members of the church to be able to read the Bible, so compulsory education for both boys and girls was introduced. Translations of the Bible into local vernacular languages have supported the development of national literatures, "movements of indigenization, and cultural liberation ... and has become the benchmark of awakening and renewal".
Many of the unsurpassed masterpieces of Western art – were inspired by Biblical themes: from Michelangelo's David and Pietà sculptures, to Da Vinci's Last Supper and Raphael's various Madonna paintings. There are hundreds of examples. Eve, the temptress who disobeys God's commandment, is probably the most widely portrayed figure in art. The Renaissance preferred the sensuous female nude, while the "femme fatale" Delilah from the nineteenth century onward demonstrates how the Bible and art both shape and reflect views of women.
The scientific revolution, the founding of the English and American democracies, the repression of usury, the origins of banking, and a thesis that asserts the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the development of capitalism and the industrial revolution, all reflect the widespread influence of the Bible.
The Bible has many rituals of purification which speak of clean and unclean in both literal and metaphorical terms. The Biblical toilet etiquette encourages washing after all instances of defecation, hence the invention of the bidet.
The name Tanakh (Hebrew: "?) reflects the threefold division of the Hebrew scriptures, Torah ("Teaching"), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings"). It is not until the Babylonian Talmud (c.550 BCE) that a listing of the contents of these three divisions of scripture are found.
The Tanakh was mainly written in Biblical Hebrew, with some small portions (Ezra 4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26, Jeremiah 10:11, Daniel 2:4-7:28) written in Biblical Aramaic, a language which had become the lingua franca for much of the Semitic world.
The Torah (?) is also known as the "Five Books of Moses" or the Pentateuch, meaning "five scroll-cases". Traditionally these books were considered to have been dictated to Moses by God himself. Since the 17th century, scholars have viewed the original sources as being the product of multiple anonymous authors while also allowing the possibility of Moses being the one who first assembled the separate sources. There are a variety of hypotheses regarding when and how the Torah was composed, but there is a general consensus that it took its final form during the reign of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (probably 450-350 BCE), or perhaps in the early Hellenistic period (333-164 BCE).
The Hebrew names of the books are derived from the first words in the respective texts. The Torah consists of the following five books:
The first eleven chapters of Genesis provide accounts of the creation (or ordering) of the world and the history of God's early relationship with humanity. The remaining thirty-nine chapters of Genesis provide an account of God's covenant with the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (also called Israel) and Jacob's children, the "Children of Israel", especially Joseph. It tells of how God commanded Abraham to leave his family and home in the city of Ur, eventually to settle in the land of Canaan, and how the Children of Israel later moved to Egypt.
The remaining four books of the Torah tell the story of Moses, who lived hundreds of years after the patriarchs. He leads the Children of Israel from slavery in ancient Egypt to the renewal of their covenant with God at Mount Sinai and their wanderings in the desert until a new generation was ready to enter the land of Canaan. The Torah ends with the death of Moses.
Nevi'im (Hebrew: , romanized: Nî'îm, "Prophets") is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim. It contains two sub-groups, the Former Prophets (Nevi'im Rishonim ?, the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Nevi'im Aharonim ?, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets).
The Nevi'im tell a story of the rise of the Hebrew monarchy and its division into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, focusing on conflicts between the Israelites and other nations, and conflicts among Israelites, specifically, struggles between believers in "the LORD God" (Yahweh) and believers in foreign gods,[c][d] and the criticism of unethical and unjust behaviour of Israelite elites and rulers;[e][f][g] in which prophets played a crucial and leading role. It ends with the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, followed by the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the neo-Babylonian Empire and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Former Prophets are the books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. They contain narratives that begin immediately after the death of Moses with the divine appointment of Joshua as his successor, who then leads the people of Israel into the Promised Land, and end with the release from imprisonment of the last king of Judah. Treating Samuel and Kings as single books, they cover:
Ketuvim or Kû?îm (in Biblical Hebrew: ? "writings") is the third and final section of the Tanakh. The Ketuvim are believed to have been written under the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) but with one level less authority than that of prophecy.
In Masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing their internal parallelism, which was found early in the study of Hebrew poetry. "Stichs" are the lines that make up a verse "the parts of which lie parallel as to form and content". Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, ?, ?, yields Emet "?, which is also the Hebrew for "truth"). Hebrew cantillation is the manner of chanting ritual readings as they are written and notated in the Masoretic Text of the Bible. Psalms, Job and Proverbs form a group with a "special system" of accenting used only in these three books.
The five relatively short books of Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Book of Esther are collectively known as the Hamesh Megillot. These are the latest books collected and designated as "authoritative" in the Jewish canon even though they were not complete until the 2nd century CE.
The books of Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah[h] and Chronicles share a distinctive style that no other Hebrew literary text, biblical or extra-biblical, shares. They were not written in the normal style of Hebrew of the post-exilic period. The authors of these books must have chosen to write in their own distinctive style for unknown reasons.
The following list presents the books of Ketuvim in the order they appear in most printed editions.
The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud (Bava Batra 14b-15a) gives their order as Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.
The Tiberian tradition, which became the medieval Masoretic tradition, is built upon the Babylonian tradition which Samuel b. Jacob merged with the Tiberian leaving numerous traceable differences. One of the large scale differences is book order. In the Babylonian order, as recorded in the talmudic tractate b.Bava Bathra 14b, Isaiah is placed after Ezekiel making the order of the major prophets different from the Masoretic. In the Tiberian tradition, 1 Chronicles opens the Ketuvim section whereas it closes it in the Babylonian. 
The Ketuvim is the last of the three portions of the Tanakh to have been accepted as canonical. While the Torah may have been considered canon by Israel as early as the 5th century BCE and the Former and Latter Prophets were canonized by the 2nd century BCE, the Ketuvim was not a fixed canon until the 2nd century of the Common Era.
Evidence suggests, however, that the people of Israel were adding what would become the Ketuvim to their holy literature shortly after the canonization of the prophets. As early as 132 BCE references suggest that the Ketuvim was starting to take shape, although it lacked a formal title. Many scholars believe that the limits of the Ketuvim as canonized scripture were determined by the Council of Jamnia c. 90 CE. Against Apion, the writing of Josephus in 95 CE, treated the text of the Hebrew Bible as a closed canon to which "... no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable..." For an extended period after 95CE, the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny.
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible. It defines the books of the Jewish canon, and also the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and accentuation. The oldest extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the 9th century CE,[i] (once the oldest complete copy of the Masoretic Text, but now missing its Torah section) dates from the 10th century. The term "Keter" (crown, from the Arabic, taj) originally referred to this particular manuscript. Over the years, the term Keter came to refer to any full text of the Hebrew Bible, or significant portion of it, bound as a codex (not a scroll) and including vowel points, cantillation marks, and Masoretic notes.
Medieval handwritten manuscripts were considered extremely precise, the most authoritative documents from which to copy other texts. Even so, David Carr asserts that Hebrew texts contain both accidental and intentional types of variants, which are differences in the manuscripts: "memory variants" are generally accidental differences evidenced by such things as the shift in word order found in 1 Chronicles 17:24 and 2 Samuel 10:9 and 13. Variants also include the substitution of lexical equivalents, semantic and grammar differences, and larger scale shifts in order, with some major revisions of the Masoretic texts that must have been intentional.
Samaritans include only the Pentateuch (Torah) in their biblical canon. They do not recognize divine authorship or inspiration in any other book in the Jewish Tanakh.[j] A Samaritan Book of Joshua partly based upon the Tanakh's Book of Joshua exists, but Samaritans regard it as a non-canonical secular historical chronicle.
The Septuagint, or the LXX, is a translation of the Hebrew scriptures and some related texts into Koine Greek, begun in the late 3rd century BCE and completed by 132 BCE,[k] initially in Alexandria; in the second century CE, the Jewish scholars, Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus, produced a revised version. It is not altogether clear which parts were translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised. As the first translation of any biblical literature, the translation that became the Septuagint was an unparalleled event in the ancient world. This translation was made possible by a common Mediterranean culture where Semitism had been foundational to Greek culture. In the Talmud, Greek is the only language allowed for translation, however, shortcomings and differences between the two versions were noticed.
As the work of translation progressed, the canon of the Septuagint expanded. The Torah always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon but the collection of prophetic writings, based on the Nevi'im, had various hagiographical works incorporated into it. In addition, some newer books were included in the Septuagint, among these are the Books of the Maccabees and the Wisdom of Sirach. However, the book of Sirach is now known to have existed in a Hebrew version, since ancient Hebrew manuscripts of it were rediscovered in modern times. The Septuagint version of some biblical books, like the Book of Daniel and Book of Esther, are longer than those in the Jewish canon.
Since Late antiquity, once attributed to a hypothetical late 1st-century Council of Jamnia, mainstream Rabbinic Judaism rejected the Septuagint as valid Jewish scriptural texts. Several reasons have been given for this. First, some mistranslations were claimed. Second, the Hebrew source texts used for the Septuagint were claimed to differ from the Masoretic tradition of Hebrew texts.[l] Third, the rabbis wanted to distinguish their tradition from the newly emerging tradition of Christianity.[k][m]
Finally, the rabbis claimed a divine authority for the Hebrew language, in contrast to Aramaic or Greek - even though these languages were the lingua franca of Jews during this period (and Aramaic would eventually be given a holy language status comparable to Hebrew).[n]
The Septuagint is the basis for the Old Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Christian Old Testament. It was the basis for the earliest Christian Bibles, and the writings of the church Fathers. Many of these ancient versions coincide with the invention of the alphabet and the beginning of vernacular literature in those languages. According to British Academy professor N. Fernández Marcos, these early translations represent "pioneer works of enormous linguistic interest, as they represent the oldest documents we have for the study of these languages and literature". The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches use most of the books of the Septuagint, while Protestant churches usually do not. After the Protestant Reformation, many Protestant Bibles began to follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional texts, which came to be called apocryphal. The Apocrypha are included under a separate heading in the King James Version of the Bible, the basis for the Revised Standard Version.
The Book of Daniel is preserved in the 12-chapter Masoretic Text and in two longer Greek versions, the original Septuagint version, c. 100 BCE, and the later Theodotion version from c. 2nd century CE. Both Greek texts contain three additions to Daniel: The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children; the story of Susannah and the Elders; and the story of Bel and the Dragon. Theodotion's translation was so widely copied in the Early Christian church that its version of the Book of Daniel virtually superseded the Septuagint's. The priest Jerome, in his preface to Daniel (407 CE), records the rejection of the Septuagint version of that book in Christian usage: "I ... wish to emphasize to the reader the fact that it was not according to the Septuagint version but according to the version of Theodotion himself that the churches publicly read Daniel." Jerome's preface also mentions that the Hexapla had notations in it, indicating several major differences in content between the Theodotion Daniel and the earlier versions in Greek and Hebrew.
Theodotion's Daniel is closer to the surviving Hebrew Masoretic Text version, the text which is the basis for most modern translations. Theodotion's Daniel is also the one embodied in the authorised edition of the Septuagint published by Sixtus V in 1587.
Some texts found in the Septuagint are not present in the Hebrew. These books are called the Deuterocanon and apocrypha.
The Septuagint was translated from a Hebrew text that is not identical to the modern text giving it characteristics that differ from the Masoretic text. For example, the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are one book in four parts called ("Of Reigns") in the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the Books of Chronicles is a supplement to "Reigns", and it is called Paralipomenon ( - things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve. The book of Daniel is ordered with the Writings in the Hebrew scriptures whereas the Septuagint places it with the Prophets.
Pseudepigrapha are works whose authorship is wrongly attributed. A written work can be pseudepigraphical and not be a forgery, as forgeries are intentionally deceptive. With pseudepigrapha, authorship has simply been mistransmitted for any one of a number of reasons. Apocryphal and pseudepigraphic works are also not the same. Apocrypha includes all the writings claiming to be sacred that are outside the canon, while pseudepigrapha is a literary category of all writings whether they are canonical or apocryphal.
The term "pseudepigrapha" is commonly used to describe numerous works of Jewish religious literature written from about 300 BCE to 300 CE. Not all of these works are actually pseudepigraphical. (It also refers to books of the New Testament canon whose authorship is questioned.) The Old Testament pseudepigraphal works include the following:
Notable pseudepigraphal works include the Books of Enoch such as 1 Enoch, and 2 Enoch, which survives only in Old Slavonic, and 3 Enoch, surviving in Hebrew of the c. 5th to 6th century CE. These are ancient Jewish religious works, traditionally ascribed to the prophet Enoch, the great-grandfather of the patriarch Noah. The fragment of Enoch found among the Qumran scrolls attest to it being an ancient work. The older sections (mainly in the Book of the Watchers) are estimated to date from about 300 BCE, and the latest part (Book of Parables) was probably composed at the end of the 1st century BCE.
Enoch is not part of the biblical canon used by most Jews, apart from Beta Israel. Most Christian denominations and traditions may accept the Books of Enoch as having some historical or theological interest or significance. It has been observed that part of the Book of Enoch is quoted in the Epistle of Jude and the book of Hebrews (parts of the New Testament), but Christian denominations generally regard the Books of Enoch as non-canonical. The exceptions to this view are the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
The Ethiopian Bible is not based on the Greek Bible, and the Ethiopian Church has a slightly different understanding of canon than other Christian traditions. In Ethiopia, canon does not have the same degree of fixedness, (yet neither is it completely open). Enoch has long been seen there as inspired scripture, but being scriptural and being canon are not always seen the same. The official Ethiopian canon has 81 books, but that number is reached in different ways with various lists of different books, and the book of Enoch is sometimes included and sometimes not. Current evidence confirms Enoch as canonical in both Ethiopia and in Eritrea.
A Christian Bible is a set of books divided into the Old and New Testament that a Christian denomination has, at some point in their past or present, regarded as divinely inspired scripture. The Early Church primarily used the Septuagint, as it was written in Greek, the common tongue of the day, or they used the Targums among Aramaic speakers. Modern English translations of the Old Testament section of the Christian Bible are based on the Masoretic Text. The Pauline epistles and the gospels were soon added, along with other writings, as the New Testament.
The Protestant Old Testament of today has a 39-book canon - the number of books (although not the content) varies from the Jewish Tanakh only because of a different method of division. The term "Hebrew scriptures" is often used as being synonymous with the Protestant Old Testament, since the surviving scriptures in Hebrew include only those books, while the Roman Catholic Church recognizes 46 books as its Old Testament, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize 6 additional books. These additions are called Apocrypha or deuterocanon.[v][w][x] Both Catholics and Protestants (as well as Greek Orthodox) have the same 27-book New Testament Canon.
The Old Testament has always been important to the life of the Christian church. Bible scholar N.T. Wright says "Jesus himself was profoundly shaped by the scriptures." Wright adds that the earliest Christians searched those same Hebrew scriptures in their effort to understand the earthly life of Jesus. They regarded the "holy writings" of the Israelites as necessary and instructive for the Christian, as seen from Paul's words to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15), as pointing to the Messiah, and as having reached a climactic fulfillment in Jesus generating the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah.
There are books which are an accepted part of the Old Testament of the Syriac versions of the Bible called the Peshitta, the Roman Catholic Bible, the Ethiopian Bible, and the ancient Septuagint, that are not accepted in the Hebrew canon. They are often referred to as Deuterocanon or Apocrypha. They are Jewish literature, mostly of the Second Temple period (c.550 BCE - 70 CE); they originated in Israel, Syria, Egypt or Persia; were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, and attempt to tell of biblical characters and themes. Their provenance is obscure. One older theory of where they came from asserted that an 'Alexandrian" canon had been accepted among the Greek-speaking Jews living there, but that theory has since been abandoned. Indications are, they were not accepted when the rest of the Hebrew canon was: Philo, a Jewish philosopher who quotes from the Pentateuch over a thousand times, never once quotes from the Apocrypha. Flavius Josephus affirms the Hebrew canon and says nothing of any Apocryphal books. It is clear the Apocrypha were used in New Testament times, but "they are never quoted as Scripture." In modern Judaism, none of the apocryphal books are canonical. However, "the Ethiopian Jews, who are sometimes called Falashas, have an expanded canon, which includes some Apocryphal books". Blocher points out that, "in the earliest complete manuscripts of the Septuagint, the disputed books are found together with those of the Hebrew Bible (translated)".
Protestant Bibles which are made up of 80 or 81 books, (such as the Ethiopian Bible) have fourteen apocryphal books that are usually placed between the Old Testament and the New Testament in a separate section titled "The Apocrypha".[x][v] The Eastern Orthodox Churches call these books "that which is read" - Anagignoskomena - and include them as part of their Old Testament. The Roman Catholic Church includes most of them in their Old Testament with the exception of three books.[x][v] They are sometimes interspersed throughout the Catholic and Orthodox Old Testament, or they are sometimes appended to canonical books as additional chapters. Protestants generally do not include these books in their Bibles at all, but they can sometimes be included in a separate section.[x][v]
Because the content of the canon is unique to each religious community, the books considered apocryphal are unique to each as well, and the list varies. Tobit, Judith, Greek Additions to Esther (Book of Esther, chapters 10:4-12:6), the Wisdom of Soloman, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah (also called the Baruch Chapter 6), the Greek Additions to Daniel: (The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Book of Daniel, chapter 3, verses 24-90), Susanna (Book of Daniel, chapter 13), and Bel and the Dragon (Book of Daniel, chapter 14) along with 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees, are included in all listings of Apocryphal books. The Roman Catholic Church officially recognizes these works as deuterocanonical.[y] Deutero refers to "two" as in a later 'secondary' canon. For Roman Catholics, that canon was fixed definitively by the Council of Trent 1545-1563.[z] It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if Jeremiah and Lamentations are counted as one) and 27 for the New.
The Greek Orthodox Church, and the Slavonic churches (Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia) add to the universal list:
2 Esdras (4 Ezra) and the Prayer of Manessah are not in the Septuagint, and 2 Esdras does not exist in Greek, though it does exist in Latin. There is also 4 Maccabees which is only accepted as canonical in the Georgian Church. It is in an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible, and it is therefore sometimes included in collections of the Apocrypha.
The Syriac Orthodox Church includes:
The Revised Common Lectionary of the Lutheran Church, Moravian Church, Reformed Churches, Anglican Church and Methodist Church uses the apocryphal books liturgically, with alternative Old Testament readings available.[aa] Therefore, editions of the Bible intended for use in the Lutheran Church and Anglican Church include the fourteen books of the Apocrypha, many of which are the deuterocanonical books accepted by the Catholic Church, plus 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, which were in the Vulgate appendix.
The New Testament is the name given to the second portion of the Christian Bible. While some scholars assert that Aramaic was the original language of the New Testament, the majority view says it was written in the vernacular form of Koine Greek. Still, there is reason to assert that it is a heavily Semitized Greek: it's syntax is like conversational Greek, but its style is largely Semitic.[ab][ac] Koina Greek was the common language of the western Roman Empire from the Conquests of Alexander the Great (335-323 BCE) until the evolution of Byzantine Greek (c. 600) while Aramaic was the language of Jesus, the Apostles and the ancient Near East.[ad][ae][af] The term "New Testament" came into use in the second century during a controversy over whether the Hebrew Bible should be included with the Christian writings as sacred scripture.
It is generally accepted that the New Testament writers were Jews who took the inspiration of the Old Testament for granted. This is probably stated earliest in , "All scripture is given by inspiration of God". Scholarship on how and why ancient Jewish-Christians came to create and accept new texts as equal to the established Hebrew texts has taken three forms. First, John Barton writes that ancient Christians probably just continued the Jewish tradition of writing and incorporating what they believed were inspired, authoritative religious books. The second approach separates those various inspired writings based on a concept of "canon" which developed in the second century. The third involves formalizing canon. According to Barton, these differences are only differences in terminology; the ideas are reconciled if they are seen as three stages in the formation of the New Testament.
The first stage was completed remarkably early if one accepts Albert C. Sundberg's view that "canon" and "scripture" are separate things with 'scripture' having been recognized by ancient Christians long before 'canon' was. Barton says Theodor Zahn concluded "there was already a Christian canon by the end of the First century", but this is not the canon of later centuries. Accordingly, Sundberg asserts that in the first centuries, there was no criterion for inclusion in the 'sacred writings' beyond inspiration, and that no one in the first century had the idea of a closed canon. The gospels were accepted by early believers as handed down from those Apostles who had known Jesus and been taught by him. Later biblical criticism has questioned the authorship and datings of the gospels.
At the end of the second century, it is widely recognized that a Christian canon similar to its modern version was asserted in response to the plethora of writings claiming inspiration that contradicted orthodoxy: what they called heresy. The third stage of development as the final canon occurred in the fourth century with a series of synods that produced a list of texts of the canon of the Old Testament and the New Testament that are still used today. Most notably the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE and that of c. 400. Jerome produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (the Vulgate), the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight, it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon.
New Testament books already had considerable authority in the late first and early second centuries. Even in its formative period, most of the books of the NT that were seen as holy Scripture were already agreed upon. Linguistics scholar Stanley E. Porter says "evidence from the apocryphal non-Gospel literature is the same as that for the apocryphal Gospels -- in other words, that the text of the Greek New Testament was relatively well established and fixed by the time of the second and third centuries". By the time the fourth century Fathers were approving the "canon", they were doing little more than codifying what was already universally accepted.
The New Testament is a collection of 27 books of 4 different genres of Christian literature (Gospels, one account of the Acts of the Apostles, Epistles and an Apocalypse). These books can be grouped into:
Narrative literature, account and history of the Apostolic age
Catholic epistles, also called the general epistles
The Peshitta (Classical Syriac: or pt?) is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition. The consensus within biblical scholarship, although not universal, is that the Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from biblical Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD, and that the New Testament of the Peshitta was translated from the Greek.[ag] This New Testament, originally excluding certain disputed books (2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation), had become a standard by the early 5th century. The five excluded books were added in the Harklean Version (616 AD) of Thomas of Harqel.[ah]
The canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is wider than the canons used by most other Christian churches. There are 81 books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. In addition to the books found in the Septuagint accepted by other Orthodox Christians, the Ethiopian Old Testament Canon uses Enoch and Jubilees (ancient Jewish books that only survived in Ge'ez, but are quoted in the New Testament), Greek Ezra and the Apocalypse of Ezra, 3 books of Meqabyan, and Psalm 151 at the end of the Psalter.[x][v] The three books of Meqabyan are not to be confused with the books of Maccabees. The order of the books is somewhat different in that the Ethiopian Old Testament follows the Septuagint order for the Minor Prophets rather than the Jewish order.
The Second Epistle to Timothy says that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness".  Various related but distinguishable views on divine inspiration include:
Within these broad beliefs many schools of hermeneutics operate. "Bible scholars claim that discussions about the Bible must be put into its context within church history and then into the context of contemporary culture." Fundamentalist Christians are associated with the doctrine of biblical literalism, where the Bible is not only inerrant, but the meaning of the text is clear to the average reader.
Jewish antiquity attests to belief in sacred texts, and a similar belief emerges in the earliest of Christian writings. Various texts of the Bible mention divine agency in relation to its writings. In their book A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William Nix write: "The process of inspiration is a mystery of the providence of God, but the result of this process is a verbal, plenary, inerrant, and authoritative record." Most evangelical biblical scholars associate inspiration with only the original text; for example some American Protestants adhere to the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which asserted that inspiration applied only to the autographic text of scripture. Among adherents of biblical literalism, a minority, such as followers of the King-James-Only Movement, extend the claim of inerrancy only to a particular version.
The original texts of the Tanakh were almost entirely written in Hebrew with about one percent in Aramaic. The earliest translation of any Bible text is the Septuagint which translated the Hebrew into Greek. Probably commissioned by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, King of Egypt, in the second century BCE, it addressed the need of the primarily Greek-speaking Jews of the Graeco-Roman diaspora. The Targum Onkelos is the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible believed to have been written in the second century CE. These texts attracted the work of various scholars, but a standardized text was not available until the 9th century.
There are different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, mostly differing by spelling, and the standardized traditional Jewish version is based on the Aleppo Codex. Recovery of this codex, that may be a thousand years old, the oldest codex of the complete Tiberian Hebrew Bible, in the "Cave of Elijah" (the synagogue of Aleppo in the Judean desert), led to the rise of the Masoretic Bible. The standardized Masoretic Text became the source for all modern Jewish and Christian translations. Even in this version there are words which are traditionally read differently from written, because the oral tradition is considered more fundamental than the written one, and presumably mistakes had been made in copying the text over the generations. Some modern Western translations since the 14th century make use of the Septuagint to clarify passages in the Masoretic Text where the Septuagint may preserve a variant reading of the Hebrew text. They also sometimes adopt variants that appear in other texts, such as those discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Greek content of the New Testament was fixed by 367AD under Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria. Levidas writes that, "The Koine Greek New Testament is a non-translated work; most scholars agree on this--despite disagreement on the possibility that some passages may have appeared initially in Aramaic... It is written in the Koine Greek of the first century AD". Early Christians translated the New Testament into Old Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Latin, among other languages. The Latin translations were historically the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament. The earliest Latin translation was the Old Latin text, or Vetus Latina, which, from internal evidence, seems to have been made by several authors over a period of time. It was based on the Septuagint, and thus included books not in the Hebrew Bible.
According to the Latin Decretum Gelasianum (also known as the Gelasian Decree), thought to be of a 6th-century document of uncertain authorship and of pseudepigraphal papal authority (variously ascribed to Pope Gelasius I, Pope Damasus I, or Pope Hormisdas) but reflecting the views of the Roman Church by that period, the Council of Rome in 382 CE under Pope Damasus I (366-383) gives a complete list of the canonical books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament which is identical with the list given at the Council of Trent. Damasus commissioned Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin. This translation became known as the Latin Vulgate Bible, in the 4th century CE (although Jerome expressed in his prologues to most deuterocanonical books that they were non-canonical). In 1546, at the Council of Trent, Jerome's Vulgate translation was declared by the Roman Catholic Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Church.
Translations to English start with Alfred the Great in the 9th century, include the Toledo School of Translators in the 12th and 13th century, Roger Bacon (1220-1292), an English Franciscan monk of the 13th century, and multiple writers of the Renaissance. The Wycliffite Bible, which is "one of the most significant in the development of a written standard", dates from the late Middle English period. Tyndales's translation of 1525 is seen by several scholars as having influenced the form of English Christian discourse as well as impacting the development of the English language itself. Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German in 1522, and both Testaments with Apocrypha in 1534, contributing to the multiple wars of the Age of Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Important biblical translations of this period include the Polish Jakub Wujek Bible (Biblia Jakuba Wujka) from 1535, and the English King James/ Authorized Version (1604-1611).
Nearly all modern English translations of the Old Testament are based on a single manuscript, the Leningrad Codex also called the St. Petersburg Codex, copied in 1008 or 1009. It is a complete example of the Masoretic Text, and its published edition is used by the majority of scholars. The Aleppo Codex is the basis of the Hebrew University Bible Project in Jerusalem. Copied about 925 CE, part of it was lost, so it must rely on additional manuscripts, and as a result, the Aleppo Codex contains the most comprehensive collection of variant readings.
Since the Reformation era, Bible translations have been made into the common vernacular of many languages. The Bible continues to be translated to new languages, largely by Christian organizations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Mission and Bible societies. Lammin Sanneh writes that tracing the impact on the local cultures of translating the Bible into local vernacular language shows it has produced "the movements of indigenization and cultural liberation". "The translated scripture ... has become the benchmark of awakening and renewal".
|7378||Approximate number of languages spoken in the world today|
|2217||Number of translations into new languages in progress|
|1196||Number of languages with some translated Bible portions|
|1582||Number of languages with a translation of the New Testament|
|717||Number of languages with a full translation of the Bible (Protestant Canon)|
|3495||Total number of languages with some Bible translation|
Archaeology reflects that Bible texts are fully integrated with material culture at times, and fully out of sync at others. Biblical archaeology is a subsection of archaeology that relates to and sheds light upon the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament. It is used to help determine the lifestyle and practices of people living in biblical times. There are a wide range of interpretations in the field of biblical archaeology. One broad division includes biblical maximalism which generally takes the view that most of the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible is based on history although it is presented through the religious viewpoint of its time. According to historian Lester L. Grabbe, there are few, if any, maximalists in mainstream scholarship. It is considered to be the extreme opposite of biblical minimalism which considers the Bible to be a purely post-exilic (5th century BCE and later) composition. According to Mary-Joan Leith, professor of religious studies, many minimalists have ignored evidence for the antiquity of the Hebrew language in the Bible, and few take archaeological evidence into consideration. Most biblical scholars and archaeologists fall somewhere on a spectrum between these two.
The historicity of the biblical account of the history of ancient Israel and Judah of the 10th to 7th centuries BCE is disputed in scholarship. The biblical account of the 8th to 7th centuries BCE is widely, but not universally, accepted as historical. The biblical account of events of the Exodus from Egypt in the Torah, and the migration to the Promised Land and the period of Judges are generally not considered historical. The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, ancient non-biblical texts, and archaeology support the Babylonian captivity beginning around 586 BCE. Excavations in southern Judah show a pattern of destruction consistent with the Neo-Assyrian devastation of Judah at the end of the eighth century BCE and 2 Kings 18:13. In 1993, at Tel Dan, archaeologist Avraham Biran unearthed a fragmentary Aramaic inscription, the Tel Dan stele, dated to the late ninth or early eighth century that mentions a "king of Israel" as well as a "house of David" (bet David). This shows David could not be a late sixth-century invention, and implies that Judah's kings traced their lineage back to someone named David. However, there is no good archaeological evidence for the existence of Kings David and Solomon or the First Temple as far back as the tenth century BCE where the Bible places them.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, surveys demonstrated that Acts of the Apostles (Acts) scholarship was divided into two traditions, "a conservative (largely British) tradition which had great confidence in the historicity of Acts and a less conservative (largely German) tradition which had very little confidence in the historicity of Acts". Subsequent surveys show that little has changed. Author Thomas E. Phillips writes that "In this two-century-long debate over the historicity of Acts and its underlying traditions, only one assumption seemed to be shared by all: Acts was intended to be read as history". This too is now being debated by scholars as: what genre does Acts actually belong to? There is a growing consensus, however, that the question of genré is unsolvable and would not, in any case, solve the issue of historicity: "Is Acts history or fiction? In the eyes of most scholars, it is history--but not the kind of history that precludes fiction." says Phillips.
Biblical criticism refers to the analytical investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as history, authorship, dates of composition, and authorial intention. It is not the same as criticism of the Bible, which is an assertion against the Bible being a source of information or ethical guidance, nor is it criticism of possible translation errors.
The method, purpose and approach of biblical criticism is demonstrated in its beginnings. In the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes collected textual evidence that he asserted as proving Moses could not have been the author of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch. Shortly afterwards, the philosopher Baruch Spinoza published a unified critical analysis, arguing that the problematic passages were not isolated cases that could be explained away one by one, but pervasive throughout the five books, concluding that it was "clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses ..."
Jean Astruc (1684-1766), a French physician, believed these critics were wrong. Using the book of Genesis as his example, Astruc believed Moses had assembled the first book of the Pentateuch using a collection of hereditary accounts passed down through the Hebrew people. Biblical criticism began when Astruc borrowed methods of textual criticism which were already used to investigate Greek and Roman texts and applied them to the Bible in search of those original accounts. Astruc believed this approach did identify the separate sources that were edited together into the book of Genesis, and modern scholars still, generally, accept his conclusions. In Astruc's view, the existence of separate sources explained the inconsistent style and vocabulary of Genesis, discrepancies in the narrative, differing accounts and chronological difficulties, while still allowing for Mosaic authorship.
Biblical criticism made study of the Bible secularized, scholarly and more democratic, while it also permanently altered the way people understood the Bible. It is no longer thought of solely as a religious artifact, and its interpretation is no longer restricted to the community of believers. Michael Fishbane writes, "There are those who regard the desacralization of the Bible as the fortunate condition for" the development of the modern world. For many, biblical criticism "released a host of threats" to the Christian faith. For others biblical criticism "proved to be a failure, due principally to the assumption that diachronic, linear research could master any and all of the questions and problems attendant on interpretation". Still others believed that biblical criticism, "shorn of its unwarranted arrogance," could be a reliable source of interpretation. Michael Fishbane compares biblical criticism to Job, a prophet who destroyed "self-serving visions for the sake of a more honest crossing from the divine textus to the human one". Or as Rogerson says: biblical criticism has been liberating for those who want their faith "intelligently grounded and intellectually honest".
In the twenty-first century, attitudes towards the Bible differ. Roman Catholics, High Church Anglicans, Methodists and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of both the Bible and sacred tradition,[ai][aj] while many Protestant churches focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This concept rose to prominence during the Reformation, and many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching. Others, though, advance the concept of prima scriptura in contrast, meaning scripture primarily or scripture mainly.[ai] Muslims view the Bible as reflecting the true unfolding revelation from God but revelation which had been corrupted or distorted (in Arabic: tahrif), and therefore necessitated correction by giving the Quran to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[ak] The Rastafari view the Bible as essential to their religion, while the Unitarian Universalists view it as "one of many important religious texts".
The English word Bible is derived from Koin? Greek: , romanized: ta biblia, meaning "the books" (singular ?, biblion). The word ? itself had the literal meaning of "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book". It is the diminutive of byblos, "Egyptian papyrus", possibly so called from the name of the Phoenician sea port Byblos (also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece.
The term "Bible" can have several meanings:
The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books") was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books". The biblical scholar F. F. Bruce notes that Chrysostom appears to be the first writer (in his Homilies on Matthew, delivered between 386 and 388) to use the Greek phrase ta biblia ("the books") to describe both the Old and New Testaments together.
Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek ? (tà biblía tà hágia, "the holy books"). Medieval Latin biblia is short for biblia sacra "holy book". It gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae) in medieval Latin, and so the word was loaned as singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe.
Christians now commonly call the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible "the Holy Bible" (in Greek, ?, tà biblía tà ágia) or "the Holy Scriptures" (? ? , e Agía Graph?).[al]
Imperial Bible, or Vienna Coronation Gospels from Wien (Austria), c 1500.
The Kennicott Bible, 1476
A Baroque Bible
The Bible used by Abraham Lincoln for his oath of office during his first inauguration in 1861
1866 Victorian Bible
Shelves of the Bizzell Bible Collection at Bizzell Memorial Library
The grandest medieval Bibles were illuminated manuscripts in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations. Up to the 12th century, most manuscripts were produced in monasteries in order to add to the library or after receiving a commission from a wealthy patron. Larger monasteries often contained separate areas for the monks who specialized in the production of manuscripts called a scriptorium, where "separate little rooms were assigned to book copying; they were situated in such a way that each scribe had to himself a window open to the cloister walk." By the 14th century, the cloisters of monks writing in the scriptorium started to employ laybrothers from the urban scriptoria, especially in Paris, Rome and the Netherlands. Demand for manuscripts grew to an extent that the Monastic libraries were unable to meet with the demand, and began employing secular scribes and illuminators. These individuals often lived close to the monastery and, in certain instances, dressed as monks whenever they entered the monastery, but were allowed to leave at the end of the day. A notable example of an illuminated manuscript is the Book of Kells, produced circa the year 800 containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables.
The manuscript was "sent to the rubricator, who added (in red or other colours) the titles, headlines, the initials of chapters and sections, the notes and so on; and then - if the book was to be illustrated - it was sent to the illuminator." In the case of manuscripts that were sold commercially, the writing would "undoubtedly have been discussed initially between the patron and the scribe (or the scribe's agent,) but by the time that the written gathering were sent off to the illuminator there was no longer any scope for innovation."
Coloured version of the Whore of Babylon illustration from Martin Luther's 1534 translation of the Bible
An Armenian Bible, 17th century, illuminated by Malnazar
Jonah being swallowed by the fish, Kennicott Bible, 1476
But if anyone receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.-- Decretum de Canonicis Scripturis, Council of Trent, 8 April 1546
Wesleyan institutions, whether hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, or schools, historically were begun with the spirit to serve all people and to transform society.
The new view of evangelism called for the denomination to undertake two new forms of activities: humanitarian aid and social witness. Humanitarian aid went beyond the individual help that many home missionaries were already providing to people within their care. It involved creating new structures that would augment the political, economic, and social systems so that those systems might be more humane. It included the establishment of Methodist hospitals in all the major cities in the United States. These hospitals were required to provide the best treatment possible free of charge to all who needed it, and were often staffed by deaconesses who trained as nurses. Homes for the aged and orphanages were also part of this work.
Wilken 2003 291was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
... From Fleming's perspective, the transition to Christianity required a good dose of personal and public hygiene ...