#89 The Bible (1 of ~67) (Watt-Thoughts)
The Christian Bible is one of the most cited books in the world. Do we really know what is in it? If you are a Christian like me when is the last time you fully read it? Or have you ever fully read it completely? If you are not a Christian, chances are you are not because you heard that it supposedly says something you disagree with. Do you know it really says that and have you read around it to make sure you had it in context? We hear the Bible quoted as justifications often for all types of things, but do you know if those quotes are accurate?
The Bible was written by a number of individuals over time, but all inspired by God. Some of the books are easy to tell who wrote, but others are not. The letters by Paul are clearly by him. The first five books of the Bible are credited to Moses but include events after he died. Who wrote the books is usually not as important to me as why it was written and did God inspire them. Much of those five books were probably carried on orally for a long time before Moses, but he probably recorded a lot.
The Bible is actually partially or totally important to three major religions of the world today. The original part of the Old Testament is important to Moslems (Islam), Jews and Christians. The Jews and Christians remain concerned with the entire Old Testament. The Christians include in their beliefs the New Testament. The development o the world, the belief in one God are major beliefs among all three religions. You would think the three would get along better, but as you study the Bible, you will see today's distrust is from way back in history.
The Christian Bible is split into the Old testament and New Testament. Many would tell you that the Old Testament is the old covenant between man and God and the New Testament is the new covenant between man and God. That is close but not quite right. The Old Testament is the story of man and God and their relationship under the old covenant but it does not end there. The old covenant only ceases to be and the new covenant come about at Jesus' death which is at the end of each of the first four books of the New Testament. Only then when the curtain in the temple is torn is the new covenant that Jesus prepared us for take affect. The rest of the New Testament is the story of the people learning to line in the new covenant just as we do today.
Who decided what is in the Bible? There are lots of other manuscripts, books and letters from that time period that could be in the Bible. Partly this was done by acceptance by the people and by church conferences. The Jews decided on what is in the Old Testament before Jesus life. They decided what were the scriptures God wanted include. They received guidance from God in deciding this. The New Testament for the first few hundred years was decided basically by what the different congregations decided was scripture. Paul did not write his letters intending they be scriptures but to guide those churches that day. The biggest question was it God inspired, and did God intend us to have it in later times, which for the early Christians was highly doubtful as many expected Jesus to return in their lives. The Catholic Church, as still the only Christian church, in the early centuries held a conference and thru much prayer and debate settled on our Bible today. However that still leaves several other items that may help you in your spiritual life. First the Catholics recognized the Apocrypha books, but could not reach full agreement on them. Much of what they give fills some time gaps in the Bible. Many Protestants, or non Catholic Christians, do not recognize or know they exist, but you may find interesting to study in addition to the Bible. In addition there are other books and letters written in the first century that were not included but if you look on the Internet or other places , you can find and study, but realize that they have not been recognized by early tradition or formal choosing as God inspired scriptures but that they may be God inspired.
The Bible was basically originally written in two languages, although various parts hit various dialects and possibly in other languages. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, which is only natural as this was the language of the Jewish people and they wrote it. The New Testament was written in Greek as that was the language that people quite often used to communicate at that time, although Latin was the official language of the empire. It has since been translated into many languages many times. K3ep in mind when you choose an English translation, or whatever language, it is usually using words of the time of the translation in context to that time. Word change meaning through time, and if you read it in terms of today and was translated 30 or 300 years ago you may misread it. Just to use one example of a word changing is the word gay. Personally I tend to the Good news version and the Living Bible as the translations I use the most. However I also do look at the King James Version also.
I challenge you to join me as I go back and re read through the entire Bible. I plan to write an article giving you an overview of what each book is about and some thoughts on what does it mean today. I will be using guidance from God as he inspires me to write these, but read and see for yourself. This series through the next who knows how long can be an excellent way for each of us to grow in our relationship to God. Just because I say it, does not make it true, check it out yourself, and be open just as I will be in this process to what God is telling you and me. I continue to find new things in the Bible and fully expect to gain from both my reading meditating, writing and listing to each of those who read this.
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