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Know Your Bible



The following list is not designed to discuss doctrine, or provide in-depth teaching. It is merely a resource center for factual information on the Bible while further learning pointers are included. For more in-depth learning go to the Bible Links section of this site.

Further Bible questions and comments could be addressed to:

Bible@juliantrubin.com




Bible Questions Index

1. What does “Bible” mean?"
2. What is the Bible?
3. What are the three parts of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible)?
4. What are the main divisions of the New Testament?
5. What is the main religious importance of the Old Testament?
6. What are the Ten Commandments?
7. What is the main religious importance of the New Testament?
8. What does “Gospel” mean?
9. Who were the prophets?
10. Who were the Judges of Israel?
11. What is the Apocrypha?
12. What is the Septuagint?
13. What is the Vulgate?
14. What is the Pseudepigrapha?
15. What Is Canon?
16. What is the meaning of “Old” and “New” regarding the Testaments?
17. How many books are in the Bible?
18. How many books are in the Old Testament?
19. How many books are in the New Testament?
20. What does "testament" mean?
21. Who wrote the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)?
22. Who wrote the New Testament?
23. What are the oldest and the youngest books in the Old Testament?
24. What are the oldest and the youngest books of the New Testament?
25. In what language was the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) written?
26. In what language was the New Testament written?
27. When was the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) canonized?
28. When was the New Testament canonized?
29. When was the first translation of the Bible made into English?
30. When was the Bible first printed?
31. How many languages has the Bible been translated into?
32. Who were the Apostles?
33. What is the meaning of “apostle”?
34. What is the main importance of “The Acts of the Apostles”?
35. What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
36. Why is the King James Version of the Bible so renowned?
37. Is Jesus mentioned outside the New Testament?
38. Who was Josephus Flavius?
39. What is Talmud?
40. What is the Bible Code?
41. Is the Bible still the best-selling book in the world?




1. What does “Bible” mean?
The Bible gets its name from a Greek word meaning “books”.



2. What is the Bible?
1. The collection of sacred writings of the Christian religion comprising the Old and New Testaments.

2. The collection of sacred writings of the Jewish religion known to the Christians as the Old Testaments. In this respect, the Old Testament is also called the Hebrew Scriptures or the Hebrew Bible or Jewish Bible. In Hebrew, the Hebrew Bible is called Tanach.



3. What are the three parts of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible)?
The general accepted division has it roots in Judaism.
1. The Law, Torah in Hebrew and Pentateuch by Christians. It is sometimes called the Five Books of Moses, it consists of first five books of the Old Testament (5 books).
2. The Prophets, Neviim in Hebrew (21 books in Christianity, 8 in Judaism).
3. The Writings, Ketuvim in Hebrew, and Hagiographa by Christians (13 books in Christianity, 11 in Judaism).
In total: 39 books in Cristianity, 24 in Judaism.

Learn more about Judaism



4. What are the main divisions of the New Testament?
1. The Gospels (4 books).
2, The Acts of the Apostles (1 book).
3. The Epistles or letters (21 books).
4. The Revelation of St. John the Devine (1 book).
In total: 27 books.



5. What is the main religious importance of the Old Testament?

Jewish point of view:
The Revelation of Mount Sinai, where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites. By following these commandments, the Jews were set apart from all other nations – from a group of slaves emerged a new nation and religion. A Testament (covenant) between God and humans was established.

Here is the place to mention that Jewish theology recognizes only the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures, Tanach).

Christian point of view:

Traditional Christianity affirms that the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament is fully inspired by God but has historically denied that all of the laws of the Pentateuch apply directly to Christians. However, the OT has much importance in Christian theology:

1. It revealed the coming of a new and better way which is the New Testament: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." (Jeremiah 31:31).

2. It revealed the coming Messiah. Many prophecies showed this. It prophesied Messiah's birth (Isaiah 7:14), miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6), betrayal and death (Zechariah 11:12; Psalm 22), resurrection and ascension (Psalm 2:7; 68:18; 110:1), etc.



6. What are the Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments, or Decalogue, are a list of religious and moral imperatives which, according to some religious traditions, were written by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of two stone tablets. They feature prominently in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase "Ten Commandments" generally refers to the broadly identical passages in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

Jewish point of view:

God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at the Revelation of Mt. Sinai. By following these commandments, the Jews were set apart from all other nations – from a group of slaves emerged a new nation and religion.

The Ten Commandments are very central in Jewish tradition and are recognized as the ideological basis for the rest 613 commandments mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Christian point of view:

Most Christians, Protestant and Catholic, maintain that the Mosaic Law was only intended for the children of Israel of the OT and removed when Jesus died on the cross. However, many Christians today tend to regard the Ten Commandments as the basis of civil and moral laws of all humanity.


More about the Ten Commandments



7. What is the main religious importance of the New Testament?
In the New Testament are embodied the central teachings of traditional Christianity that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God; that his life on earth, his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven are proof of God's love for humanity and God's forgiveness of human sins; and that by faith in Jesus one may attain salvation and eternal life.



8. What does “Gospel” mean?

A gospel is any of the four New Testament books narrating the life, death and teachings of Jesus - they have been named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and placed at the beginning of the New Testament.

The Gospel gets its name from a Greek word meaning “good news”. According to the Gospels, the “good news” are the Revelation of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God by that enabling the salvation of humanity from sin and misery.


More about the Gospels



9. Who were the prophets?
Many people today think of a prophet as any person who sees the future. While the gift of prophecy certainly includes the ability to see the future, a prophet is far more than just a person with that ability.
A prophet, according to religious traditions, is basically a spokesman for God, a person chosen by God to speak to people on God's behalf and convey a message or teaching. Prophets were role models of holiness, scholarship and closeness to God. They set the standards for the entire community.

More about Prophets, Prophetesses and Prophecy

More about the Prophets of Israel



10. Who were the Judges of Israel?
The Judges of Israel were Military leaders, Legal authorities and Heroes.
Came to power in periods of emergency when Israel experienced difficulties from enemies.
Authority was limited to the period of the emergency only - after saving their people, they would have been respected and consulted but had no formal leadership role.
Authority was limited to one or a few tribes and not all Israel.

More about the Judges of Israel



11. What is the Apocrypha?
The term "apocrypha" refers to 14 biblical books included as part of the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), and the vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible) , but not included in the Hebrew Bible. In this context, the term "apocrypha" generally refers to writings entirely outside of the biblical canon and not considered inspired. However, the Apocrypha is included in the Roman Catholic Old Testament but Protestants follow Jewish tradition in regarding all these books as non-canonical.

More about the Apocrypha



12. What is the Septuagint?
The oldest Greek version of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), traditionally said to have been translated by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars at the request of Ptolemy II; It also includes the books of the Apocrypha and some of the Pseudepigrapha. It was the version used by Hellenistic Jews and the Greek-speaking Christians, including St. Paul; it is still used in the Greek Church. The Septuagint is of importance to critics because it is translated from texts now lost. No copy of the original translation exists; textual difficulties abound. The word “Septuagint” is derived from “70” in Latin.

More about the Septuagint



13. What is the Vulgate?
The Latin version of the Bible prepared chiefly by St. Jerome at the end of the 4th century A.D. and used as the authorized version of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes also the Apocrypha.

More about the Vulgate



14. What is the Pseudepigrapha?
Certain writings – other than the canonical books and the Apocrypha – that are Biblical by character. This is a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D., not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings. “Pseudepigrapha” is derived from ancient Greek meaning “things falsely ascribed”.



15. What Is Canon?
The term “canon” is derived from the Hebrew word qaneh which means a reed used as a measuring stick. A canon refers to the body of writings which have been officially “measured” according to a special standard, and recognized as authoritative, i.e., divinely inspired, by a church or a religious community. The canon serves as the constitution of the group, and provides the source for understanding its faith.



16. What is the meaning of “Old” and “New” regarding the Testaments?
The designations “Old” and “New” have meaning only from Christian point of view since in Judaism only the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is recognized.
There are two meanings for “Old” and “New”.
1.The chronological one, simply because of the fact that the Old Testament preceded the New.
2. The theological one, meaning that the New Testament is meant to replace the Old.
The designations “Old” and “New” seem to have been adopted after 200 A.D.



17. How many books are in the Bible?
The Protetant Bible contains 66 books (39 OT, 27 NT); the Catholic Bible contains 73 books (46 OT, 27 NT); the Eastern Orthodox Bible contains 78 books (51 OT, 27 NT). The Hebrew Bible (the name of the OT by Jews) contains only 24 books.



18. How many books are in the Old Testament?
The Protetant OT contains 39 books, the Catholic OT 46, the Eastern Orthodox 51, whereas the Hebrew Bible (the name of the OT by Jews) contains only 24 books. The OT is called by people of the Jewish faith the Hebrew Bible or in Hebrew Tanakh.



19. How many books are in the New Testament?
There are 27 books in the New Testament, this is accepted by all Christian denominations.



20. What does "testament" mean?
Testament means "covenant" or "contract."



21. Who wrote the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)?
Most of the writings in the Old Testaments are authored by anonymous Israelites, and in many cases it is not known whether they were compiled by individuals or groups.



22. Who wrote the New Testament?
The four gospels, according to tradition, were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and john (the four evangelists); the Acts of the Apostles was probably written by the evangelist Luke; most of the Letters or Epistles were written by Paul.



23. What are the oldest and the youngest books in the Old Testament?
Many scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, written by an unknown Israelite about 1100 B.C. Others hold that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) are the oldest books in the Bible, written around 1000 B.C. The book of Malachi is the youngest - written about 400 B.C.



24. What are the oldest and the youngest books of the New Testament?
The oldest, probably the book of James, written as early as 45 A.D. The Book of Revelation is the youngest book of the New Testament, written about 95 A.D.



25. In what language was the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) written?
The Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), was originally almost entirely written in ancient Hebrew, with a few short elements in Aramaic.



26. In what language was the New Testament written?
Probably in Greek, though some may have been first written in Aramaic.



27. When was the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) canonized?
Around 300 B.C.



28. When was the New Testament canonized?
The entire New Testament as we know it today, was canonized around 375 A.D.



29. When was the first translation of the Bible made into English?
1382 A.D., by John Wycliffe.



30. When was the Bible first printed?
The Bible was first printed in 1454 A.D. by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the "type mold" for the printing press. It was the first book ever printed.

Learn more about the Gutenberg Bible



31. How many languages has the Bible been translated into?
The Bible has been translated into at least 1000 languages, with countless more partial translations, and audio translations (for unwritten languages). This is an enormous amount of translations. In comparison, Shakespeare, considered by many to be the master writer of the English language, has only been translated into 50 languages.



32. Who were the Apostles?
The Apostles were 12 men whom Jesus chose to help him while he lived and to spread his teaching after his death. Their selection by Jesus is described in the Gospels. The Acts of the Apostles describes their work in developing Christianity after Jesus’ crucifixion. Most of them were fishermen. The most notorious:
Peter, the chief apostle, was later to become the foundation rock of the Christian Church.
John was according the tradition the author of the Gospel of St. John and the three Epistles of St. John.
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus.
Paul was not among the first 12 original apostles and this title was given to him later.

Who were the Apostles?



33. What is the meaning of “apostle”?
From a Greek word that means “person sent” such as an envoy or ambassador.



34. What is the main importance of “The Acts of the Apostles”?
The Acts of the Apostles takes up the story of how God’s promises to men, brought about by the life and death of Christ, began to be told to all men everywhere - the process by which Christianity ceased to be part of Judaism and become a new multy-national religion. This process was lead mainly by St. Peter and St. Paul who was the first to realize that a man could become a Christian without first becoming a Jew. And in this respect, Paul and Peter could be regarded as the founders of Christianity in its real sense of meaning.



35. What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
A number of leather, papyrus and copper scrolls dating from 100 B.C to 135 A.D. containing partial texts of some of the books of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) and some non-Biblical scrolls, in Hebrew and Aramaic and including apocryphal writings, commentaries, hymns and psalms; found in caves near the Dead Sea beginning in 1947. They are believed to be part of a library of strict Jewish sect, the Essenes. The scrolls shed light on a type of Judaism that existed when Jesus lived and include the oldest known manuscripts of books of the Bible.

Learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls



36. Why is the King James Version of the Bible so renowned?
This is an English translation of the Bible prepare in England under James I and published in 1611. The stately beauty of the 17th century English seems so well suited to the message it has to tell that many people prefer it to other translations.



37. Is Jesus mentioned outside the New Testament?
Yes, Jesus Christ is mentioned by Josephus Flavius (the 1st century Jewish historian). Some also believe that Jesus is mentioned in the Jewish Talmud.
Among non-Christian, pagan writers of antiquity, Jesus is mentioned by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger.

See Josephus' Account of Jesus

Learn about the Jesus Narrative in The Talmud




38. Who was Josephus Flavius?
A Jewish historian and soldier. Lived 37-100 A.D, was born in Jerusalem. Josephus' historical works are among the most valuable sources for the study of early Judaism and early Christianity – and among others, he mentions Jesus. Having studied the tenets of the three main sects of Judaism—Essenes, Sadducees, and Pharisees — he became a Pharisee. At the beginning of the war between the Romans and Jews, he was made commander of Galilee, despite the fact that he had opposed the uprising. He surrendered to the Romans instead of committing suicide when the stronghold was taken. He won the favor of the Roman general Titus Flavius Vespasianus and took his name, Flavius. He lived in Rome under imperial patronage, where he wrote the Greek-language historical works for which he is renowned. He wrote The Jewish War; the famous Antiquities of the Jews, a history of the Jews from creation to the war with Rome; Against Apion, an exalted defense of the Jews; and his autobiography, or apologia.

Learn more about Josephus Flavius



39. What is Talmud?
The collection of Jewish Law and tradition consisting of the Mishana and the Gemara, either the edition produced in Palestine about 400 A.D, or the larger, more important one produced in Babylonia about 500 A.D. Some people believe that Jesus is mentioned in the Talmud.



40. What is the Bible Code?
There is a claim made that there is a secret code within the Bible that proves the existence of God and even predicts the future. Its supporters include mathematicians from Harvard and Yale Universities and a senior code-breaker at the U.S. Department of Defense. Other experts have rejected the Bible Code as a myth.
The Bible Code refers to words or phrases found in the bible at equi-distant letter (ELS) sequences. For example, in Genesis chapter one the name "Abraham" (ABRHM) has been found at an equi-distant letter sequence of 50. Starting at the letter A, and skipping 50 letters, we find the letter B. After skipping another 50 letters we find an R, and so on.

Learn more about the Bible Code



41. Is the Bible still the best-selling book in the world?
Yes, indeed!






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Last updated: June 2013
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