What is the Bible?
People have been killed for it.
Wars have been started by it.
Nations have been founded on it.
And lives are being changed every single day because of it.
But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about the Bible?
Did it just drop out of heaven? Or it's simply good literature?
To some it's the very Word of God.
To others it's just a great book.
An ancient document.
A book of wisdom.
A playbook for life.
A holy mandate.
But what we hold in our hands and keep in our hearts is something most of us simply don't understand, so we end up missing much of what the Bible was intended for.
I want to take the next few posts and spend some time diving into what the Bible is, and what it isn't. Hopefully it will help you begin to understand a better way to read Scripture, and how it's actually applicable to life today.
So we’ll start at the beginning.
Where did the Bible come from?
The Bible is an ancient library of writings that describe the history of the nation of Israel. It begins with a poetic reflection of God’s creation of the universe, and follows humanity as they discover who God is, and what He expects from mankind.
It was written by many authors; most scholars agreeing that well over 40 different people are responsible for crafting the pages that have shaped history. These men were called prophets, and they believed that the things they were writing came straight from God.
Now the Bible we have today is actually made up of very distinct parts that were written during very different times, for very different audiences.
First we have the Old Testament, also known by the ancient Hebrews as the TaNaK.
Now, TaNaK was an acronym for the three parts which made up the Jewish Scriptures.
The first part, the Torah, consists of the five Books of Moses, and includes the story of God rescuing His people from bondage, and leading them to the Promised Land. It serves as a foundation for their faith.
Then we have the Nevi’im, or “prophets.” These books told the history of Israel and included poetic reflections and instructions from the prophets, who believed they heard from God directly.
Lastly, there was the Ketuvim, or “writings.” This consisted of books of poetry, wisdom, and other writings that the Ancient Israelites held dear.
These three sections, even though they were written over a period of 1400 years, made up the Jewish Bible. They were compiled because they tell the story of God’s people, and the hope they had for a King to make right all the wrong in the world, and restore shalom.
But this collection of writings stops abruptly. Suddenly the story is left without an ending. Israel finds themselves without this Savior, and ultimately very distant from God.
And during this time of silence and uncertainty, a number of other books were written by contemporaries of the prophets. They were highly respected and viewed as influential to the Hebrew people. But still they didn't finish the narrative arch of the TaNaK.
And that's where the Hebrew Scriptures leave us: lost but hopeful that somehow this God would speak to His people once again.
And that's how we got what we call the Old Testament. In the next post we’ll dive into where the New Testament came from, and why it's included in our Bibles today.