s of Judaism
. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books (Biblical canon
), their contents and their order vary among denominations. Mainstream Judaism divides the Tanakh
into 24 books, while a minority stream of Judaism, the Samaritans, accepts only five. The 24 texts of the Hebrew Bible
are divided into 39 books in Christian Old Testament
s, and complete Christian Bibles range from the 66 books of the Protestant
canon to the 81 books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Bible.
1535 The first complete English-language Bible (the Coverdale Bible) is printed, with translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale.
1580 The Ostrog Bible, one of the early printed Bibles in a Slavic language, is published.
1844 Samuel Morse sends the message "What hath God wrought" (a Bible quotation, Numbers 23:23) from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland to inaugurate the first telegraph line.
1963 The United States Supreme Court rules 8 to 1 in ''Abington School District v. Schempp'' against allowing the reciting of Bible verses and the Lord's Prayer in public schools.
s of Judaism
. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books (Biblical canon
), their contents and their order vary among denominations. Mainstream Judaism divides the Tanakh
into 24 books, while a minority stream of Judaism, the Samaritans, accepts only five. The 24 texts of the Hebrew Bible
are divided into 39 books in Christian Old Testament
s, and complete Christian Bibles range from the 66 books of the Protestant
canon to the 81 books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Bible. The Hebrew and Christian Bibles are also important to other Abrahamic religions
, including Islam
and the Bahá'í Faith
, but those religions do not regard them as central religious texts.
The Jewish Bible, or Tanakh
, is divided into three parts: (1) the five books of the Torah
("teaching" or "law"), comprising the origins of the Israelite nation, its laws and its covenant with the God of Israel; (2) the Nevi'im
("prophets"), containing the historic account of ancient Israel and Judah focusing on conflicts between the Israelites and other nations, and conflicts among Israelites – specifically, struggles between believers in "the God" and believers in foreign gods, and the criticism of unethical and unjust behavior of Israelite elites and rulers; and (3) the Ketuvim
("writings"): poetic and philosophical works such as the Psalms
and the Book of Job
The Christian Bible is divided into two parts. The first is called the Old Testament
, containing the (minimum) 39 books of Hebrew Scripture, and the second portion is called the New Testament
, containing a set of 27 books. The first four books of the New Testament form the Canonical gospels which recount the life of Christ and are central to the Christian faith. Christian Bibles include the books of the Hebrew Bible, but arranged in a different order: Jewish Scripture ends with the people of Israel restored to Jerusalem and the temple, whereas the Christian arrangement ends with the book of the prophet Malachi
. The oldest surviving Christian Bibles are Greek manuscripts from the 4th century; the oldest complete Jewish Bible is a Greek translation, also dating to the 4th century. The oldest complete manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible (the Masoretic text
) date from the Middle Ages.
During the three centuries following the establishment of Christianity in the 1st century, Church Fathers
accounts and letters of apostles into a Christian Bible which became known as the New Testament
The Old and New Testaments together are commonly referred to as "The Holy Bible" . Many Christians consider the text of the Bible to be divinely inspired
, and cite passages in the Bible itself as support for this belief. The canonical composition of the Old Testament is under dispute between Christian groups: Protestants hold only the books of the Hebrew Bible to be canonical; Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox additionally consider the deuterocanonical books
, a group of Jewish books, to be canonical. The New Testament is composed of the Gospels ("good news"), the Acts of the Apostles
, the Epistles (letters), and the Book of Revelation
The Bible is the best-selling book in history with approximate sales estimates ranging from 2.5 billion to 6 billion.
and Late Latin
and ultimately from Greek
ta biblia "the books" (singular biblion).
Middle Latin biblia is short for biblia sacra "holy book", while biblia in Greek and Late Latin is neuter plural (gen. bibliorum). It gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae) in medieval Latin, and so the word was loaned as a singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe.
Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek ta biblia ta hagia, "the holy books".
The word itself had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book
It is the diminutive of bublos, "Egyptian papyrus", possibly so called from the name of the Phoenicia
n port Byblos
(also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus
was exported to Greece.
The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books") was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books (the Septuagint).
Christian use of the term can be traced to ca. AD 223.
Development of the Jewish canonTanakh
: ) reflects the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible
("Prophets") and Ketuvim
("Writings"). The Hebrew Bible probably was canonized in three stages: 1) the Law—canonized after the Exile, 2) the Prophets—by the time of the Syrian persecution of the Jews, 3) and the Writings—shortly after 70 CE (the fall of Jerusalem). About that time, early Christian writings began to be accepted by Christians as "scripture". These events, taken together, may have caused the Jews to close their "canon". They listed their own recognized Scriptures, and excluded both Christian and Jewish writings considered by them to be "apocrypha
l". In this canon the thirty-nine books found in the Old Testament of today's Protestant Bibles were grouped together as twenty-two books, equaling the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This canon of Jewish scripture is attested to by Philo, Josephus, and the Talmud.
TorahThe Torah, or "Instruction", is also known as the "Five Books" of Moses
, thus Chumash from Hebrew meaning "fivesome", and Pentateuch from Greek meaning "five scroll-cases". The Hebrew book titles come from some of the first words in the respective texts.
The Torah comprises the following five books:
- Genesis, Ge—Bereshith (בראשית)
- Exodus, Ex—Shemot (שמות)
- Leviticus, Le—Vayikra (ויקרא)
- NumbersBook of NumbersThe Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch....
, Nu—Bamidbar (במדבר)
- Deuteronomy, Dt—Devarim (דברים)
The Torah focuses on three moments in the changing relationship between God and the Jewish people. 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 Hebrew patriarch
(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 their liberation 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.
The Torah contains the commandments of God, revealed at Mount Sinai (although there is some debate amongst traditional scholars as to whether these were all written down at one time, or over a period of time during the 40 years of the wanderings in the desert, while several modern Jewish movements reject the idea of a literal revelation, and critical scholars believe that many of these laws developed later in Jewish history). These commandments provide the basis for Halakha
(Jewish religious law). Tradition states that there are 613 Mitzvot
or 613 commandments. There is some dispute as to how to divide these up (mainly between the rabbis Ramban
The Torah is divided into fifty-four portions which in the Jewish liturgy are read on successive Sabbath
s, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy. The cycle ends and recommences at the end of Sukkot
, which is called Simchat Torah
, or "Prophets", tell the story of the rise of the Hebrew monarchy and its division into two kingdoms, the Nevi'im
("prophets"), containing the historic account of ancient Israel and Judah focusing on conflicts between the Israelites and other nations, and conflicts among Israelites – specifically, struggles between believers in "the God" and believers in foreign gods, and the criticism of unethical and unjust behavior of Israelite elites and rulers; in which prophets played a crucial and leading role. It ends with the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians followed by the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Portions of the prophetic books are read by Jews on the Sabbath (Shabbat
). The Book of Jonah
is read on Yom Kippur
According to Jewish tradition, the Nevi'im are divided into eight books. Contemporary translations subdivide these into twenty-one books.
The Nevi'im comprise the following eight books:
- JoshuaBook of JoshuaThe Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....
, Js—Yehoshua (יהושע)
- JudgesBook of JudgesThe Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...
, Jg—Shoftim (שופטים)
- SamuelBooks of SamuelThe Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...
, includes First and Second 1Sa–2Sa—Sh'muel (שמואל)
- KingsBooks of KingsThe Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...
, includes First and Second, 1Ki–2Ki—Melakhim (מלכים)
- IsaiahBook of IsaiahThe Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...
, Is—Yeshayahu (ישעיהו)
- JeremiahBook of JeremiahThe Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....
, Je—Yirmiyahu (ירמיהו)
- EzekielBook of EzekielThe Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....
, Ez—Yekhezkel (יחזקאל)
- Twelve, Tre Asar (תרי עשר), comprising what some call the Minor ProphetsMinor prophetMinor prophets is a book of the Hebrew Bible, so named because it contains twelve shorter prophetic works. In Christian Bibles the twelve are presented as individual books...
- A. HoseaBook of HoseaThe Book of Hosea is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It stands first in order among what are known as the twelve Minor Prophets.-Background and Content:...
, Ho—Hoshea (הושע)
- B. JoelBook of JoelThe Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible. Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets or simply as The Twelve; the distinction 'minor' indicates the short length of the text in relation to the larger prophetic texts known as the "Major Prophets".-Content:After...
, Jl—Yoel (יואל)
- C. AmosBook of AmosThe Book of Amos is a prophetic book of the Hebrew Bible, one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was active c. 750 BCE during the reign of Jeroboam II, making the Book of Amos the first biblical prophetic book written. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah...
, Am—Amos (עמוס)
- D. ObadiahBook of ObadiahThe canonical Book of Obadiah is an oracle concerning the divine judgment of Edom and the restoration of Israel. The text consists of a single chapter, divided into 21 verses, making it the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible....
, Ob—Ovadyah (עבדיה)
- E. JonahBook of JonahThe Book of Jonah is a book in the Hebrew Bible. It tells the story of a Hebrew prophet named Jonah ben Amittai who is sent by God to prophesy the destruction of Nineveh but tries to escape the divine mission...
, Jh—Yonah (יונה)
- F. MicahBook of MicahThe Book of Micah is one of fifteen prophetic books in the Hebrew bible/Old Testament, and the sixth of the twelve minor prophets. It records the sayings of Mikayahu, meaning "Who is like Yahweh?", an 8th century prophet from the village of Moresheth in Judah...
, Mi—Mikhah (מיכה)
- G. NahumBook of NahumThe book of Nahum is the seventh book of the 12 minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is attributed to the prophet Nahum, and was probably written in Jerusalem in the 8th century BC.-Background:...
, Na—Nahum (נחום)
- H. HabakkukBook of HabakkukThe Book of Habakkuk is the eighth book of the 12 minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is attributed to the prophet Habakkuk, and was probably composed in the late 7th century BC. A copy of chapters 1 and 2 is included in the Habakkuk Commentary, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.Chapters 1-2...
, Hb—Havakuk (חבקוק)
- I. ZephaniahBook of ZephaniahThe superscription of the Book of Zephaniah attributes its authorship to “Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah” . All that is known of Zephaniah comes from the text. The superscription of the book is lengthier than...
, Zp—Tsefanya (צפניה)
- J. HaggaiBook of HaggaiThe Book of Haggai is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Tanak, and has its place as the antepenultimate of the Minor Prophets or the "Book of the Twelve." It is a short book, consisting of only two chapters. The historical setting dates around 520 BCE before the Temple has been rebuilt...
, Hg—Khagay (חגי)
- K. ZechariahBook of ZechariahThe Book of Zechariah is the penultimate book of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, attributed to the prophet Zechariah.-Historical context:...
, Zc—Zekharyah (זכריה)
- L. MalachiBook of MalachiMalachi is a book of the Hebrew Bible, the last of the twelve minor prophets and the final book of the Neviim...
, Ml—Malakhi (מלאכי)
- A. Hosea
, or "Writings" or "Scriptures," may have been written or compiled during or after the Babylonian Exile
. Many of the psalms in the book of Psalms
are attributed to David
; King Solomon is believed to have written Song of Songs
in his youth, Proverbs
at the prime of his life, and Ecclesiastes
at old age; and the prophet Jeremiah
is thought to have written Lamentations
. The Book of Job
is the only biblical book that centers entirely on a non-Jew. The Book of Ruth
is the only book to focus on a convert to Judaism. It tells the story of a Moab
itess who married a Jew and continued to follow the ways of the Jews
after her husband's death; according to the Bible, she was the great-grandmother of King David. Five of the books, called "The Five Scrolls" (Megilot), are read on Jewish holidays: Song of Songs on Passover
; the Book of Ruth
on the Ninth of Av; Ecclesiastes on Sukkot
; and the Book of Esther
. Collectively, the Ketuvim contain lyrical poetry, philosophical reflections on life, and the stories of the prophets and other Jewish leaders during the Babylonian exile. It ends with the Persian decree allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
The Ketuvim comprise the following eleven books, divided, in many modern translations, into twelve through the division of Ezra and Nehemiah:
- PsalmsPsalmsThe Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...
, Ps—Tehillim (תהלים)
- ProverbsBook of ProverbsThe Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...
, Pr—Mishlei (משלי)
- JobBook of JobThe Book of Job , commonly referred to simply as Job, is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of Job, his trials at the hands of Satan, his discussions with friends on the origins and nature of his suffering, his challenge to God, and finally a response from God. The book is a...
, Jb—Iyyov (איוב)
- Song of SongsSong of songsSong of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It may also refer to:In music:* Song of songs , the debut album by David and the Giants* A generic term for medleysPlays...
, So—Shir ha-Shirim (שיר השירים)
- RuthBook of RuthThe Book of Ruth is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament. In the Jewish canon the Book of Ruth is included in the third division, or the Writings . In the Christian canon the Book of Ruth is placed between Judges and 1 Samuel...
, Ru—Rut (רות)
- LamentationsBook of LamentationsThe Book of Lamentations ) is a poetic book of the Hebrew Bible composed by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah. It mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in the 6th Century BCE....
, La—Eikhah (איכה), also called Kinot (קינות)
- Ecclesiastes, Ec—Kohelet (קהלת)
- EstherBook of EstherThe Book of Esther is a book in the Ketuvim , the third section of the Jewish Tanakh and is part of the Christian Old Testament. The Book of Esther or the Megillah is the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim...
, Es—Ester (אסתר)
- DanielBook of DanielThe Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...
, Dn—Daniel (דניאל)
- EzraBook of EzraThe Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Originally combined with the Book of Nehemiah in a single book of Ezra-Nehemiah, the two became separated in the early centuries of the Christian era...
, Ea, includes NehemiahBook of NehemiahThe Book of Nehemiah is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Told largely in the form of a first-person memoir, it concerns the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah, a Jew who is a high official at the Persian court, and the dedication of the city and its people to God's laws...
, Ne—Ezra (עזרא), includes Nehemiah (נחמיה)
- ChroniclesBooks of ChroniclesThe Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Masoretic Text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim . Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings...
, includes First and Second, 1Ch–2Ch—Divrei ha-Yamim (דברי הימים), also called Divrei (דברי)
Hebrew Bible translations and editionsThe Tanakh was mainly written in Biblical Hebrew, with some portions (notably in Daniel
) in Biblical Aramaic
The Oral TorahAccording to some Jews during the Hellenistic period
, such as the Sadducees
, only a minimal oral tradition of interpreting the words of the Torah existed, which did not include extended biblical interpretation. According to the Pharisees, however, God revealed both a Written Torah and an Oral Torah
to Moses, the Oral Torah consisting of both stories and legal traditions. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Oral Torah is essential for understanding the Written Torah literally (as it includes neither vowels nor punctuation) and exegetically
. The Oral Torah has different facets, principally Halacha (laws), the Aggadah
(stories), and the Kabbalah
(esoteric knowledge). Major portions of the Oral Law have been committed to writing, notably the Mishnah
; the Tosefta
, such as Midrash Rabbah, the Sifre
, the Sifra
, and the Mechilta; and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud
s as well. It may have even influenced early Jewish Christianity
continues to accept the Oral Torah in its totality. Masorti
and Conservative Judaism
state that the Oral Tradition is to some degree divinely inspired, and that rabbis today must adapt and apply its principles to changing conditions, even if this results in changes in Jewish practice. Reform Judaism
also gives some credence to the Talmud containing the legal elements of the Oral Torah, but, as with the written Torah, asserts that both were inspired by, but not dictated by, God. Reconstructionist Judaism
denies any connection of the Torah, Written or Oral, with God, viewing it instead as the nation's literary and moral genius.
The article Jewish commentaries on the Bible
discusses the Jewish understanding of the Bible, including Bible commentaries from the ancient Targums to classical Rabbinic literature
, the midrash
literature, the classical medieval commentators, and modern day Jewish Bible commentaries.
SeptuagintThe Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures. The Septuagint included books and additions not found in the Hebrew Bible. Modern Jewish Bibles follow the Masoretic Text
rather than the Septuagint. The Septuagint splits certain books in two, so that the book of Kings, for example, became First Kings and Second Kings. Christian Bibles maintain these divisions. The Septuagint was adopted as the Christian Old Testament.
Christian canonsThe Christian Bible consists of the Hebrew scriptures of Judaism, which are known as the Old Testament; and later writings recording the lives and teachings of Jesus
and his followers, known as the New Testament. "Testament" is a translation of the Greek διαθηκη (diatheke), also often translated "covenant." It is a legal term denoting a formal and legally binding declaration of benefits to be given by one party to another (e.g., "last will and testament" in secular use). Here it does not connote mutuality; rather, it is a unilateral covenant offered by God to individuals.
Groups within Christianity include differing books as part of one or both of these "Testaments" of their sacred writings—most prominent among which are the Biblical apocrypha
or deuterocanonical books
Significant versions of the English Christian Bible include the Douay-Rheims, the RSV
, the KJV, the ESV
, the NKJV
, and the NIV
. For a complete list, see List of English Bible translations.
In Judaism, the term Christian Bible is commonly used to identify only those books like the New Testament which have been added by Christians to the Masoretic Text
, and excludes any reference to an Old Testament.
Old TestamentThe books which make up the Christian Old Testament differ between Protestants and the Catholic and Orthodox faiths, the Protestant movement accepting only those books contained in the Hebrew (Jewish) bible, while Catholics and Orthodox have a wider canon. The books were written in classical Hebrew, except for brief portions ( and , ) which are in the Aramaic language
, a sister language which became the lingua franca
of the Semitic world. Much of the material, including many genealogies, poems and narratives, is thought to have been handed down by word of mouth for many generations. Very few manuscripts are said to have survived the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The Old Testament is accepted by Christians as scripture. Broadly speaking, it contains the same material as the Hebrew Bible
. However, the order of the books is not entirely the same as that found in Hebrew manuscripts and in the ancient versions and varies from Judaism in interpretation and emphasis (see for example Isaiah 7:14
). Christian denominations disagree about the incorporation of a small number of books into their canons
of the Old Testament. A few groups consider particular translations to be divinely inspired
, notably the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Peshitta
, and the English King James Version.
Apocryphal or deuterocanonical booksThe Septuagint (Greek translation, from Alexandria in Egypt under the Ptolemies
) was generally abandoned in favour of the 10th century Masoretic text as the basis for translations of the Old Testament into Western
languages, languages represented in translations prior to the formation of the Masoretic text such as St. Jerome's 5th century Bible (the Vulgate
), to languages of the present day. In Eastern Christianity
, translations based on the Septuagint still prevail. 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 e.g. those discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls
A number of books which are part of the Peshitta
or Greek Septuagint but are not found in the Hebrew (Rabbinic) Bible (i.e., among the protocanonical books
) are often referred to as deuterocanonical books
by Roman Catholics referring to a later secondary (i.e. deutero) canon, that canon as fixed definitively by the Council of Trent
1545-1563. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New.
See Canon of Trent: List of the Canonical Scriptures.
"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 anathemaAnathemaAnathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...
." —Decretum de Canonicis Scripturis, Council of Trent, 8 April 1546.
Most Protestants term these books as apocrypha
and those of the Modern Protestant
traditions do not accept the deuterocanonical books as canonical, although Protestant Bibles included them in Apocrypha
sections until the 1820s. However, the Roman Catholic
and Eastern Orthodox Churches include these books as part of their Old Testament.
The Roman Catholic Church recognizes:
- TobitBook of TobitThe Book of Tobit is a book of scripture that is part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canon, pronounced canonical by the Council of Carthage of 397 and confirmed for Roman Catholics by the Council of Trent...
- 1 Maccabees1 MaccabeesThe First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...
- 2 Maccabees2 Maccabees2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work....
- WisdomBook of WisdomThe Book of Wisdom, often referred to simply as Wisdom or the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon ,...
- Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus)
- BaruchBook of BaruchThe Book of Baruch, occasionally referred to as 1 Baruch, is called a deuterocanonical book of the Bible. Although not in the Hebrew Bible, it is found in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate Bible, and also in Theodotion's version. It is grouped with the prophetical books which also include Isaiah,...
- The Letter of Jeremiah (BaruchBaruchBaruch has been a given name among Jews from Biblical times up to the present, on some occasions also used as surname. It is also found, though more rarely, among Christians—particularly among Protestants who use Old Testament names....
- Greek Additions to Esther (Book of Esther, chapters 10:4—12:6)
- The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy ChildrenThe Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy ChildrenThe Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Holy Children is a lengthy passage that appears after Daniel 3:23 in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles, as well as in the ancient Greek Septuagint translation. It is listed as non-canonical in Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the...
verses 1-68 (Book of Daniel, chapter 3, verses 24-90)
- SusannaSusanna (Book of Daniel)Susanna or Shoshana included in the Book of Daniel by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. It is one of the additions to Daniel, considered apocryphal by Protestants. It is listed in Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England among the books which are included...
(Book of Daniel, chapter 13)
- Bel and the DragonBel and the DragonThe narrative of Bel and the Dragon incorporated as chapter 14 of the extended Book of Daniel exists only in Greek in the Septuagint. This chapter, along with chapter 13, is referred to as deuterocanonical, in that it is not universally accepted among Christians as belonging to the canonical works...
(Book of Daniel, chapter 14)
In addition to those, the Greek
and Russian Orthodox Church
es recognize the following:
- 3 Maccabees3 MaccabeesThe book of the 3 Maccabees is found in most Orthodox Bibles as a part of the Anagignoskomena, while Protestants and Catholics consider it non-canonical, except the Moravian Brethren who included it in the Apocrypha of the Czech Kralicka Bible...
- 1 Esdras1 Esdras1 Esdras , Greek Ezra, is an ancient Greek version of the biblical Book of Ezra in use among ancient Jewry, the early church, and many modern Christians with varying degrees of canonicity and a high historical usefulness....
- Prayer of ManassehPrayer of ManassehThe Prayer of Manasseh is a short work of 15 verses of the penitential prayer of king Manasseh of Judah. Manasseh is recorded in the Bible as one of the most idolatrous kings of Judah . Chronicles, but not Kings, records that Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians...
- Psalm 151Psalm 151Psalm 151 is the name given to a short psalm that is found in most copies of the Septuagint but not in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. The title given to this psalm in the Septuagint indicates that it is supernumerary, and no number is affixed to it: "This Psalm is ascribed to David and...
Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches include:
- 2 Esdras2 Esdras2 Esdras or Latin Esdras is the name of an apocalyptic book in many English versions of the Bible . Its authorship is ascribed to Ezra. It is reckoned among the Apocrypha by many Protestant churches. Although Second Esdras exists in its complete form only in Latin, it was originally written in...
i.e., Latin Esdras in the Russian and Georgian Bibles
There is also 4 Maccabees
which is only accepted as canonical in the Georgian Church, but was included by St. Jerome in an appendix to the Vulgate
, and is an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible, and it is therefore sometimes included in collections of the Apocrypha.
The Syriac Orthodox tradition
- Psalms 151-155
- The Apocalypse of Baruch
- The Letter of Baruch
The Ethiopian Orthodox tradition
- JubileesJubileesThe Book of Jubilees , sometimes called Lesser Genesis , is an ancient Jewish religious work, considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches...
- EnochEnochEnoch "initiated, dedicated, disciplined") is a Hebrew name...
- 1-3 Meqabyan
and some other books.
The Anglican Churches uses some of the Apocryphal books
liturgically. Therefore, editions of the Bible intended for use in the Anglican Church include the Deuterocanonical books accepted by the Catholic Church, plus 1 Esdras
, 2 Esdras
and the Prayer of Manasseh
, which were in the Vulgate appendix.
Role in Christian theologyThe Old Testament has always been central to the life of the Christian church. Bible scholar N.T. Wright says Jesus, himself a Jew, was profoundly shaped by the scriptures. He adds that the earliest Christians also searched those same scriptures in their effort to understand the earthly life of Jesus. They regarded the ancient Israelites' scriptures as having reached a climactic fulfillment in Jesus himself, generating the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah.
New TestamentThe 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
is its central figure. The New Testament presupposes the inspiration of the Old (2 Timothy 3:16). Nearly all Christians recognize the New Testament (as stated below) as canonical scripture. These books can be grouped into:
- Synoptic GospelsSynoptic GospelsThe gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...
- Gospel According to MatthewGospel of MatthewThe Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...
- Gospel According to MarkGospel of MarkThe Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...
- Gospel According to LukeGospel of LukeThe Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...
- Gospel According to Matthew
- Gospel According to JohnGospel of JohnThe Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...
- Acts of the ApostlesActs of the ApostlesThe Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...
, Ac (continues Luke)
- Epistle to the RomansEpistle to the RomansThe Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...
- First Epistle to the CorinthiansFirst Epistle to the CorinthiansThe first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as First Corinthians , is the seventh book of the New Testament of the Bible...
- Second Epistle to the CorinthiansSecond Epistle to the CorinthiansThe second epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as Second Corinthians , is the eighth book of the New Testament of the Bible...
- Epistle to the GalatiansEpistle to the GalatiansThe Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...
- Epistle to the EphesiansEpistle to the EphesiansThe Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, often shortened to Ephesians, is the tenth book of the New Testament. Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul, but it is considered by some scholars to be "deutero-Pauline," that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by...
- Epistle to the PhilippiansEpistle to the PhilippiansThe Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, usually referred to simply as Philippians, is the eleventh book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was written by St. Paul to the church of Philippi, an early center of Christianity in Greece around 62 A.D. Other scholars argue for an...
- Epistle to the ColossiansEpistle to the ColossiansThe Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, usually referred to simply as Colossians, is the 12th book of the New Testament. It was written, according to the text, by Paul the Apostle to the Church in Colossae, a small Phrygian city near Laodicea and approximately 100 miles from Ephesus in Asia...
- First Epistle to the ThessaloniansFirst Epistle to the ThessaloniansThe First Epistle to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians and often written 1 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible....
- Second Epistle to the ThessaloniansSecond Epistle to the ThessaloniansThe Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, often referred to as Second Thessalonians and written 2 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible...
- Pastoral EpistlesPastoral epistlesThe three pastoral epistles are books of the canonical New Testament: the First Epistle to Timothy the Second Epistle to Timothy , and the Epistle to Titus. They are presented as letters from Paul of Tarsus...
- First Epistle to TimothyFirst Epistle to TimothyThe First Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as First Timothy and often written 1 Timothy, is one of three letters in the New Testament of the Bible often grouped together as the Pastoral Epistles, the others being Second Timothy and Titus...
- Second Epistle to TimothySecond Epistle to TimothyThe Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as Second Timothy and often written 2 Timothy, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...
- Epistle to TitusEpistle to TitusThe Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles , traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...
- First Epistle to Timothy
- Epistle to PhilemonEpistle to PhilemonPaul's Epistle to Philemon, usually referred to simply as Philemon, is a prison letter to Philemon from Paul of Tarsus. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian church. This letter, which is one of the books of the New Testament, deals with forgiveness.Philemon was a wealthy Christian of the house...
- Epistle to the HebrewsEpistle to the HebrewsThe Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...
, also called Jewish Epistles
- Epistle of JamesEpistle of JamesThe Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...
- First Epistle of PeterFirst Epistle of PeterThe First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author claims to be Saint Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch,...
- Second Epistle of PeterSecond Epistle of PeterThe Second Epistle of Peter, often referred to as Second Peter and written 2 Peter or in Roman numerals II Peter , is a book of the New Testament of the Bible, traditionally ascribed to Saint Peter, but in modern times NT scholars regard it as pseudepigraphical.It is the first New Testament book...
- First Epistle of JohnFirst Epistle of JohnThe First Epistle of John, often referred to as First John and written 1 John, is a book of the New Testament. This fourth catholic or "general" epistle is attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two Epistles of John. This...
- Second Epistle of JohnSecond Epistle of JohnThe Second Epistle of John, often referred to as Second John and often written 2 John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John.- Composition :The language of this epistle is...
- Third Epistle of JohnThird Epistle of JohnThe Third Epistle of John, often referred to as Third John and written 3 John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John...
- Epistle of JudeEpistle of JudeThe Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...
, or the Apocalypse Re
The order of these books varies according to Church tradition. The New Testament books are ordered differently in the Catholic/Protestant tradition, the Slavonic tradition, the Syriac tradition and the Ethiopian tradition.
Original languageThe books of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek
, the language of the earliest extant manuscripts, even though some authors often included translations from Hebrew and Aramaic texts.
When ancient scribes copied earlier books, they wrote notes on the margins of the page (marginal glosses) to correct their text—especially if a scribe accidentally omitted a word or line—and to comment about the text. When later scribes were copying the copy, they were sometimes uncertain if a note was intended to be included as part of the text. See textual criticism
. Over time, different regions evolved different versions, each with its own assemblage of omissions and additions.
The autographs, the Greek manuscripts
written by the original authors, have not survived. Scholars surmise the original Greek text from the versions that do survive. The three main textual traditions of the Greek New Testament are sometimes called the Alexandrian text-type
(generally minimalist), the Byzantine text-type
(generally maximalist), and the Western text-type
(occasionally wild). Together they comprise most of the ancient manuscripts.
Development of Christian CanonsThe Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the 4th century a series of synod
s produced a list of texts equal to the 39, 46(51),54, or 57 book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo
in AD 393. Also c. 400, Jerome
produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (see 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, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time. A definitive list did not come from an Ecumenical Council
until the Council of Trent
During the Protestant Reformation
, certain reformers proposed different canonical lists to those currently in use. Though not without debate, see Antilegomena
, the list of New Testament books would come to remain the same; however, the Old Testament texts present in the Septuagint but not included in the Jewish canon fell out of favor. In time they would come to be removed from most Protestant canons. Hence, in a Catholic context, these texts are referred to as deuterocanonical books, whereas in a Protestant context they are referred to as the Apocrypha
, the label applied to all texts excluded from the Biblical canon but which were in the Septuagint. It should also be noted that Catholics and Protestants both describe certain other books, such as the Acts of Peter
, as apocryphal
Thus, the Protestant Old Testament of today has a 39-book canon—the number of books (though not the content) varies from the Tanakh because of a different method of division—while the Roman Catholic Church recognizes 46 books(51 books with some books combined into 46 books) as the canonical Old Testament. The Orthodox Churches recognise 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151 in addition to the Catholic canon. Some include 2 Esdras. The Anglican Church also recognises a longer canon. 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 Catholics and Orthodox include additional texts that have not survived in Hebrew. Both Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament Canon.
The New Testament writers assumed the inspiration of the Old Testament, probably earliest stated in , "all Scripture is inspired of God".
Ethiopian Orthodox canonThe 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. The Ethiopian Old Testament Canon includes the books found in the Septuagint accepted by other Orthodox Christians, in addition to Enoch
which are ancient Jewish books that only survived in Ge'ez but are quoted in the New Testament (citation required), also Greek Ezra First
and the Apocalypse of Ezra, 3 books of Meqabyan
, and Psalm 151
at the end of the Psalter. The three books of Meqabyan are not to be confused with the books of Maccabees. The order of the other books is somewhat different from other groups', as well. The Old Testament follows the Septuagint order for the Minor Prophets rather than the Jewish order.
Belief in divine inspirationThe Christian Bible contains paragraphs indicating that "All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God". Almost all Christians believe that the Bible consists of the inspired Word of God, where God intervened and influenced the words of the Bible. For many Christians the Bible is also infallible
, in that it is incapable of error within matters of faith and practice. For example, that the bible is free from error in spiritual but not scientific matters. A related, but distinguishable belief is that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God
, without error in any aspect. spoken by God and written down in its perfect form by humans. Within these broad beliefs there are many schools of hermeneutics. "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.
Belief in sacred texts is attested to in Jewish antiquity, and this belief can also be seen 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 wrote: "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 autograph
ic text of Scripture.
A minority even within adherents of Biblical literalism extend the claim of inerrancy to a particular translation, e.g. the King-James-Only Movement
Bible versions and translations
, an Aramaic version of the Bible. There are several different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, mostly differing by spelling, and the traditional Jewish version is based on the version known as Aleppo Codex
. Even in this version by itself, there are words which are traditionally read differently from written (sometimes one word is written and another is read), 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.
The primary Biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint or (LXX). In addition, they translated the Hebrew Bible into several other languages. Translations were made into Syriac, Coptic
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.
Pope Damasus I
assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome
in AD 382. He commissioned Saint 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
and in 1546 at the Council of Trent
was declared by the Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Rite.
Especially since the Protestant Reformation
, Bible translations
for many languages have been made. The Bible has seen hundreds of English language translations
|6,900||Approximate number of languages spoken in the world today|
|1,300||Number of translations into new languages currently in progress|
|1,185||Number of languages with a translation of the New Testament|
|451||Number of languages with a translation of the Bible (Protestant Canon)|
The Bible continues to be translated to new languages, largely by Christian organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators
, New Tribes Mission
and the Bible society
Biblical criticismBiblical criticism
refers to the investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as 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, or observations that the Bible may have translation
Higher criticismIn the 17th century Thomas Hobbes
collected the current evidence to conclude outright that Moses could not have written the bulk of the Torah. 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 . . ." Despite determined opposition from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the views of Hobbes and Spinoza gained increasing acceptance amongst scholars.
Archaeological and historical researchBiblical archaeology is the 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 Hebrew Bible
is essentially based on history although it is presented through the religious viewpoint of its time. It is considered the opposite of Biblical minimalism which considers the Bible a purely post-exilic (5th century BC and later) composition. In any case, even among those scholars who adhere to Biblical minimalism, the Bible is a historical document containing first-hand information on the Hellenistic
and Roman eras, and there is universal scholarly consensus that the events of the Babylonian captivity
of the 6th century BC have a basis in history.
On the other hand, the historicity of the Biblical account of the history of ancient Israel and Judah
of the 10th to 7th centuries BC is disputed in scholarship.
The Biblical account of the 8th to 7th centuries BC is widely, but not universally, accepted as historical, while the verdict on the earliest period of the United Monarchy
(10th century BC) and the historicity of David is far from clear. For this reason, archaeological evidence providing information on this period, such as the Tel Dan Stele
, can potentially be decisive.
Finally, 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 not considered historical in scholarship.
Regarding the New Testament
, the setting being the Roman Empire
in the 1st century AD, the historical context is well established. There has nevertheless been some debate on the historicity of Jesus
, but the mainstream opinion is clearly that Jesus was one of several known historical itinerant preachers in 1st-century Roman Judea, teaching in the context of the religious upheavals and sectarianism of Second Temple Judaism
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