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Bible

Collection of sacred books in Judaism and Christianity

Top 10 Bible related articles

The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible (mid-15th century)

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, biblía, "the books") is a collection of religious texts, writings, or scriptures sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and others. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilation of texts of a variety of forms that are all linked by the belief that they are collectively revelations of God. These texts include theologically-focused historical accounts, hymns, prayers, proverbs, parables, didactic letters, admonitions, essays, poetry, and prophecies. Believers also generally consider the Bible to be a product of divine inspiration.

Those books that are included in the Bible by a tradition or group are called canonical, indicating that the tradition/group views the collection as the true representation of God's word and will. A number of biblical canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents from denomination to denomination.[1] The Hebrew Bible shares most of its content with its ancient Greek translation, the Septuagint, which in turn was the base for the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be Jewish disciples of Christ, written in first-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon, primarily about the biblical apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect or recognition.

Attitudes towards the Bible also differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, High Church Anglicans, Methodists and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of both the Bible and sacred tradition,[2][3] 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.[2]

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.[4][5] 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."[4] With estimated total sales of over five billion copies, it is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time.[4][6][7] As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.[8][9]

Bible Intro articles: 26

Etymology

The English word Bible is derived from Koinē Greek: τὰ βιβλία, romanized: ta biblia, meaning "the books" (singular βιβλίον, biblion).[10] The word βιβλίον itself had the literal meaning of "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book". It is the diminutive of βύβλος 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.

By the 2nd century BCE, Jewish groups began calling the books of the Bible the "scriptures" and they referred to them as "holy", or in Hebrew כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ (Kitvei hakkodesh), and Christians now commonly call the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible "The Holy Bible" (in Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια, tà biblía tà ágia) or "the Holy Scriptures" (η Αγία Γραφή, e Agía Graphḗ).[11]

The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books")[12] was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books" (the Septuagint).[13][14] Christian use of the term can be traced to c. 223 CE. 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.[15]

Medieval 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 singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe.[16] Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια tà biblía tà hágia, "the holy books".[17]

Bible Etymology articles: 9

Development

The Bible is not a single book but a collection of books, whose complex development is not completely understood. The books began as songs and stories orally transmitted from generation to generation before being written down in a process that began sometime around the start of the first millennium BCE and continued for over a thousand years. The Bible was written and compiled by many people, from a variety of disparate cultures, most of whom are unknown.[18] British biblical scholar John K. Riches wrote:[19]

[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).

Hebrew Bible from 1300. Genesis.

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 fifth century BCE. A second collection of narrative histories and prophesies, called the Nevi'im ("prophets"), was canonized in the third century BCE. A third collection called the Ketuvim ("writings"), containing psalms, proverbs, and narrative histories, was canonized sometime between the second century BCE and the second century CE. These three collections were written mostly in Hebrew, with some parts in Aramaic, and together form the Hebrew Bible or "TaNaKh" (a portmanteau of "Torah", "Nevi'im", and "Ketuvim").[20]

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 Bible into Koine Greek (common Greek spoken by ordinary people) known as the Septuagint (meaning "the work of the seventy"), 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 of the Hebrew Bible, re-organized and with some textual differences, with the additional scriptures interspersed throughout.[21]

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, 16th-century painting.

During the rise of Christianity in the first century CE, new scriptures were written in Greek about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who Christians believed was the messiah prophesized in the books of the Hebrew Bible. Two collections of these new scriptures – the Pauline epistles and the Gospels – were accepted as canon by the end of the second century CE. A third collection, the catholic epistles, were canonized over the next few centuries. Christians called these new scriptures the "New Testament", and began referring to the Septuagint as the "Old Testament".[22]

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.[23]

Jewish rabbis began developing a standard Hebrew Bible in the first century CE, maintained since the middle of the first millennium by the Masoretes, and called the Masoretic Text. Christians have held ecumenical councils to standardize their biblical canon since the fourth 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.[24]

Bible Development articles: 49

Textual history

The books of the Bible were written and copied by hand, initially on papyrus scrolls. No originals survive, and the oldest existing scrolls are copies that were made centuries after the books were first written. The copies contained both errors and intentional changes, resulting in different versions of the books in circulation, ultimately diverging into distinct lineages, called "text families" or "text types". Over time, the individual scrolls were gathered into collections, but these collections had different scrolls, and different versions of the same scrolls, with no standard organization. By the 3rd century CE, scrolls were supplanted by early bound books called codexes, and collections of biblical books began being copied as a set.[25]

The Isaiah scroll, which is a part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains almost the whole Book of Isaiah. It dates from the 2nd century BCE.

More than 220 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947, which date between 250 BCE and 100 CE, are the oldest existing copies of the books of the Hebrew Bible of any considerable length. The Qumran scrolls attest to many 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 third to the fifth centuries CE, with fragments dating back to the second century BCE. The Masoretic Text is a standardized version of the Hebrew Bible that began to be developed in the first 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.[26]

There are about 3,000 existing New Testament manuscripts, copied between the 2nd and 17th centuries. The manuscripts include papyri, over a hundred of which have been discovered in Egypt since 1890; 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.[27]

Bible Textual history articles: 16

Hebrew Bible

The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BCE) contains a portion of a pre-Masoretic Text, specifically the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer.

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,[28] and the Aleppo Codex (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.[29]

The name Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ"ך‎) reflects the threefold division of the Hebrew Scriptures, Torah ("Teaching"), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings").

Torah

The Torah (תּוֹרָה) is also known as the "Five Books of Moses" or the Pentateuch, meaning "five scroll-cases".[30] Traditionally these books were considered to have been written almost entirely by Moses himself.[31] In the 19th century, Julius Wellhausen and other scholars proposed that the Torah had been compiled from earlier written documents dating from the 9th to the 5th century BCE, the "documentary hypothesis".[31] Scholars Hermann Gunkel and Martin Noth, building on the form criticism of Gerhard von Rad, refined this hypothesis, while other scholars have proposed other ways that the Torah might have developed over the centuries.[31]

Samaritan Inscription containing portion of the Bible in nine lines of Hebrew text, currently housed in the British Museum

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 biblical 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.[32]

The commandments in the Torah provide the basis for Jewish religious law. Tradition states that there are 613 commandments (taryag mitzvot).

Nevi'im

Nevi'im (Hebrew: נְבִיאִים‎, romanizedNəḇî'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 נביאים ראשונים‎, the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Nevi'im Aharonim נביאים אחרונים‎, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets).

The Nevi'im tell the story of the rise of the Hebrew monarchy and its division into two kingdoms, ancient Israel and Judah, focusing on conflicts between the Israelites and other nations, and conflicts among Israelites, specifically, struggles between believers in "the LORD God"[33] (Yahweh) and believers in foreign gods,[34][35] and the criticism of unethical and unjust behaviour of Israelite elites and rulers;[36][37][38] 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.

Former Prophets

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:

  • Joshua's conquest of the land of Canaan (in the Book of Joshua),
  • the struggle of the people to possess the land (in the Book of Judges),
  • the people's request to God to give them a king so that they can occupy the land in the face of their enemies (in the Books of Samuel)
  • the possession of the land under the divinely appointed kings of the House of David, ending in conquest and foreign exile (Books of Kings)

Latter Prophets

The Latter Prophets are divided into two groups, the "major" prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets, collected into a single book. The collection is broken up to form twelve individual books in the Christian Old Testament, one for each of the prophets:

Ketuvim

Ketuvim or Kəṯûḇîm (in Biblical Hebrew: כְּתוּבִים‎ "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.[39]

The poetic books

In Masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stichs in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields Emet אמ"ת, which is also the Hebrew for "truth").

These three books are also the only ones in Tanakh with a special system of cantillation notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.

The five scrolls (Hamesh Megillot)

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 (Five 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.[40]

Other books

Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, Ezra–Nehemiah and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics:

  • Their narratives all openly describe relatively late events (i.e., the Babylonian captivity and the subsequent restoration of Zion).
  • The Talmudic tradition ascribes late authorship to all of them.
  • Two of them (Daniel and Ezra) are the only books in the Tanakh with significant portions in Aramaic.

Order of the books

The following list presents the books of Ketuvim in the order they appear in most printed editions. It also divides them into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot.

The Three Poetic Books (Sifrei Emet)

The Five Megillot (Hamesh Megillot)

Other books

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.[41]

In Tiberian Masoretic codices, including the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order is Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.[42]

Canonization

The Ketuvim is the last of the three portions of the Tanakh to have been accepted as biblical canon. 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.[40]

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.[43] References in the four Gospels as well as other books of the New Testament indicate that many of these texts were both commonly known and counted as having some degree of religious authority early in the 1st century CE.

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..."[44] For a long time following this date the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny.[45]

Original languages

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)[46] written in biblical Aramaic, a sister language which became the lingua franca for much of the Semitic world.[47]

Bible Hebrew Bible articles: 103

Samaritan Pentateuch

Samaritans include only the Pentateuch in their biblical canon.[48] They do not recognize divine authorship or inspiration in any other book in the Jewish Tanakh.[49] 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.[50]