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Bible

Collection of sacred books in Judaism and Christianity

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

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, biblía, "the books")[1][a] is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. The Bible is generally considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. The Bible 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 collectively contain the word of God. These texts include theologically-focused historical accounts, hymns, parables, didactic letters, erotica, sermons, poetry, and prophecies.

Those books 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.[2] The Hebrew Bible overlaps with the Greek Septuagint and the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be mostly 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.

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,[3][4] 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.[3]

The Bible has had a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western world, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type.[5][6] 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."[5] With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time.[5][7][8] As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.[9][10]

Bible Intro articles: 27

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Etymology

The word βιβλίον 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 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.

The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books")[11] was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books" (the Septuagint).[12][13] Christian use of the term can be traced to c. 223 CE.[14] 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]

The English word Bible is from the Latin biblia, from the same word in Medieval Latin and Late Latin and ultimately from Koinē Greek: τὰ βιβλία, romanized: ta biblia "the books" (singular βιβλίον, biblion).[14]

Textual history

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).[18] The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne[19] and is now usually cited by book, chapter, and verse. The division of the Hebrew Bible into verses is based on the sof passuk cantillation mark used by the 10th-century Masoretes to record the verse divisions used in earlier oral traditions.

The oldest extant copy of a complete Bible is an early 4th-century parchment book preserved in the Vatican Library, and it is known as the Codex Vaticanus. The oldest copy of the Tanakh in Hebrew and Aramaic dates from the 10th century CE. The oldest copy of a complete Latin (Vulgate) Bible is the Codex Amiatinus, dating from the 8th century.[20]

Bible Etymology articles: 23

Development

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

Professor John K. Riches, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow, says that "the biblical texts themselves are the result of a creative dialogue between ancient traditions and different communities through the ages",[21] and "the biblical texts were produced over a period in which the living conditions of the writers – political, cultural, economic, and ecological – varied enormously".[22] Timothy H. Lim, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Edinburgh, says that the Old Testament is "a collection of authoritative texts of apparently divine origin that went through a human process of writing and editing."[23] He states that it is not a magical book, nor was it literally written by God and passed to mankind. Parallel to the solidification of the Hebrew canon (c. 3rd century BCE), only the Torah first and then the Tanakh began to be translated into Greek and expanded, now referred to as the Septuagint or the Greek Old Testament.[24]

In Christian Bibles, the New Testament Gospels were derived from oral traditions in the second half of the first century. Riches says that:

Scholars have attempted to reconstruct something of the history of the oral traditions behind the Gospels, but the results have not been too encouraging. The period of transmission is short: less than 40 years passed between the death of Jesus and the writing of Mark's Gospel. This means that there was little time for oral traditions to assume fixed form.[25]

The Bible was later translated into Latin and other languages. John Riches states that:

The translation of the Bible into Latin marks the beginning of a parting of the ways between Western Latin-speaking Christianity and Eastern Christianity, which spoke Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, and other languages. The Bibles of the Eastern Churches vary considerably: the Ethiopic Orthodox canon includes 81 books and contains many apocalyptic texts, such as were found at Qumran and subsequently excluded from the Jewish canon. As a general rule, one can say that the Orthodox Churches generally follow the Septuagint in including more books in their Old Testaments than are in the Jewish canon.[25]

Bible Development articles: 4

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,[26] 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.[27]

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".[28] Traditionally these books were considered to have been written almost entirely by Moses himself.[29] 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".[29] 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.[29]

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.[30]

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"[31] (Yahweh) and believers in foreign gods,[32][33] and the criticism of unethical and unjust behaviour of Israelite elites and rulers;[34][35][36] 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.[37]

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.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40]

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.[38]

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.[41] 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..."[42] For a long time following this date the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny.[43]

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) written in biblical Aramaic, a sister language which became the lingua franca for much of the Semitic world.[44]

Bible Hebrew Bible articles: 105

Samaritan Pentateuch

Samaritans include only the Pentateuch in their biblical canon.[45] They do not recognize divine authorship or inspiration in any other book in the Jewish Tanakh.[46] 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.[47]

Overview of "Book of Joshua (Samaritan)" article

Septuagint

Fragment of a Septuagint: A column of uncial book from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus c. 325–350 CE, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton's Greek edition and English translation.

The Septuagint, or the LXX, is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and some related texts into Koine Greek, begun in the late 3rd century BCE and completed by 132 BCE,[48][49][50] initially in Alexandria, but in time it was completed elsewhere as well.[51] It is not altogether clear which was translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised.[52]

As the work of translation progressed, the canon of the Septuagint expanded. The Torah always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon but the collection of prophetic writings, based on the Nevi'im, had various hagiographical works incorporated into it. In addition, some newer books were included in the Septuagint, among these are the Maccabees and the Wisdom of Sirach. However, the book of Sirach, is now known to have existed in a Hebrew version, since ancient Hebrew manuscripts of it were rediscovered in modern times. The Septuagint version of some Biblical books, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Jewish canon.[53] Some of these deuterocanonical books (e.g. the Wisdom of Solomon, and the second book of Maccabees) were not translated, but composed directly in Greek.

Since Late Antiquity, once attributed to a hypothetical late 1st-century Council of Jamnia, mainstream Rabbinic Judaism rejected the Septuagint as valid Jewish scriptural texts. Several reasons have been given for this. First, some mistranslations were claimed. Second, the Hebrew source texts used for the Septuagint differed from the Masoretic tradition of Hebrew texts, which was chosen as canonical by the Jewish rabbis.[54] Third, the rabbis wanted to distinguish their tradition from the newly emerging tradition of Christianity.[50][55] Finally, the rabbis claimed a divine authority for the Hebrew language, in contrast to Aramaic or Greek – even though these languages were the lingua franca of Jews during this period (and Aramaic would eventually be given a holy language status comparable to Hebrew).[56]

The Septuagint is the basis for the Old Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Christian Old Testament.[57] The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches use most of the books of the Septuagint, while Protestant churches usually do not. After the Protestant Reformation, many Protestant Bibles began to follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional texts, which came to be called biblical apocrypha. The Apocrypha are included under a separate heading in the King James Version of the Bible, the basis for the Revised Standard Version.[58]

Incorporations from Theodotion

In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew, which more closely resembles the Masoretic Text. The original Septuagint version was discarded in favour of Theodotion's version in the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE. In Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the 2nd century, and in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the 3rd century. History does not record the reason for this, and St. Jerome reports, in the preface to the Vulgate version of Daniel, "This thing 'just' happened."[59] One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the book.[60]

The canonical Ezra–Nehemiah is known in the Septuagint as "Esdras B", and 1 Esdras is "Esdras A". 1 Esdras is a very similar text to the books of Ezra–Nehemiah, and the two are widely thought by scholars to be derived from the same original text. It has been proposed, and is thought highly likely by scholars, that "Esdras B" – the canonical Ezra–Nehemiah – is Theodotion's version of this material, and "Esdras A" is the version which was previously in the Septuagint on its own.[59]

Final form

Some texts are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew. These additional books are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah (which later became chapter 6 of Baruch in the Vulgate), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.

Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic Text are grouped together. For example, the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"). In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paralipomenon (Παραλειπομένων – things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.[60]

The Orthodox
Old Testament[51][61][b]
Greek-based
name
Conventional
English name
Law
Γένεσις Génesis Genesis
Ἔξοδος Éxodos Exodus
Λευϊτικόν Leuitikón Leviticus
Ἀριθμοί Arithmoí Numbers
Δευτερονόμιον Deuteronómion Deuteronomy
History
Ἰησοῦς Nαυῆ Iêsous Nauê Joshua
Κριταί Kritaí Judges
Ῥούθ Roúth Ruth
Βασιλειῶν Αʹ[c] I Reigns I Samuel
Βασιλειῶν Βʹ II Reigns II Samuel
Βασιλειῶν Γʹ III Reigns I Kings
Βασιλειῶν Δʹ IV Reigns II Kings
Παραλειπομένων Αʹ I Paralipomenon[d] I Chronicles
Παραλειπομένων Βʹ II Paralipomenon II Chronicles
Ἔσδρας Αʹ I Esdras 1 Esdras
Ἔσδρας Βʹ II Esdras Ezra–Nehemiah
Τωβίτ[e] Tobit Tobit or Tobias
Ἰουδίθ Ioudith Judith
Ἐσθήρ Esther Esther with additions
Μακκαβαίων Αʹ I Makkabaioi 1 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Βʹ II Makkabaioi 2 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Γʹ III Makkabaioi 3 Maccabees
Wisdom
Ψαλμοί Psalms Psalms
Ψαλμός ΡΝΑʹ Psalm 151 Psalm 151
Προσευχὴ Μανάσση Prayer of Manasseh Prayer of Manasseh
Ἰώβ Iōb Job
Παροιμίαι Proverbs Proverbs
Ἐκκλησιαστής Ekklesiastes Ecclesiastes
Ἆσμα Ἀσμάτων Song of Songs Song of Solomon or Canticles
Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom
Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ Wisdom of Jesus the son of Seirach Sirach or Ecclesiasticus
Ψαλμοί Σαλoμῶντος Psalms of Solomon Psalms of Solomon[62]
Prophets
Δώδεκα The Twelve Minor Prophets
Ὡσηέ Αʹ I. Osëe Hosea
Ἀμώς Βʹ II. Amōs Amos
Μιχαίας Γʹ III. Michaias Micah
Ἰωήλ Δʹ IV. Ioël Joel
Ὀβδίου Εʹ[f] V. Obdias Obadiah
Ἰωνᾶς Ϛ' VI. Ionas Jonah
Ναούμ Ζʹ VII. Naoum Nahum
Ἀμβακούμ Ηʹ VIII. Ambakum Habakkuk
Σοφονίας Θʹ IX. Sophonias Zephaniah
Ἀγγαῖος Ιʹ X. Angaios Haggai
Ζαχαρίας ΙΑʹ XI. Zacharias Zachariah
Ἄγγελος ΙΒʹ XII. Messenger Malachi
Ἠσαΐας Hesaias Isaiah
Ἱερεμίας Hieremias Jeremiah
Βαρούχ Baruch Baruch
Θρῆνοι Lamentations Lamentations
Ἐπιστολή Ιερεμίου Epistle of Jeremiah Letter of Jeremiah
Ἰεζεκιήλ Iezekiêl Ezekiel
Δανιήλ Daniêl Daniel with additions
Appendix
Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα IV Makkabees 4 Maccabees[g]

Bible Septuagint articles: 49