The Bible


he Church has a kind of album that tells the story of our family of faith. It is known as the Bible or the Scriptures.

The word Bible comes from the Greek word that means “books.” This is a good name, since the Bible contains seventy-three individual books. Some biblical books are longer than others. For example, the Book of Psalms is more than one hundred pages long, while the Third Letter of John is less than one page in length.

The Bible is also called Scripture. Scripture is the written word of God. The Bible is the written word of God because it tells about God and how people came to know about him.

The first part of the Bible, called the Old Testament tells about God and the ancient Hebrews. The Hebrews were the first people who came to realize there is one God and entered into a special relationship with him. They were invited to become God’s special friends and still seek to do his will today.

The second part of the Bible, called the New Testament, tells about Jesus and the start of the Church. Jesus and many of his friends were Jewish. The New Testament tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection, people who were not Jews could also join the Church. This means the world that we have been called to do God’s work in the world by following the teachings and examples of Jesus.

We read the Bible today because the story of God’s love for the world is still not over. The world is not everything God wishes it to be. God wants us to help make the world better. We read the Bible to learn how to live our lives in ways that support God’s plans. The story by the Bible continues in us. The Bible is our story, too.

The Word of God

The Church teaches that the Holy Spirit inspired, or encourages, people to write about God. This urge or impulse to write about God is called inspiration. Since the people who wrote the Bible were inspired by the Spirit to do so, we are confident that when we read the Bible, we can learn about God. So we call the Bible the word of God.

Important truths or insights about God and his plan for us are called revelation because he is revealed to us through the words of the Scripture. For example, the Hebrew people came to realize that there is only one God and no one can compare with God.

The same Spirit who inspired the biblical writers will also help us to understand the Bible’s inspired words. The Spirit will help us see the especially important revealed truths among the inspired words.

As Catholics we can also read the Bible in the light of life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The bishops of the Church have a special role in teaching about the meaning of the Bible’s inspired words. The Spirit guides the bishops in explaining what is revealed to us about God in Scripture and in the events of human history.

The Bible Is God's Word


part from any theory of inspiration, or any theory of how the Bible books came to their present form, or how much the text may have suffered in transmission at the hands of editors and copyists; apart from the question of how much is to be interpreted literally and how much figuratively, or what is historical and what may be poetical—if we simply assume that the Bible is just what it appears to be and study its 73 books to know their contents, we will find a unity of thought that indicates that one Mind inspired the writing and compilation of the whole collection of books. We will find that it bears the stamp of its Author and that it is in a unique and distinctive sense the Word of God.

Many people hold the view that the Bible is a collection of ancient stories about people's efforts to find God, a record of human experiences in their reaching for God that led to a gradually improving idea of God by building on the experiences of preceding generations. This means, of course, that the many, many passages in the Bible in which it is said that God spoke are merely using a figure of speech and that God did not really speak. Rather, people put their ideas into religious language that claimed to be the language of God, and in reality it was only what they themselves imagined God might say. This viewpoint reduces the Bible to the level of other books. It is made into a human book pretending to be divine, rather than a divine book.

We reject this view utterly, and with abhorrence! We believe that the Bible is not an account of human efforts to find God, but rather an account of God's effort to reveal Himself to humanity. It is God's own record of His dealings with people in His unfolding revelation of Himself to the human race. The Bible is the revealed will of the Creator of all of humanity, given to His creatures by the Creator Himself, for instruction and guidance along life's paths.

There can be no question that the books of the Bible were composed by human authors; we don't even know who some of these authors were. Nor do we know just how God directed these authors to write. But we believe and know that God did direct them and that these books therefore must be exactly what God wanted them to be.

There is a difference between the Bible and all other books. Authors may pray for God's help and guidance, and God does help and guide them. There are many good books in the world that leave the unmistakable impression that God helped the authors to write them. But even the most saintly authors would hardly presume to claim for their books that God wrote them.

Yet that is what the Bible claims for itself and what the people of God through the millennia have learned and understood and claimed. God Himself superintended and directed the writing of the Bible books in such a way that what was written was the writing of God. The Bible is God's Word in a sense in which no other book in the world is God's Word.

Many statements in the Bible are expressed in ancient thought forms and ancient language forms. Today we would express these same ideas in a different form and in modern language rather than in the language of ancient times. But even so, the Bible contains precisely the things God wants mankind to know, in exactly the form in which He wants us to know them. And to the end of time, the “dear old Book” will remain the one and only answer to humanity's quest for God.

• Everyone should love the Bible.

• Everyone should be a regular reader of the Bible.

• Everyone should strive to live by the Bible's teachings.

• The Bible should have the central place in the life and work of every church and every pulpit.

• The pulpit's one business is the simple teaching of God's Word, expressing in the language of today the truths that are expressed in ancient thought and language forms in the Bible.

Christ Is the Center and Heart of the Bible

The Bible consists of two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

• The Old Testament is an account of a nation: Israel.

• The New Testament is an account of a man: Jesus, God's Son.

The nation was founded and nurtured by God to bring the Man into the world. In Jesus, God Himself became a man to provide the means for the redemption of mankind. Jesus also gives humanity a concrete, definite, tangible idea of what kind of person to think of when we think of God: God is like Jesus. Jesus was God incarnate, God in human form.

His appearance on the earth is the central event of all history: the Old Testament sets the stage for it; the New Testament describes it.

Jesus the Christ (the Messiah) lived the most memorable, beautiful life ever known. He was born of a virgin and led a sinless life. As a man, Jesus was the kindest, most tender, gentlest, most patient, most sympathetic man who ever lived. He loved people. He hated to see people in trouble. He loved to forgive. He loved to help. He did marvelous miracles to feed hungry people. For relief of the suffering He forgot to take food for Himself. Multitudes, weary, pain-ridden, and heartsick, came to Him and found healing and relief. It is said of Him, and of no other, that if all the deeds of kindness that He did were written down, the world could not contain the books.

That is the kind of man Jesus was.

That is the kind of person God is.

Then Jesus died on the cross to take away the sin of the world, to become the Redeemer and Savior of humanity.

He rose from the dead and is alive now—not merely a historical character but a living Person. This is the most important fact of history and the most vital force in the world today.

The whole Bible is built around this beautiful story of Christ and around His promise of life eternal to those who accept Him. The Bible was written only that people might believe, and understand, and know, and love, and follow Christ.

Christ, the center and heart of the Bible, the center and heart of history, is also the center and heart of our lives. Our eternal destiny is in His hand. Our acceptance or rejection of Him as our Lord and Savior determines for each of us eternal glory or eternal ruin—heaven or hell, one or the other.

The most important decision anyone is ever called on to make is to settle in one's heart, once for all, the matter of one's attitude toward Christ.

On that depends everything. It is a glorious thing to be a Christian, the most exalted privilege of mankind. The Creator of all things wants to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us! To accept Christ as Savior, Lord, and Master, and to strive sincerely and devotedly to follow in the way of life He taught, is certainly and by far the most reasonable and most satisfactory way to live. It means peace, peace of mind, contentment of heart, forgiveness, happiness, hope, life abundant, life that shall never end.

How can anyone be so blind, or so dumb, as to go through life and face death without the Christian hope? Apart from Christ, what is there, what can there be, either for this world or the next, to make life worthwhile? We all have to die. Why try to laugh it off or try to deny it? It seems as if every human being would want to welcome Christ with open arms and consider it the proudest privilege of his or her life to wear the Christian name.

In the final analysis, the most marvelous thing in life is the consciousness, in the inner depths of our soul that we live for Christ. And though our efforts be ever so feeble, we toil at our daily tasks in hope of being able to have done something to lay as an offering at His feet, in humble gratitude and adoration, when we meet Him face to face.

How the Bible Is Organized

At first glance, the Bible is a collection of longer and shorter writings without any apparent organization except for the main division into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Old Testament takes up about three-fourths of the Bible, the New Testament about one-fourth. The book of Psalms is approximately in the middle of the Bible.

The Two Testaments

Old Testament was written before the time of Christ. It was written mostly in Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people, and the Old Testament continues to be the Bible of the Jewish people. In the very early days of the church, during the first decades after Jesus' death and resurrection, the Hebrew Bible was the only Bible Christians had. It was not until later, when the New Testament came into existence, that the Hebrew Bible was called “Old Testament.” The word “testament” here means “covenant” (a solemn agreement or contract that establishes a formal relationship with mutual obligations). The Hebrew Bible speaks of the covenant God made with Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people. The New Testament is about the new covenant that God made with all people through Jesus Christ, the Old Testament looks forward to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah (or Christ), who will save us from our sins and establish God's kingdom, founded on justice and mercy. The New Testament tells the story of Jesus and contains writings by His early followers.

Three Groups of Books in Each Testament


• Begins with a group of historical books and

• Ends with prophetic books (the New Testament has only one predominantly prophetic book, Revelation) the historical and prophetic books are

• Poetic books (Old Testament) and

• Letters or epistles (New Testament)

Introduction to the Bible

The Bible

The Books of the Bible

Introduction to the Bible

The Bible