The Pastor's Class
Bible facts and history
II Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
To grow in faith and fellowship as we study the word of God.
During our study together we will study how creation, the cross, the christian and the church all come together to fulfill God's plan and purpose for the universe.
Since our primary text for this study will be the bible we should take some time to look at some "FAQ's about this wonderful and sometimes mysterious book.
The Bible is unique, unlike any other book ever written. Over 40 different people writing separately over 1,500 years authored the book. These people ranged from shepherds and fishermen to military leaders and kings. They ranged from uneducated to highly educated and wrote from three different continents and in wide varieties of places. The Bible is written in three different languages and in all literary styles. It was written in different moods and deals with all topics.
It has been published in more languages than any other book in history and read by more people than any other book. It has survived through time and criticism. It is a history, a biography, a revelation and has meaning in every culture. It is in plain language so anyone who wants to can read and understand.
There are 13,000 copies of the original manuscripts compared to the 100 or less of other ancient works. These manuscripts were found in 6 different countries and cultures. And in all of these copies there is less than one-half of 1% where differences were found in spelling or other areas that do not change the message of the book.
Archeological evidence continues to support the accuracy of the book as new discoveries are in complete agreement with things mentioned only in the Bible.
Prophecies in the Bible written hundreds of years before they occurred are accurate down to the name of the individual who would perform the task.
While not being a science book the Bible has complete accuracy when dealing with scientific things.
In the Bible we have a book that is different than any other book written. It has never been proven wrong in any statement, whether historical or prophetical. And in this book of complete accuracy it states All scripture is God-breathed and no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21). So if this book without error claims it came from God, what else can a reasonable person believe?
1. What do Christians believe about the bible?
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God and it contains overwhelming evidence of the existence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ
John 20:30-31; (30 Jesus disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.)
Acts :27-28; (27 Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him in this. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by Gods grace, had believed. 28 He refuted all the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them, The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.)
Romans 10:17(17 Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good newsthe Good News about Christ.)
1 Thessalonians 2:13; (13 And we will never stop thanking God that when we preached his message to you, you didnt think of the words we spoke as being just our own. You accepted what we said as the very word of Godwhich, of course, it was. And this word continues to work in you who believe.)
Hebrews 4:12; (12 For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. 13 Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.)
James 1:18; ( 18 In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession.)
2 Peter 1:19-21; (19 Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark placeuntil the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves 21 or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God.)
2. Where did the bible come from?
The bible is a book of antiquity. The bible had it's beginnings in the "oral tradition". For thousands of years before the bible was written down it was preserved by telling and retelling the story from generation to generation. When we begin studying the people of the Bible we will discover how dedicated they were to preserving their history.
Much of the bible contains the history of the Hebrews or the Israelites. In that history we read of God's revelation of himself to the people of the world.
Eventually, these family stories would be recorded. This probably happened around the time of Moses. Moses is said to the the author of the first five books of the bible.
3. Who wrote the bible?
The bible is divided into two testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
1. At least 30 (and probably many more) authors wrote the Old Testament over a period of about 1000 years. Were these writers not guided by the Holy Spirit, it would have been impossible for them to produce a work the size of the Old Testament with a single common theme which did not contradict itself and which did not contain provable historical or other factual errors.
2. During the 1st Century A.D., the books of the New Testament were written over a
period of approximately 45 years (50-95 A.D.), The New Testament was written by at least 9 different authors.
4. How is the bible organized?
The Bible has two grand divisions
1. The Old Testament
a. The Pentateuch
b. Historical Books
c. Poetry / Wisdom literature
d. Major Prophets
e. Minor Prophets
2. New Testament.
a. The Gospels
b. History / Acts
c. Epistles ... General & Pastorial
d. Apocalypse ... Revelation
5. Why are they so many different types of bibles?
If you have ever gone to a book store to look for a bible you were probably overwhelmed by the choices. Every few months there is a new bible being marketed.
Bibles can be grouped into two major categories.
1. Translations - A translation is a bible where the translators have tried to convey as literally as possible the meaning of the original texts.
2. A paraphrase is a bible where the translators have taken added to the text words, phrases, or ideas of their own not contained in the original text.
Every bible available today is a translation. The original languages of the bible were Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
Even though we have numerous early transcripts and fragments of the bible there are no original documents in existence.
Some of the very early translations are
1. The Septuagent (a greek translation of the Old Testament)
2. The Vulgate (a latan translation of the Old Testamentl.
Probably the most famous translation is the King James Version of the Bible.
a. When James became king in 1603, he convened a meeting of Anglican bishops and Puritan clergy to settle differences among them over the various translations. When it was suggested a new translation be made from the Greek and Hebrew with marginal notes restricted to matters of language and parallel passages, the king approved it.
b. King James appointed 54 scholars to do the work, with 47 of them actually participating. They were divided into six groups to work on different portions of the
Bible. Each group's completed work was reviewed by a committee of 12, consisting of two men from each of the six groups. Final differences were settled by a general
c. The Authorized (King James) Version of 1611 was technically a revision of the 1602 edition of the Bishops' Bible, which included the Apocrypha. So the first edition of the King James Version included the Apocrypha! In 1615 the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury forbid the binding or selling of Bibles without the Apocrypha on penalty of a
year in prison, in response to the opposition of the Puritans to use of the Apocrypha. Nevertheless, copies of the King James Version without the Apocrypha were produced beginning in 1626.
d. It is worth noting that the British and Foreign Bible Society, formed in Great Britain in 1804, chose to end the practice of distributing editions of the Bible containing the Apocrypha in 1826. When no protests came from the public, other Bible publishers
adopted the same practice. For a century and a half now, it has been practically impossible to buy over the counter in any ordinary bookshop in Britain or America a
copy of the King James Version containing the Apocrypha.
e. The King James Bible didn't receive immediate acceptance by church members. It took almost 50 years for it to gain a higher place than the Geneva Bible.
But once it was fully accepted, the King James Bible became the Bible of choice of English-speaking people for the next 300 years. Its beauty of language comes from the period of Shakespeare and Milton, and its heartfelt message breathes from a century
when translators had given their lives through fire and sword to deliver the Bible to the people.
f. The King James translators, like the English Bible translators before them, were not without their theological biases. They were primarily Church of England theologians who had inherited much of their theology and church practices from more than 1500 years of church tradition. For example, since the Church of England practiced infant baptism and sprinkling, the translators followed the decision of earlier English translators to transliterate the Greek word "baptizo" into English as "baptize"
rather than translate it correctly as "immerse."
One main reason for different translations is becase language is fluid. The meaning of words change over time. For example; In the bible the gentiles were referred to as "Dogs". It was the worst thing you could call someone. However, today when you call someone a "Dog" is is considered a compliment.
Translation vs. Paraphrase
A Translation (The New International Version)
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his names sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
A Paraphrase (The Living Bible)
1.Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
2-3He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.
4Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
5You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!
6Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
Some have wondered why there are so many different translations of the Bible. A simple answer would be because times and people change. Because of that the way we communicate changes. The purpose of language is to accurately communicate a thought or idea. We are constantly creating new words and phrases in order to better communicate.
Below is a comparision of several early bible translations. As you read through these it will become evident why we occasionally need newer translations.
* 1st Ed. King James (1611): "For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life."
* Rheims (1582): "For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that euery one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting"
* Geneva (1557): "For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe."
* Great Bible (1539): "For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe."
* Tyndale (1534): "For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe."
* Wycliff (1380): "for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif,"
6. Why do some bibles have more books than other bibles?
You may occasionally run across a bible that has some extra book. These books are called the "Apocrypha". Apocrypha means doubtful or veiled. These books have historical significance however, they are not considered to be inspired.
These 15 books are I and II Esdras (additions to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah),
Tobit, Judith, Additions to the book of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (or the
Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach), Baruch, The Epistle of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azariah
and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon (addition to Daniel), The
Prayer of Mannasseh, and I and II Maccabees. These books were included in Jerome's Latin
Vulgate Version (against his recommendation), which became the Roman Catholic Bible.
While some of these books contain some material of literary merit and historical value, they must be rejected as inspired Scripture for these reasons:
a. They were written long after the Old Testament books were completed about 425 B.C.
b. They lack the prophetic character which qualifies them as the word of God. None of the apocryphal writers claim divine inspiration and some openly disclaim it (Ecclesiasticus and I and II Maccabees).
c. They were never recognized by the Jews. No Hebrew canons included them (the Jamnia Sanhedrin, Talmudists, Massoretes, etc.). The Jewish historian Josephus did not include these books in his list of canonical books.
7. What do we mean when we say the bible is inspired?
16The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. 17It is Gods way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.
The Living Bible, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1997.
It is generally believed that God guided and directed the thoughts of the biblical writers in such a way as to convey accurately His message to us.
8. How has the bible been perserved through the centuries?
Oral Tradition - For centuries stories were passed along from generation.
Possibly Moses committed these stories to writing.
Eventually Scribes were given the task of copying and preserving the integrity of these writings.
Until the 15th century bibles were very scarce because the only way to get a bible was to copy one by hand. (a task that could take up to a year.) (By comparison, today a bible can be copied electronically in a matter of seconds)
Bibles were large and bulky and were often chained to the pulpit of the Church to prevent them from being stolen.
With the invention of the Gutenburg press1450's.
Books were copied manually by hand before the invention of the printing press; that was how the word manuscript, which meant written by hand, came about. Therefore, only the rich were able to afford to buy books. In contrast, the poor did not have the ability to enjoy the wealth of experience and information that came with a book.
Gutenburg was a German businessman who came up with the idea of the printing press to save his failing business in 1448. He was poor and desperate for money. To him, the printing press would allow him to clear off his debts and even earn some profits for him. Thus, it was ironic that if not for his financial crisis, the printing press might have been invented at a later time.
The Gutenburg printing press consisted of plain paper, press, ink and blocks. The blocks were the crucial components in his printing press. They were special movable blocks that enabled printing to be carried out at a faster rate. The bible was the first book to be published from the Gutenburg printing press. Today, the Gutenburg bibles are considered to be priceless and only 22 copies are known to be in existence.
The printing press was one of the major inventions in history. It was a powerful impetus to the renaissance period by meeting the ever-increasing demand for books. Books were freely available, as it was now cheap and easy to produce them. Knowledge grew and the information explosion in this century can be traced all the way to Gutenburg and his printing press.
9. Is the bible fact or fiction?
The bible contains both facts and fiction. The people, places and events recorded in the bible have been proven to be accurate. Archeologists are continually finding artifacts that support biblical events places and people.
There are stories in the bible that are fiction. These are clearly identified. For instance; Jesus told many parables. Parables are stories that illustrate biblical truths.
10. Why should we study the bible?
The Bible is the word of God. It is God's instruction book for us. It is profitable for instruction, doctrine, correction. In other words it teaches us how to live.
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