Information on the Bible.


Basic information.

  1. The testaments of the Bible. The Bible is divided into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. A testament is a covenant. The Old Testament deals with the old covenant between God and man, exemplified in the law of Moses. The New Testament deals with the new covenant between God and man, exemplified in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
     
  2. The languages of the Bible. The Old Testament, except for Ezra 7.12-26 and Daniel 2.4-7.28, was written in Hebrew; those two exceptions were written in Aramaic. The New Testament was probably written in Greek, though some believe it was written in Aramaic or Hebrew and translated into Greek.
     
  3. The manuscripts of the Bible. The Old Testament has three principal documentary sources, namely (in order of antiquity) the Dead Sea scrolls in Hebrew, the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) in Greek, and the Masoretic in Hebrew. (New Testament quotations of the Old Testament are frequently taken from the LXX.) The New Testament has many documentary sources, ranging from hefty codices written in Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Slavonic (among other languages) to tiny papyrus fragments, preserved principally in the sands of Egypt and written in Greek.
     
  4. The apocryphal books. The Septuagint eventually included several Old Testament books that the Hebrew scriptures did not: Esdras, Tobit, Judith, some additions to Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, the epistle of Jeremiah, some additions to Daniel, four books of the Maccabees, and the prayer of Manasseh. The New Testament alludes to some of these books in several places, but they were not usually regarded as on the same level as the Hebrew scriptures.
     
  5. Bible versions. The King James version is elegant, but based on what is known as the textus receptus, a Greek version based on manuscripts that are now regarded as suspect in various passages. The New International version is more colloquial than literal. The Revised Standard version is a bit more liberal than many evangelicals would like. The New American Standard Bible is probably the best so far as sticking to the original Greek and Hebrew is concerned, and it helpfully discusses expressions and turns of speech in its marginal notes.
     
  6. The method of the Bible. Later books usually build upon the principles laid down in earlier books. The biblical authors were absolutely soaked in the scriptures that came before them. They read them, memorized them, meditated on them, lived them. Scriptural citations, allusions, and echoes fill the pages of the apostolic writings. Nearly every passage of the New Testament bears some intrinsic, nontrivial connection to the Old Testament. It behooves the modern Christian to approach the scriptures with the same passion and reverence evinced by those who penned what we now know as the Bible.

External and internal divisions.

Law.

Genesis.

1.1-11.32: The primeval history.
12.1-25.18: Abraham.
25.19-28.9 (and 35.28-29): Isaac.
28.10-35.27: Jacob.
36.1-43: The descendants of Esau.
37.1-50.26: Joseph.

Exodus.

1.1-15.21: The exodus from Egypt.
15.22-19.25: Wilderness journeys.
20.1-31.18: The (first) lawgiving.
32.1-34.35: Golden calf and aftermath.
35.1-40.38: Construction of the tabernacle.

Leviticus.

1.1-27.34: Levitical laws.

Numbers.

1.1-4.49: The first census.
5.1-25.18: Miscellaneous wilderness happenings.
26.1-65: The second census.
27.1-36.13: Miscellaneous laws and wilderness happenings.

Deuteronomy.

1.1-11.32: The speech of Moses in Moab.
12.1-26.15: The (second) lawgiving.
26.16-34.12: Blessings and curses.

Prophets.

Former prophets.

Joshua.

1.1-12.24: The conquest.
13.1-22.34: The inheritance.
23.1-24.33: The farewell speech of Joshua.

Judges.

1.1-2.10: The conquest.
2.11-16.31: The cycle of judges.
17.1-21.25: No king in Israel.

1 Samuel.

1.1-8.22: Samuel the judge and prophet.
9.1-15.35: Saul as king.
16.1-31.13: David on the run.

2 Samuel.

1.1-24.25: David as king.

1 Kings.

1.1-11.43: Solomon as king.
12.1-22.53: The divided kingdom, Elijah.

2 Kings.

1.1-16.20: The divided kingdom, Elisha.
17.1-41: The deportation of Israel.
18.1-23.37: The kings of Judah.
24.1-25.30: The exile of Judah.

Latter prophets.

Isaiah.

1.1-12.6: Prophecies over Judah and Jerusalem.
13.1-23.18: Prophecies over various nations.
24.1-27.13: Prophecies over that day.
28.1-33.24: The six woes.
34.1-35.10: The redemption of Zion.
36.1-39.8: Isaiah and Hezekiah.
40.1-66.24: The restoration of Judah and Israel.

Jeremiah.

1.1-38.28: Warnings to Judah and Jerusalem.
39.1-45.5: The fall of Jerusalem.
46.1-51.64: Prophecies over various nations.
52.1-34: The fall of Jerusalem, continued.

Ezekiel.

1.1-24.27: Prophecies over Judah and Jerusalem.
25.1-32.32: Prophecies over various nations.
33.1-39.29: The restoration of Judah and Israel.
40.1-48.35: The vision of temple and land.

Hosea.

1.1-3.5: Hosea and Gomer.
4.1-14.9: Warnings to Israel.

Joel.

1.1-3.21: The latter days.

Amos.

1.1-2.16: For three transgressions, and for four.
3.1-6.14: Hear this word.
7.1-9.15: Thus the Lord showed me, and behold!

Obadiah.

1.1-21: The day of the Lord.

Jonah.

1.1-4.11: Jonah and the conversion of Nineveh.

Micah.

1.1-7.20: Prophecies over Samaria and Jerusalem.

Nahum.

1.1-3.19: Prophecies against Nineveh.

Habakkuk.

1.1-3.19: Prophecies of exile.

Zephaniah.

1.1-3.20: The day of the Lord.

Haggai.

1.1-2.23: Prophecies over the rebuilding of the temple.

Zechariah.

1.1-8.23: Prophecies over the return from exile.
9.1-14.21: The day of the Lord.

Malachi.

1.1-4.6: The day of the Lord.

Writings.

Psalms.

1.1-41.13: Book 1.
42.1-72.20: Book 2.
73.1-89.52: Book 3.
90.1-106.48: Book 4.
107.1-150.6: Book 5.

Proverbs.

1.1-29.27: The proverbs of Solomon.
30.1-33: The proverbs of Agur.
31.1-31: The proverbs of Lemuel.

Job.

1.1-2.10: The testing of Job.
2.11-37.24: Job and his three friends.
38.1-42.9: The speech from the whirlwind.
42.10-17: The restoration of Job.

Song of Songs.

1.1-8.14: The lover and his beloved.

Ruth.

1.1-4.22: The story of Ruth and Boaz.

Lamentations.

1.1-5.22: The lamentation over Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes.

1.1-12.14: All is vanity.

Esther.

1.1-10.3: The origins of Purim.

Daniel.

1.1-6.28: Stories about Daniel.
7.1-12.13: Dreams and visions.

Ezra.

1.1-10.44: The return from exile.

Nehemiah.

1.1-13.31: The return from exile.

1 Chronicles.

1.1-9.44: The genealogies.
10.1-29.30: David as king.

2 Chronicles.

1.1-9.31: Solomon as king.
10.1-35.27: The kings of Judah.
36.1-23: The exile of Judah.

Gospels.

Matthew.

1.1-2.23: The infancy narrative.
3.1-18.35: The Galilean ministry.
19.1-26.56: The Judean ministry.
26.57-28.20: The passion narrative and resurrection.

Mark.

1.1-9.50: The Galilean ministry.
10.1-14.52: The Judean ministry.
14.53-16.20: The passion narrative and resurrection.

Luke.

1.1-2.52: The infancy narrative.
3.1-9.50: The Galilean ministry.
9.51-22.53: The journey to Jerusalem and Judean ministry.
22.54-24.53: The passion narrative and resurrection.

John.

1.1-14: The word.
1.15-12.50: The Galilean and Judean ministry.
13.1-18.11: The last supper and arrest.
18.12-21.25: The passion narrative and resurrection.

Acts.

Acts.

1.1-7.60: The church in Jerusalem.
8.1-12.25: The churches in Judea, Samaria, Damascus, Antioch.
13.1-28.31: The journeys of Paul.

Pauline epistles.

Romans.

1.1-8.39: The righteousness of God.
9.1-11.36: The nation of Israel.
12.1-16.27: Exhortations based on the righteousness of God.

1 Corinthians.

1.1-6.20: The wisdom of God.
7.1-16.24: Problems in the church.

2 Corinthians.

1.1-7.16: The Pauline ministry.
8.1-9.15: The collection.
10.1-13.14: Paul and the super-apostles.

Galatians.

1.1-4.31: Law and grace.
5.1-6.18: Exhortations based on law and grace.

Ephesians.

1.1-3.21: The position of Christ.
4.1-6.24: Exhortations based on the position of Christ.

Philippians.

1.1-4.23: Rejoice in the Lord.

Colossians.

1.1-2.23: Christ and the rudiments of the world.
3.1-4.18: Exhortations based on Christ and the rudiments.

1 Thessalonians.

1.1-4.12: The faith and love of the church.
4.13-5.28: The hope of the church, and exhortations.

2 Thessalonians.

1.1-3.18: The day of the Lord.

1 Timothy.

1.1-6.21: Keeping the faith, pastoral instructions.

2 Timothy.

1.1-4.22: Keeping the faith, pastoral instructions.

Titus.

1.1-3.15: Keeping the faith, pastoral instructions.

Philemon.

1.1-25: Appeal for Onesimus the runaway slave.

Catholic epistles.

Hebrews.

1.1-10.34: Endure to the end.
10.35-13.25: Receive the promise.

James.

1.1-5.20: Exhortations to the church.

1 Peter.

1.1-5.14: Suffering persecution.

2 Peter.

1.1-3.18: False prophets and scoffers.

1 John.

1.1-5.21: Exhortations based on the gospel of John.

2 John.

1.1-13: Refusing hospitality to false teachers.

3 John.

1.1-14: Extending hospitality to true brethren.

Jude.

1.1-25: The way of Cain.

Apocalypse.

Revelation.

1.1-3.22: The letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor.
4.1-19.21: Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls.
20.1-22.21: Last things.

Know your text!