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What Is The Bible

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The Bible: it's one of the most influential books in human history. It explores the big questions of why we exist. It's inspired many people to do amazing things, and. confused many others. And you've probably got one, sitting around.

somewhere. So. What is the Bible actually? Well, the Bible is a small library of books, that all emerged out of the history of the people of ancient Israel. And in one sense, they were just like any other ancient civilization. But among them were a long line of individuals called prophets, and they viewed Israel's story as anything but ordinary.

They saw it as a central part of what God was doing for all humanity. And, these prophets, were literary geniuses. Really? Yeah, they expertly crafted the Hebrew language to write epic narratives, very sophisticated poetry, they were masters of metaphor, and storytelling, and they leveraged all this to explore life's most complicated questions about death, and life, and the human struggle. So, there's a lot of different authors writing this book. Yeah and these texts were produced over a thousand year period, starting with Israel's origins in Egypt.

Then leading up to their kingdom, with their first temple. But eventually they were conquered by the Babylonians, who took them away into exile. Then, at a crucial moment in their history, many Israelites returned to their land. They built a second temple, they reformed their identity, and this is when the Jewish Scriptures begin to be formed into the shape that we have them today. Okay, the Jewish Bible.

what's in it? Well in Hebrew, it's called by an acronym: Tanakh. The "T" stands for "Torah." Sometimes called "the law.") That's Israel's five-book foundation story. The "N" stands for "Nevi'im," the Hebrew word for "prophets," and this section consists of the historical books that tell Israel's story from the prophets' point of view, then you get the poetic books of the prophets themselves. The "K" stands for "Ketuvim" - the Hebrew word for "writings." This is a diverse collection of of poetic books, wisdom books, and more narrative. And the Jewish people believe that through all of these literary works, God speaks to His people.

Now, there are other Jewish writings being produced during this Second Temple period as well. Yeah, a really diverse group texts, and these too were highly valued in Jewish communities. And there was debate from ancient times, about whether or not some of these should be considered part of their scriptures. So. this is a lot of different writings, over a long period of time.

Why did they put them all together like this? Well all together, these texts tell an epic story, about how God is working through these people to bring order and beauty out of the chaos of our world. And it all builds up to a hope for a new leader who would come, and renew all creation. And then the Tanakh concludes. and this leader never comes! So it's an expertly crafted work but it's missing an ending? That's exactly right. Now, few centuries later, a Jewish prophet comes onto the scene, named Jesus of Nazareth.

He claimed he was carrying the Tanakh story forward. Yeah so Jesus, did a bunch of cool stuff. was killed. But his followers claimed he was alive from the dead. Yeah, they said that Jesus was that long-awaited leader who would restore the world.

And so his earliest followers called "Apostles," they compose new literary works about the story of Jesus, they called these "good news," or "the Gospel"), they formed an account, called "Acts," about the spread of the Jesus Movement outside of Israel, and then they circulated letters to different Jesus communities all around the ancient world. And they saw these writings as part of the scripture. Yeah, the Apostles wrote all of this is fulfillment of that epic story found in the Tanakh. And they were continuing the literary genius of the Jewish tradition. They also believed that God was speaking to His people through these texts, alongside the scriptures of Israel.

So that's the Old & New Testament, but what did the early Christians think of the other Second Temple literature? Well different groups had different views about some of these books. But we know they read them and valued these texts, because they pass them along with the Jewish Scriptures. Okay, so we've got the Tanakh, the Jewish scriptures), we got these other Second Temple period works, then the writing of the Apostles about Jesus. And that's a lot of literature. so what's in my Bible? So the Christian movement has taken different forms over 2,000 years, and from the beginning, all Christians recognized the Tanakh and the New Testament as scripture.

And for centuries, much of the Second Temple literature was read that part of the biblical tradition. The Catholic Church eventually made it official, and called some of the books from this collection the "deuterocanonical books." Some Orthodox churches used even more books from the Second Temple literature, and then in the 1500's, during the Reformation, Protestant Christians wanted to go back to the oldest writings of the prophets and Apostles, so they accepted only the Old & New Testaments. Okay. I think I got it. But.

how does a collection of books produced over a thousand years, by all these different authors, tell one unified story? Yeah, that's the question we'll address in our next article. Hey I'm Jon, and I'm Tim! This is The Bible Project, we believe the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus, and has profound wisdom for the modern world. So we're creating articles to show that! This was the first in a brand new series, that we're starting, "How to Read the Bible," But we have lots of other kinds of articles. And you can find it all for free on our website, at jointhebibleproject.com. In fact, there you can find a handout that will accompany this article; just goes into more detail on the information that is article is about, and.

lots of other resources. So check it out, and you can also be a part of this by supporting us at thebibleproject.com. Our goal is to make all these resources available for free, to anybody, anywhere, and we can do that because of your support. So thanks so much you guys. Thanks.


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