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The front cover of The Oxford Guide To The Bible says,
"The Bible has had an immeasurable influence on Western culture, touching on virtually every aspect of our lives. It is one of the great wellsprings of Western religious, ethical, and philosophical traditions. It has been an endless source of inspiration to artists, from classic works such as Michaelangelo's Last Judgment, Handel's Messiah, or Milton's Paradise Lost, to modern works such as Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers and many movies and TV series. For countless generations, it has been a comfort in suffering, a place to reflect on the mysteries of birth, death, and immortality. Its stories and characters are an integral part of the repertoire of every educated adult, forming an enduring bond that spans thousands of years and embraces a vast community of believers and nonbelievers.

It not only contains the laws of Moses (first 5 books of the old testament - The Tora or Pentateuch - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and the teachings of Jesus Christ as documented in the Gospels (First 4 books of the new testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), but many other (more than 40 authors) writings (66 books in the Protestant Canon).

Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon. The first part of Christian Bibles is the Old Testament, which contains, at minimum, the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible divided into thirty-nine books and ordered differently from the Hebrew Bible. The Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches also hold certain deuterocanonical books and passages to be part of the Old Testament canon.

Dates - Authors:
The bible was written over 16 centuries from 1400 BC - 200 AD by more than 40 authors, although the actual authorship of many books is still debated by biblical scholars.

Moses lived during 15th century BC and was the author of the first 5 books (Torah, Pentateuch), although some think there were other authors.
See Who wrote the first five books of the Bible (the Jewish Torah)
Some think it wasn't written down until the 8th - 6th century BC.
The oldest surviving Hebrew Bible manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls date to about the 2nd century BCE.
See: NOVA | Origins of the Written Bible

Bible Table of Contents at

If you don't have time to read the whole thing a good way to start is:

  • A summary of Jesus teaching - The Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes) "Blessed are the poor in spirit" .Matthew 5-7..
  • John (NT)- One of the four Gospels (about the life of Christ). Written for Gentiles. It is more about a personal relationship with Christ/God, with less facts than other gospels.
    See the Gospel of John
  • Genesis (OT)- First book of the Old Testament and Jewish Torah. Creation, Noah, Israel's origin (Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob).
  • Proverbs (OT) - Old Testament - A Collection of Wise Sayings of King Solomon and Others.
  • James (NT) - A practical guide for Holy living. The Proverbs of the New Testament. (Short - 5 chapters about 5 pages.) (Martin Luther wanted to remove the book of James claiming it "contradicts Paul by teaching justification by works" (Instead of faith alone.)
  • Matthew (NT) - A more polished and complete product than Mark.
  • Psalms - A collection of praises and prayers from various authors (Daivd has many).
  • Isaiah (OT) - Major old testiment prophet. Prose and poetry unveiling the full dimensions of God's judgment and salvation.
  • Ecclesiastes (OT) - Life lessons of an old man.
  • Ephesians (NT) - Paul's most quoted letter. Written to explain the dimensions of God's eternal purpose and grace.
  • Daniel (OT) - Prophet Daniel. Interprets Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar's dream, during their capture and exile. Has many visions of Israel's future. Survives lions den.
Don't be discouraged if it is hard to understand. Some fundamentalits will claim you have to have faith to understand it, but that is just arrogance.
Peter, had trouble understanding Paul [2 Peter 3:15-16]. Although Jesus once referred to him as "You of little faith," [Matthew 14:25-31], he was considered number 1 amongst the Apostles.
See Also: Teach Yourself To Read the Bible: Scriptural Guide to Growth for other reading patterns.

Books of the Bible

See Also: Authors below and List of Books-Authors-Dates.
Old Testament - Old Covenant between Abraham and Sara.
 Taken from  the Jewish faith who refer to it as the Hebrew Scriptures or Tanakh,
      which includes the Torah (Law) and Prophets.
 Major themes: Sinfulness of man, Judgement.
 Written in Hebrew and Aramaic, but translated into Greek starting in the 3rd century BC.
 Torah (Law): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  The New Testament alludes to Moses authorship e.g. Mark 12:26
  "have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said
  to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'"
  However many/most current Biblical scholars believe there were multiple authors who
  wrote it in the  sixth - fourth centuries B.C. (it was oral before then.)
  Also called the Pentateuch.
 History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I-II Samuel, I-II Kings, I-II Chronicles, Ezra,
           Nehemiah, Esther
  (Part of categories "Writings" and "Prophets" in Jewish scripture)
 Wisdom: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
  (Part of "Writings" in Jewish Scripture)
   Major: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
   Minor: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
    Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

 History, Wisdom and Prophets were assembled in the first century A.D.
 Old Testament Timeline
Timeline on the inerrancy page New Testament - New Covenant with Jesus Christ Written in Greek. See dates in timeline. Major themes: Grace, Love, Redemption. History Gospels (Good News - Life of Christ): First three are the synoptic gospels because they are very similar. Matthew - One of the 12 Disciples. Written between 50 and 70 AD to convince his fellow Jews that Jesus is their Messiah. It is the link between the Old and New Testaments. Itncludes more proof of Old Testament prophecies than the other gospels. 91% of Mark is in Matthew. (1071 verses) Mark - John Mark a close associate of the Disciple Peter. He emphasizes more what Jesus did than what he said. Probably the first gospel written between 60 - 65 AD. (678 verses) Luke - A Gentile by birth, educated in Greek culture, a physician and companion of Paul. Main theme is the nature of Jesus' Messiaship and mission. (1151 verses). Written 60-65 AD John - One of the 12 Disciples. Written 85 - AD. Written for Greek thinkers and other Gentiles. Called "The Gospel of Love," It is more about a personal relationship with Christ/God, with less facts than other gospels. A good place to start or read if you're only going to read one book. (879 verses). Last to be written probably in the 80's or 90's. He takes miracles e.g. Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread, as metaphors. Jesus as the bread of life not physical loaves. See the Gospel of John Many New Testament scholars have speculated that large sections of Matthew and Luke (those not taken from Mark) came from another source termed the Q The Acts of the Apostles (Luke) (1006 verses)

Mark vs John
Books are written comparing Mark (a close associate of the disciple Peter) and the first gospel and John (one of the disciples) the last gospel written, 20 years later.
Mark is one of the 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that are very similar. The Gospel According to John has a different arrangement and offers a somewhat different perspective on Christ.

Jim Cross gave a good class at Davis Community Church on the comparison. What's below comes from Jim's class and other sources.

John The whole Gospel is very focused on people coming to understand that they can be transformed by accepting Jesus Christ.

What are the major differences in Jesus' character between the gospels of Mark and John? - Quora

  Letters to churches: 
      From Paul: Romans, I-II Corinthians, Galatians, 
                          Philippians, Colossians, I-II Thessalonians. (1610 verses)
          Most are presumed to be written by Paul in 50-60 AD
          Ephesians was attributed to Paul, but most scholars doubt than now.
          Authorship of Colossians is also subject to question.
  Letters to individuals: I-II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (from Paul), (267 verses)
  Letter to Jews who had converted: Hebrews (author unknown),
  General Letters:  James (Jesus brother) - A practical guide to holy living.
  I-II Peter (Disciple), I-II-III John (John the apostle)
  Jude (author may be Judas, brother of Christ),
  The Revelation (The author identifies himself as John, but there is some 
     disagreement as to whether it is the apostle John or some other John.)

CE. 367 - The New Testament was assembled by Athanasius of Alexandria
 (See Biblical Canon Selection)
CE. 397 - The Canon was approved by the Third Synod of Carthage, mainly through the influence of St Augustine (See New Testament Canon)
New Testament Timeline New Testament Statistics: Number of Chapters, Verses, and Words in the Greek NT

Fifteen additional books called the Apocrypha, are used by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. They were written during the last two centuries before Christ and the first century of the Christian era. They are: The First Book of Esdras, The Second Book of Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to the Book of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, ...

See: Canons of the Old Testament at

Thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts uncovered in Egypt in 1945 have additional descriptions of Jesus. They are referred to as the Nag Hammadi Library supposedly written by Gnostics.
They include the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth.
They paint a different picture of Jesus, for example Thomas claimed that the light of God is in everyone not just Jesus.

The Gnostics (comes from greek "knowledge" or "act of knowing") delineated themselves from other Christians by claiming not simply a belief in Christ and his message, but a "special witness" or revelatory experience of the divine.

See also: Biblical Covenants.


3rd century BC - Septuagint - Greek Translation
          (Also known as  "LXX," or "Seventy," from the supposed number of
At the reformation, Martin Luther decided for the canon of the Hebrew Bible.
At the Council of Trent (1545-63), the Roman Catholic Church affirmed the
canon of the Septuagint.
1536 First English translation by Tyndale
(Tyndale was burned at the stake for perverting the meaning of the scriptures.)
TGB 1560 The Geneva Bible
Word for Word translations
KJV 1611 King James Version (Took much from the Tyndale translation)
HBRV 1881-85 Holy Bible, Revised Version (English Revised Version) (based on KJV)
SARV 1901 Standard American Edition, Revised Version (American Standard Version)
(based on HBRV.)
NASB 1995 New American Standard Bible
RSV 1951 Revised Standard Version (RSV) (based on American Standard V.)
ESV 2001 English Standard Version
Reflects the current state of the art in neo-evangelical Biblical interpretation. Some have criticized it because of its association with the RSV and its use of the modern critical text. However some of the more liberal text in the RSV has been changed.
Thought for thought versions
TEV 1976 Today's English Version (The Good News Bible)
NIV 1978,83 New International Version, by the International Bible Society
Study Version is good because of explanations and references at the bottom of each page.
Best selling English version
Written because the RSV was not conservative enough for many evangelicals.
87 of the translators were American, 3 each from Great Britain and Canada and 2 each from Australia and New Zeland.
TNIV 2005 Todays International Version
The TNIV has better scholarship than the NIV but its tendency toward gender-inclusiveness (rather than a gender-neutral position) at times gets in the way of accuracy.
NRSV 1989 New Revised Standard Version
Published by the National Council of Churches.
While following the literal tradition of the RSV, the NRSV eliminates much of the archaic language. One distinctive is the use of gender inclusive pronouns to replace male pronouns when the original writers meant both men and women.
Most widely "authorized" today.
NLT 1996, 2004 New Living Translation
CEV 1995 Contemporary English Version
LB 1971 The Living Bible
NRSV ? Green Bible
Bible Translation Guide

The "Oxford Annotated Bible" uses the RSV translation See Also: Comparison of Translations at the Duff family site. Comparison of Translations at Invista. About the NRSV at the National Council of Churches page. The Canon Wheel Jewish Holy Scriptures - The Tanakh

The Hebrew of the poetic sections of the Bible, as well as the oldest epigraphic material in inscriptions dating from the tenth to the sixth centuries BC, is known as Archaic Hebrew.

The language used in the prose sections of the Pentateuch and in the prophets and the writings before the exile, are known as Classical Biblical Hebrew, or Biblical Hebrew (BH) proper.

The approximately 8,000 lexical items preserved in the books of the Bible, are not enough to meet the needs of a living language. There have also been claims by various scholars that clear traces of Aramaic can be found in the origins of Hebrew.

The Babylonian Exile of the Jews exposed them to an Aramaic cultural and linguistic environment.

With the rise of the Empire of Alexander (336-323 BC) in the East, the Greek language became influential in the region.

Passages of the Old Testament written in the Aramaic language are called Biblical Aramaic. They occur in Ezra 4:8; 6:18 and 7:12-26. Daniel 2:4,7:28; and the gloss in Jer. 10:11 and Gen 31:47

In the New Testament, various Aramaic words or expressions occur, e.g. "Talitha Cumi" (little girl, stand up) Mark 5:41; "Ephphata" (etphtah, be opened) Mark 7:34; "Eli, Eli, Lama Shabachthani" (my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me) Matt.27:46, Mark 15:34; "Rabboni" (my Lord) Mark 10:51, John 20:16; "Maran Atha" (our Lord, come) Cor. 16:22.

It is generally agreed that the inhabitants of Palestine, at the dawn of the first century, were acquainted in varying degrees with the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin.

Source: A study in the Aramaic Language of Jesus

By 600 AD the four Gospels had only been translated into 8-10 languages.
By 1456 when Gutenberg invented the printing press, only 33 languages had any part of the Bible.
By 2000 the entire Bible had been made available in 371 languages and dialects and portions of the Bible in 1,862 other languages and dialects.
There were about 6,800 living languages in the world as of 2000 AD.
Source: "The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions", 2001, Bruce M. Metzger
Source: A study in the Aramaic Language of Jesus

Online Bibles - lookup in NIV, KJV, Amer. Std., New Living Trans., English Std. Ver. and others. King James
Matthew Henry's Commentary at King James NIV NIV
Bible Tutor at
Bible apps for mobile devices.


Bibilcal Genealogies

Some popular passages

See also:
Christmas Bible Trivia Quiz
Biblical Genealogies

1. There are several different systems for determining biblical times which result in dates varying by 1,500 years or more. See Bible Dates.

  Twenty-one great topical chapters found in the Bible:

The Ten commandments chapter, Ex. 20.
The faithfulness of God chapter, Josh. 14.
The shepherd chapter, Ps. 23.
The confession of sin chapter, Ps. 51.
The praise of God "chapter," Ps. 103.
The word of God "chapter," Ps. 119.
The wisdom chapter, Prov. 8.
The virtuous woman chapter, Prov. 31.
The majesty of God chapter, Isa. 40.
The Beatitudes chapter, Matt. 5.
The sower and seed chapter, Matt. 13.
The abiding chapter, John 15.
The justification chapter, Rom. 5.
The marriage chapter, I Cor. 7.
The love chapter, I Cor. 13.
The resurrection chapter, I Cor. 15.
The fruit of the Spirit chapter, Gal. 5.
The faith chapter, Heb. 11.
The tongue chapter, Jas. 3.
The reason for suffering chapter, I Pet. 4.
The fellowship chapter, I John 1.
Passages in common use
  • He who is not with me is against me. Matt 12:30
  • The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak - Matt 26:41
  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. - Cor 13:4
  • To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • "Whoever loves money never has money enough; Ecclesiastes 5:10)
Matthew 5-7: The Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes) "Blessed are the poor in spirit" ...
Matthew 13: Parables of the Kingdom
Luke 15: The Prodigal Son and other parables
John 1: The prologue to John's gospel
John 17: The high priestly prayer of Jesus
Acts 10: The conversion of Cornelius
Romans 8: More than conquerors
1 Corinthians 13: Paul's essay on love
Hebrews 11: The faith chapter
Exodus 20: The Ten Commandments
Issiah 53: A foretelling of Christ's suffering
Psalms 19,
23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want."
51, David, asks for mercy after sinning with Bathsheba.
90, Prayer of Moses.
91, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.".
100 "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands."
118 "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it ." 124, Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. David
Matthew 5:44 Love your enemies
Exod 25:10 Arc of the Covenant
Mat 6:9 Lord's Prayer
Ex 21:20 eye for an eye

See also Bible Stories and Events

People in the Bible

Men most mentioned in the Bible:
David, mentioned 1118 times.
Moses, 740.
Aaron, 339.
Saul, 338.
Abraham, 306.
Solomon, 295.
Jacob, 270.
Joseph, 208.
Joshua, 197.
Paul, 185.
Peter, 166.
Joab, 137.
Jeremiah, 136.
Samuel, 135.
Isaac, 127.
Jesus, of course, is mentioned more than anyone else is.
See People in the Bible.

Authors Old Testament:
Credited with writing the first five books of the Bible (the Jewish Torah), but current biblical scholars think there were four authors.

New Testament:

- Originally knows as Saul. He was a Hebrew zealot, Pharisee, roman citizen and well educated in Hebrew as well as Greek history and philosophy. His encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus [Acts 22:6] transformed him from an intolerant, bitter, persecuting religious bigot to a patient, kind, enduring and self-sacrificing servant who authored 7 (possibly more) books of the bible.

He studied in the Pharisee academy of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). We know from other sources about Gamaliel, who is a highly respected figure in the rabbinical writings such as the Mishnah, and was given the title 'Rabban', as the leading sage of his day.

What is referred to as the The Gamaliel attitude can be summarized in these simple statements: We should wait to see whether a given religious movement is from God or from men. If the movement is from men, it will fail.

See: The Problem with Paul

- One of the 12 Disciples.
- John Mark a close associate of the Disciple Peter. He emphasizes more what Jesus did than what he said.
- A Gentile by birth, educated in Greek culture, a physician and companion of Paul. Although Paul authored more books, Luke actually wrote more (verses or words) of the new testament because of the size of Luke and Acts, which he authored.
- One of the 12 Disciples.
- Probably the brother of Jesus.
- Another form of the name for Judas. Possibly Judas the apostle (not Judas Iscariot) or more likely the brother of Jesus.
See Also:
About the bible at (
List of Books-Authors-Dates
Inerrancy and Authority
Bible criticism

Bible references:
See the topics page.

by book:
Bible References: Old Testament and New Testament at
The Oxford Guide To The Bible: Bruce M.; Michael D. Coogan (eds)

Jefferson Bible:
Thomas Jefferson created his own 84-page volume in 1820-six years before he died at age 83-bound it in red leather and titled it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. He created it by cutting out pieces of an existing bible and pasting them onto blank paper then having the result bound.
See Jefferson Bible
- 3rd century BC - Septuagint - Greek Translation. (The "LXX," or "Seventy," comes from the supposed number of translators.
Masoretic Text - The Hebrew Bible

The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions, 2001, Bruce M. Metzger
"Knowing the Bible 101", Bickel & Jantz
The text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, by Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, 4th edition 2005
Professor Bruce M. Metzger (Princeton Theological Seminary). . . remains the dean of New Testament textual criticism. It brings the discussion of such important matters as the early Greek manuscripts and methods of textual criticism up to date, integrating recent research findings and approaches into the body of the text.
A brief Biblical History |
Bible History Online Images and Resources for Biblical History
Bible Topics
Bible Timeline
Timeline on the inerrancy page
Bible History Online - Bible Maps
Who wrote the first five books of the Bible (the Jewish Torah)
Ancient Writings and Law
The 10 Commandments of Bible Reading | OnFaith
Choosing a Bible Translation at
Bible Dates
Biblical Genealogies.
5 Must Read Bible Scholars (for the non-academic) " Boston Bible Geeks

1. There are several different systems for determining biblical times which relult in dates varying by 1,500 years or more. See Bible Dates.
Bible apps for mobile devices.

last updated 4 Jan 2009