Most people know of the existence of the Bible and would view it as a religious text of interest to Christians i.e. disciples – followers - of Jesus Christ.
A few facts are worth noting as follows:
- Whilst bound as a single volume, it is actually made up of 66 different books which were written by over 40 different authors – many of whom did not know each other -and were written over a period of 1500 years in three different original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The authors came from different walks in life such as kings, farmers, physicians, fishermen, priests, shepherds and yet despite the wide time span of authorship and different life experience and status of authors, the message of the Bible is cohesive and unified.
- It is quite common for users of the Bible to quote from a particular version of the Bible. What is meant by that is that given the different languages in which it was written over such a prolonged period of time, the English versions we have are translations from the original which take account of meanings of words when written as opposed to what words might mean now.
- The first part of the Bible is called “The Old Testament” and was written in Hebrew and a small section in Aramaic. It is this part which forms part of the Jewish sacred text or Talmud. The word “Testament” just means “Covenant” or agreement and refers to an old covenant between God and man as opposed to the New Testament which has 27 books and was written in Greek.
- The Christian faith is based on the acceptance that the text of the Bible is not just the writings of human beings but are inspIred writings – meaning that what the authors wrote was under divine influence. This means that the contents of the different books have an important message for all of us.
- The central theme of the Bible is about the means of salvation for mankind from the peril of man’s sinfulness i.e. inability to behave and think and speak in a way that is acceptable to God. The Bible declares that we are all sinners regardless of our upbringing and status in life and sinners cannot enter God’s abode [ heaven]. Hence there is a problem for mankind in ever being able to go to heaven after death. However, God in His grace devised a plan of salvation which involved His son [Jesus Christ] being sent from heaven to die for the sins of all mankind. Forgiveness of sin is thus possible to all those who want it and request it and believe that Christ died for them. This is the sole basis of salvation – faith and not good deeds etc.
- The coming of Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament and the events relating to His birth, life and death are spelt out in the four Gospel records in the New Testament. The remainder of the New Testament is taken up largely with the formation of the Christian church and its growth. The revelation of doctrinal truths are outlined in the various letters in the New Testament.
- The first translation of the Bible into English was made by John Wycliffe in 1383 AD and the first printing of the Bible on a printing press was made by Johannes Gutenberg in 1454 AD.
- Over 2 million copies of the Bible are printed and sold each year throughout the world. There are Bible Societies throughout the world who not only organise and fund the distribution of bibles worldwide but also translate the Bible text into those languages without the Bible. The United Bible Societies Association estimate that there are 5.1 billion Bibles in circulation throughout the world.
- Probably the most well known verse is that found in John’s Gospel chapter 3 and verse 16 which says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".