Introduction – The Bible
The Bible is much more than a book – even today it is considered to be the BOOK OF BOOKS. The original Greek name “TA BIBLIA” (=the books) was adopted into the Latin language and became in the female singular “BIBLIA” (=the book).
Jesus Christ called ordinary books of the Old Testament (=the Jewish Bible) “the scripture” (Matthew 21:42). In the middle of the 3rd century A.D., the patriarch of the church, Origines, was the first to use the word “Biblia” as a summarizing name for the books of the Old and New Testament.
Although the Bible consists of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament) and therefore, represents a whole library, it is still ONE book. The common theme of the Holy Scripture is the salvation of man by the Messiah. The Old Testament prepares his coming through many prophecies and the Gospels testify to Jesus of Nazareth as redeemer in the form of the son of God who became human. He is the Messiah – in Greek: the Christ.
No other book has been written in a span of about 1500 years, and been authored by more than 40 writers who for the most part, didn’t know each other. The authors of the Bible were kings and princes, poets and thinkers, prophets and statesmen and even fishermen.
The first part of the Bible – our OLD TESTAMENT – is at the same time the Bible of Judaism and it tells about God dealing with his people. “Testament” means covenant and thus in the Old Testament, the key theme is the covenant between God and his people at Mount Sinai with the ten commandments. The new covenant has been accomplished in and through Jesus Christ. This is the highlight of the NEW TESTAMENT, the second part of our Bible.
The Bible has been called a “love letter from God” to humanity. Agreed, it is a very long love letter but even today the Bible is for Christians the BOOK OF BOOKS, the WORD OF GOD, containing the good news – the Gospel – of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Not only is the Bible the best transmitted and widest distributed work in the history of the world, the Bible is also the most influential book in the world. Thousands of handwritten manuscripts testify its text. A number of people even owe their alphabet to the Bible. The distribution of the Bible can also only be talked about by using superlatives. But it is a long way from the first handwritten accounts to the first printed Bibles up to the modern editions of our time. So let us start our journey through time…