What is the Bible?


The Bible is an assembly of sacred writings holy to Judaism, Christianity, and to a lesser extent Islam. The Bible is usually divided into two discontinuous collections of books called the Old Testament and the New Testament by Christians, with only the Old (or Original) Testament holy to Judaism. Although the Bible is perceived as the work of man as directed by God, Islam teaches that the Quran is in fact the word of God verbatim. Thus, Muslims can study the Bible and learn from it, however they consider the Quran as the authoritative body of knowledge. Other large religions, either monotheistic (such as the Baha'i), polytheistic (such as Shinto or Hinduism), or non-theistic (such as Buddhism), either disregard the Bible or assign to it no major significance.

The Old Testament, or Original Testament, is estimated to have been written piecemeal between the 15th century BC and the 5th century BC. Some revisions and reorganizations are suspected to have happened as late as the 2nd century BC, with the most liberal historians going so far as to suggest the 1st century AD. The Old Testament is composed of 24 books divided into three parts. The first part, Torah or Law, explains the creation of the universe and the early relationship between the Nation of Israel and God. The Torah is considered to be the holiest of all scriptures by Jews, and it is the oldest known religious text still practiced today. The second part, Nevi'im or Prophets, encompasses the history of Israel and it's kings and prophets. Nevi'im is believed to have been written hundreds of years after the Torah. The final part of the Old Testament, Ketuvim or Writings, is believed to be mostly the work of Israel's kings. It is assumed to have been written during the time of the events described in Nevi'im.

The New Testament was written by early Christians during the first and second centuries AD. The foundations for the New Testament were first written down during Jesus Christ's lifetime, including many of his quotes. These were compiled into manuscripts beginning about ten years after his death, and for a period of over one hundred years the manuscripts were extended and collected into books. Over three hundred years would pass before the books were collected in a single volume. This new volume of religious doctrine was called the New Covenant in contrast to the existing Covenant between man and God: the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, the Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim were then referred to as the Old Covenant. In English the term Testament had replaced the term Covenant, however in many other languages, including the original Greek, the term Covenant is still used today.

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