What is the Bible?

What is the Bible?

What is the Bible? Where did it come from? Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

Today there are dozens of “versions” or “translations” of the Bible in English alone! Not including a translation in at least some small form in every language spoken on earth!  I use the King James Version of the Bible which was translated in 1611 and is probably one of the most common and most quoted “translations” of the Bible in the world.

Lets step back in time for a moment and learn some of the history of the Bible; I personally am always blown away with the extensive history of the Bible! Someone could easily spend their entire life studying the Bible and still not know the entire history. Let’s start by examining the word “Bible”, what does that mean? Bible comes from the Latin word; Biblia, which means “books” or a collections of books. So the Bible literally means a collection of Books or if we were to see “Holy Bible” we could translate that to the “Holy Books”.

So we know that the Bible is a collection of Books, but where did these books come from? We know that the first five books of the Bible, known as the “Pentateuch” were authored by Moses of Israel, but he most likely took existing records, collected, edited, wove and abridged the books into a complete narrative. It is believed that some 700 years after Moses, Ezra, and the scribe returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity to start the demanding task of collecting, sorting and editing existing records and biblical texts to form one collection. The Old Testament that we know today probably reached its current form sometime around the late first century A.D.

The New Testament was formed in a similar manner, but often not how people have perceived. The books and the order they are placed in the Bible does not coincide with the date they were written. Before they were even written down, the stories and teachings of Jesus were first circulated as an oral history, with the earliest writings appearing sometime around 50 A.D. We know that the “Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were actually written much later than other parts of the New Testament, even though they appear first in the New Testament. The earliest known circulation of the “Gospels” appeared in Egypt no later than 125 A.D.

The earliest known collection, where the Old and New Testaments were together, is known as the “Codex Vaticanus” which is housed in the Vatican Library, and dates back to the 14th century.

From here the Bible follows a remarkable story filled with drama, inspiration and intrigue. The man that is credited with the first complete Bible in English is John Wycliffe (1328-1384), who was a theology professor at Oxford. He pioneered church reform in both doctrine and practice, and because of that him and his followers were greatly persecuted by corrupt church officials. Wycliffe saw that the current church was corrupt and far removed from the pattern of order and structure described in the Bible. Wycliffe set out to make the Bible available to all for their own interpretation, in their own tongues, instead of listening to corrupt church officials.

A century passed after the death of John Wycliffe and the birth of the man, who the world would recognize as the “Father of the English Bible” was William Tyndale (1492-1536). By the time Tyndale had begun his translation of the Bible, Martin Luther had already made a new translation of the Bible into German and Johann Gutenberg had perfected the moveable-type printing press, resulting in the famous 42-line Vulgate Bible. This Bible was a two-volume masterpiece that was printed in 1455.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) is probably one of the most famous of the pioneers for the reformation of the Bible and the church, which at the time was corrupted. Luther insisted that the teachings of the church must be grounded in scripture. He produced his new translation, so that the common man could understand its concepts and principles, and so misunderstandings could be avoided.

Shortly before William Tyndale was persecuted to the point of being burned at the stake, he said; “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scriptures than thou doest”. Tyndale’s work was not in vain, his work would later influence versions of the Bible, like the Geneva Bible of 1560, which was used by Shakespeare and brought over to America by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.

In 1607, King James I of England appointed nearly 50 scholars, divided into six groups to research, organize, translate and bring to light a new translation of the Bible. The King James Version, which was published in 1611; “For without translation into the common tongue the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well… without a bucket or something to draw with”. Modern scholars have come to the conclusion, that almost 84% of the King James Bible was retained in the original texts of Tyndale’s work.

We must understand that as the world moves forward new versions or translations of the Bible are appearing every day. Reasons include; keeping up to pace with changes in language, facilitate ease of understanding and to go along with general understandings of words and doctrines of the modern world. But it must be understand that a “translation” is automatically a “interpretation”.

Because a translation is an “interpretation”, we must treat it as such! This does not mean that the Bible is not credible, it is very credible! I believe that the Bible is the word of God, but only when it is translated or interpreted as such! Meaning that we must read the Bible and understand its principles and doctrines with the spirit of God. We must read the scriptures with a prayer in our heart. We cannot simply read the Bible and take it for its literal “interpretation”, especially the interpretation of another.

Psalms 113-114

Psalms 113-114

Chapter 113: Who is like unto the Lord?

The Lord is high above all nations and His glory is above the heavens! He helps the barren women have children to become a mother; He is forever and should always be praised! Who truly, is like unto the Lord?

Chapter 114: The Lord Governs the Sea and the Land

The Lord governs the sea and the land for the blessing of His children. He can make the “…mountains skip[ped] like rams, and the little hills like lambs…” (Psalm 114:4)

Psalms 73-74

Psalms 73-74

Chapter 73: God is Good

A Psalm of Asaph.

                God is good to Israel, every one of them that has a clean heart. Those people who speak wickedly, set their mouths against heaven and are filled with pride, these same people are the ungodly. “…the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” (Psalms 73:12)

                These people, who prosper in the world wickedly, will eventually be “…consumed with terrors.” (Psalms 73:19) Those who put their trust in the Lord however will be received up in glory.

Chapter 74: The Foolish Shall Say: No Prophets

Maschil of Asaph.

                The wicked will destroy the synagogues when “They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land. We see not our signs: there is no more any prophets…” (Psalms 74:8-9)

                The author is singing/praying to God and asking God to remember that the wicked will always blaspheme his name (verse 18). The author continues to ask God to remember that and to not forget the poor and needy with whom have respect for His covenant.

 

Psalms 53-54

Psalms 53-54

Chapter 53: The Fools Say there is NO GOD!

To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.

                David’s main point in this Psalm is to tell the reader that the only people who do not believe in God, and will openly say that there is NO God are FOOLS! Most of these fools are also corrupt and work iniquity and evil.

This reminds me of the same people who discredit and attack the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon) because we believe;

  • God is our loving Heavenly Father.
  • Jesus Christ is his Son, our Brother and Savior
  • God spoke to Prophets of old and continues to speak to prophets TODAY.
  • God’s “Word” is NOT limited to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

As many of you who are reading this now, know that the “Mormons” or Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS for short) believe in the Book of Mormon. Many people in Christianity say that we cannot possibly be Christians because we believe in something more than the Bible. Does that mean we don’t credit the Bible as Word of God? Absolutely not, this blog should prove that! We love the Bible, but we know that God has spoken to His children throughout the world, not just to the children of the Middle East (The Bible), but the children of the Americas too (The Book of Mormon). To those people who believe that there cannot be more than just the Bible… Remember what the Book of Mormon says;

“And because my words [meaning the Book of Mormon] shall hiss forth–many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.

“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them?…

“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

“Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?” (2 Nephi 29:3-4, 6-7)

Chapter 54: David Pleads to God

To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?

                This is a Psalm that was written while David was hiding from Saul in (1 Samuel 23). The Ziphites came to Saul in Gebeah asking if David was hiding in the hills of Hachilach. David prays to the Lord and asks for His help to overcome his enemies.

 

Psalms 7-8

Psalms 7-8

Chapter 7: God is Angry with the Wicked

Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.

“Shiggaion – From the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink.”  The plural form, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; aka a dithyrambicode.”

The New King James version translates the Hebrew word “Shiggaion” as meditation.  The specific occasion is not easily connected with an event recorded in the historical books of the Old Testament; it may be a reference to either Shimei’s accusations against David in 2 Samuel 16:5 or to Saul’s slanders against David. More likely this Cush, a Benjaminite was simply another partisan of Saul against David.

“O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me” (Psalms 7:1)

When David was under attack from Cush the Benjamite, the only one he could trust was God. No one else was around (whom he could trust). But with the trust in God, was all he needed. David knew that he was not perfect, but he was asking deliverance from what he believed to be worse… his enemies.

“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalms 7:11)

                David knew that God was a JUST GOD. He would judge accordingly. Those who do wickedness in the eyes of the Lord have the wrath and anger of God upon them.

Chapter 8: What is Man? Nothing!

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.

“Gittith – A Stringed Instrument of music”

“O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the earth…” (Psalms 8:1)

David understand how excellent the Lord really is, and how He is known throughout the entire world. David then tells God that when he considers the creations of the world and the stars, and moon… he asks…

“What is man…” (Psalms 8:4). David is trying to put man in contrast with the Lord, it amazes David that we were given such great responsibility to have dominion over His creations. He sort of asks, what is man? When compared to God? The answer is that, YES we were created in His image, but we are still beneath him and his Excellency.