Category: (A) What is the Bible?

The first of the Dead Sea Scroll discoveries occurred in 1947 in Qumran, a village situated about twenty miles east of Jerusalem on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. A young Bedouin shepherd, following a goat that had gone astray, tossed a rock into one of the caves along the seacliffs and heard a cracking sound: the rock had hit a ceramic pot containing leather and papyrus scrolls that were later determined to be nearly twenty centuries old. Ten years and many searches later, eleven caves around the Dead Sea were found to contain tens of thousands of scroll fragments dating from the third century B.C. to A.D. 68 and representing an estimated eight hundred separate works.

The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise a vast collection of Jewish documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and encompassing many subjects and literary styles. They include manuscripts or fragments of every book in the Hebrew Bible except the Book of Esther, all of them created nearly one thousand years earlier than any previously known biblical manuscripts. The scrolls also contain the earliest existing biblical commentary, on the Book of Habakkuk, and many other writings, among them religious works pertaining to Jewish sects of the time

The legends of what was contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls are far beyond what was actually there. There were no lost books of the Bible or other literature that there was not already other copies of. The vast majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls were simply copies of books of the Old Testament from 250-150 B.C. A copy or portion of nearly every Old Testament book was found in Qumran. There were extra-biblical and apocryphal books found as well, but again, the vast majority of the scrolls were copies of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Dead Sea Scrolls were such an amazing discovery in that the scrolls were in excellent condition and had remained hidden for so long (over 2000 years). The Dead Sea Scrolls can also give us confidence in the reliability of the Old Testament manuscripts since there were minimal differences between the manuscripts that had previously been discovered and those that were found in Qumran. Clearly this is a testament to the way God has preserved His Word down through the centuries, protecting it from extinction and guarding it against significant error.

The word “Bible” comes from the Latin and Greek words meaning “book,” a fitting  name, since the Bible is the book for all people, for all time. It’s a book like  no other, in a class by itself.

Sixty-six different books comprise the  Bible. They include books of law, such as Leviticus and Deuteronomy; historical  books, such as Ezra and Acts; books of poetry, such as Psalms and Ecclesiastes;  books of prophecy, such as Isaiah and Revelation; biographies, such as Matthew  and John; and epistles (formal letters) such as Titus and Hebrews.

What is the Bible? – The Authors
About 40 different  human authors contributed to the Bible, which was written over a period of about  1500 years. The authors were kings, fishermen, priests, government officials,  farmers, shepherds, and doctors. From all this diversity comes an incredible  unity, with common themes woven throughout.

The Bible’s unity is due to  the fact that, ultimately, it has one Author—God Himself. The Bible is  “God-breathed” (2 Timothy  3:16). The human authors wrote exactly what God wanted them to write, and  the result was the perfect and holy Word of God (Psalm 12:62 Peter  1:21).

What is the Bible? – The Divisions
The  Bible is divided into two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In short, the Old Testament is the story of a nation, and the New Testament is  the story of a Man. The nation was God’s way of bringing the Man—Jesus  Christ—into the world.

The Old Testament describes the founding and  preservation of the nation of Israel. God promised to use Israel to bless the  whole world (Genesis  12:2-3). Once Israel was established as a nation, God raised up a family  within that nation through whom the blessing would come: the family of David (Psalm 89:3-4). Then, from  the family of David was promised one Man who would bring the promised blessing  (Isaiah  11:1-10).

The New Testament details the coming of that promised Man.  His name was Jesus, and He fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament as He  lived a perfect life, died to become the Savior, and rose from the dead.

What is the Bible? – The Central Character
Jesus is  the central character in the Bible—the whole book is really about Him. The Old  Testament predicts His coming and sets the stage for His entrance into the  world. The New Testament describes His coming and His work to bring salvation to  our sinful world.

Jesus is more than a historical figure; in fact, He  is more than a man. He is God in the flesh, and His coming was the most  important event in the history of the world. God Himself became a man in order  to give us a clear, understandable picture of who He is. What is God like? He is  like Jesus; Jesus is God in human form (John 1:14, 14:9).

What is  the Bible? – A Brief Summary
God created man and placed him in a  perfect environment; however, man rebelled against God and fell from what God  intended him to be. God placed the world under a curse because of sin but  immediately set in motion a plan to restore humanity and all creation to its  original glory.

As part of His plan of redemption, God called Abraham  out of Babylonia into Canaan (about 2000 B.C.). God promised Abraham, his son  Isaac, and his grandson Jacob (also called Israel) that He would bless the world  through a descendant of theirs. Israel’s family emigrated from Canaan to Egypt,  where they grew to be a nation.

About 1400 B.C., God led Israel’s  descendants out of Egypt under the direction of Moses and gave them the Promised  Land, Canaan, as their own. Through Moses, God gave the people of Israel the Law  and made a covenant (testament) with them. If they would remain faithful to God  and not follow the idolatry of the surrounding nations, then they would prosper.  If they forsook God and followed idols, then God would destroy their  nation.

About 400 years later, during the reigns of David and his son  Solomon, Israel was solidified into a great and powerful kingdom. God promised  David and Solomon that a descendant of theirs would rule as an everlasting  king.

After Solomon’s reign, the nation of Israel was divided. The ten  tribes to the north were called “Israel,” and they lasted about 200 years before  God judged them for their idolatry. Assyria took Israel captive about 721 B.C.  The two tribes in the south were called “Judah,” and they lasted a little  longer, but eventually they, too, turned from God. Babylon took them captive  about 600 B.C.

About 70 years later, God graciously brought a remnant of  the captives back into their own land. Jerusalem, the capital, was rebuilt about  444 B.C., and Israel once again established a national identity. Thus, the Old  Testament closes.

The New Testament opens about 400 years later with the  birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Jesus was the descendant promised to Abraham  and David, the One to fulfill God’s plan to redeem mankind and restore creation.  Jesus faithfully completed His work—He died for sin and rose from the dead. The  death of Christ is the basis for a new covenant (testament) with the world. All  who have faith in Jesus will be saved from sin and live eternally.

After  His resurrection, Jesus sent His disciples to spread the news everywhere of His  life and His power to save. Jesus’ disciples went in every direction spreading  the good news of Jesus and salvation. They traveled through Asia Minor, Greece,  and all the Roman Empire. The New Testament closes with a prediction of Jesus’  return to judge the unbelieving world and free creation from the curse.

 Ultimately, above the human authors, the Bible was written by  God. Second  Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Bible was “breathed out” by God. God  superintended the human authors of the Bible so that, while using their own  writing styles and personalities, they still recorded exactly what God intended.  The Bible was not dictated by God, but it was perfectly guided and entirely  inspired by Him.

Humanly speaking, the Bible was written by  approximately 40 men of diverse backgrounds over the course of 1500 years.  Isaiah was a prophet, Ezra was a priest, Matthew was a tax-collector, John was a  fisherman, Paul was a tentmaker, Moses was a shepherd, Luke was a physician.  Despite being penned by different authors over 15 centuries, the Bible does not  contradict itself and does not contain any errors. The authors all present  different perspectives, but they all proclaim the same one true God, and the  same one way of salvation—Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Few of the books  of the Bible specifically name their author. Here are the books of the Bible  along with the name of who is most assumed by biblical scholars to be the  author, along with the approximate date of authorship:

Genesis, Exodus,  Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy = Moses – 1400 B.C.
Joshua = Joshua – 1350  B.C.
Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel = Samuel/Nathan/Gad – 1000 – 900  B.C.
1 Kings, 2 Kings = Jeremiah – 600 B.C.
1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles,  Ezra, Nehemiah = Ezra – 450 B.C.
Esther = Mordecai – 400 B.C.
Job =  Moses – 1400 B.C.
Psalms = several different authors, mostly David – 1000 –  400 B.C.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon = Solomon – 900 B.C.
Isaiah = Isaiah – 700 B.C.
Jeremiah, Lamentations = Jeremiah – 600 B.C.
Ezekiel = Ezekiel – 550 B.C.
Daniel = Daniel – 550 B.C.
Hosea = Hosea –  750 B.C.
Joel = Joel – 850 B.C.
Amos = Amos – 750 B.C.
Obadiah =  Obadiah – 600 B.C.
Jonah = Jonah – 700 B.C.
Micah = Micah – 700 B.C.
Nahum = Nahum – 650 B.C.
Habakkuk = Habakkuk – 600 B.C.
Zephaniah =  Zephaniah – 650 B.C.
Haggai = Haggai – 520 B.C.
Zechariah = Zechariah –  500 B.C.
Malachi = Malachi – 430 B.C.
Matthew = Matthew – A.D. 55
Mark = John Mark – A.D. 50
Luke = Luke – A.D. 60
John = John – A.D.  90
Acts = Luke – A.D. 65
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians,  Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians,  1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon = Paul – A.D. 50-70
Hebrews = unknown,  mostly likely Paul, Luke, Barnabas, or Apollos – A.D. 65
James = James –  A.D. 45
1 Peter, 2 Peter = Peter – A.D. 60
1 John, 2 John, 3 John = John  – A.D. 90
Jude = Jude – A.D. 60
Revelation = John – A.D. 90