Introduction to the Bible

The Catholic Bible comprises of 46 books that form the Old Testament and 27 books that form the New Testament. The Catholic Bible differs from the Protestant Bible as the latter does not contain 7 books, viz, Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Baruch, 1 & 2 Maccabees & Wisdom of Solomon. Hence, the Protestant Bible and the Jewish Holy Book comprises of only 39 Books. The New Testament comprises of 27 books, which is found in the Catholic & Protestant Bibles. The Jewish Holy Book does not have the New Testament.

Translations of the Bible

The Original Bible was written in two languages:

  • The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, some Books in Greek, viz, Wisdom Books.
  • The New Testament was written in Greek.

The English translations of the Bible of the 19-20 century were influenced by new ideas obtained from archeological discoveries. With an aim to present the modern speech language they had two translations:

“word-to-word” translations – This is the nearest translation of every Hebrew/ Greek Word into English, i.e. Bibles with such type of translations contain every word of Hebrew / Greek transliterated into English. The following are the Bibles with such type of translations

  • The Revised Version (1881-85)
  • The American Standard Version (1901)
  • The Revised Standard Version (1946-1952)
  • Catholic edition of The Revised Standard Version (1965-1966)
  • The New Revised Standard Version (1990)
  • The Amplified Bible (1962-1965)

“meaning–for-meaning” translations – Bibles with such type of translations contain the meaning of the Hebrew / Greek verse, i.e. The Hebrew / Greek verse is firstly understood and then the meaning of the same is translated into English. The following are the Bibles with such type of translations

  • The New English Bible (1961-1970)
  • The Good News Bible: Today’s English Version (1966-1976)
  • The New International Version (1973-1978)

The Best Catholic Bibles are

  • The Jerusalem Bible (1966; 1985)
  • The New American Bible (1970; 1987)
  • Catholic Editions of the RSV and the NRSV

I strongly recommend the usage of “word to word” translation Bible for effective Bible reading and Bible Study. The Revised Standard Version (RSV) Catholic edition or New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Catholic edition is the best and closest to the Greek Bible, hence highly recommended. Alternatively, The Jerusalem Bible may also be considered

Objectives of Bible Study

  • To lead ourselves into a personal, living faith in the Holy Trinity (Rom 10:14, Jn 20:31, 1Peter 1:23, Eph 1:13
  • To lead ourselves into a progressively deeper knowledge of the Demands of Christian discipleship (Jn 8:31-32, Mt 4:4, 2Timothy 3:16-17, Acts 20:32)
  • To help ourselves during our peak and crisis moments (Phil 4:19)

Bible Overview

One Book, Two parts, Three Persons, Four Gospels, Five Principles, Six Benefits, Seven Steps to effective Bible Study.

One Book

  • The word “Bible” means “the book.”
  • The Bible is one book, yet a library of books
  • Originally, the Bible was not one book but a collection of books – in fact, a whole library.
  • It was only in about the fourth century that the seventy three books of the Bible were combined to form the “volume.”
  • Eventually, the plural “Biblia” became a singular noun, and in modern languages signifies “the book.”
  • The Bible has many human authors, yet one divine author: The Holy Spirit
  • The Bible speaks of many topics, yet it is concerned about only one topic: Our Salvation
  • The Bible is God’s word addressed to one people, yet it is meant for all people
  • The Bible contains God’s eternal word, yet that word was communicated to Israel in time
  • The Bible presents many actors, yet it’s focus is on one actor: God in the Old testament, and God-in-Jesus in the New testament
  • The Bible tells of many events, yet it leads to one climaxing event: The Passover event of Jesus Christ
  • The various divisions of the Biblical books are of rather recent origin.
  • The Jews divided their sacred books into sections.
  • The chapters (found in the Bible today) dates from the thirteenth century.
  • The present verse division was first introduced in 1528, and this system is still in use in most of the books of the Old Testament.
  • The modern verse division in the New Testament came about in the sixteenth century.
  • The chapter and divisions are of great value for purposes of reference but frequently break up the sequence of thought.

Two Parts – Testaments

  • The term “testament,” as applied to the two parts of the Bible, means: a covenant, agreement, pact.
  • In the language of the Bible it denotes the agreement or pact between God and man:
  • Man agreed to do certain things and God, in return, promised certain blessings.
  • The Old Testament contains a record of the pact between God and Abraham and between God and Moses.
  • The New Testament is an account of the pact between God and His people.
  • Both the old and the new covenants were sealed by blood:
    • The pact between God and Abraham was sealed by the circumcision (Genesis 17);
    • the pact between God and the Jewish people, by the sprinkling of the people with the blood of animal victims (Exodus 24:7, 8);
    • the pact between God and men, by Christ’s own blood (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25)
  • The terms “Old” and “New” Testaments denote the Jewish and Christian religions
    • The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language (Wisdom and II Macabees written in Greek)
    • The New Testament was written in Greek

Three Persons

  • The Old Testament focuses on God and on His promises to His people
  • The Gospels focus on Jesus and God’s fulfillment of promises to His people
  • The Acts of the Apostles focus on Holy Spirit and God’s power and presence in His Church today

Four Gospels

  • The word “Gospel” means good news and denotes the glad tidings of man’s redemption.
  • The four narratives titled Gospels constitute one Gospel in four-fold form;
  • The inspiration of the four Gospels is one and the same Jesus Christ.
  • “according to” in the title merely denote authorship
  • The Gospel is fundamentally one; however, the standpoint of each Evangelist is different, which explains the occasional differences discoverable when two or more of them narrate the same thing
  • The 3 stages of Gospel formation
  • Life and Ministry of Jesus – The actual life of Jesus, which the Gospels mention in word and deed
  • Post–Easter Oral Proclamation of the early church – Early Kerygma (proclamation): Jesus Christ brings us salvation
    • Deeds and words were preached: now not just in a repetitive pattern, but a reflective pattern (meditative, adaptive to the community need)
    • Community living and worship: loving, participating and sharing relationship between the community celebrating the Word of God in their liturgies
  • The written Gospels – The four evangelists write down to their communities these Deeds and Words of Jesus to meet a specific purpose

Five Principles

  • Have the right GOAL before you
  • Have a proper SPIRIT (openness and receptive to the Spirit teaching you)
  • Have a proper ATTITUDE within you (eagerness, reverence, alertness & readiness to obey)
  • Have the necessary tools besides you (i.e. a Bible dictionary, a Bible commentary)
  • Have a disciplined method for you
  • Popular Methods : Random,  Application, Commentary, Holy Spirit
  • Disciplined method : A process involving hard work

Six Benefits

  • Embark on a spiritual journey
  • Know God
  • Grow in your prayer life
  • Nourish your spirit
  • Strengthen your faith
  • Learn  how to live as a Christian in the world

Seven Steps to effective Bible Study.

  • Retire – withdraw from regular daily occupations, Fix a time, Chose a place, Follow a simple procedure
  • Still your mind and heart
  • Become aware that you are in the presence of God
  • Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance
  • Read – to hear and understand what God is saying
  • Reflect (understand what God is saying through his word to me)
  • Respond (Doers of the Word)

Kindly keep me in your prayers.

In Christ,

Steven Pais