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Special Article: Where Did the Bible Come From?

Special Articles

Bible: King James Version

Where Did the Bible Come From?
The Bible was written with a variety of tools on a variety of surfaces, and it was written over a long period of time (about 1,500 years). The writers of the books of the Bible wrote on whatever the people of their times were writing on. The following Scriptures reveal the kinds of materials used in the writing process.

SOA

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Ezekiel 4:1

Clay tablets

 

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Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 27:2, 3; Joshua 8:32

Stone

 

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2 John 12

Papyrus

 

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2 Timothy 4:13

Animal skin, vellum/calfskin,
parchment/lambskin, leather/cowhide


 

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Exodus 28:36; Job 19:24

Metal- gold, lead

Papyrus was made from two layers of papyrus reeds that had been split and pressed together to make a sheet.

Scrolls were made of papyrus, leather, or parchment. Read about scrolls in Exodus 17:14; 1 Samuel 10:25; Ezra 6:2; Job 19:23; Isaiah 8:1; Jeremiah 36; Ezekiel 2:9; Luke 4:17; Revelation 1:11.

Writing Tools
In Bible times, most writing was done with a reed, straw, or feather with ink on papyrus or parchment, or with a stick-like stylus on clay or wax.
 
Date the Manuscript
Some of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet have changed over the centuries.
 
The oldest copy of the book of Isaiah that has been found has been taken from the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Scholars who specialize in studying these writings or manuscripts, found how old the scrolls were by comparing the scroll's letters to letters from other writings whose age they already knew.
 
Scripture- Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things were written afortime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Versions and Paraphrases

Scripture- 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
 
 
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  The Bibles we have are translations.  There are three basic types of translations: word-for-word, thought-for-thought, and free.
 
 
Some translators tell the meaning of the writing word by word.  Other translators tell meaning of whole phrases thought by thought or write in words that we might use today in our newspapers or on television.  These are called free translations or paraphrases.  An example using the above Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16, is: "Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another" from The Message.
 
Can all of these Bibles be correct if each contains Scriptures translated differently?  If so, how can they all be correct?  If not, why not?  You will find that though they may differ in the wording used, most translations are not different in substance or meaning.
 
Different Alphabets
The Old Hebrew alphabet, which was probably what most of the Old Testament was written in, was nearly the same as the Phoenician alphabet.
 
Phonogram is one kind of writing that the Egyptians did.  Example: Use a picture of something that starts with the same sound as the word you are going to write. 

For example, cat + apple + rabbit + leaf= Carl.

Phonogram
Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible, knew how to read phonograms as well as other kinds of Egyptian writing, because he grew up in Pharaoh's palace.  He also learned the way of writing that the Hebrews used, which became the Phoenician alphabet.  This is the alphabet he used when he wrote the first five books of the Bible.
 
Most of the Old Testament was first written in Hebrew.  Some of it was written in Aramaic.  The New Testament was first written in Greek.
 
One Verse, Many Versions
KJV, NASV, or RSV are word-for-word translations.  NIV, NIrV, NAB, NLT, CEV, GNB, JB, NEB, or NCV are thought-for-thought translations.  Phillips and The Message are free translations (or paraphrase).
 
Special note about translations:
Although they may differ in the wording used, most translations are not different in substance or meaning.  The differences result from the age of the original manuscripts the translators used (the older the manuscript, the more accurate), and, whether the translators are translating word for word, thought for thought, or freely (as in a paraphrase).  Differences in translation are the reason why some believers choose to study the Bible using several different translations. 

Book by Book

Scripture- John 21:25
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.  Amen.

There are 66 books in the entire Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

The first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) are called the Pentateuch, meaning "five books."  These books cover the creation of the world and the beginning of the nation of Israel.  This list includes other book names and meanings:

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Genesis means generation. Genesis is the book of the generations of the ancient people.  Genesis is also used to mean beginning.

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Exodus means exit.

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Leviticus means things of the Levites.  The priests were Levites, from the people group of Levi, and Leviticus deals with their jobs or responsibilities.

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Numbers means numbers because the people were counted twice.

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Deuteronomy means second law because it is the second book that tells about Israel's laws.
   
   
   

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Psalms** means poems sung to instrumental music.

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Proverbs** means wise sayings.

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Ecclesiastes** means preacher.

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Acts refers to things the apostles did.  The only book of history in the New Testament tells us how the church began and what happened to some of the people who made up that early church.

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Revelation means showing things that have not been known before.  The only New Testament book of prophecy covering Apostle John's vision of what will happen at the end of the world.

Many years of Jewish history are covered in these history books of the Bible.

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Joshua has stories of war and victory.

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Judges means judges because it tells about people who were leaders of God's people and were called judges.

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Ruth- the story of Boaz and the wife he took.

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1&2 Samuel

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1&2 Kings means kings because it tells about the kings of God's people.

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1&2 Chronicles means a retelling of history.

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Ezra & Nehemiah- the Jews come home.
   

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Esther is the story of a rise to the throne.

Listed below are additional book titles that are people's names.  These names include the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John: the first four books of the New testament which tell the story of Jesus, how he was born, how he lived, how he died and rose again!

  • Job**
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • 1&2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • James
  • 1&2 Peter
  • Jude
  • 1,2,3 John

These are book titles that are place names:

  • Romans
  • 1&2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1&2 Thessalonians

Completing the book titles of the Bible are:
  • Song of Solomon**- A poem of love and devotion expressed in words of strong emotions.
  • Lamentations**- Laments a sad time in history.
  • Hebrews- A book of faith.

**Special note: Hebrew poetry was not written exactly like English poetry but is still beautiful.  These writers used poetry to express many feelings, from sadness to happiness, from fear to praise to God for his protection and love.

Scripture- Isaiah 40:8
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
 
The word Bible means book.  The word Bible comes from the Greek word biblos that means book or scrollSo our Bible is one book, but it is made of many books.
Although the different books of the Bible were written by different people, the Bible is the Word of God.  2 Peter 1:21: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
 
The Old Testament Books
Three hundred years before Jesus was born, all the Old Testament books had been written.  Many people think that Ezra led the group who chose which books went into what they called the Scriptures.  Some people thought that other books should be included.  Some of these were Tobit, Judith, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Maccabees.  In Jesus' time, the books of our Old Testament were the only books of the Bible, the Scriptures, and they were divided into only two parts: the Law and the Prophets.  When the Old Testament (originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic) was translated into Greek, the translators arranged the books in order we have them today in five groups: Law (Pentateuch), History, Poetry, Major Prophets and Minor Prophets.  The Major Prophets are called major because those books are longer.  The Minor Phrophets were called minor because those books are shorter.
 
The New Testament Books
The New Testament is arranged into these groups: History (Gospels or Biography), Paul's Letters, Letters From Other Writers.
 
At first the New Testament books were shared and sent from place to place separately.  Little by little they were collected and put together.  Then they were copied again  again and sent throughout the Roman Empire.  At last (in A.D. 397), a group of church leaders met together and made the official decision to include these books in the present order in the Scriptures we call the New Testament.
 
The Bible is divided into chapters verses.  Many Bible experts think that the Scriptures were divided into chapters so that the men who read aloud in the synagogues (Jewish houses of worship) would know where to begin and where to end their reading.  The New Testament was divided into chapters soon after all the books were collected together.  But  these chapters were shorter than the ones we have today.  Most Bible experts think that the Archbishop of Canterbury in England made the chapters the way we have them today.  The chapters were divided into verses by a french printer in 1551 so that he could make a reference book called a concordance.  This French printer did most of his work while he was taking a trip on horseback!  The Old Testament chapters were divided into verses soon after that

 
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