The Bible is a collection of 66 separate books written over a period of some 1400
years. The earlier section of the Bible was written in Hebrew and Aramaic from about
1400 BC to about 400 BC. This is called the “Old Testament” and is mainly concerned
with God’s interactions with mankind through the history of one nation, the nation
of Israel. The second part of the Bible was written in Greek in the first century
AD. This is called the “New Testament” and is mainly concerned with the teaching
and actions of Jesus Christ, and of the disciples and Apostles who followed him.
The sections of the Old Testament are:-
The Law of Moses: The first five books of the Bible, sometimes called the Pentateuch
and sometimes called Torah. These books describe the very earliest history of Israel
from the creation to the entering of the land of Canaan. They also contain the law
by which Israel was to live for millenia.
The Historical Books: These begin with the entry into the land of Canaan in about
1400 BC and continue until the Persian period. God’s interactions with Israel show
how he deals with Mankind.
Poetry and Wisdom: These books contain a miscellany of ideas from the book of Job
which shows responses to suffering to proverbs which contains a body of short principles
for living. The biggest book is Psalms which contains 150 poems.
The Prophets: These books contain messages from God which tell Israel about God’s
view of the nation’s behaviour. Frequently there are predictions of future history.
The Old Testament contains frequent and consistent predictions of the life and work
of the Messiah, the man anointed by God to rule the world and lead his people. The
New Testament identifies this figure with Jesus of Nazareth. (The word Christ is
the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah).
The New Testament divides into two main sections:-
The Gospels: These are the record of the life, works and teaching of Jesus Christ
from his birth to his ascension to heaven, concentrating mainly on the three year
period before his crucifixion and resurrection when he travelled and taught.
Acts and the Epistles: Acts gives a history of the doings of the Apostles, people
chosen by Jesus to spread his message, from the resurrection to 62AD. The account
mainly follows the doings of Peter and Paul. The Epistles that follow this are letters
by the Apostles to various congregations and people explaining the detail of life
in the Gospel. This section ends with the Revelation, a book which predicts future
events in a coded form.
Each part of the Bible has its own set of evidence. The archaeology that supports
the Gospels has little bearing on the Old Testament and much of the action of Acts
is in Greece and Turkey, outside the area of the rest of the Bible.