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How Did We Get the Bible?

How Did We Get the Bible?

Joyce Webb 2010

This will be a short history on how the Bible came to us. There is much information about it, but I will tell only the main things.

Overview of Old Testament Books

Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. We call them the books of Law.

They tell about creation, Abraham, Jacob and his 12 sons, Moses, the 10 Commandments and the many other laws about animal sacrifices and how to do them. It tells about the different "holidays" of remembering that the Jewish people were to do.

Moses was born in Egypt. He learned to read and write, he learned much history, he learned how to lead an army. He learned many things because he had been adopted into the king's family. The Pharaoh's daughter adopted Moses as her own.

When it became time for Moses to lead the very large group of the people of Israel, (the Hebrews, the Jews)----Moses knew many things so he could be a good leader.

Moses wrote the history of his people.

In those days, people remembered what their fathers and grandfathers told them about the past. There were certain people whose job was to remember and be able to tell the history correctly over and over to the younger people.

Many of those people did not read or write. There are groups of people in the world today who do not read or write. They live in jungles, or Africa. They tell their history like the people of long ago.

Since Moses could read and write, it wrote the history.

Later, as other people became the leaders, they wrote the history, too.

After Moses there was Joshua, then their were men and a few women who were "judges" as leaders, then there were kings. At the same time, there were men who were prophets/preachers.

The important things were written down. By this time there were special men who were scribes. A scribe would write down things. If a person did not read or write, he could tell his story to a scribe and he would write it for him.

The book of Kings is about the kings of Israel. The book of Chronicles is also about the kings and the nation of Israel. Chronicles means like an on going report of things that happened.

Ezra and Nehemiah are two leaders that God used to help the people of Israel come back to their own land and build the temple again---and start life again in their own country.

Esther is about a Jewish young woman who is chosen to be the wife of the king where the Jewish people had been taken as prisoners or captives.

Job is really the oldest book in the Bible. Job's story should be in the book of Genesis. It is about a man---a very good God obeying man---whom God decided to test----just to show Satan that Job would stay faithful no matter what. Job passed the test. But since Job had no idea as to why all those terrible things were happening to him----it was a very upsetting time. Job's friends came to visit him, but all they could say was that Job must have sinned for these things to happen. They tried to tell Job he needed to repent.

Finally, God gave Job 3 times as much as he had before.

Psalms is a book of songs and poems. King David wrote many. Asaph wrote many. Other people wrote some.

Proverbs means wise sayings. They are written by King Solomon, son of King David.

Song of Solomon is a love story.

Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon. King Solomon when he first became king obeyed God and did what was right. Later, he did not. This book has many verses that show that King Solomon was discouraged, depressed, and thought many things in life were not worth while. Solomon had pulled away from God so it showed in his attitude.

Next in the Bible are the books of the prophets. First are the books that are very long. These men had a lot to say to the people of Israel. They warned them of their sin. They told them if they did not turn from their sin that God would let the other nations come in and take over. Some of these nations would take the people of Israel as prisoners/captives to their own land.

Next are the books of prophets that are shorter. Maybe these prophets did not have as many messages to say or maybe they did not write them all down.

The book of Daniel is about a young man from Israel that was taken captive.

The last part of his book is about visions God gave him about things that will happen in the end of time. Many things go along with things we read in the book of Revelation.

The Old Testament was written as many, many years went by.

Languages of the Bible

The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language because that is the language they spoke.

The time between the Old Testament and the New Testament is about 500 years.

The New Testament was written in Aramaic and Greek. Those were the languages used by the Jews in Israel at that time.

Most of the books in the New Testament has a man's name on them, because that was the man who wrote the book.

Matthew, Mark, John, Peter were part of the group of disciples.

Luke was a doctor. He was with the disciples a lot and knew Jesus.

James was Jesus' brother, but at first he was not a believer in Jesus being God's son---later he came to believe.

Jude was a brother of Jesus. He did not believe at first, then later did.

Most of the other books have names of towns. Paul was a missionary to theses towns. He started a group of believers. After he left the town to go somewhere else--he would write a letter to the groups to encourage them or to warn them to stay faithful to God.

Hebrews is a book that no one is sure who wrote it. Some think Paul did.

Titus, Timothy, Philemon are men to whom Paul wrote letters.

Revelation is the vision John saw about the end times.

When was the New Testament Written?

This books in the New Testament were not written until after Jesus had gone back to heaven. Jesus lived for 33 years. Calendar time is counted from Jesus' birth. Jesus' birth is 0AD. His death was 33AD. The books written about Jesus are dated to 60 or 70AD.

This means that they were not written until about 30 years after Jesus was gone. During that time, the disciples were busy preaching and traveling telling people about Jesus. Finally, they understood that it was important to write what they remembered.

For this reason some people want to say that the Bible is not very true and correct. Some say that the men "forgot a lot".  We do not believe that---we think that God helped them remember and to know what to write.

Then, too, these books were put away, younger people being born were not interested in the books---or the books were passed around----some of these books were not found again for a long time. Some of them had been copied ---and the copies were around but the original one could not be found.

What we have nowadays are copies. The more times something is copied the more times there are for mistakes.

The copy that was made the closest to the time of the original will be the most correct.

After Jesus went back to heaven, the Romans made war in Israel. During Jesus' time, the Romans ruled, but the allowed the Jewish leaders to rule, too. After Jesus' time, Israel came under the rule of the Romans in a greater way. Then they came under the rule of other countries. It was a time of war and much trouble.

Being a Christian was not accepted by many other people. Christians were treated badly. Many of them moved to other lands.

The Romans who ruled over Israel did not worship the true God of heaven. They worshiped idols. In Rome, where the Roman king ruled, there was much fighting about being a Christian or worshiping idols. Christians were killed in terrible ways.

After many years, one of the rulers of Rome decided that everyone should be a Christian---no more idols. That did not go so well either. You can not force people to be Christian.

A man was chosen to be the leader of the Christian church. Later, he became known as the Pope.

At first the church leaders were good men.

Then they became proud of being a leader. They liked the power they had. They liked the money and nice things. They began to rule like a king. If they did not get what they wanted they did bad things to make it happen. They would steal, kill people, cheat, tell lies, make rules that made people give them what they wanted.

Some of the priests were getting tired of what they saw happening. There are always some who will be faithful to God and truly obey.

One priest became famous for going against the things the Popes were doing. His name was Marin Luther.

He said that many of the rules the Pope was making people do was not right.

He said that the Bible says the man is saved by faith only---not by doing all the things the Pope said they had to do.

This did not make the Pope happy. If people believed Martin Luther, the Pope would lose his power over the people.

There was much trouble for priests who went against the Pope. And for regular people, too, who went against the Pope. Even kings had to obey the Pope or the Pope would tell them they would not go to heaven.

One of the reason people allowed the Pope to tell them what to do is because they believed what the Pope said. The Pope was like a god to them. He and the priests told them what the Bible said.

The people could not read or write, they did not have a Bible, so they had to believe the priests and the Pope. The people wanted to go to heaven, so they did what the priests and Pope said.

About the same time, there were men who could read and write who saw all this happening. They said that if regular people could have a Bible and could read for themselves what God said, they could know for themselves if something was true or not.

The Pope did not want to hear that. He would lose his power if people could decide that what he said was not in the Bible.

Some of these smart educated men began to get copies of the Bible. These copies were in Hebrew and Greek. These men were very educated and knew Hebrew and Greek. They began to put the Bible into German, and English words.

John Wycliffe was one of these who wrote in English. The English king and church leaders were not happy. Finally, John Wycliffe was killed and some of his English Bibles were destroyed.

John Tyndale was another who wrote in English. He was killed, too.

There were copies of these books with other people, and so the Bibles continued. A hand copied Bible could take 10 months to copy.

Later, the printing press was made. This made a big difference. A page could be made in minutes. Many Bibles could be made. They did not cost so much.

People were learning to read. They could buy their own Bible.

The King of England---now King James---finally decided that it would be a good thing for people to have their own Bible. So he called for the best men who knew Hebrew and Greek to come together to work as a team to write the Bible in English. The men worked together to try to make sure the English words meant the same thing as the Hebrew and Greek words. They made the new English Bible and it became known as the King James Version of the Bible.

It is still the most popular version of the Bible. We have other versions today written in modern English or easy English---and they are good, too.

One thing you want to be careful about---there are a couple of church groups that have their own Bible that their leaders from the 1800's, and early 1900's have written. The men who wrote their Bible were not studied and learned in Hebrew and Greek. Their Bibles are not correct in their translation to English.

This is very important. To write a Bible into English and have it say the right thing---you have to know Hebrew and Greek very, very well so you understand what it meant in the original language---so you can make it same the same thing in English.

God's Word is a Gift to Us

The Bible says that it is "the inspired Word of God". II 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 man my be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." King James Version

In other words:

Scripture (Bible) is given by God speaking to people, making them feel they should write down what God is speaking to them. It is good for us because it corrects us, and tells us how to live so we can do the right thing before God. So we can do good works.

II Peter 1:20 "No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." King James Version

In other words:

No prophecy in the Bible came by one prophet's own interpretation (understanding). The prophecy did not come because a man willed it. It came from the Holy Spirit to a man----they were moved by the Holy Spirit to say it or write it.

The Bible has 66 books. It was written over a time of about 2000 years by many different people.

It has come through times of history where people wanted it destroyed----yet they could not.

People who tried to write the Bible in the language people could understand were killed.

Old copies of books of Bible have been found ---and the Bible we have today and the old copies ----are the same except for few small differences that do not change the meaning. Only a few of the really old books have been found. But since our Bibles today say the same as the old ones---we feel that the other books are correct, too.

This is very surprising when you think of how many writers, and over how many years the Bible was written---that it is still the same today. God has been watching over His Word to keep it true----through all the years---so we can have His Word ---so we can know God. This is a wonderful thing. It is a gift from God.

Know God's Word for Yourself!

Over and over true Christian leaders tell people -----read the Bible for yourself----study the Bible for yourself----know what it says.

We know from history that people who could not read and did not have a Bible----had to depend on the church leaders to tell them what God wanted and what the Bible said. The church leaders had great power over them because of it. The church leaders did not want the people to know the Bible for themselves.

Later when the people were able to have their own Bible----they could not be fooled so easy.

Sometimes we see on TV about some religious group who follows a leader---then the leader does some awful thing and hurts the people. There have been men like Jim Jones, David Koresh, and others.

These men got people to believe what they said. They had a way of talking, and doing things that made people think that God had spoken to them.

The people believed whatever the men told them to do.

If those people had known what the Bible teaches---they would have known those men were telling them to do things that were against what the Bible says. The men were not living in a way that God said we were to live.

These people ending up dying. In the first group, I do not think anyone was left alive. In the second group, there were a few who got out.

We know from what the Bible says about the end times, that we are very close. Prophecy about Israel and what happens to that nation is like watching a clock about the end times. All the prophecies center around the nation of Israel.

That is why Christians watch the news carefully when the news is about Israel and the nations near it.

As the time get closer and closer to the end, there will be more and more people against Christians. There will be people who will teach things that will not be true, but many people will follow them.

You need to know the Bible so you do not follow the wrong teaching.

It is nice to have true people help you know about God. It is nice to have people explain things about the Bible when it is hard to understand.

But nothing can take the place of knowing the Bible for yourself.

Here are Bibles that are written in easy English:

This Bible has an 850 word vocabulary----called New Life Version.

You can order one from any bookstore or Bible bookstore. It comes in paperback and is about $15.00. Publisher is Barbour.

The Explorers Study Bible study by Thomas Nelson c.2009 Bible in New King James Version about $14.00

The Message The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson

About $30.00

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