Many people have questions about the Bible. Some are in depth and some are very basic. There are way too many questions about the Bible to deal with every question in bulletin articles. We hope to have more groups studying the Bible, but I will handle some of the basics. There are some resources also available. For more of the basics, I have ordered a small book called, Pocket Bible Guide, St Joseph Edition. If you want something more in depth, Scott Hahn offers his college courses for free on-line. The free course does not offer credits, but you do gain the knowledge. Otherwise, there are some books in the Daleiden room, in the basement of the St Joseph rectory, and the Lighthouse CDs are also available in the back of both churches. In presenting this information, I will assume that there is someone who has never even heard of the Bible, let alone seen one.
What is the Bible? The Bible is what Christians consider to be the Word of God. It is God speaking to us through written words. It is a collection of many books written through many millennia. Some of the Bible was written by the Jewish people before the time of Jesus Christ. This part of the Bible is called the Old Testament. The first five books were first written during Moses’ time. These first five books are, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. You might hear some people refer this collection of five books as the Torah. It is what the Jewish people refer to as the law. Genesis starts off with the story of creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Great Flood and finishes with Abraham and his sons.
The book of Exodus goes through the historical context of Moses and the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt and led to the Promised Land, modern day Israel and Palestine. The three other books deal specifically with the laws of Judaism. Leviticus can be hard to read as it reads very dry. Law books are not something you just read through. These law books were written after the Israelite community crossed the Red Sea, but before they entered the Promised Land. At that time, they spent 40 years in the desert, on the east side of the Jordon River. These books, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, give the law prescribed in worship as well as conduct. Deuteronomy has spurts of Moses giving fatherly advice. At that time Moses is getting older and urges the Israelites to love God (Deut 6:5 ) and to obey God (Deut 30:15-20).
All Jewish people accept these five books as inspired by God, but you will find few that will accept more than these today. Our Old Testament is based on what many Jews believed in at the time. It was not until 90 AD that a Jewish council called Jamnia started to form a list of “inspired books” and eliminate the ones we believe in.
The Protestant Bible uses the ones that the Jews decided on by the Council of Jamnia in 90 AD. That is why they have fewer books in the Old Testament than we do. The books that were eliminated at that time were: Maccabees, Ruth, Baruch, Esdras, Tobit, Esther, Wisdom, and Sirach (otherwise known as Ecclesiastes). We divided Esdras into two books as well as Maccabees.
Next week, we will go along the timeline of the Bible to help you put things more into context.