15 Basic Facts about the Bible

Category: Bible/Christian Worldview 256 1

The Bible is the most important book ever written. This is a statement that is not only accepted by Christians but by many non-Christians as well. Sadly, most in our culture know very little about the Bible. Here are some of the most basic facts about Scripture.

  1. The word “bible” means “book” or “books.” The Holy Bible is a library of many different books.
  2. The Bible is a library because it contains 66 books – 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New.
  3. The Old Testament is divided into four major sections. First is the Pentateuch. These are the first five books of the Bible (Penta means five; teuch means scroll) which include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They were written by Moses and cover the history of the world from the Creation down to the death of Moses (about 2500 years according to biblical chronology). They include such popular people and events such as Creation, Adam and Eve, the Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah, the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and the other Patriarchs, Moses, the Exodus, the Ten Commandments and other laws, and the 40 years of wandering in the desert.Next are the historical books which include Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. They cover about a thousand-year period from Moses (c. 1500 BC) down to the middle part of the Persian Empire (c. 440 BC). This period includes people and events such as the Conquest of the Promised Land, Gideon, Samson and Delilah, David and Solomon, Elijah, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and Cyrus, king of Persia.Third, we have the Poetic and Wisdom books. This is where we find Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs (sometimes called Canticles and the Song of Solomon). Lastly, we have the Prophets. There are 17 of them. One of these books is technically not a prophetic book. Lamentations was written by Jeremiah about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians c. 586 BC. It is included with the prophets because it comes after the book of Jeremiah.The Prophets are often sub-divided into Major Prophets and Minor Prophets. The Major Prophets include Isaiah, Jeremiah (with Lamentations), Ezekiel, and Daniel. The Minor Prophets include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The Books of the Old Testament

Pentateuch Historical Books Wisdom/Poetic

Prophets

Genesis Joshua Job Isaiah
Exodus Judges Psalms Jeremiah
Leviticus Ruth Proverbs Lamentations
Numbers 1 Samuel Ecclesiastes Ezekiel
Deuteronomy 2 Samuel Song of Songs Daniel
1 Kings Hosea
2 Kings Joel
1 Chronicles Amos
2 Chronicles Obadiah
Ezra Jonah
Nehemiah Micah
Esther Nahum
Habbakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi

4. Interestingly, the Jews have a different way of dividing the Old Testament (referred to as the Hebrew Bible). The Pentateuch is called the Torah (which means “Law” since a large portion of the first five books are the laws God gave to the Israelites through Moses – including the Ten Commandments). The Historical and Prophetic books are called “The Prophets.” The Historical Books are called the “Former Prophets” (some are excluded, however, see below) while books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. are called the “Latter Prophets.” Lastly, there are the “Writings” which include the Wisdom/Poetic books and also include Lamentations, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah (as one book) and 1-2 Chronicles (as one book).

The Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament to Christians)

Torah The Prophets

The Writings

  Former Prophets Latter Prophets  
Genesis Joshua Isaiah Psalms
Exodus Judges Jeremiah Job
Leviticus 1-2 Samuel Ezekiel Proverbs
Numbers 1-2 Kings The Twelve Ruth
Deuteronomy Song of Songs
Ecclesiastes
Lamentations
Esther
Daniel
Ezra-Nehemiah
1-2 Chronicles

5. The Jews also number the OT books differently than Christians. Christians have 39 books in the OT. Jews, however, number them at 24. However, this includes the exact same content as Christians. Jews combine 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah (as mentioned above), and combine the twelve prophetic books from Hosea through Malachi as one book called “The Twelve.

6. The New Testament is often divided into four sections (although one can divide them differently). First are the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and Acts. These books cover the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ (the Gospels) and the rise of the church from the resurrection of Christ (c. 30 AD) down to the early 60s AD (Acts). Second, we have the Pauline Epistles (letters). The apostle Paul wrote 13 (14?) letters. They are Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. A possible 14th letter is Hebrews although most scholars believe it was not written by Paul (the letter is anonymous). Third, we have the General Epistles which include James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Jude (and most of the time Hebrews). Lastly, there is the book of Revelation (which sometimes included with the General Epistles).

The Books of the New Testament

Gospels and Acts Pauline Epistles General Epistles

Prophecy

Matthew Romans Hebrews Revelation
Mark 1 Corinthians James
Luke 2 Corinthians 1 Peter
John Galatians 2 Peter
Acts Ephesians 1 John
Philippians 2 John
Colossians 3 John
1 Thessalonians Jude
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon

7. The Old Testament has 929 chapters and 23,214 verses. The New Testament has 260 chapters and 7,959 verses.

8. According to the Book of Bible Lists, “It was not until A.D. 1250 that the Bible was divided into chapters. At that time Cardinal Hugo incorporated chapter divisions into the Latin Bible. His divisions, although for convenience, were not always accurate; however, essentially those same chapter divisions have persisted to this day. In 1551 Robert Estienne introduced a Greek New Testament with the inclusion of verse divisions. He did not fix verses for the Old Testament. The first entire English Bible to have verse divisions was the Geneva Bible in 1560.”[1]

9. The longest book in the Bible is Psalms.

10. The shortest book in the Scripture is 3 John.

11. Paul is the author who wrote the most books in the Bible at 13 (maybe a 14th – see #6 above).

12. Almost the entire Bible was written by Jews. The only author who is generally agreed to have not been a Jew is Luke (who wrote Luke and Acts) even though he learned practically everything he knew about Christianity from Jews.

13. The Bible was originally written in three languages. Most of the Old Testament was written down in Hebrew with small sections written in Aramaic (Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26 and Daniel 2:4- 7:28). The New Testament was written in Greek.

14. The Old Testament was written from approximately 1500 BC through 400 BC.

15. The New Testament was written from approximately 50-100 AD.

What do you think? Did you know these? Did you learn something new? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

[1] H.L. Willmington. Book of Bible Lists (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1987). 35.

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