Bible, the English form of the Greek name Biblia , meaning "books," the name which in the fifth century began to be given to the entire collection of sacred books, the "Library of Divine Revelation." The name Bible was adopted by Wickliffe, and came gradually into use in our English language. The Bible consists of sixty-six different books, composed by many different writers, in three different languages, under different circumstances; writers of almost every social rank, statesmen and peasants, kings, herdsmen, fishermen, priests, tax-gatherers, tentmakers; educated and uneducated, Jews and Gentiles; most of them unknown to each other, and writing at various periods during the space of about 1600 years: and yet, after all, it is only one book dealing with only one subject in its numberless aspects and relations, the subject of man's redemption.
It is divided into the Old Testament, containing thirty-nine books, and the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books. The names given to the Old in the writings of the New are "the scriptures" ( Matthew 21:42 ), "scripture" ( 2 Peter 1:20 ), "the holy scriptures" ( Romans 1:2 ), "the law" ( John 12:34 ), "the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms" ( Luke 24:44 ), "the law and the prophets" ( Matthew 5:17 ), "the old covenant" ( 2 Corinthians 3:14 , RSV). There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New. (See APOCRYPHA .)
The Old Testament is divided into three parts:, 1. The Law (Torah), consisting of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. 2. The Prophets, consisting of (1) the former, namely, Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings; (2) the latter, namely, the greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets. 3. The Hagiographa, or holy writings, including the rest of the books. These were ranked in three divisions:, (1) The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, distinguished by the Hebrew name, a word formed of the initial letters of these books, emeth , meaning truth. (2) Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, called the five rolls, as being written for the synagogue use on five separate rolls. (3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2Chronicles. Between the Old and the New Testament no addition was made to the revelation God had already given. The period of New Testament revelation, extending over a century, began with the appearance of John the Baptist.
The New Testament consists of (1) the historical books, viz., the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles; (2) the Epistles; and (3) the book of prophecy, the Revelation.
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is altogether of human invention, designed to facilitate reference to it. The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain sections for use in the synagogue service, and then at a later period, in the ninth century A.D., into verses. Our modern system of chapters for all the books of the Bible was introduced by Cardinal Hugo about the middle of the thirteenth century (he died 1263). The system of verses for the New Testament was introduced by Stephens in 1551, and generally adopted, although neither Tyndale's nor Coverdale's English translation of the Bible has verses. The division is not always wisely made, yet it is very useful. (See VERSION .)
The Bible is the name given to the revelation of God to man contained in sixty-six books or pamphlets, bound together and forming one book and only one, for it has in reality one author and one purpose and plan, and is the development of one scheme of the redemption of man. I. ITS NAMES.-- (1) The Bible , i.e. The Book , from the Greek "ta biblia," the books. The word is derived from a root designating the inner bark of the linden tree, on which the ancients wrote their books. It is the book as being superior to all other books. But the application of the word BIBLE to the collected books of the Old and New Testaments is not to be traced farther back than the fifth century of our era. (2) The Scriptures , i.e. the writings, as recording what was spoken by God. (3) The Oracles , i.e. the things spoken, because the Bible is what God spoke to man, and hence also called (4) The Word. (5) The Testaments or Covenants , because it is the testimony of God to man, the truths to which God bears witness; and is also the covenant or agreement of God with man for his salvation. (6) The Law , to express that it contains Gods commands to men. II. COMPOSITION.--The Bible consists of two great parts, called the Old and New Testaments, separated by an interval of nearly four hundred years. These Testaments are further divided into sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New. These books are a library in themselves being written in every known form old literature. Twenty-two of them are historical, five are poetical, eighteen are prophetical, twenty-one are epistolary. They contain logical arguments, poetry, songs and hymns, history, biography, stories, parables, fables, eloquence, law, letters and philosophy. There are at least thirty-six different authors, who wrote in three continents, in many countries, in three languages, and from every possible human standpoint. Among these authors were kings, farmers, mechanics, scientific men, lawyers, generals, fishermen, ministers and priests, a tax-collector, a doctor, some rich, some poor, some city bred, some country born--thus touching all the experiences of men extending over 1500 years. III. UNITY.--And yet the Bible is but one book, because God was its real author, and therefore, though he added new revelations as men could receive them, he never had to change what was once revealed. The Bible is a unit, because (1) It has but one purpose, the salvation of men. (2) The character of God is the same. (3) The moral law is the same. (4) It contains the development of one great scheme of salvation. IV. ORIGINAL LANGUAGES.--The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, a Shemitic language, except that parts of the books of Ezra ( Ezra 5:8 ; 6:12 ; 7:12-26 ) and of Daniel ( Daniel 2:4-7 Daniel 2:28 ) and one verse in Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 10:11 ) were written in the Chaldee language. The New Testament is written wholly in Greek. V. ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS OF THE ORIGINAL.--There are no ancient Hebrew manuscripts older than the tenth century, but we know that these are in the main correct, because we have a translation of the Hebrew into Greek, called the Septuagint, made nearly three hundred years before Christ. Our Hebrew Bibles are a reprint from what is called the Masoretic text. The ancient Hebrew had only the consonant printed, and the vowels were vocalized in pronunciation, but were not written. Some Jewish scholars living at Tiberias, and at Sora by the Euphrates, from the sixth to the twelfth century, punctuated the Hebrew text, and wrote is the vowel points and other tone-marks to aid in the reading of the Hebrew; and these, together with notes of various kinds, they called Masora (tradition), hence the name Masoretic text. 0f the Greek of the New Testament there are a number of ancient manuscripts They are divided into two kinds, the Uncials , written wholly in capitals , and the Cursives , written in a running hand . The chief of these are-- (1) the Alexandrian (codex Alexandrinus , marked A), so named because it was found in Aiexandria in Egypt, in 1628. It date back to A.D. 350, and is now in the British Museum. (2) The Vatican (codex Vaticanus , B), named from the Vatican library at Rome, where it is kept. Its date is A.D. 300 to 325. (3) The Sinaitic (codex Sinaiticus ) so called from the convent of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, there it was discovered by or Tichendorf in 1844. It is now at St. Petersburg Russia. This is one of the earliest best of all the manuscripts. VI. TRANSLATIONS.--The Old Testament was translated into Greek by a company of learned Jews at Alexandria, who began their labor about the year B.C. 286. It is called the Septuagint , i.e. the seventy, from the tradition that it was translated by seventy (more exactly seventy-two) translators. The Vulgate, or translation of the Bible into Latin by Jerome, A.D. 385-405, is the authorized version of the Roman Catholic Church. The first English translation of the whole Bible was by John Deuteronomy Wickliffe (1324-1384). Then followed that of William Tyndale (1525) and several others. As the sum and fruit of all these appeared our present Authorized Version , or King James Version , in 1611. It was made by forty-seven learned men, in two years and nine months, with a second revision which took nine months longer. These forty-seven formed themselves into six companies, two of whom met at Westminster, two at Oxford and two at Cambridge. The present English edition is an improvement, in typographical and grammatical correctness, upon this revision, and in these respects is nearly perfect. [See VERSIONS] A REVISED VERSION of this authorized edition was made by a group of American and English scholars, and in 1881 the Revised New Testament was published simultaneously in the United States and England. Then followed the Revised Old Testament in 1885, and the Apocrypha in 1894. The American revision committee was permitted to publish its own revision, which appeared in 1901 as the American Standard Version. Modern-speech translations have been made from time to time between 1898-1945. Among these were Moultons Modern Readers Bible, the Twentieth century New Testament, Weymouths, Moffatts, and the American translation. As a result of the modern-speech translations that have appeared and been widely received, the American Revision Committee set to work again, and in 1946 the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament was published. VII. DIVISIONS INTO CHAPTERS AND VERSES.--The present division of the whole Bible into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo Deuteronomy St. Gher about 1250. The present division into verses was introduced by Robert Stephens in his Greek Testament, published in 1551, in his edition of the Vulgate, in 1555. The first English Bible printed with these chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible, in 1560. VIII. CIRCULATION OF THE BIBLE.--The first book ever printed was the Bible; and more Bibles have been printed than any other book. It has been translated, in its entirety or in part, into more than a thousand languages and dialects and various systems for the blind. The American Bible Society (founded in 1816) alone has published over 356 million volumes of Scripture.