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Bible Correspondence Course

1. The Holy Bible (1)

1. What is the Bible?

The Bible is a collection or library of books. The word ‘Bible’ itself comes from the Greek word biblia, meaning the books.

The sixty-six books in the Bible were written down by a number of God’s people over a period of 1,500 years in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). While some writers were Jews, others were non-Jews, otherwise known as Gentiles. These writers represented all walks of life. Some were kings and leaders, whilst others were shepherds and fishermen. Yet, all were called by God for one purpose: to proclaim Him, His judgement and His salvation to all peoples.

We are fortunate to have many books, of great truth, available at our fingertips. However, the Bible is very unique. Its pages speak of hope and life. These scriptures tell us of the existence of a Holy God, who created humankind and loved all He created. Yet, through the disobedience of humans, the sacred relationship between God and mankind was lost. The message of the Bible tells us how the relationship can be restored and how we can be in His presence forever.

2. The Contents of the Bible

The Bible is divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. These focus on the two great relationships called ‘covenants’ that God made: the first with nation of Israel, through Hazrat Musa (Moses), and the second with all humanity, through Sayyidna Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus) (his peace be upon us), which is called the ‘New Covenant’.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament records God’s dealings with the people of Israel on the basis of the covenant He made with them through the Prophet Hazrat Musa. Starting at the creation of Hazrat Adam and Hawa (Eve); the account follows on to Hazrat Nuh (Noah) and the Flood, and then the call of Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham); outlining the setting apart of the people of Israel through the line of Hazrat Ishaq (Isaac) and Hazrat Yaqub (Jacob).

After the miraculous deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and the establishment of the covenant and the law through Hazrat Musa, the Old Testament describes God’s relationship with Israel in times of rebellion, prophetical warning, punishment, and restoration. Along side this, we also find a line of prophecies concerning a coming Saviour, Al-Masih (the Messiah), and the giving of a new covenant.

The New Testament

The New Testament is the story of the fulfilment of the prophecies made by the Prophets, regarding this new covenant. This Testament centres on the holiness of God and His provision of salvation, through Sayyidna Isa Al-Masih (Jesus Christ). The Injil (gospel) introduces Sayyidna Isa Al-Masih to us. The chapters of Acts describe the spread of the Injil as the good news of salvation. The letters or epistles that follow, give details of the blessings of that salvation onto God’s people; while the last book, called Revelation, is a vision of the last days, the day of salvation.

However, some may ask, “All this was written long ago. How has the Bible come down to us? “Is this Bible the same as it was when it left those earlier hands? “Are we sure that none of the original has been lost? “Has anything been added to the Bible which ought not to be there? We shall deal with these questions and others in later lessons, drawing from the evidence that is available to us.

3. The Order of the Books

Although the arrangements of the books that make up the Bible do not follow the order in which they were written down, there is a very strong historical structure running throughout. For instances, the first book Genesis does record the earliest times, and the last book Revelation warns of the end times. However, the books are arranged according to their literary type or style. In the Old Testament, the first five books are known as ‘the books of the law’; Joshua to Esther are ‘the historical books’; Job (the book of Ayub) to the Song of Songs (written by Sulayman) are known as ‘the wisdom writings’, and Isaiah to Malachi are ‘the prophetic books’. In the New Testament, the first four books are biographical accounts of Sayyidna Isa ibn Maryam; Acts is a historical account of the early church. Romans to Jude are letters, and Revelation is a letter recounting a vision, or prophecy, about the last days.

You will find a list of the 39 Old Testament books and the 27 New Testament books in the contents page in the front of any Bible.

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