The Bible – an Introduction

(a) The Old Testament, or ‘Old Covenant’, describing the relationship God had between himself and human beings before Jesus’ time.
(b) The New Testament or ‘New Covenant’, describing the new relationship God has with human beings through Jesus Christ.

‘Bible’ means ‘books’ or ‘library’; not one book but many; different kinds of writing:

Myth (truths in stories and pictures – eg Genesis 1 to 12 ; Revelation (the end times)
History – Genesis 12 to Nehemiah
Treaties/covenants (relationships) – Exodus, Deuteronomy
Prophecy – Isaiah to Malachi
Poems/songs – Psalms, Song of Songs, Lamentations
Wise sayings (wisdom) – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
Instructions – Leviticus, Exodus, Deuteronomy
Stories with morals – Ruth, Jonah, Esther
Biography – The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John); also Acts (sort of)
Letters (Greek – ‘epistles’) – Romans to Jude (ie to churches and to individuals, about general issues and specific situations)

History – not in usual sense of record of events but how God acted and how the people reacted over the generations
Biography – only stuff included on Jesus’ ‘working’ life so that people could learn about who he was and believe in him
Prophecy – not just predicting the future but ‘speaking out’ what God was saying to society or to individuals through them
Instructions – how to live; covering every area of private and public life inc diet
Poems/Songs – nearly all addressed to God. All kinds of emotions and situations;
Faith and doubt

Old Testament – the times before Jesus

Key events/dates
Creation – date unknown
Abraham comes to Palestine – c1900BC
The escape from Egypt with Moses – c1250BC
Invasion of Promised Land – c1210BC
Kind David – c1010BC
Fall of Jerusalem to Babylonians – 587BC
Return from exile – 538BC

Genesis to Chronicles – put together probably during the exile in Persia (c550BC); authors unknown
Isaiah to Malachi – put together at the same time; authors are those named, largely Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah desire the return from exile – c500BC ?
Job, Esther, Jonah – no clue as to when written
Daniel – perhaps the last book, finished around 150BC (1st half written around 550)

New Testament – the times after Jesus

Key events/dates

Birth of Jesus – 6-4BC
Death and resurrection of Jesus – 30AD
Paul converted to Christianity – 37AD
Paul imprisoned and killed (c64AD)

Mark – the first Gospel ? – early 60s; written in Rome ?
John – last gospel ? c110AD (shows awareness of other Gospels)
Galatians – c47AD – the first letter (by the way, all were written by Paul exc. John, James, Peter, Jude and possibly Hebrews)
Revelation – c120AD – the last book; written by John (maybe the same as the John who wrote the letters and gospel)

What’s the Bible about ?

  1. God – who he is and what he has done for people, and his plans for our future
  2. People – what we are really like inside and how we need to be rescued since we have gone away from God
  3. Jesus – God’s special agent to being people back to himself

The Holy Spirit – How God helps Christians to work together for him in the Church