Easy Way to Understand the Bible
Andrea Moreno Block B
What is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of 73 books that are divided into two parts: the Old Testament, which is before Jesus, and the New Testament, which is after Jesus' birth. God inspired Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John to write the gospels that we rely on. The books include royal history, prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith communities, and believers' accounts of the preaching and passion of Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the author is trying to convey. The Bible is the story of God's relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, or a science book. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation.
How did the Old Testament Come to be?
At first, stories about Israel’s history were passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. Around 1000 BC people started writing down these stories. The stories, along with laws and poetry, were gradually combined and edited, and the “books,” as we know them, began to take shape in the sixth century BC. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but by the fourth century BC, Greek had become the most influential language, and many Jews couldn't speak anything else. During the third and second centuries BC, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, began to take shape. It has more books in it than the present Hebrew canon, which was established in the first century AD. These books, called deuterocanonical, include Tobit, Judith, First and Second Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. Most Protestant Bibles do not include these books, which Protestants call the Apocrypha. Many Protestants, however, still consider them spiritually useful.
Inspiration to Writing the Bible
The Holy Spirit guided the process from oration to composition to editing to canonization. This is called biblical inspiration. The stories that survived are the ones in which God’s People heard God speaking. In time the Spirit inspired human authors to write down these stories and edit them to illustrate their growing understanding of God’s plan of salvation. Finally, the leaders who selected and closed the two canons made their decisions based on what was already happening through the Spirit within God’s People. God himself is the ultimate author of the Bible because he inspired the human authors of the Scriptures to record the truth God intended to reveal for our salvation. Thus, the Bible is without error in matters of faith and morals when it is correctly interpreted under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is called biblical inerrancy. Catholics are not troubled by historical inconsistencies, or ancient cosmologies, or cultural differences, or literary devices used by the human authors. We do not look to the Bible to teach science or history; rather we look for the salvific truth God is revealing through the Bible to every new generation.
Is Reading the Bible Important?
Yes, the Church encourages Catholics to make reading the Bible a part of their daily prayer lives. By reading these inspired words, people grow deeper in their relationship with God, and come to understand their place in the community God has called them to in himself. The Bible helps us find our path to the right direction and also helps us become followers of God.
How God the Bible Inspires Us
The Bible is not addressed only to long-dead people in a faraway land. It is addressed to each of us in our own unique situations. When we read, we need to understand what the text says and how the faithful have understood its meaning in the past. We need to understand the Bible because when we do we can relate it to our personal lives and it may help us.