Bible

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Books of the Bible

The Bible is the name used by Jews and Christians for their differing but overlapping canons of sacred texts. The Bible is believed to be the inspired word of God by Christians and Jews alike.

Contents

Composition

The Jewish and Christian Bibles are actually collections of what were originally a number of independent books. The overwhelming majority of Christians refer to the Bible as the combination of Hebrew Scripture, known to Christians as the Old Testament or First Testament; and the New Testament, which describes the life and message of Jesus. For Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and some protestants, the Deuterocanonical books — various writings important in the Second-Temple period of Judaism (often regarded by many protestants as the (or part of the) Apocrypha) — are considered to be part of the Old Testament and as such part of the Bible, although they are rejected by many protestants and are not in the Hebrew Bible as accepted in modern Judaism. Some books considered deuterocanonical by Orthodox Churches are considered apocyphal by other Orthodox Churches and/or Catholics. For Jews, the term refers only to the Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh, which includes the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) as well as the books of the Prophets and Writings. Both Christians and Jews regard the Bible as the revealed word of God, with widespread variation on its accuracy, interpretation and legitimacy.

Christian Perspective

Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is both inspired and inerrant. They claim that every word of the Bible is literally true, except for the parts which are intentionally written as allegories or parables. It is free of contradiction and error. So for example, a Fundamentalist would most likely believe in six-day creation because he believes in the literal truth of Genesis.

Liberal Christians take a more open view of the Bible, often believing that it is "inspired by God" but not inerrant. They may believe that, while the Bible is a good spiritual guide, it is not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

Atheist Perspective

Atheists regard the Bible as just a period piece of literature. Its authors may have been sincere when they wrote it, but they were nomadic sheep herders with a narrow perspective on the world. In that sense it is little different than any other ancient text such as The Odyssey: an interesting perspective on the mindset of early cultures, but of questionable accuracy, especially those passages that refer to supernatural events.

The Bible was also written well over a thousand years before the discovery of science, which means that the Bible is nearly irrelevant to any scientific discussion. Not only is the literal story of Genesis completely at odds with modern cosmology, but there are many other scientific errors in the Bible. For instance, there is the Biblical value of pi and the assertion that hares chew their cud.

Additional perspectives

There is an excellent resource available at The Skeptic's Annotated Bible.

Also see The Brick Testament.


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