About the Bible

The Bible originates from Hebrew oral accounts and historical records that were written down on papyrus at various times in history. In Old Testament times the Bible was a series of papyrus scrolls in the temple. Some records were so big they needed to be written onto two scrolls giving rise to 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles today, which are really single books split over two scrolls. What Christians call the "Old Testament" is same as the Jewish Bible, but the books are in a different order and some of them have different names.

The original order of the books of the Old Testament, which is still found in the Jewish Bible, today is:
1) The Law: Genesis to Deuteronomy (the Torah)
2) The Prior Prophets: Joshua, Judges, and the books of Samuel and Kings
3) The Later Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, and Hosea to Malachi
4) The Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles

Originally the books had names taken from their first significant word or words e.g. the first book of the Bible was called in Hebrew "Bereshith" meaning "In the beginning".

The Septuagint (LXX) was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made by Jewish scholars about 200 BC in the city of Alexandria. The Septuagint reordered the books to include the books now known as the Apocrypha and gave the books of the Torah (Pentateuch) Greek names e.g. Genesis is from the Greek for "creation" and Exodus for "going out".

Most of the early Christians were Greek speaking, who used the Septuagint as their Scriptures, and so the book names and book order of the Septuagint set the tradition for early Christians. The New Testament was written in Greek and many of the quotations from the Old Testament are taken from the Septuagint.

When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity the Roman Pope got a scholar called St Jerome to translate the Bible into Latin in about 400 AD. When St Jerome made the first translation into Latin called the Vulgate he followed the book ordering system used by the Septuagint. When vernacular translations were made into European languages the traditional book order of the Vulgate was kept, maintaining the book ordering tradition started by the Septuagint, and now used by almost all Christian Bibles.

The books of the New Testament is the same in almost all Christian Bibles, which divides the New Testament into the historical accounts followed by the letters and ending in the Revelation (Apocalypse) of John.

Book order and book names are ascribed according to local traditions. It doesn't matter how we order the Bible or what we call the books but it is the content that is important. To understand the Bible it is important that we can read it or be explained it in our own language.

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