What is the Bible?
- The word Bible is derived from the Greek word, “Biblia”, which means a book.
- The Bible is accepted by Christians worldwide as the word of God.
- Is also referred to as the Holy Bible, The Promise, or The Holy Scriptures.
Why the Bible is referred to as the word of God (Hebrews 1:1-2, 2 Timothy 3:16, Rev 22:18)
The Bible can be said to be the word of God because of the following reasons
- Through it God speaks to human beings through his son, Jesus Christ.(Heb 1:1-2)
- All scripture was inspired by God .(2 Timothy 3:16)
- The human authors/writes were under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
- The Bible deals with God’s revelations to human beings and their responses.
- The Bible contains the true message of God for our daily living.
- God himself wrote the Ten Commandments.
- All the scripture is quite useful in training/teaching, rebuking and correcting human beings so as t make them righteous.
- There is a striking consistency in thought and development/movement in the Biblical themes because all authors were inspired by one God.
- What is written actually happens. It is fulfilled and never changed.
- It contains words spoken by God Himself like, “Thus, says the Lord…….”
- It clearly explains the nature/quality of God to us, for example,
- God is powerful – omnipotent.
- God is all-knowing – omniscient.
- God is everywhere – omnipresent.
- Attempts to destroy the Bible have failed.
- It reveals Jesus Christ as the Word of God.
- The information in the Bible was revealed to the authors through dreams, visions and natural phenomena.
The Bible as a library
The following are some of the reasons why the Bible is considered as a form of a library.
- The Bible is a collection of 66 books.
- The Bible was written using different literary styles e.g. poetic, prayers.
- The different books were written by different authors from different backgrounds.
- The books were written at different times in history over along span of time.
- The books in the Bible are arranged in order from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
- The books were written in different places.
- The books of the Bible cater for different audience e.g. priests, women, men etc.
- The books are arranged according to different subjects for example: books of law, books of history, wisdom writings, among others.
Human Authors (2 Peter 1:20-21)
- God used various human authors to write His message which is found in the different books of the Bible.
- Some of the authors were kings, scribes, apostles and disciples.
- The writers lived at different times in history from the time of Moses to the Gospels.
- The nature of the content written was influenced by the historical, political and religious factors of the time.
- All the writers of the Bible were Jews except Luke who was a Gentile.
- All books of the O.T. were written in Palestine except Ezekiel and Deutro- Isaiah which were written in exile.
- The N.T. books were written in many parts of the Roman Empire.
The literary forms used in the writing of the Bible
- Poetry-e.g. Job.
- Prayers-e.g. Psalms.
- Wise sayings-e.g Proverbs.
- Philosophical essays-e.g. Ecclesiastes.
- Prophetic Speeches-e.g. Jeremiah.
- Love Songs-e.g. Song of Solomon.
- Religious Epics-e.g.Kings.
- Legislative Texts-e.g. Leviticus.
- Epistles/ letters-e.g. Corinthians.
- Gospels-e.g. Luke’s Gospel.
MAJOR DIVISIONS OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is divided into two main sections i.e.
1. The Old Testament.
2. The New Testament.
- The word ‘Testament’ means covenant, agreement or promise.
- The Old Testament has 39 books while the New Testament has 27.
- The Roman Catholic Church Bible contains other books known as apocrypha books.
- Apocrypha is a Greek word which means hidden/secret writings. They are also referred to as Deutro-canonical books.
- 1 Maccabees.
- 2 Maccabees.
- Book of Wisdom.
- 1 Esdras.
- 2 Esdras
The books of the Bible can be grouped into different disciplines, these are;
- Canonical books are books accepted by all Christians as Holy Scriptures.
- They make up the canon of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
- The word ‘Canon’ in Greek means;
DIVISIONS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
The books of the Old Testament are divided into four main categories and these are:
- Law books
These are the first 5 books of the Bible that are believed to have been written by Moses. These are:
They are also referred to as the Torah or Pentateuch or Mosaic Law.
2. Historical Books
They are 12 Historical books and they record the history of the Israelites from the time they entered Canaan and settled until after the Babylonian exile. These are:-
- 1st and 2nd Samuel.
- 1st and 2nd Kings.
- 1st and 2nd Chronicles.
3. Poetic books
- They are 5 and contain words of wisdom.
- They are poetic in nature and these are:-
- Songs of Songs.
4. Prophetic books
They contain the prophecies of the people of Israel. They are further sub-divided into two i.e.
They are referred to as Major Prophets because their messages cover a longer historical period and are 5 in number i.e.
The messages of this prophets cover a shorter historical period
They are twelve i.e.
Note: The following are the books of the Bible referred to as the writings;
- The Song of Solomon/ Song of Songs
DIVISIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
It is divided into 5 major categories. These are:-
- Biographical Books
- They are referred to as Gospels.
- These Gospels were written by the disciples of Jesus Christ.
- They tell the life story and ministry of Jesus Christ.
- They are 4 in number i.e.
- The first three books in the New Testament are also referred to as the synoptic Gospels.
2. Historical Books
- It outlines the history and development of the church after Jesus’ ascension.
- It is one book namely: Acts
- The author is Luke.
- It deals with the history of the early church after the ascension of Christ.
3. Pauline Epistles
These are 13 letters written by Paul to the congregation and individuals to address certain problems that arose among them.
- 1st and 2nd Corinthians
- 1st and 2nd Thessalonians
- 1st and 2nd Timothy
4. General Epistles
These letters are not addressed to specific churches or individuals but to all Christians to encourage them.
Are eight namely:-
- 1st and 2nd Peter.
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.
5. Prophetic books
There is only one book i.e. Revelation.
It presents God’s will for the future.
TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE FROM ORIGINAL LANGUAGES TO THE PRESENT LOCAL LANGUAGES
The word translate means:
- To change something written/spoken form from one language to another without changing the original meaning.
- The following is the development of Bible Translation from its original language to the present:
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and a few parts in Aramaic
- The original (70) translators (Septuaginta) did the first translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew into Greek.
- This translation was known as the Septuagint.
The second translation around 4th Century was spearheaded by a Christian scholar called Jerome.
- This translation was called vulgate.
- The translation was used up until the 16th century
In the 16th Century; after the reformation (Religious changes in Europe by Protestants who wanted to break apart from catholic teachings), many countries translated the Bible into their own languages e.g.
- Translation of the Bible into English (King James Version).
- Translation of the Bible into German (by Martin Luther).
During the missionary era, the Bible had to be translated into the languages of people being evangelized.
- The British and Foreign Bible Society was founded in 1804 to coordinate all the translation functions.
In East Africa, Johann Ludwig Krapf translated the New Testament into Kiswahili.
The first translation of the complete Bible into some African language in East Africa was into Luganda in 1896
In Kenya, the Bible has been translated into the following African languages;
- Kikuyu – 1951.
- Kamba – 1956.
- Dholuo – 1963.
- Kalenjin – 1968.
- Luhya – 957.
Versions of the Bible used in Kenya Today
Some of the versions used in Kenya today include;
- The Revised Standard Version.
- The Good News Bible.
- The Jerusalem Bible.
- The New International Version.
- The New King James Version.
- The Living Bible.
- The Gideon Bible.
- The Common Bible.
- The African Bible.
- The New American Bible.
The effects of the translation of the Bible into African languages
- Africans could now read the Bible in a language of their own and understood it better.
- Communication was improved and more Africans accepted the gospel message.
- Christianity became a more native religion and Africans began to participate actively in preaching the gospel.
- Africans became more critical on certain issues like equality and leadership and demanded for better treatment.
- Africans re-discovered their cultural identity, which the missionaries were trying to undermine e.g. Polygamy and use of African names.
- It led to increased demand for formal education by Africans and therefore more schools were constructed.
- The enlightened Africans who would not accept the condemnation of their culture formed the independent churches and schools.
- It also promoted revival movement and Africans took up leadership positions in such revival movements.
- It led to the development of African languages as the Bible was used as a learning resource.
- Led to the establishment of Bible Translation Society, which employed Africans.
- It also led to the establishment of printing presses to assist in the high demand for and the distribution of the Bibles
- Led to the development of the spirit of the ecumenism. E.g. many churches came together to translate the Bible.
- Contributed to the development of African theology; research and study were conducted in African Religions.
- African people became more aware/enlightened and confident of their own dignity and rights before God. This contributed to the struggle for independence from the colonial rule.
Areas/ places where the bible is used in Kenya today
- In the courts of law.
- In schools and colleges.
- In state house/ during state functions.
- In churches.
- During crusades.
- At home for personal use.
- In parliament.
- At home for personal use.
- In parliament and
- In hospitals.
Ways in which Christians use the bible to spread the gospel
- Used in instructing new converts.
- Used during preaching/teaching by priests/pastors.
- Used in the teaching of C.R.E in schools and colleges.
- Used as a reference book in disseminating information./in search of knowledge.
- Used in writing Christian songs and hymns.
- Used in administering oaths.
- Used in writing Christian literature.
- Reading it out to fellow Christians.
Reasons why Christians use the bible in worship
- It is the word of God.
- It makes them identify with God/Jesus as well as enhancing their unity.
- To recite prayers from it e.g. the Lord’s Prayer.
- It has guidelines and rituals e.g. the Lord’s Supper and marriage.
- It is a source of belief about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and the church.
- It outlines church leadership, e.g. roles of pastors, evangelists and deacons.
- It is a source of Christian customs, e.g. giving of offerings, dedication of children and celebration of Eucharist.
- It is a source of miracles/ healing and other blessings.
- To strengthen their faith and hope in God.
Reasons why Christians find it difficult to read the Bible
- Lack of discipline and commitment to read the Bible.
- Being too busy with work.
- Availability of several entertainments e.g. movies or newspapers that take most of people’s time/ worldly pleasures.
- Most people don’t see the importance of of reading the Bible frequently.
- People find it difficult to understand the Bible.
- Some churches don’t provide guidelines on how to read the Bible.
- Most people believe that pastors and church leaders are the only ones who are supposed to read the Bible.
- Some people are smi-illiterate.
- Some people don’t have the scriptures in the language they understand