Bible basics for the beginner: the books of the Bible

Reading the Bible is essential. Whether one agree or disagree on the contents, it’s the most influential book ever written and published in human history. It can be a lot to unpack, but that’s why it’s good to set time aside each day to not only read, but to study the Word. If it’s one book that one should read throughout his or her life, it’s this book.

Simply put, the Bible is the inspired Word of the only living God. It’s the key to wisdom.

The books of the Bible

Image via bib.irr.org

The books of the Bible are not arranged chronologically. Rather, they follow a subject arrangement (see image above). The Bible is arranged into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The OT consists of 39 books, and in these books, we read about the fall of mankind, the salvation plan, and God’s relationship with the Israelites. The NT consists of 27 books, in which we learn of Jesus Christ’s ministry, and the church that He established. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Old Testament was never done away with, and the New Testament collaborates with the OT. Also, contrary to popular belief, one just doesn’t take what they want and leave the rest. 

Where to begin in reading the Bible?

If I do recall accurately, I was so excited to read the Bible on my own, I read it cover to cover, without stopping to take in the historical settings, the importance of a river, town, or city, and to actually pay attention to the words. After reading it, I started reading a Psalm or two, a Proverbs a day, a Gospel, and a letter of Paul’s. To be honest, I still read the Bible cover to cover today. As soon as I read the last verse, I start again. I’m currently reading Ephesians, studying Revelation, and I do read a daily Psalm. 

Now, I’m not a teacher of any sorts, but there is no right way to read the Bible. If you’re a beginner, and you’ll like to read it cover to cover, go ahead, but make sure to pause and absorb every word, character, setting, city, town, river, etc. You can read the Bible by their subject arrangement. You can begin with a Gospel (preferably John).

However, I looked up a few articles regarding what is the best way for a beginner to start reading the Word, and I came across Mr. Kim’s site. I like the layout, so I thought I’d share it. 

Best Order to Read the Bible

What Is the Best Order to Read the Bible for Beginners?

Do click the link if you’ll like to learn more. Mr. Kim provides wonderful information for Bible beginners! I’m not a beginner, but they were still valuable for me.

** If not all, the majority of LPMB graphics are created using Canva; images via Pixabay. GIFs/Images that don’t belong to LPMB are via Google Search (Right-click on the image for the source of origin if not credited.)

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KJV only?

When it comes to God’s Word, true Christians should be on the same page. However, in this fallen world that we live in, this is not so. People that call themselves followers of Christ seem to argue over everything under the scorching sun, including which version of the Bible is best to read. Many will tell you that the KJV is the only version that you’re going to need, but is it?

I’m no Bible scholar or anything, but I love research and history, and I made a few notes regarding what I thought was interesting.

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Early languages of the Bible

In Exodus 34:27, we see God commanding Moses to write down His words. On record, Moses was the first author to write down the biblical record. He spoke Hebrew, therefore, he recorded God’s words in said native language. However, not the entire Old Testament was written in Hebrew. A few chapters in the prophecies of Ezra and Daniel and one verse in Jeremiah was written in Aramaic. In the ancient world, Aramaic displaced a lot of other languages; it was so popular that it became the common spoken language in Jesus’ time.

Although some Aramaic words were used by the Gospel writers in the New Testament, it was written in Greek, which was the language of scholarship during that period. The New Testament was composed during that period from 50 to 100 AD. Around 300 BC, a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Koine Greek began, completing around 200 BC. This translation was called the Septuagint. 

The Origin of the LXX

Image via The Logos Academic Blog

The first English Bible, a timeline

Before 1536 – it was forbidden to produce a Bible in English. In 1536, Henry VIII made it legal to translate the Bible into English.

1525 – Wycliffe’s Bible is known as the earliest version of the English Bible, but it contained only the New Testament. It was also the first printed version of the NT. He made some controversial translation choices, yet, his work was the foundation that will pave the way for later translations including the KJV.

William Tynsdale was killed before he could complete his translation of the Old Testament.

1539 – The Great Bible became the first authorized version of the Bible in English. This Bible was based on an earlier version begun illegally by William Tyndale. It was edited and adapted by Miles Coverdale.

1560 – The Geneva Bible was the first Bible in English to add numbered verses, based on the work of Stephanus (Robert Estienne of Paris). This Bible was produced by the English religious reformers, who fled to Geneva when Mary Tudor succeeded to the throne in 1553, and returned the Church of England to the Roman Catholic faith.

1568 – The official Bishops’ Bible was published after flaws were found in both the Great Bible and the Geneva Bible. Despite the flaws, the Geneva translation remained the most popular English Bible of that time.

1611 – The King James Version arrives on the scene. 

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Is the KJV still relevant today?

Let me be honest for a minute. I really dislike the old Elizabethan English of the KJV. Whenever the Bible was translated, it was translated into the language that the culture speaks and writes in. When the KJV was translated, it was written in the everyday spoken and written English language of the people, which was 400 years ago. I believe that Bible translations should be updated and revised to upkeep with the times. The outdated English can be a pain for many to read, but the modern translations are not perfect, as many contain mistranslated verses.

As for me, I use the KJV, but I also read from other translations from time to time, such as the ESV and NIV. It has been said that the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is the most accurate word for word English Bible translation, but I’ve never used it, so I can’t comment on that claim. Although its English is archaic, I think that the KJV is still relevant today, as it was 400 years ago, and I’ll be using this translated version going forward where the Bible studies are concerned.

** If not all, the majority of LPMB graphics are created using Canva; images via Pixabay. GIFs/Images that don’t belong to LPMB are via Google Search (Right-click on the image for the source of origin if not credited.)

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