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     Do you want to learn more about the greatest book ever known to man? The Bible is the greatest book because the Creator of the universe and of you and me gave it to man. Speaking of prophecy (scriptures) the apostle Peter wrote, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1: 21). While written by men, the Holy Spirit supplied even the very words used (I Cor. 2: 13). Hence, the scriptures are inspired (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17, see "Inspiration of the Scriptures" located in Archives). It is in the Bible that we learn of our origin, purpose, and destiny (Gen. 1, 2; Eccl. 12: 13, 14; Matt. 25: 46). It is in the Bible that we learn of God - a being so perfect that he is love and how he loved man so much that he gave his only begotten Son (I Jn. 4: 8, Jn. 3: 16, Acts 17: 22-34).

     The word "Bible" is derived from the Greek biblos which means a book. Since the Bible is a revelation to man from God, it is pre-eminently the Book.

     God used about forty persons in writing the Bible. The Holy Spirit inerrantly guided these men so there would be no mistakes (I Cor. 14: 37, Acts 1: 1-4). A number of books which are purported to be inspired actually make no such claim. "And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things then these…" writes one of the writers of the Book of Mormon (Mormon 8: 12). The first writer of the Bible was Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and the last John (Revelation). About 1500 years were consumed in writing the Bible. The Bible contains 66 books. These books have the internal and external vestiges of authenticity and they have been subjected to every imaginable test to determine their canonicity and have endured (see "The Apocrypha" in Archives).

     There are two major departments, if you will, in the Bible - the Hebrew scriptures (Genesis through Malachi, 39 books) and the New Testament (Matthew through Revelation, 27 books). The New Testament was written mostly in Koine Greek. Three dispensations are generally recognized in the Bible: Patriarchal (Adam till Moses), the Jewish (Exodus 20 till Acts 2), and the gospel age (Acts 2 until end). We are living in the gospel age or New Testament period.

     The Hebrew scriptures are arranged into four sections or divisions: the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy, 5 books), History (Joshua through Ester, 12 books), Poetry (Job through Song of Solomon, 5 books), and Prophecy (Isaiah through Malachi, 17 books). The New Testament is generally divided into five divisions: The Gospels (Matthew through John, 4 books), History (Acts), the Epistles of Paul (Romans through Hebrews, 14 books), General Epistles (James through Jude, 7 books), and Prophecy (Revelation).

     Men assigned the names to the sixty-six books of the Bible. Most of the assigned names help in the study of the Bible. For instance, "Genesis" is from the Greek word genesis which means origin or beginning. The first book is so named because it contains the record of a number of origins, beginning with the world and man. "Exodus" means departure and it contains the account of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. "Colossians" (New Testament book) is so named because it was originally written to people called Colossians who lived in the city of Colosse. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were written by eight men, four of whom were apostles.

     The books of the Bible were originally written on animal skins called parchments. There are 4, 500 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament alone. The oldest of the manuscripts are known as Uncials and were written in all upper case or capital letters, they number about 300. The Bible was divided into chapters by Hugo in 1240. The Hebrew scriptures were divided into verses in 1445 and the New Testament in 1551 by Robert Steven.

     The Bible is one of the most misunderstood books because of the careless way people approach it (see Eph. 3: 1-4). The Bible is seldom studied, just randomly read. We are to "handle aright the word of truth," this necessitates study (2 Tim. 2: 15, ASV). Some simple study rules are: Establish the design of a given book before studying it in detail, learn of the author, circumstances of the writing, use a good Bible dictionary to define words, study the context in which a verse occurs, study the verse (observe rules of grammar and syntax), establish to whom spoken, by whom, and why spoken. When you are considering a subject, gather all the information found in the Bible on that subject before arriving at a conclusion.

     The practicality of the Bible. The chief function of the word of God is that of constituting our creed (belief system). The scriptures are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). In fact, human creeds are forbidden (Mk. 7). Moreover, the word gives light and understanding (Ps. 119: 130), purifies our souls (I Pet. 1: 22), serve as the means of obtaining salvation (Acts 11: 14), the law of the Lord is "perfect converting the soul" (Ps. 19: 7), and God's word is involved in the essential new birth (I Pet. 1: 23). We are to be doers of the word (Jas. 1: 22) and the word shall judge us in the last day (Jn. 12: 48). The Bible is the final revelation from God to man (Jude 3). It is no surprise, then, that the gospel (word of God) is the "seed of the kingdom" and God's power unto salvation (Lk. 8: 11, Rom. 1: 16). The Bible contains a solemn warning to any who would pervert or distort it (Rev. 22: 18, 19, Gal. 1: 6-9).

     In conclusion, the Bible is the book that tells us how to live and also it is the book to comfort us in time of death. It is truly the Book of books. We should therefore, "…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (Jas. 1: 21).