Just like Jesus, the Bible is both beloved and controversial. No other book has been read more often, printed more frequently, or has had greater impact on the world in which we live. Although the Bible touches on a countless number of topics, the central theme or story line of the Bible is God’s great love for humanity and his quest to win them back from the grip of sin. The Bible is divided into two main sections – the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament represents the sacred literature of the Jewish people, tracing their history all the way from humankind’s creation to around 450 BC. The Old Testament is made up of 39 smaller units called “books.” Some of these books are history, featuring well-known characters like Noah and Moses. Some of these books are “words of wisdom” and songs. Other Old Testament books are the writings of various prophets. The Old Testament is a rich resource of material that both informs and inspires.
The New Testament is quite different than the Old Testament. Like the Old Testament, the New Testament is made up of smaller units called “books.” The New Testament is much shorter than the Old Testament and consists of four detailed accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (these accounts are commonly referred to as “Gospels”), one historical book called “Acts” about the earliest days of Christianity, twenty-one letters that were written by the earliest followers of Jesus, and one apocalypse called “Revelation.” The New Testament centers around the remarkable life of Jesus, explaining what his life means and declaring the Good News that he taught.
Although many people would readily consider the Bible to be one of humankind’s greatest books, Christians believe that it represents more than great literature. For the Christian, the Bible represents the very thoughts and words of God himself. This belief developed over time as the earliest Christians sensed that the spirit of Jesus himself inspired the authors of the New Testament to write their books. In addition, since Jesus was Jewish and held to the sacred status of the Old Testament, Christians followed Jesus’ lead and considered the Old Testament to be divinely inspired as well. Indeed, Christians believe that the Old Testament foretold Jesus’ coming, his life, his death, and his resurrection.
Learn more about the Bible’s main character, Jesus.
Learn more about the Bible’s central message, the Good News of Jesus.