BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
The Bible gets its name from the Greek word biblia, which means “books.” This is because the Bible is made up of many different books. It is divided into two parts—the Jewish Bible, called the Old Testament by
Christians, and the Christian New Testament. The Bible is the most widely read book in history. Its story of one, allpowerful God forms the basis of three religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
DEAD SEA SCROLLS
The books of the Bible were originally written on scrolls. Scrolls, like the one above, were found in pottery jars by the Dead Sea, in 1947.
These Dead Sea Scrolls, some dating back to the 2nd century bce, reveal that there was no “fixed” Jewish Bible at the time the scrolls were written. Between 90 and 135 ce, Jewish rabbis (teachers) agreed upon a version of the Jewish Bible that continues to be used today.
THE JEWISH BIBLE Jews still read from scrolls in their synagogues (Jewish places of worship). The Torah scroll (left) is made up of the first five books of the Jewish Bible. The sacred Torah is still used in the traditional scroll form, adding to its special status.
THE NEW TESTAMENT
Early Christian writers wrote the New Testament, which is about the life of Jesus and his followers. In the 2nd century ce,
Christians stopped using scrolls and began using a codex (book with pages). Shown below is the oldest surviving copy of a codex of the Gospel of John, from the late 2nd century ce.
WORKS OF ART
Throughout the Middle Ages, Bibles were copied by monks and decorated by hand. Some copies had ornate illustrations, and were the treasured possessions of monasteries, churches, and royal courts.
This page (left), from the Lindisfarne Gospels, was made by monks in northern England in the 8th century ce.PRINTING THE BIBLE
In the 1440s, a German publisher named Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, allowing many more people to read books. The first book he printed was a copy of St. Jerome’s Latin Bible (left). Since then,
billions of Bibles have been printed. It continues to be the best-selling book ever.ST. JEROMEOriginally written in Hebrew and Greek, the Bible has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. One
of the most influential translations was the Latin one, made by St. Jerome (above), a priest, who lived in the 4th century ce. The Lindisfarne Gospels were written using this translation.
OF THE BIBLE
The Bible tells the story of a series of covenants (binding agreements)
made between God and people, based on promises given by God. The Old Testament talks of God’s covenants with the Israelites, his chosen people,
while in the New Testament, Jesus makes a new covenant with all of humanity. The word “testament” comes from the Latin testamentum, which itself has been translated from the Greek word for a formal agreement or will
1. ADAM AND EVE
In the Bible, God makes a covenant with the first people—Adam and Eve. God places them in the Garden of Eden, giving them a perfect
place to live, and immortality. This is only promised to them as long as they do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But they disobey God and eat the fruit, becoming mortal and breaking the covenant.
2. NOAH AND THE RAINBOW
Later, God sends a great flood to wipe out wicked humankind, sparing only Noah and his family. God promises Noah he will never send
another flood like this, setting a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his covenant.
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