RE:QUESTA space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
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The Bible: An Overview
How is the Bible structured?
The Bible is divided into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word 'testament' comes from a Latin word meaning ‘covenant’ or ‘promise.’ The promises that are made between God and people are the threads that run through the entire Bible.
It is important to remember that the Bible was not written as one complete book but 66 separate books that were put together over time to form what we now know as the Bible.
The Old Testament
The first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch. The word 'pentateuch' comes from a word meaning 'five'. These five books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Pentateuch begins with the story of creation, contains the stories of Abraham and the Hebrew people and finishes with the story of Moses and the law God gave to him.
The next section of the Old Testament contains the twelve history books. These books record events from Ancient Israel - a nation chosen by God to show Him to the world. They begin with the Book of Joshua and finish with the Book of Esther. The poetry and wisdom books follow the history books - these are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.
The last books in the Old Testament are the major and minor prophets that speak God's word both into the time in which they were set, but also over things that are to come.
The New Testament
The New Testament begins with the story of Jesus' life on earth in the four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Following on from them is the Book of Acts, which tells the history of the early Christian church.
The majority of the New Testament is made up of letters. These letters were sent to church leaders by the first apostles to encourage the early church in their journey of faith.
The last book of the Bible is Revelation. This is an account of a vision that John had. In parts, the book uses very cryptic writing that can make it quite difficult to understand. The book offers a glimpse into heaven and the last days on earth. This kind of writing is sometimes called 'apocalyptic'.