Chapter 2: How Is the Bible Organized?

The Bible is a book comprised of sixty-six individual books that are divided into two main sections: the Old Testament with thirty-nine books and the New Testament with twenty-seven. The word testament means covenant. Covenants are solemn agreements that have attached conditions and promises. The Old and the New Testaments constitute two connected covenants, with the old fulfilled by the new. Therefore, what begins in the Old Testament is completed in the New Testament. Both moves humanity forward towards God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose.

Although the books are not entirely in chronological order, the Old Testament begins with the creation account and then moves on through God’s covenant relationship with the community of Israel. The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus and then moves into Jesus’s covenant relationship with the community of the church.

As a later invention, each of the sixty-six books were subdivided into chapters and verses, in order to make the large volume of material more manageable. Scripture references are noted first by the name of the book, followed by the chapter number and a colon, and lastly by the verse number, as in John 3:16.

Since God used humans to write the Bible, it was written in the language of the people. The Old Testament was written by the Jews in Hebrew with a sprinkling of Aramaic. The New Testament was written by the church in Koine Greek, which was the universal language of their Mediterranean world. Only the original texts are inspired by God. Translators do their best to transmit the message from the original languages into modern languages. Since each translator has wrestled with the text to offer his or her best efforts, it is often beneficial to consult several different translations for a more full-bodied view.

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.