Enjoying The Holy Bible

Tips And Basic Information For You About The Holy Bible

Enjoying The Holy Bible
Image Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2018 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).
God in His loving mercy had given the world His written Word many centuries ago. In His loving mercy He saw to it after the end of the Middle Ages that eventually every person could have it in their native tongue. In our time His mercy continues, enabling each one to really study, enjoy, and be blessed by the Holy Bible.

With all the technological advances in the past decades we certainly live in some amazing times! Sure, not all the advances have been used in good ways all the time, but a lot has, and I would say especially when it comes to the Holy Bible. There are so many things that God has permitted man to invent, from the printing press right on up to computers and the Internet. In many ways today’s disciple of Christ has it better than the original apostles. And the written Word has always been good, especially to those who knew, and know, the Author in a direct way.

The Formation Of The Holy Bible

While there have been many books (scrolls) written in ancient days, over the course of time, due to their power and authority certain books held by true Christians as inspired by God came to be known as the Holy Bible, or simply to some, the Bible (capitalizing the "B"). Those writings included the ones the devout Jews of the Promised Land held as the Word of God which are the thirty-nine Old Testament (OT) books as found in most Protestant Bibles. These were the Holy Scriptures devout Jews and Christians used in the First Century.

Most true Christians by the end of the fourth century had agreed by the Holy Spirit that 27 more writings, composed in the first century, were Holy Scriptures.

These are the New Testament (NT). Notice I wrote, “by the Holy Spirit”. I did not say a “Church Council”. All that a Church Council did was to affirm what the Holy Spirit had done through the sacred writings and in the hearts of most true disciples. Such affirmation was necessary in a time when heresy abounded.

Unger {A} writes, “The NT canon was formed spontaneously, not by action of church councils. The inspiration and intrinsic authority of each individual book were the determining factors in their eventual recognition and canonization. By A.D. 200 the NT contained essentially the same books we have today. These were regarded with the same authority and finality by Christians then as they are now.” Unger continued {B} by noting certain books were questioned in certain areas of the world, but the matter was settled, “for all practical purposes, in the West around A.D. 400 and in the East by A.D. 500.” It is good to remember that it took that length of time partly because of ongoing persecution and also the great geographical distance between church groups.

So, looking at a typical Holy Bible we find a total of sixty-six. However, it is interesting to note that numerous books in the OT are counted together as one. For example, Hosea through Malachi were considered one book by the Jews. So was Ezra and Nehemiah. Also, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles are really just one book each, viz., Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. This arrangement then has twenty-four books for the OT, fifty-one for the whole Holy Bible.

The Layout of the Holy Bible

Immediately one sees that the Bible is comprised of the Old Testament and New Testament. We know that Christians as early as the second century held to not only the Hebrew sacred writings, but certain writings of their time. A Christian leader {C}, Tertullian (c. 200), was first {D} to use the term Novum Testamentum, from which we get the term, New Testament. Another term would be "Covenant," therefore, "Old Covenant" and "New Covenant."

For the OT, the Jews had a different scheme as to order and classification of the books than what is commonly accepted today in true Christendom, their's being more simple. In general, they classed the Books into three groups, viz., the Law, the Prophets and the Writings {D}. The scheme predominately used in true Christendom is as follows:

The Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles
Poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon
Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah

Do not misunderstand the terms “Major” and “Minor” in regard to the prophets. It does not mean the prophetical books from Isaiah to Daniel are more important. It means, except for Lamentations and probably Daniel, they are larger in content.

Most of true Christendom structures the New Testament usually in one of two ways.

Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
History: Acts
The Pauline Epistles: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
The General Epistles: Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, Jude
Prophecy: The Revelation

The second way would be to lump the first five, Matthew to Acts, into one category as history.

“Epistle” means “letter”. The Pauline epistles were those written by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul and each had a specific target group or individual, although many times some churches, after reading them, sent them to other churches to be read. The general epistles had no known specific target. Occasionally you will see them referred to as “catholic” epistles. “Catholic” means universal, general. 

The last book of the Holy Bible is to be referred to as The Revelation, not “Revelations”. Nor is it “The Revelation Of John”. Its full name is “The Revelation Of Jesus Christ”. The term “revelation” is from the Greek {E} apokalupsis pronounced ap-ok-al’-oop-sis from whence we get the term “apocalypse”. It means a revealing. Right now much of the world has a sweet, sugary view of Christ. They will be shocked.

Memorizing The Order Of The Books

As a way to help you locate the books of the Holy Bible, discounting any helps in the back of your Holy Bible, the middle book is Psalms. The first book is Genesis and the last is The Revelation. Practice memorizing the order of the books. The very fact that I have numerous references in these studies is to help train you where to find each book.

The first five books can be remembered by taking the first letter of each book and thinking of a fictitious location: Gel, North Dakota. The next three form a simple sentence: Joshua judges Ruth. So does the next three: Samuel "kings" chronicles. The first letters of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther form the abbreviation ENE, for east northeast. I memorize Job through Song of Solomon by using a short sentence, Job "pslams" (like "sings") proverbs. Then I just add on Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. You might make a sentence for all five.

I simply just have the Major Prophets memorized. You might make a sentence though. Perhaps, "I excitedly jump, laugh and dance," to memorize Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Daniel by once again taking the first letters of each and making a sentence. For the Minor Prophets, the following sentence will help you remember the order in which these books come: Holy Jesus And Only Jesus Makes you New  Having Zeal, Holy Zeal, with Might.

The order of the NT books have been learned by putting them to the chorus of the song, "Bring Them In": Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and Romans and Corinthians,
Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians;
Thessalonians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Timothy, Titus, Philemon,
Hebrews, James, Peter, Peter, John, John, John, Jude and Revelation.
See below for a demo of this song {F}.

Studying The Holy Bible

First, get a good version of the Holy Bible, one that is literal, close to the text of the ancient manuscripts. Do you not want to know exactly, as much as possible, what God directed someone to write? So endeavor to get somewhat a literal version. I have written an article about this, but my knowledge of the newest versions is very limited due to other responsibilities in the ministry {G}.

Always approach the Holy Bible prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit to open your mind and your heart to the truths that are contained therein (John 16:13). Believe what you read, accepting most of the content as completely literal. I say that because there are various passages that are poetic, or contain symbolism, etc. Later you will have lessons on understanding the Holy Bible, where matters like that will be covered.

I recommend just reading for awhile. Young converts are often encouraged to read "anything with John in the title". Really concentrate on 1 John. Eventually read the whole NT, at least twice or thrice. Reading the NT before you get to the OT will help you to understand the OT. Once you get to the OT your understanding of the NT will increase! As you begin to read the whole Holy Bible, I suggest you alternate between the OT and NT. There is more text to the OT books than the NT, so vary the reading like two OT books to one NT book. 

If you would like to keep track of what you read, once you read a book of the Holy Bible make some type of a mark next to its name in the table of contents. You might want to make a cross, square, triangle, or something else. Use the same mark until you have gone through all of the books. When it comes time to start again, change the mark to something else.

After you have read the NT a few times, it is good to attempt to read the entire Holy Bible in one year. That should be close to four chapters a day, but keep in mind that the chapters are various sizes. There are some less than ten verses! So you want to go by how many pages. Note the number of pages your Holy Bible covers from the start of Genesis to the end of The Revelation and divide it by 365. 

At some point, you might want to speed things up a bit. If you read about 5 chapters a day that should take 9 months and 7 to 8 chapters a day would be six months. If you have a scientific tweak to your mind like I do, you may be curious as to what percentage of the Holy Bible a certain book may be. I will try to list those in the OT and NT surveys to be published online a few weeks after this article is published.

After a time you might just want to go slower, taking time with passages. The idea above to read the Holy Bible through in less than a year gives the benefit of rapidly gaining general Holy Bible knowledge. Do what God leads you to do. I would say, though, that I am of the opinion every true disciple of Christ should have read the entire Holy Bible at least once in the first seven years of walking in Christ.

In marking your Holy Bible, you might want to write notes in blank areas. You can use symbols next to verses or passages to easily reference that section. For example, if you read a section that specifically deals with salvation, you might use a cross to mark that area. For resurrection, perhaps an upward arrow piercing through a line. Feel free to underline phrases and passages. Some people use lightly colored markers to highlight the text using different colors for different topics. You may also wish to have a notebook to jot down some things.

There are different types of Holy Bible studies you can do. Here are just a few:

1. Biographical: Pick someone, e.g., Job, Jacob, Enoch (that would be brief), etc. Check a concordance (term defined below) and read what you can find about them.
    
2. Geographical: Pick a place and do the same. Some suggestions are Dothan, Jezreel, Jericho. Jerusalem would keep you occupied for a time, but then you could relegate such studies to certain books.

3. Simple Word or Phrase Study: Pick a word and see where and how often it occurs in the Holy Bible or in a specific Book of the Holy Bible.

4. Topical: Like sea, kingdom of heaven, hell, oil and very much more.

5. Book analysis: Make a general outline of a Holy Bible book and note interesting aspects.

Here Are Some Helpful Points

Verse and chapter numbers were not part of the originals nor the older manuscripts. According to the Bible Society of South Africa {H}, starting around the 6th or 7th century AD some manuscripts of the OT contained verse divisions. Chapter divisions were introduced in the early 13th century by English theologian and biblical scholar Stephen Langton. Both chapter and verse numbers came into regular use in the Holy Bible in the 16th century.

Chapter and verse numbers were added for easier referencing. However, these chapter and verse divisions are not always accurate in displaying the proper places where themes and sub-themes begin or end. A case in point is Isaiah 53, where the theme for this great passage really begins at Isaiah 52:13. So when you read the Holy Bible, do not let chapter numbers interrupt your flow of thought. Do not give them the same importance we do today in modern literature. Use it only as a tool to locate certain passages. Otherwise you might get occasionally baffled like I did in the first year or so of my salvation when I read Matthew 16:28 (KJV), "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." I knew very well that all the original apostles and disciples had died, but the Christ had not yet returned. Someone explained to me I needed to read on, and sure enough Matthew 17 speaks of Peter, James, and John seeing Christ transfigured and speaking with Moses and Elijah.

Likewise, do not put much stock in a publisher’s headings and subheadings for the text. While some are helpful at times, they can be misleading. One old Holy Bible had “End Of The Prophets" at the bottom of the page that had Malachi 4 on it. A friend thought that itself was Holy Scripture and wondered why there were prophets in the NT! That phrase was added probably by Jewish scribes, if not the publisher, to mark the completion of the canonical Jewish prophetical writings and is not part of the original text.

Concerning publisher’s subheadings, while I was teaching a series of Bible studies in the 1990's at an apartment complex for the disabled and senior citizens, I decided to bring in a copy of the NT in Greek for those who had never seen something like that before. Though the Holy Bible text was in Greek, the publisher placed subheadings throughout the text in English. So I passed it around and after a while an unhappy elderly couple walked over to me and handed me my Greek NT, pointing to a paragraph. As I stared at what they were trying to show, they walked out of the room. I soon figured out what they were concerned about. I saw a subheading that read, "Your Father the Devil". The passage they had turned to was John 8:39-47. Satan, and not Abraham, was declared by Christ to be the father of the unbelieving Jews that hated Him. So, the subheading was correct, but only God knows what that couple was thinking about me and the text I had passed around! However, I think that subheading should have been worded differently even if it were in an English text. 

Remember only the actual text of a reliable Holy Bible should be considered the Word of God. Verse numbers, chapter numbers, cross references, a publisher’s headings, subheadings, and the like are not to be considered the inspired Word of God. Look below for a link that leads you to an example of what to consider as not inspired {I}.

You will most likely find words in italics in your Holy Bible. That usually occurs for one of two reasons. There are times when something is quoted, especially when the words have been set to poetic meter. For example, the Psalms and most of Proverbs. For example, Proverbs 3:34 was quoted by the Holy Spirit through Peter as recorded in 1 Peter 5:5. For one of the Holy Bibles I use the publisher printed it in italics, used quotation marks around it, and indented it. If you read it in Proverbs it will not be in italics, but many publishers use italics for an OT passage quoted in the NT.

Another time is when you are reading a verse anywhere in the Holy Bible and you will come across a few words in a sentence that are placed in italics. They are not there to express any emphasis, but express words in our native tongue that do not appear separately in the actual text, but are needed for us to better understand the meaning in the text as expressed by the ancient language it was translated from. Be aware, though, some so-called Bibles will do that to promote a religious agenda. The New World Translation will do that quite often to make their non-Biblical teachings look like they are supported by Holy Scripture.

Terms Used When Talking About The Holy Bible

Book / books:  In the ancient languages "books" is actually "scrolls".

Concordance: A concordance is a list of selected words in with selected verses that contain those words are listed underneath them. This is a very important tool. Let's say you want to find where Jesus says, "My yoke is easy". You go to the concordance, look under "yoke," and if the publisher felt there was enough room, you should find the verse listed. Some Holy Bibles are published with a concordance in the back of them. One may also purchase concordances. Also, there are exhaustive concordances which contain a listing of every word in the Holy Bible with all the verses containing that word. For the KJV there is the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.

If one has a computer or access to one there are programs (apps) available with the Holy Bible text on them, often with a concordance and other helps. Many of these contain subprograms that will run word and phrase searches in the Holy Bible. There are places on the Internet where these things can be done. Just be careful where you go. 

Manuscript: In regard to the Holy Bible, a document containing text. In the study of the Holy Bible, the term manuscript can be understood as a copy of the original text or possibly a copy of a copy of the original text. Such manuscripts range from fragments to a number of books of the Holy Bible or to the entire Holy Bible. Currently most Holy Bible scholars will say all autographs (the original documents) are lost or destroyed. While this is in all probability true of the OT, I am of the opinion that at least a portion of an original document will be found just before or just after the rapture of the Church {J}.

Notes / notations: Some Holy Bibles may contain cross references of points so you can compare other verses and translations. Newer translations often make us aware of some variants (you will learn about these later) amongst the manuscripts. Keep in mind that  cross-references or notes may not be correct in their deductions {K} (only the Word of God Itself is to be trusted completely). Case in point, the Amplified Bible erroneously identifies the "wisdom" of Proverbs 6 as the Christ. Wisdom however is referred to as a she and the female gender is never applied to Messiah. Wisdom also has a sister in Proverbs 6, “prudence”. If wisdom equals Christ then who is prudence? In the NT, Christ is referred to as the Wisdom of God. But if we read carefully we will see the wisdom of Proverbs 6 is the created wisdom inherent in mankind.

Paraphrase: A work that gives, or supposedly gives, the gist of a copy or a version. These are helpful to some degree in understanding certain difficult passages, but one must be more wary of error and bias in paraphrases. Denominations and movements should not support their fundamental truths by using verses from a paraphrase.

Publisher: There are scores of publishers, offering various translations, paraphrases, and types of Holy Bibles. Some publishers are Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, and Kirkbridge.
    
Type: There are Holy Bibles with helps, comments, and other things to aid in study of the Holy Scriptures or to sometimes promote a belief system, emphasize certain teachings, an adaptation to an age group, and more. There are study Bibles, reference Bibles, chain reference Bibles, red letter editions (words of Christ in red), devotional, sermon, annotated, self-pronouncing, and many more. If you would like a study Bible I would recommend a "Scofield Study Bible." I also use a Thompson Chain Reference in my work. Types of Holy Bibles can be found in various versions. For example, I have Scofield Study Bibles in the King James and New King James versions.

Version: Version can mean the Holy Bible, or parts thereof, translated from the ancient manuscripts into another language. Hence, the King James Version is a particular translation of the whole Holy Bible into the English language that was in use during the 17th century. The term, translation, can be considered synonymous at times with the term version. 

Holy Bible Helps

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some aids in studying the Holy Bible

  •     Bible dictionaries such as Smith's Bible Dictionary
  •     Concordances such as Cruden's or Strong's
  •     Bible handbooks as Halley's, Eerdman's, and Unger's
  •     Topical Bibles (listing passages by topic). Nave's Topical Bible has been quite popular but I find it not very descriptive and it does carry bias against Pentecostal and Charismatic teaching. One of the best, though, was one that was produced in someway through the ministry of Billy Graham sometime in the 1960s.
  •     Word study books authored by such folk as Trench, Vine (NT Greek) and Wilson for Hebrew.
  •     Guide books such as "A Look At The Old Testament" by Henrietta Mears. That was a great help to me in the earlier years of my Christian walk.
  •     Commentaries -- but keep in mind that is what they are. Anyone can have a comment, and anyone can be right or wrong.
  •     Computer programs containing search engines with a variety of ways to search. I have the Online Bible downloaded from the Internet. If I ask it to find all forms of the word mercy I can enter merc*. If I want to locate all verses 5 verses near "mercy" I enter mercy5@. It permits me to use word combinations and phrases.
  •     Books on archaeology
  •     Bible atlases: Get acquainted with the areas the Holy Bible speaks about.
  •     Lexicons: Dictionaries giving the meanings of Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek words. I have a copy of Thayer’s Greek lexicon.

Just remember some books can be wrong or contain non-Christian bias. I have a book in my library that contains photographs of sites in Holy Bible lands. One page mentions Amman, east of the Jordan. The authors of the book said the town was called Philadelphia in Jesus’ time and connected it with the Philadelphia mentioned in Revelation. However, the Philadelphia mentioned in The Revelation was in Asia Minor (currently called Turkey).

About This Article (Lesson)

This article is part of a number of articles that comprise the lesson “Enjoy Your Holy Bible” in the Macinta Ministries course, Basic Elements Of Christianity (BEC). In order to get all of the information for this lesson, You Can Know The Holy Bible Is The Word Of God, The Nature And Purpose Of The Holy Bible, and Holy Bibles Good And Bad should have been read.

Yes, that is the great amount of material for that lesson because the Holy Bible, being the written Word of God, is the sole source for the other instructions. It is important for each disciple to know why the Holy Bible is the written Word of God, how it came about, how it has been abused, and more. Though this article, along with the others, contains a vast amount of information, in a way we have only “scratched the surface” in regard to knowing about the Holy Bible and how to use it.

We are now living in the times where “basic" needs to be a little more extensive, especially for new ones in Christ! Iniquity is stronger than ever and the “wolves" are also more numerous than ever. So I feel led of God to produce a lot of information, especially about the Holy Bible. There are other topics on the Holy Bible that each disciple would do well to learn about such as the transmission of its text, variants, godly textual criticism, and much more. This article is the transitional article for the next two lessons, Understanding The Holy Bible parts one and two. Each of those lessons will contain two articles. I sensed the directive from God to put my new convert course online after I already had some articles up on the Internet from that course. This is why some articles do not point directly back to the BEC course or to a quiz.

Speaking of quizzes, here is your opportunity to take a quiz on this extensive lesson. Click here to locate the option to take the quiz, for other options that might be available, or scroll down on that page to the next lesson.

Notes:

{A} Unger, Merrill F.: Unger's Bible Handbook (Moody Press: Chicago, 1967) p. 889

{B} Unger p. 890

{C} People prominently active in the work of the Church in the earlier Christian centuries like Tertullian, Clement, and Ignatius, are commonly referred to as "Church fathers".While I recognize the important contributions to our knowledge and understanding that these men have made, based on our Lord's admonition in Matthew 23:9, I tend to shy away from the term "father(s)," and refer to such as "leader(s)."

{D} Unger p. 3

{E} From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

{F} To listen and learn the song to help you learn the NT books in order please click:  https://archive.org/details/NTBOOKS .

{G} Please do read the article Holy Bibles Good And Bad at http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/article/holy-bibles-good-and-bad .

{H} Bible Society of South Africa http://www.biblesociety.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=28&lang=en

{I} Image of what is not inspired by God contrasted with what is inspired by God http://www.sapphirestreams.com/I/HBtext00.html .

{J} The rapture of the Church, the true Body of Christ, is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

{K} Meant in the sense of a decision that had been reached.

This article is part of a series of lessons on Basic Elements Of Christianity (BEC). The non-online lesson is titled “Enjoy Your Holy Bible" which included the information found in the articles “You Can Know The Holy Bible Is The Word Of God” and “The Nature And Purpose Of The Holy Bible”. 

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates and adding “(The Existing One)” to readily express the meaning of His Name without making repeated explanations in articles. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.


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Post Your Comment

This is wonderful. There is so much to delve into the Holy Bible. So much to learn and to know. We have an immense amount of information in the Bible. Question: What does your research and knowledge say about the additional books used by the Catholics in the Bible? It is said that the Catholic Church recognizes and uses 73 books instead of 66. Would love to know why.

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Greetings Nbillet. Good question that reminds me to one day write about the second canon adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and why true Christians rejected it. That topic fascinated me in Holy Bible Institute and I did a term paper on that. Essentially as Unger notes: “for all practical purposes, in the West around A.D. 400 and in the East by A.D. 500.” Now, to the best of my remembrance, I do not think the RCC announced the other books as canonical until after the Protestant Reformation got rolling. A few of the OT apocrypha books, like 2 Maccabees, had glaring historical errors. A few, once a true Christian reads them, would certainly cast a sense of fiction instead of fact. However, there are, in my opinion, some “goodies” like 1 or 2 Esdras (I forget which one) and the story of Susanna. The Esdras book I read was highly prophetic! By the time mentioned above by Unger most Christians had rejected the OT apocrypha as a whole, as did most devout Jews when Christ walked the earth. Portions of the OT, like 1 Maccabees, add to our knowledge of history. Now, to add to all of this, there is the NT apocrypha and pseudepigrapha (OT & NT). Some of these books are “pretty wild” to say the least, like the Gospel Of The Infancy.

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