The Bible is a collection of ancient texts that were probably written between 900 BC and 100 AD. These texts witness to the religious history of a people from the Middle East who were called, according to the period, Hebrews, Israelites, or Jews.
For the Jews of today, the Bible consists of three large sections: the Torah (the Law), the Prophets, and the Writings. These texts were all written in Hebrew before 200 BC.
For Catholics, certain books written in Greek were added to this Jewish Bible to form what we call the First, or Old, Testament. The Christian Bible also includes a series of texts written in Greek relating the history of Jesus of Nazareth and his first disciples called the New Testament. This second section of the Christian Bible includes: four Gospels, witnesses to the life of Jesus; a text on the young Christian community (the Acts of the Apostles); many letters written by the leaders of this young community, especially Saint Paul; and a rather particular book called Revelation that relates a series of visions by Saint John dealing with the end of time.
For both Jews and Christians, the Bible is inspired by God. In the simplest sense, this means that its authors wrote it from a faith perspective that includes not only the immediate understanding of the events narrated, but also their religious reflection on these events. The Bible, therefore, is not only a series of historical texts, but also a proclamation of faith. This is why we call these texts the Holy Scriptures, or also the Word of God.
The Bible ponders the mystery of humanity. The Bible meditates on the mystery of God.
But what is God? Let’s continue our reflection...
The Bible has now been translated into hundreds of languages. The Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops has approved the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) for use in liturgical and catechetical texts.
For an overview of other translations, read this very interesting article.
You can find online resources for the study of the Bible on this site.
If you decide to start reading the Bible from a Christian perspective, we suggest you start with the Gospel according to Luke, and then follow with the Acts of the Apostles.