Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How many books are there in The Bible?

Some of you who read this have had a particular interest when I have written about The Bible. There is indeed a wealth of information that can be shared. So here is a simple question: how many books are there in The Bible? Do you think you know the answer? Well before you are anything, let me tell you it is harder to answer that than it may seem!

The five books of the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) start out every edition of The Holy Bible. After that though, we have differences. The Jewish Old Testament has twenty four books. Christians increase the number, but cannot agree on how or where. In most Protestant editions there are thirty nine books, again just in the Old Testament. Roman Catholic Bibles (most of them) up the number to forty six. Did I mention the Greek and Slavonic Bibles yet? Well I’m not going to, except to say that once again there are some differences.

When we get to the New Testament, there is blessedly an agreement on the number of books (twenty seven) but the sequence has varied. Bigger disagreement has been in who wrote what. Many now believe that Saint Paul only wrote some of the letters that nearly everyone used to believe he wrote.

Why am I writing this you may ask? Well there is a wonderful production, of Philemon going on here locally by the International High School drama department. I saw the show, a musical (quite good too, I should mention) and so thinking about Blessed Paul’s letter to Philemon, I was drawn to my Bible.

Reading the Bible regularly is a good thing, but exploring it is important too. I hardly ever just pick it up and read. I am always exploring and asking question and cross-referencing. How many books there are may not be important at all, but how many are aware that not all Bibles are the same? Now at least YOU do!

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