The Bible

Way back a friend of mine invited me to attend his church, after the service I had a question that I wanted to double-check with the clergy who consequently asked me to open the bible I had carried with me so that we could make some references, when I removed the bible from the bag, the clergy gave it one look and quickly dismissed it saying it was the wrong kind of bible. Until then, I knew there were different versions of the bible but I never saw it as something as significant as to draw the attention of the man of cloth and to warrant his disapproval.

The constitution of the bible is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures which have been made part of the Christian Bible by virtue that Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism. The New Testament on the other hand, is a collection of twenty-seven books or writings about Jesus Christ and the early Christian church.

The term testament in context of both the old and the New Testament means covenant, an agreement between two or more parties. According to the Christian faith, God entered into two covenants; the first one was a covenant with the people of Israel expressed in Leviticus 26:12 “I will be your God and you will be my people.” In the second covenant, God entered into an agreement with the people of all nations. Based on this logic, the Old Testament is about the Old covenant between God and the nation of Israel, while the New Testament contains writings relating to the new covenant or agreement.

For the Jewish people, God made only one covenant which is His covenant and the people of Israel. In Judaism therefore, there is no new covenant and the old covenant, there is simply the covenant. In Judaism there is no New Testament and Old Testament there is simply the Hebrew Scriptures.

Besides the New Testament writings which are widely known and formally recognized by some of the major Christian denominations (Catholic, Protestant, and Christian Orthodox), there are other writings attributed to a section of early Christians (referred to as the holy fathers) that were read in churches and considered just as important as the writings in the New Testament today. These writings gradually lost significance and as a result most of was lost. But then in the recent times these writings have been rediscovered and renamed Apostolic fathers in honor of the holy fathers who flourished during apostolic times.

The New Testament gospel as well as works attributed to Apostolic fathers do not exhaust Christian literature, there are other writings from early Christians that had disappeared but some of them later recovered and have since been published under the title ‘New Testament Apocrypha.’ The term ‘Apocrypha’ means ‘hidden writings’ but have come to imply writings that do not belong to the ‘New Testament’ nor the ‘Apostolic Fathers.’

In 1945 an Egyptian discovered a large sealed jar buried in the sand at a place called Nag Hamadi; the jar contained 45 different writings done in the Coptic language (ancient Egyptian language). The writings which are contents of the Gnostic library, were traced back to the 2nd century and they have come to be known as the Nag Hamadi library.
Now I would like to draw your attention to the fact that one of the reasons there are different versions of the bible is because of either the inclusion or exclusion of some of these writings.

2 thoughts on “The Bible

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