Culture & Literature
Story of the Bible

Story of the Bible

Story of the Bible

There's no book quite like the Bible – translated into over a thousand languages and history's most enduringly popular book, the Bible has influenced millions around the world. But how did the Bible come to be? In Story of the Bible, uncover the evolution of this sacred text and find out how the books and Gospels of the Old and New Testaments found their way into the canon. Discover the impact of the Bible through history, from the wars waged over the written word and the influence of the Bible on politic sand law, to the art and literature inspired by the Word of God. Elsewhere, we delve into the historicity of the Bible to find out just how much truth lies behind the words.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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$11.57(Incl. tax)

in this issue

12 min.
how the bible came into being

When we use the word ‘Bible’ we generally mean the book that is composed of the Old Testament and the New Testament, accepted by the major branches of the Christian Church (though Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox leaders accept as canonical – ie divinely inspired and, therefore, authoritative – a few writings not recognised as such by Protestants). Although the earliest texts were written in the second millennium BCE, some represent stories and information going much further back in time and passed on within the oral traditions of various peoples. They were composed within a geographical area stretching roughly from modern Iran to Italy and embracing the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean littoral. The Old Testament consists of writings created by and revered by the ancient Israelites but also includes…

16 min.
laying down the law: the old testament canon

In 1643, with the English Civil War still in its infancy, Parliament ordered the calling of the Westminster Assembly: a synod, of sorts, at which the doctrine and practices of the Church of England were to be reformed and hammered out. The appropriate content of the Bible was, needless to say, of the highest priority. By 1646 the Westminster Confession Of Faith had been agreed upon and it emphasised just how crucial it was to identify genuine Holy Writ. “The authority of the Holy Scripture,” the Confession explained, “depends not upon the testimony of man, or Church, but wholly upon God.” As such, it demanded “high and reverent esteem” because of “the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation”. How could someone doubt the “entire perfection……

1 min.
an ancient treasure

Those who still talk about Europe’s ‘Dark Ages’ would do well to study the extraordinary artistic and cultural achievements of the monasteries of north England. The joint monastery complex of Jarrow and Wearmouth was able to attract Europe’s finest glass makers to assemble one of the era’s most impressive libraries, and to inspire Bede in his prolific scholarly endeavours. One of the institution’s crowning glories was the Codex Amiatinus: the oldest entirely complete biblical codex to have survived. The work was completed in 716 and one copy, of three, was sent to Rome as a gift for the pope. Unfortunately, mishaps en route meant it did not arrive and languished for many years in an Italian monastery. The codex is an imposing volume: weighing in at 34 kilograms, with pages measuring…

1 min.
bel and the dragon

One of the most contested parts of the apocrypha is an addition to the Book of Daniel. It was rejected by rabbinic Judaism, accepted by most Catholics and Orthodox Christians, and jettisoned by most Protestant denominations. It is hard to imagine, however, that anyone ever questioned that it was a good story. Daniel is doing very nicely at the court of Cyrus of Persia, but is dismayed by the worship lavished on a statue of Bel – who, for Daniel, is a false god. King Cyrus is not best pleased by this allegation and points out that the god seems to eat all the offerings, including 40 sheep, left for him every day. Daniel is determined to prove his point. The doors of the god’s quarters are locked one night…

1 min.
the view from ethiopia

A significant presence in Africa from the 4th century, the Orthodox Tewahedo Church was tied to the Coptic Church until 1959, when it gained its independence. Its heartlands are Ethiopia and Eritrea, with communities among the Ethiopian diaspora around the world. Just short of 40 million Ethiopians belong to the Church: roughly half the nation’s population. The Tewahedo canon includes the Old Testament books shared by other major Christian denominations, and the Church adopted the apocrypha as canonical at an early stage. It also reveres books usually pushed to the sidelines and ones that no other church holds as canonical. Its Old Testament canon runs to 46 texts which, in addition to 35 New Testament books, makes an impressive canonical total of 81. There are also significant departures from other…

14 min.
one jesus, four gospels

MARK THE REBEL Mark’s account of Jesus is short, impetuous, fastmoving. His Greek is clumsy, his story simple; but he has arranged it with masterly care. At its start, Jesus’ disciples bask in their master’s triumphs: he heals, he teaches, he walks on water, he feeds thousands with a handful of bread. At the mid-point of the narrative, Mark changes key. Jesus asks openly the question that informs the whole Gospel: “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29). Peter declares Jesus to be God’s Anointed agent, the Messiah or Christ, and in the next sentence, for the first time, Jesus speaks of his impending rejection and death. Opposition, determined and dangerous, grows closer – Jesus’ disciples dream blindly on of both privilege and power, but when put to the test, they…