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Bible, name of the sacred writings of the Christian religion. The word “bible” is derived from the Greek biblia, meaning “books.” A collection of writings gathered into books, the Bible consists of two main parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, written in Hebrew and Aramaic centuries before the birth of Christ, is the Christian name for the Jewish Bible. It comprises 39 books, of which the most important are the five books of the Law (Pentateuch), the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are followed by the books of the Prophets (Joshua, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the twelve minor prophets, and others). Finally, the Writings (Hagiographa) include Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Lamentations, and Daniel. The New Testament, the specifically Christian part of the Bible, was written in Greek in the first 2 centuries after Christ. Of its 27 books, the 4 Gospels—of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—occupy the hallowed central position. These describe aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus. The remaining 23 books consist of a selection of early Christian writings that were definitively selected as canonical in the 4th century A.D. The English translation of the Bible in widest use is the King James version (1611). In Christian doctrine, the Bible is written under the guidance of God and contains the moral and historical bases of the Christian view of the world.

See also: Christianity.

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