Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bible: Old and New Testaments

Our Christian Bible is not actually one book but a collection of 66 small books. These books fall into one of two main sections: the Old Testament or the New Testament.

Testament means witness. The books of the Old Testament witness to God in ways that anticipate his coming to us in Jesus Christ. The books of the New Testament witness to the surprising ways that Jesus fulfilled all that was said of him in anticipation and, by doing so, gave us a whole new world.

The Old Testament contains 39 books. The first 17 are history books. The history they recall is all about God’s relationship with us and ours with him. That history starts with the creation of the world in Genesis (the first book) and ends with the Persian empire in Esther (the last history book). Through every imaginable triumph and disaster, these books witness to how the words and ways of God differ so importantly from those of the six conventional yet false Olympian gods.

The next 5 books are reflective writings. They look upon suffering, prayer, common sense, true love, and the meaning of life in the context of our relationship with God.

Prophets were and remain people invited by God to challenge the mistaken devotion of his people to the Olympian gods. The last 17 books of the Old Testament contain their words and witness.

The 27 books of the New Testament are all about the fulfillment of God’s words and will as revealed to us through the Old Testament.

The first 4 books, called gospels, are short biographies of Jesus. The fifth book, Acts of the Apostles, is a short history of the early church. It is followed by 21 letters: 13 were written by (or attributed to) the apostle Paul and 8 by other writers. The last book of the New Testament and the Bible is another prophetic book. It reveals to us the meaning of our world and our relationship to its end.

These 66 books of the Bible remain the favorite means used by Jesus to speak with us. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these books remain our normative witness to Jesus. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jesus also invites and enables us to discern the words of truth he speaks to us today through them.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.