Ancient Mythology

Biblical Stories

The Bible is the sacred text of the modern religions of Judaism and Christianity. The Bible is also relevant for other religions, including Islam.

The Bible generally consists of two portions, the Tanakh, which is the original three-part Bible known to Christians as the Old Testament, and the New Testament, which is almost exclusive to Christian religions and tells of the life and teachings of Jesus.

Tanakh, or Old Testament

The Tanakh consists of 24 books, divided into three parts, the Torah, the Nevi'im (or Prophets) and the Ketuvim (or Writings). The majority of the Tanakh was first written in Hebrew, and is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia between the twelfth and second centuries BCE.

The Torah, which means "instruction" or "law", consists of five books:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

The Nevi'im, or "Prophets", is generally a historical account of the Jewish history, including the stories of the prophets important to Judaism. It consists of eight more books:

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Samuel
  • Kings
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel
  • Twelve

The Ketuvim consists of later "writings", some of which are attributed to King David, King Solomon and the prophet Jeremiah. There are eleven books in the Ketuvim:

  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Job
  • Song of Songs
  • Ruth
  • Lamentations
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Esther
  • Daniel
  • Ezra
  • Chronicles

The Old Testament is the Christian version of the Tanakh, which represents the first of two main sections of the Christian Bible. In the New Testament, Jesus makes reference to the stories of the Old Testament and to its laws. The Old Testament contains essentially the same content as the Tanakh, though it is ordered differently in most versions, and merges some books together, while dividing others.

The New Testament

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian Bible. It generally consists of 27 books, though some divisions within Christianity disagree on which books should be included. The majority of the New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek, and was composed during the first century CE.

The New Testament consists of five main parts: the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles and Revelation. A sixth part, called the Apocrypha, consists of writings that were once valued, but are no longer considered to be a legitimate part of the New Testament by most Christians.

The Gospels are the four narratives that detail the birth, life and death of Jesus of Nazerth, or Jesus Christ. They are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The authors of these books are generally considered to be anonymous, but the books are traditionally attributed to the four apostles after which they are named.

The Acts, or Acts of the Apostles, describes the beginnings of Christianity after the death and ressurection of Jesus. The Acts describe early teachings of Christianity and the work of the early followers of Jesus. Analysis of the writing of Acts strongly suggests that the author of these books is the same as the Gospel of Luke.

The Epistles, or Letters, are a collection of letters of early Christian teachers, most of which are attributed to the apostles of Jesus. They represent letters to other Christians, or to non-Christian cities, detailing and attempting to spread the teachings of Jesus.

The Book of Revelation is the final book in most versions of the New Testament. The book is a prophetic detailing of the Apocalypse, which consists of the second coming of the Messiah, the final Judgement, the end of the age of Satan's rule over man, and the restoration of peace. The author of this book identifies himself as John, though there is much debate over whether he was John the Apostle or another John. Revelation seems to have been written some time in the second halfof the first century CE.

The Apocrypha ("hidden writings") is a collection of writings by early Christians that also describe Jesus, his teachings and the lives of his apostles, as well as provide commentary about the Christian God. Different groups of Christianity disagree on which books of the New Testament should be included in their official canon.

In Islam

The Bible is believed by Muslims to have originated as revelation from God and has significant value. Muslims also believe, however, that the Bible has become so distorted over time that it no longer effectively conveys divine revelations and is subject to misinterperetation. For this reason, Muslims believe that the Qur'an, the final book of revelation, was given to the prophet Muhammed in order to restore the true word of God.

Text of the Bible

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