The purpose of this site is to identify the nexus or connections between the book we call the Bible and Human History.
What is the Bible? The modern English Bible is a Book composed of sixty-six books. The Bible, for Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and other traditions; includes what is often referred to as the deuterocanonicle books; also known as the Apocrypha. These are the inter-testimental works written after the Old Testament Book of Malachi. They were a part of the Jewish Scriptures at the time of Jesus. They were also a part of the Christian Scriptures until the Reformation. The Authorized or King James Version of 1611, often called the King James Bible, contained these books as well. Every Bible published in America before the Gilded Age (1870-1900), contained eighty, not sixty-six books.
The Bible is unique in so many ways. For example, it is more a Library than a single book. It is a library because each of the books included is a seperate work unto itself. Here in lies the dichotomy of our time. Some use the term contradiction. I find this term to be problematic. Some biblical writers give differing accounts or variations on the same material, story or incident. The issue of concern is, how can one writer contradict another unless he or she is aware that the work is being contradicted?
The problem posed by this position is the contention that "The Bible does not contradict iself!" The Basis for this argument assumes the Bible is one coherent and lucid document. One might ask, "Why is this an issue?" That question is better answered in THE BIBLE section of this site.
However, a brief presentation of the Bible begins with the fact that it contains the Sacred Texts of Christianity. For those who make the assumption or claim that the Bible is a Book dictated by God to Inspired Writers to produce a work which addresses all of humanity's questions and speaks to all of humanity's needs, is true from a number of perspectives. If this position is taken literally, then a number of issues need to be discussed or questions raised. Again, this issue is discussed in THE BIBLE section of the site. However, I affirm that for me, whatever the issues are, the Bible is the Inspired Word of God.
Without the concept of Inspiration, the Bible would not be at the center of so much of the value system of American culture. One could argue that the reference should be to American Christian or Church culture. Nonetheless, my experience has been that even non-Church attending individuals, who were no doubt raised in, or influenced by, the Church; still look to the Bible as the source and standard by which everything else in life is compared and evaluated.
Whatever the case may be, the Bible is revered by the vast majority of the American culture, moreso in some communities than in others. There are those who make the argument that certain values, particularly those governing marital and sexual behavior, are defined and codified by the Bible. Most of these prohibitions and taboos are found in what is referred to as the Levitical Tradition. As we will see in THE OLD TESTAMENT section of this site, it is problematic to make a one-to-one correlation between the society of ancient Israel and the society of our day.
I want to make it clear as a bell, that nowhere in this site will one find the phenomenon commonly referred to as "Bible Bashing." I am an Ordained Minister of The Gospel. My motivation and passion is to allow the Bible to speak for itself! Why is this important? It is important because we either forget, or never learned, that the Bible was written to and for communties of faith, and is not a body of law for a secular society. In America, the Constitution, not the Bible, is the highest law of the land.
This brings us to the nature and composition of the Bible. As I have already stated, the Bible was written to and for communities of faith. What Christians fail to understand is that the Bible, the Old Testament in this case, is not perceived as Scripture by the Jewish Community in the same way as it is by the Christian Community. The Church refers to the first part of its Bible as The Old Testament. The Jewish Community refers to the same body of literature as The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh.
The contents of the Christian Old Testament and The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh are exactley the same. However, the order of the books is different. Most Christians assume that their Old Testament is also The Testament of Judaism. However, such is not the case. As has been stated, The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, does not hold the equivalency for Jews that the Bible does for Christians. For example, the precepts of Judaism are based as much, if not more, on the teachings and commentaries of Rabbis, found primarily in the Talmud, than on Tanakh.
When it comes to a discussiom of the Christian Bible with the Jewish Bible or Tanakh, we must begin with Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism became the crystallization of the Sects of Judaism which existed in Palestine in the first century of the Common Era, historically referred to as A.D. AD is the abbreviation for the term, "In the year of our Lord," the official expression of the passing of time since Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 314 of the Common Era or CE.This is not to say that Tanakh is not a major and central part of the religious and spiritual life of Jewish communities. To the contrary, it is. However, Tanakh is seen as an out-growth of the Talmud.
The first part of the Bible then, is clearly the antecedent of The New Testament, the literature written to and for the Christian Church. In addition, the New Testament could not exist without the Old Testament. All of the theological assumptions of The New Testament are based on its being the fullfillment of The Old Testament. Even as the Church of the present day is evolving and in transition from the Churches most of us knew when we were growing-up, so the Early Church went through stages of growth and development as well. As we will see in THE BIBLE section of this site, it is how a faction of the early Church perceived the value and worth of The Old Testament that not only gave us the Bible we have today, but also highly influenced its theological Councils.
Harold A Pulley, Th M
The Scriptures of Judaism
The Scriptures of the Church
"What shall we say the Kingdom
of God is like?" asked Jesus.
What parable shall we use to
explain it? It is like this. A man
takes a mustard seed, the smallest
seed in the world, and plants it in
the ground. After a while it grows
up and becomes the biggest of all
plants. It puts out such large
branches that the birds come and
make their nests in its shade."