Basic facts about the Bible

Literally translated, the word Bible means ‘book’ or ‘books’. It’s a collection of books written over the course of more than 1,000 years.

The Bible includes poetry, legal documents, songs, letters, eyewitness accounts, people stories, historical documents and advice literature.

The Bible is usually divided into two sections:

  • The Old Testament – texts written before Jesus Christ was born and covering God’s dealings with the ancient Hebrew world and its people

  • The New Testament – writings following the death of Jesus and covering his life and teaching, the establishment of the Christian church, and letters from church leaders

Christians are not entirely agreed on the number of books in the Old Testament. Protestants recognise 39, Catholics include 46 and Ethiopian Orthodox have as many as 54. These additional books which are not in the Jewish or Protestant Bibles are known as the apocryphal or deuterocanonical books.  There are printed in the Old Testament for Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, or in a separate inter-testamental section for interconfessional editions.