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Form 1 CRE Notes On The Bible
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TOPIC 2: THE BIBLE
The word Bible comes from the Greek word Biblia that means a book.
Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. By referring to the Bible as a word of God it means:
- The Bible was inspired by God. It contains the words of people such as the prophets who were sent by God.
- The Bible is also believed to be the word of God because it contains predictions and prophecies which eventually came to true.
- God Himself took part in the writing: God wrote the 10 commandments. (Exd.34:1)
- The authors of the Bible wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
- Much of the New Testament is concerned with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
- The Bible contains the true message of God for daily living. Therefore Christians believe that God communicates to us through the Bible.
- Those who wrote were told on what to write by God.
The uses of the bible in Christian life
i).It provides spiritual and moral guidance.
ii) The Bible helps Christians to discover the will of God.
iii).It helps understand what is expected of a Christian.
iv).Helps Christians understand the environment and how they should relate to it.
v).Helps understand the relationship between God and man.
vi). It is used to commit leaders to oaths of offices e.g. swearing in.
vii). In courts, the Bible is also used by witnesses to affirm that they are going to tell nothing but the truth.
viii).It is also used in religious ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, baptism and ordinations of clergy.
ix).Teachers and students use the Bible as a reference material in learning Christian Religious Education in schools
x).The Bible is also used by Christians to compose songs sang in church
xi) It is also used to strengthen the faith and comfort individuals especially in times of tribulations.
xii).It is used to understand the nature of God and how He reveals Himself to us.
xiii).The bible is also used to teach new converts about the will of God
xiv)It is also used to teach new converts who are just joining the church.
The bible as a library
When we look at the Bible, although it is one book, it contains many books, therefore referred as a Library because: -
1. It is a collection of several books under one cover.
2. The books are written under different authors.
3. The books were also written at different times.
4. They were addressed to different people or individuals.
5. The Bible also had different messages for different people.
6. The books in the Bible have been written in different styles. Some are poetic; others in prose, while others are in the form of letters.
7. The language used is also different from one author to another. Some authors used simple language while others used difficult constructions.
8. It took over 10 centuries to have the whole Bible written.
The divisions of the Bible
The Bible has two main sections namely The Old Testament and The New Testament.
The word Testament means covenant. The standard Bibles that are recommended for all the Christians contain 39 books in The Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament section, making a total of 66 books.
The main difference between the Old and the New Testaments is that the Old Testament was written before Christ while the New Testament was written after Christ.
However some Bibles, such as the Jerusalem Bible and the African Bible mostly used by the Roman Catholic Church contain additional books in the Old Testament. These books include:
4. Maccabees 1 and 2
These extra-books have been referred to as Deutro-canonical books by the Catholics or are referred to as apocryphal books by the Protestants.
The Old Testament Books
The books of the Old Testament are grouped into:
1. The law books
2. Historical books
3. Books of poetry
4. The prophets – Major Prophets
- Minor Prophets.
1. The Law Books
Sometimes referred to as the Pentateuch or the Torah – these books are sometimes referred to as the books of Moses. They are five in number; namely;
2. Books of History
The books of History record the History of the Israelites from the time they entered and settled in the Promised Land until the time when they were taken to exile in Babylon.
They are twelve in number, namely: -
Joshua, Judges, Ruth 1 and 2, Samuel 1 and, 2 Kings 1 and 2, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.
3. The Prophetic Books
These books contain the prophecies of the people of Israel. They can be divided further into major and minor prophets.
The Major Prophets include
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentation, Ezekiel and Daniel. They are called Major Prophets because they cover longer historical periods.
The Minor Prophets include;
Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
They are called Minor Prophets because messages cover shorter historical periods.
4. Books of Poetry
These books are poetic in nature. These include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Songs.
THE NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS
1. The gospels or Biographical Books.
These are the first four books of the New Testament. Namely; Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
The first three books are called Synoptic gospels because they are almost similar in the arrangement of events and style of writing.
The gospels talk about the events in the life of Jesus, from his birth to death and to ascension to heaven.
St. Mark was the first to be written about 70 A.D. Before that, the Good News was spread by word of mouth. This period is referred to as the Oral Tradition.
2. Acts of the Apostles
St. Luke who is also the writer of the gospel of Luke wrote the book of Acts.
The book tries to bring out how the apostles and other disciples spread the gospel after the death of Jesus and the persecution they met.
3. The Epistles or Letters
These are 21 in total, most of them were written by Paul. These are called Pauline Epistles. They are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon.
Some letters were written by authors who are not clearly known. These are called General Epistles. These are Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 and 2 and 3 John and Jude.
4. Book of Revelation (prophetic Book)
This is the last book in the New Testament section of the Bible. It’s a book that is very difficult to understand. The book talks of the prophecies that would come at the end of times. Sometimes referred to as the apocalypse.
The human authors were inspired by God. They wrote what God Himself revealed to them. This is brought out in 2 Peter: 1:20-21 where he says, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of the scriptures came about by the prophets’ own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of human beings, but it was spoken from God as it were and carried out by the Holy Spirit.” The authors who contributed to the writing of the Bible lived over a long time. They were from different walks of life. They had different ideas, talents and purposes.
- Some compiled oral traditions that had existed for many generations.
- Others composed songs or recorded the wise sayings, such as Solomon and David.
- Some wrote as scribes for their own teachers. For example Jeremiah dictated to Baruch what to write.
- Others such as Joshua and Esther wrote to record the History of their people and their dealings with God.
- While others like Moses were interested in the religious law and regulations.
The different authors used different styles of writing (literary forms). This was because:
1. They wrote at different times in history.
2. They also wrote under different circumstances e.g. in the wilderness, in a dungeon, in prison.
3. They wrote for different reasons.
4. The audience was also different.
Some of the styles or literacy forms used in the Bible are:
1. Poetic (poems) – Books of Psalms.
2. Wise sayings – The Book of Proverbs.
3. Prose, narratives or stories- Genesis, Exodus, Numbers.
4. Prayers – The Book of Nehemiah.
5. Legal expressions – the book of Leviticus.
6. Prophecies – The Books of prophet the Prophets.
7. Letters – Paul’s letters.
8. Songs – Songs of Solomon.
Despite the fact that the language and style of writing may differ from one author to another, all those who wrote had a similar purpose, i.e. to reveal God’s word to His people. This means that the authors’ work is in total agreement. No work of any author contradicts the work of another.
THE BIBLE TRANSLATION
The term “translate” means to change something from one language to another without changing the original meaning.
The Old Testament section of the Bible originally was written in Hebrew, which was the language of the Israelites in Palestine (Jews). And the New Testament was written in Greek.
However before long the Old Testament also had to be translated in Greek. This was because:
1. Greek was the most commonly used language outside Palestine.
2. There were also Jews who were living outside Palestine and they knew Greek Language better than Hebrew.
3. The number of people who wanted to read the scriptures was also growing.
The Greek translation of the Old Testament was called the Septuagint. The Jews who were living outside Palestine were called the Jews in the Diaspora or in dispersions.
During the 4th C A.D, a Christian called Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. This Bible translated into Latin was called the Vulgate.
When the missionaries came to Africa, the Bible was translated into several local languages.
This was because
i. To make the missionaries evangelize effectively.
ii. The missionaries wanted to put the word of God into a language, which the local people would understand easily.
iii. To assist the missionaries to learn local languages.
iv. To revise all the versions and keep abreast of changes in the world.
v. To indigenize Christianity i.e. to encourage its adaptation to local situations.
In East Africa the first Bible translations was done by John Ludwig Kraft. It took him nine years to have the New Testament translated into Kiswahili. He also translated the gospel of Mark into Kikamba and the gospel of Luke into Kirabai.
The work of translating the Bible is still going on. In Kenya this is done by the Bible society of Kenya.
There are several versions used in Kenya. These include:-
1. Revised Standard Version.
2. King James Version.
3. New international version.
4. Jerusalem Bible.
5. The living Bible.
6. Jerome Bible.
7. Gideon international Bible.
8. English Bible.
9. New American Bible.
10. Authorized Version.
11. Good News.
12. The Holy Bible.
13. New African Bible.
Effects of translation of the Bible into local languages
i).The translation of the Bible promoted education in Kenya. The Bible was used as the first textbook. The missionaries started schools.
ii).More people became Christians because they had the Bible in their own languages.
iii).The translation helped the missionaries to learn local languages.
iv).The missionaries were able to easily and effectively preach to the people in a language they could understand.
v).The Africans were able to have a clear understanding of the Holy Scriptures. This increased their faith.
vi). The Africans broke away to form independent churches
vii). The discovered that what the Bible preaches on equality of all mankind was not practiced by the missionaries.
viii).The translation of the Bible led to the establishment of Bible translation societies, for example the translation of the Bible in Kenya is done by the Bible society of Kenya.
ix).The missionaries began to appreciate the African culture and this reduced suspicion between the two parties.
x).The translation led to Geographical expansion of the Church into new areas.
PAST KCSE REVISION QUESTION ON INTRODUCTION TO BIBLE
1. Why do some Christians find it difficult to read the Bible?
2. How is the bible used in Kenya Today?
3. a) Explain why the Bible is written in different styles
b) Describe the translation of the Bible from the original languages to local languages
c) State how the Bible is used to spread the gospel
4. a) Outline the development of the translation of the Bible from the original languages to local languages
c) State six ways in which Christians can use the Bible in their evangelization ministry
5. (a) Outline ways in which Christians use the Bible to spread the good news
(b) State seven problems which church leaders encounter in their work of evangelization
6. Give seven reasons why reading the Bible is important to Christians.
7. (a) Identify five literacy forms used by the Authors of the Bible
(b) Give four ways in which the Bible is used to spread the Gospel today
8. Explain five reasons why the Bible was written after the death and ascension of Jesus Christ.
9. (a) Explain the reasons why the bible was translated from original languages to local languages
b) Why do some Christians find it difficult to read the bible?
10. a) List down five books of the Apocrypha
b) Give seven effects of the Bible translation into African languages
c) State eight reasons why the Bible is referred to as the goods news
11. Why do Christians read the bible?
12. a) Identify five major divisions of the New Testament in their order
b) Describe the development of the Bible translation from the original language to local languages
13. Why do some Christians find it difficult to read the Bible?
14. (a) Why did the missionaries translate the Bible into African local languages?
(b) Explain four ways in which the translation of the Bible into African languages
Led to African mass evangelism.
(c) Give reasons why Kenyans are attracted to the Church.