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Fast Facts About The Bible

The following list is not designed to discuss doctrine or provide in-depth teaching. It is merely a resource center for factual information on the Bible. Many of these questions have been addressed in various locations throughout our website; however, as many people don't have the time to comb thru the entire website to find the answers they are looking for, we've compiled the following list.

Please submit further questions (of this sort) to BibleQuestions@bible.com. We will not be able to answer you directly, but will continue to develop this site, as we receive additional questions about the Bible. Don't forget to read our teaching on Bible History, for a more in-depth study.

1. What do you know about the bible?

2. How many books are in the Old Testament?

There are 39 books in the Old Testament.

3. How many books are in the New Testament?

There are 27 books in the New Testament.

bible talk... what book do you use?

4. What does "testament" mean?

Testament means "covenant" or "contract."

How You Can Know The Bible Is True (Part 1) - by Dr. Woodrow Kroll

Since the Bible is the Word of God, you would expect to find within its sacred writings references to that fact. You will not be disappointed, for the Bible plainly teaches that its words are the inspired words of God.

The Testimony of the Old Testament

The Old Testament alludes many times to the divine authorship of the words of Scripture. For example, when God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, Moses balked. He said that he was not eloquent & he was slow of speech.

But the Lord replied,

"Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say"

(Ex. 4:11-12).

God promised that when Moses spoke His words, He would direct him, inform him, instruct him & keep him from error.


Later, when Moses was recording the second set of tablets of the Law, God said to him,

"Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel"

(Ex. 34:27).

The word tenor in Hebrew refers to "blowing out of the mouth"; the words that Moses wrote came from the mouth of God. Can the divine authorship of the Bible be any plainer than that?

David also indicated the authenticity of the Scriptures & their authorship by God when he said,

"The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue"

(2 Sam. 23:2).

When David wrote God's Word, no extraneous thoughts or ideas crept in.

When Jeremiah was called to prophesy for God, he, like Moses, balked. His excuse was that he couldn't speak, for he was a youth (Jer. 1:6). But verse 9 says,

"Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: 'Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.'"

There was no doubt in Jeremiah's mind-the prophecy that he recorded was not his own. He recorded the words that God had put in his mouth.

In addition to these direct references to the divine authorship of the Bible, Jeremiah made numerous indirect references to God speaking through him. Nearly 100 times he wrote that "the word of the Lord" (or a similar expression) had come to him. These words appear many times in Ezekiel as well.

Hosea spoke in a similar vein. The first verse of his book begins, "The word of the LORD that came to Hosea." A similar expression is found in the first verse of the books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi.


The Testimony of the New Testament

The New Testament is no less impressive in its assertion that the Bible is the divine revelation of God.
The apostle Paul claimed that he spoke what was revealed to him by God. He said,
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual"
(1 Cor. 2:12-13)
Paul spoke & wrote what was revealed to him by the Spirit of God. He reaffirmed this thought when he recorded,
"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe"
(1 Thess. 2:13).
Paul's greatest affirmation that the Bible is the authentic Word of God is 2 Timothy 3:16:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
To this Peter adds,
"For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit"
(2 Pet. 1:21)
There can be no doubt. The Scriptures claim that the Bible isn't the words of men but the inspired Word of God. The Bible is what it claims to be-the authentic revelation of the mind of God.

bible talk... what book do you use?

Good Book: What I learned from reading the entire Bible.



When I was reading Judges one day, I came to a complicated digression about a civil war between two groups of Israelites, the Gileadites and the Ephraimites. According to the story, the Gileadites hold the Jordan River, and whenever anyone comes to cross, the guards ask them to say the password, shibboleth.

The Ephraimites, for some unexplained reason, can't pronounce the sh in shibboleth and say "sibboleth" instead. When an Ephraimite fails the speech exam, the Gileadites "would seize him and slay him." I've read the word shibboleth a hundred times, written it a few, and probably even said it myself, but I had never understood it until then. It was a tiny but thrilling moment when my world came alive, when a word that had just been a word suddenly meant something to me.

And something like that happened to me five, 10, 50 times a day when I was Bible-reading. You can't get through a chapter of the Bible, even in the most obscure book, without encountering a phrase, a name, a character, or an idea that has come down to us 3,000 years later. The Bible is the first source of everything from the smallest plot twists (the dummy David's wife places in the bed to fool assassins) to the most fundamental ideas about morality (the Levitical prohibition of homosexuality that still shapes our politics, for example) to our grandest notions of law and justice. It was a joyful shock to me when I opened the Book of Amos and read the words that crowned Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Just as an exercise, I thought for a few minutes about the cultural markers in Daniel, a late, short, and not hugely important book. What footprints has it left on our world? First, Daniel is thrown in the "lions' den" and King Belshazzar sees "the writing on the wall." These are two metaphors we can't live without. The "fiery furnace" that Daniel's friends are tossed into is the inspiration for the Fiery Furnaces, a band I listen to. The king rolls a stone in front of the lions' den, sealing in a holy man who won't stay sealed - foreshadowing the stone rolled in front of the tomb of Jesus. Daniel inspired the novel The Book of Daniel and the TV show The Book of Daniel. It's even a touchstone for one of my favorite good-bad movies, A Knight's Tale. That movie's villain belittles hero Heath Ledger by declaring, "You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting" - which is what the writing on the wall told Belshazzar.

While reading the Bible, I often felt as if I had finally lifted a veil from my eyes. I learned that I hadn't known the true nature of God's conflict with Job, which is the ur-text of all subsequent discussions of obedience and faith. I realized I was ignorant of the story of Ruth. I was unaware of the radical theology of Ecclesiastes, the source of so many of our ideas about the good life. I didn't know who Jezebel was, or why we loathe her, or why she is the painted lady, or even that she was married to Ahab.

Not to sound like a theocratic crank, but I'm actually shocked that students aren't compelled to read huge chunks of the Bible in high school and college, the way they must read Shakespeare or the Constitution or Mark Twain.


That's my intellectual defense of Bible reading. Now a more personal one. As a lax, non-Hebrew-speaking Jew, I spent my first 35 years roboting through religious rituals and incomprehensible prayers, honoring inexplicable holidays. None of it meant anything to me. Now it does. Reading the Bible has joined me to Jewish life in a way I never thought possible. I trace this to when I read about Jacob blessing his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh at the end of Genesis.

I suddenly realized: Oh, that's why I'm supposed to lay my hand on my son's head at Shabbat dinner and bless him in the names of Ephraim and Manasseh. That shock of recognition has been followed by many more - when I came across the words of the Shema, the most important Jewish prayer, in Deuteronomy, when I read about the celebration of Passover in the book of Ezra, when I read in Psalms the lyrics of Christian hymns I love to sing.

You notice that I haven't said anything about belief. I began the Bible as a hopeful, but indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn't really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I'm brokenhearted about God.

After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements, the ruthless vengeance for minor sins (or none at all), and all that smiting - every bit of it directly performed, authorized, or approved by God - I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if He existed, was awful, cruel, and capricious. He gives us moments of beauty - such sublime beauty and grace! - but taken as a whole, He is no God I want to obey and no God I can love.

When I complain to religious friends about how much He dismays me, I usually get one of two responses. Christians say: Well, yes, but this is all setup for the New Testament. Reading only the Old Testament is like leaving halfway through the movie. I'm missing all the redemption. If I want to find the grace and forgiveness and wonder, I have to read and believe in the story of Jesus Christ, which explains and redeems all. But that doesn't work for me. I'm a Jew. I don't, and can't, believe that Christ died for my sins. And even if he did, I still don't think that would wash away God's crimes in the Old Testament.

The second response tends to come from Jews, who razz me for missing the chief lesson of the Hebrew Bible, which is that we can't hope to understand the ways of God. If He seems cruel or petty, that's because we can't fathom His plan for us. But I'm not buying that, either. If God made me, He made me rational and quizzical. He has given me the tools to think about Him. So I must submit Him to rational and moral inquiry. And He fails that examination. Why would anyone want to be ruled by a God who's so unmerciful, unjust, unforgiving, and unloving?


Unfortunately, this line of reasoning seems to leave me with several unappealing options:

1) believing in no god;

2) believing in the awful, vindictive God of the Bible; or

3) believing in some vague "creator" who is not remotely attached to the events of the Bible, who didn't really do any of the deeds ascribed to Him in the book and thus can't be held responsible for them.

The Bible has brought me no closer to God, if that means either believing in a deity acting in the world or experiencing the transcendent. But perhaps I'm closer to God in the sense that the Bible has put me on high alert. I came to the Bible hoping to be inspired and awed. I have been, sometimes. But mostly I've ended up in a yearlong argument with God. Why would He kill the innocent Egyptian children? And why would He delight in it? What wrong did we do Him that He should send the flood? Which of His Ten Commandments do we actually need? Yet the argument itself represents a kind of belief, because it commits me to engage with God.

As I read the book, I realized that the Bible's greatest heroes - or, at least, my greatest heroes - are not those who are most faithful, but those who are most contentious and doubtful:

They challenge God for his capriciousness, and demand justice, order, and morality, even when God refuses to provide them. Reading the Bible has given me a chance to start an argument with God about the most important questions there are, an argument that can last a lifetime.

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bible talk... what book do you use?

A Personal Thought:
I often wonder how many people have actually read the bible. I know that there are religions that require their members to read their scriptures daily, memorizing scriptures and such; but how many people actually read the bible as if it were a history book?
I've read the bible several times through and I find out that my understanding of history is heightened, my love and faith for God only grows and strengthens, and that my belief in God is proven more each time. I don't have the same opinion of wanting anything different from God - that he be more merciful or more gentle and patient, etc. I find that I accept Him for who He is.
I have found that every time I pick up the Bible to read, I get something different from the same scriptures read over and over. I find what I NEED to get, or so I believe is so. I am not sure how I developed my faith in God, but he has directly answered my prayers and continues to protect me no matter what difficulties I have run into.
Why do people believe that God needs to be all loving and all nice? He is who He is.

The Bible: Fact or Fiction? - By Bert terHart

How many times have you heard someone comment on whether the Bible is fact or fiction? One too many I'll bet. But the real question is whether or not it matters.

Some of you may already be pounding your monitor & crying "Blasphemy!" but bear with me. Let me make a few obvious comparisons & then you can draw your own conclusions.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time for one very simple & inescapable reason. The Bible has outsold all other books & been translated into more languages than you can count because it's a fantastic read.

That's right! The Bible is a fantastic read. And just like any other great book, no matter how many times you read it, you realize or learn something entirely new & like any other great book, there's something in it for everyone.

Consider a great work of fiction: There's interesting characters & relationships between those characters. There's social & political tension & unrest. There's a great story-line & wonderful sub-plots.

There are wars & famines & great men & generals all playing on the same stage.

Consider an outstanding non-fiction book: History is being made or repeated. Great events are being played out on a global scale. Tragedy & triumph weave their way thru the lives of kings & peasants alike.

If the above sounds familiar, you've been reading & studying your Bible. Fact or fiction, the Bible has all the elements that make for a great work of fiction &/or fact. The next time you pick up your Bible, make an effort to identify with one of the characters you come across.

Great or small, there is some nugget, some gem you can learn from him or her. Try to identify with the time or events surrounding a particular passage. You'll find yourself immersed in some of our history's greatest events.

To know the Word of God, you must study the Word of God. To study the Word of God you must read the Word of God. Give the man upstairs a little credit: If the Bible wasn't such a great read, nobody would read it. And the question of whether it's fact or fiction would be entirely moot!

Most importantly, if you read & study the Bible, you'll find yourself
changed as a result. Like any great book, something in your being will begin to resonate with the words & the message they convey. And that, my friends, is what matters.

5. Who wrote the Bible?

The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by over 40 different authors from all walks of life: shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians, fishermen, priests, philosophers & kings. Despite these differences in occupation & the span of years it took to write it, the Bible is an extremely cohesive & unified book.

6. Which single author contributed the most books to the Old Testament?

Moses. He wrote the first five books of the Bible, referred to as the Pentateuch: the foundation of the Bible.

7. Which single author contributed the most books to the New Testament?

The Apostle Paul, who wrote 14 books (over half) of the New Testament.

8. When was the Bible written?

It was written over a period of some 1,500 years, from around 1450 B.C. (the time of Moses) to about 100 A.D. (following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).

9. What is the oldest book in the Old Testament?

Many scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, written by an unknown Israelite about 1500 B.C. Others hold that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) are the oldest books in the Bible, written between 1446 and 1406 B.C.

10. What is the youngest book in the Old Testament?

The book of Malachi, written about 400 B.C.

11. What is the oldest book of the New Testament?

Probably the book of James, written as early as A.D. 45.

12. What is the youngest book in the New Testament?

The Book of Revelation is the youngest book of the New Testament, written about 95 A.D.

13. What languages was the Bible written in?

The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek.

14. When was the Bible canonized?

The entire New Testament as we know it today, was canonized before the year 375 A.D. The Old Testament had previously been canonized long before the advent of Christ.

15. What does "canon" mean?

"Canon" is derived front the Greek word "Kanon," signifying a measuring rod. Thus, to have the Bible "canonized" meant that it had been measured by the standard or test of divine inspiration and authority. It became the collection of books or writings accepted by the apostles and leadership of the early Christian church as a basis for Christian belief. It is the standard by which all Christians throughout the ages live and worship.

16. When was the first translation of the Bible made into English?

1382 A.D., by John Wycliffe.

17. When was the Bible printed?

The Bible was printed in 1454 A.D. by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the "type mold" for the printing press. It was the first book ever printed.

18. What is the oldest almost-complete manuscript of the Bible now in existence?

The Codex Vaticanus, which dates from the first half of the fourth Century. It is located in the library of the Vatican in Rome. There are older fragments of the Bible that are still preserved however--the oldest being a tiny scrap of the Gospel of John found in Egypt, dating back to the beginning of the second century. (It is currently in the Rayland's Library in Manchester, England).

19. What is the longest book in the Bible?

The book of Psalms.

20. What is the shortest book in the Bible?

2 John.

21. What is the longest chapter in the Bible?

Psalm 119

22. What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?

Psalm 117

23. What is the longest verse in the Bible?

Esther 8:9

24. What is the shortest verse in the Bible?

John 11:35

25. Which book in the Bible does not mention the word "God?"

The book of Esther.

26. Who was the oldest man that ever lived?

Methuselah who lived to be 969 years old (Genesis 5:27).

27. Who were the two men in the Bible who never died but were caught up to heaven?

Enoch, who walked with God and was no more (Genesis 5:22-24).

Elijah, who was caught up by a whirlwind into heaven (II Kings 2:11).

28. Who does the Bible say was the meekest man in the Bible (not including Jesus)?

Moses (Numbers 12:3).

29. How many languages has the Bible been translated into?

The Holy Bible has been translated into 2,018 languages, with countless more partial translations, and audio translations (for unwritten languages). (This is an enormous amount of translations. In comparison, Shakespeare, considered by many to be the master writer of the English language, has only been translated into 50 languages.)

30. Is the Bible still the best-selling book in the world?

Yes, indeed!


American Bible Society, 1865 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927, 1965).

Maxwell, Arthur. Your Bible And You (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1959).

Mickelson, A. Berkley and Alvera. Understanding Scripture (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1982, 1992).

Unger, Merrill F. TH.D., PH.D. Unger's Bible Handbook (Chicago: Moody Press, 1967) 

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