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How To Know the




HE Bible is in everybody's house, and is the most generally read and studied of all books, but it is still in need of simple explanation.

This is partly because it is so old, the latest pages of it having been written at least eighteen hundred years ago; partly because it is a library rather than a book, composed by various writers, in various literary forms, in widely separated countries, and during a period of more than a thousand years; and partly because we read it in a translation which brings the sixty-six books into a single volume, presents them without separate title-pages, makes poetry look like prose, shows no distinction between conversation and description, and deprives the reader even of the benefit of paragraphs. It is an evidence of the extraordinary interest and vitality of the Bible that it has survived the process of printing it in detached and numbered sentences, arranged in double-columned pages of fine type. A better knowledge of the Bible begins with the

perception of order and variety in this confusing and depressing appearance of monotony.


It is plain, at the first glance, that the Bible is in two parts, the Old Testament and the New. Everybody knows that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and that it contains the sacred scriptures of the Jewish religion; and that the New Testament, which contains the sacred scriptures of the Christian religion, was originally written in Greek. The two are bound together for Christian use because the first Christians came out of Judaism, and brought their books with them. Each of these parts is a collection of books.

The Old Testament begins with the five writings called the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. They give an account of the early ancestors of the Hebrew people, moving out of the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates into the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, then down into Egypt where they lived long in slavery, then escaping, wandering in the wilderness, gradually shap ing their political and religious institutions. They contain the codes of laws in which the details of these institutions were recorded.

Two following books, Joshua and Judges, describe from different points of view the adventures and misadventures of the invasion, conquest and settlement of Canaan.

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