What the Book Contains
A person entering a library for the first time may find the array of books bewildering. But with a little explanation of how the books are arranged, he soon learns how to locate things. Similarly, finding your way around in the Bible is easier when you understand how its contents are arranged.
THE word “Bible” is derived from the Greek word bi·bliʹa, which meant “papyrus rolls” or “books.”1 The Bible is actually a collection—a library—of 66 individual books, the writing of which spanned some 1,600 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to about 98 C.E.
The first 39 books, about three quarters of the Bible’s contents, are known as the Hebrew Scriptures, since they were written mostly in that language. These books may generally be divided into three groups: (1) Historical, Genesis to Esther, 17 books; (2) Poetic, Job to The Song of Solomon, 5 books; and (3) Prophetic, Isaiah to Malachi, 17 books. The Hebrew Scriptures cover the early history of the earth and of mankind as well as the history of the ancient nation of Israel from its inception down to the fifth century B.C.E.
The remaining 27 books are known as the Christian Greek Scriptures, for they were written in Greek, the international language of the day. They are basically arranged according to subject matter: (1) the 5 historical books—the Gospels and Acts, (2) the 21 letters, and (3) the Revelation. The Christian Greek Scriptures focus on the teachings and activities of Jesus Christ and his disciples in the first century C.E.