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The Historical Context Around the Bible and Its Impact on the Popularization of Christianity

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There is a book that has sold more then 18 million copies, actually the exact amount of copies is not even known. A book that has been translated into 349 languages, and has been distributed across the entire world. This book of course is The Bible, a book written over the span of time itself, the ultimate history book. A book that has stood the test of time, and been on a long journey to become the mass distributed book it is today. A book that is widely accepted, and also widely hated and even outlawed. It has given some people a reason to live, and others a reason to die. It is a book written not by one author, but rather 40 authors. The Bible is no doubt an extremely complex book, there are tons of books written about The Bible, some dedicated to just small parts, some examining the historical aspects of The

Bible, some breaking down hard to understand material, It is uncertain just how much writing has branched off The Bible itself. So why should we still study this ancient book? In order to answer this question one must know some history and generalities about The Bible.

With so much information and material on The Bible it is hard to pick a starting point. Lets just begin with the organization of The Bible. The book is broken up into two main sections, “The Old Testament”, and “The New Testament”. The testaments are broken up into books, the books into chapters, and chapters into verses. The Old Testament is also known as “The Jewish Tanakh” and is composed of the first 39 books which in order are : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st Samuel, 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings, 2nd Kings, 1st Chronicles, 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zecharaiah, and Malachi. The New Testament is made of the last 27 books, and in the order of : Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians, 1st Thesalonians, 2nd Thesalonians, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1st Peter, 2nd Peter, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, Jude, and Revelation. The Old Testament primarily covers the creation of the universe, alot of history, the promise with god (before his coming in the new testament), words of the prophets, and “the wisdom books” which are classified as the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of songs. The New Testament primarily covers the life of Jesus Christ, the early church, and instructions to the early church. The New Testament contains a new promise between God and humans which is through the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament are also known as “The Gospels” which lay out the life, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as “synoptic” gospels, which translates into “common view” and contains miracles and parables of Jesus. While John contains other miracles and shows of Jesus’ Identity as a human.

Now lets look at a brief history of how The Bible came to be. The Bible was written over a 1500 year span by 40 different people, the only book of its kind. It is God’s communication to humanity through the writings of chosen people telling of His creation, and glory, as well as what it is like to know him and firsthand accounts of the life of Jesus and his miracles and wisdom. From the dawn of time, until around 2000 B.C. scriptures and the story of God’s creation were passed through generations orally. From then until around 1400 B.C. the book of Job was written as well as the Ten Commandments, which were written by God himself in stone and given to Moses. From 1400 to 300 B.C. the manuscripts of the Old Testament are written, collected and organized into the Old Testament. Next the 27 books of the New testament are written, from 45 to 100 A.D. From here until 500 A.D. the bible has now been translated and copied into many different languages. It wasn’t until 1381 A.D. that The Bible would be translated into English by John Wycliffe and his associates. And finally in 1539 A.D. The Bible is printed for the public in English. Through more translations into our modern English Language we get The Bible in the English language we read today. Yet even through all the translating over the course of history, historians have confirmed The Bible has kept its same meanings throughout, however some passages must be analyzed deeper for the different meanings of words from English to Greek or Hebrew.

Aside from a religious standpoint, The Bible contains much valuable information in regards to history, and literature. Through archaeology in relatively recent times, The Bible has continued to uphold its historical accuracy, and progressively is being proven to be more accurate. Entire cities mentioned in The Bible, such as Jericho, have been unearthed. Many of the original manuscripts and writings of The Bible have been found as well. People mentioned in the bible as well as the writers of books have been proven to be true people through other historical accounts and writings. On top of its historical value, The Bible as literature is valuable as well. About one third of the Old Testament is poetry, entire books like Proverbs, Psalms, and Song of Solomon are poetry. The book of Job is even considered by some to be the greatest poem in literature as a whole. A good example of this poetry can be seen in Psalms 1:3 which says “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season, his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” As well as Psalms 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” which is an example of the use of metaphors, comparing God to a rock, a shield and a horn. Poetry and metaphors are both aspects taught in Literature Arts classes, and The Bible can be used as examples for these. Here we can see The Bible is a good book to study based solely on historical and literary values. The Bible can be used alongside textbooks in History classes and Literature classes to provide examples of what is being taught. Many poems we have studied in this English class this semester make direct references to The Bible, or are about God or stories from The Bible. If you are going to study literature, The Bible certainly cannot be left out when it is a part of a large chunk of literature. Back in the times many of the poems were written religion and God were what people lived for. The Bible had a much greater presence in these times and thus you can find references to it in tons of literature.

The Bible has influenced so much in our society, most do not realise just how much influence it has had. It’s influence can be seen in books, such as C.S. Lewis’ entire “Chronicles of Narnia” series, which is based on different stories and books of the bible. C.S. Lewis converted to christianity at the age of 33 and the “Chronicles of Narnia” series is said to be a great definition of the christian faith. In the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” you can see a clear underlying story of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Lion in the story, and his death and ressurection. This comes straight out of the Gospels in the New Testament mentioned earlier. In 2005 “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was made into a movie which has since won an Oscar along with many other awards. All the books in the series contain underlying bible themes and stories, and some have also been made into movies and more are expected to become movies. Tons of movies have been created about stories from The Bible or Biblical themes, some of the most successful have been, “The Prince of Egypt”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, “Noah”, “Left Behind”. One of the most well known however being, “The Passion of The Christ” which came out in 2004 and was directed by Mel Gibson. The movie won numerous awards and was described as being beautiful, emotional and moving.

There is no doubt The Bible has played a big role in Hollywood movies, it is a popular and controversial topic full of platforms to create off of. It is clear The Bible is not fading out of our culture in regards to its themes and stories, However less and less people have actually read The Bible these days. I realize reading the entire Bible is a very time consuming and honestly at times quite boring, but most people haven’t even read the well known stories and verses of The Bible which are helpful in understanding such movies and literature previously discussed. The Bible has been almost completely removed from schools curriculum with exeption to private schools, yet they are taught literature and history that ties in with The Bible. If The Bible was studied as well students would have this extra source that could help in understanding the material they are being taught. However The Bible has been taken out of school curriculum because of its religious significance. This was decided by the court case of “School District of Abbington Township v. Schempp”. The case was decided on by The Supreme Court of The United States in the year 1963, which concluded that bible reading, along with prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. This was decided ultimately based on the establishment clause, included in the First Amendment. The clause basically says that the United States government can not establish a national religion, which led the Supreme Court to declare bible reading in public schools unconstitutional. By doing so they believed they were upholding The Constitution, but at a cost I think the founding fathers that wrote The Constitution would find unnacceptable.

Which leads into another reason The Bible should be studied in 2016, that being the very principles our great country is founded upon. Most are familiar with the story of the pilgrims coming to America, and know that it is because of religious persecution that they made their long voyage. Fast forward past the colonial times to just after The Revolutionary War, America had just won its freedom from Great Britain and needed to get its own form of government underway. The founders of this new nation drafted The Constitution of The United States. Many of the men who created The Constitution were Christians and had a great knowledge of The Bible, so naturally many of the concepts in The Constitution can be found in The Bible. In the book of Dueteronomy in The Bible you will find God’s instructions to Israel for creating a Government, naturally this is where the founders obtained most of their information for creating their new government. John Adams, the second President of The United States, went so far as to say “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” It is no doubt that this country was founded upon the morals and principles of The Bible, and the founding fathers intended that to be known. For example on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia has the Bible verse Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”, Bible verses can also be found on The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, and the walls of the Library of Congress. It cannot be denied that The Bible is a important aspect of American History, it is literally engraved into the most prized monuments, buildings, and documents of America’s foundation. A justice cannot be done teaching American History without including The Bible, yet it is being attempted. Surely the men who fought for the freedom of this country and signed documents knowing it could mean their death would want the future generations to know the principles on which they founded this great country upon. Immense sacrifice was made for this country to become what it is. It is owed to those who gave their lives to learn the rich history behind this country, and The Bible is obviously a major part of that history. It doesn’t have to be taught in a religious manner, but it should at least be included for what its worth in American History. An understanding of the principles used in the founding of the American government that were drawn from The Bible and why they were implicated is necessary to studying American history as well as American government. This being said, American History is a studied subject in high schools in America, meaning a general understanding of The Bible is needed to fully grasp the history behind America.

Of course The Bible does have religious importance as well. The Bible is considered God’s message to humanity and is his way of speaking to us about life and death. This is where The Bible seems to get controversial and is probabely the main reason it has been removed from school as previously discussed. This also ties back in with the United States Constitution, which in the first Amendment in The Bill of Rights, citizens are given the freedom to practice any religion of their choosing. So it is understandable that some people might not want The Bible being taught to their children in school. However, the points I have made so far were suggesting only of the historical and literate aspects of The Bible be taught in school. Although for those who do want to read The Bible for its religious significance, it is still a book that should be studied in 2016. The Bible is like a instruction manual to life, and when read and applied to ones life can have amazing outcomes. It is a well known fact that life can be hard, everyone has hard times at some point. The Bible includes uplifting verses and stories for anything life may throw at you, whether it be financial hardship, depression, losing a loved one, marriage issues, anxiety, exhaustion, anything you may be going through. There are many stories that tell of God’s grace and people who trusted in God to get them through some things that can make many of our problems seem insignificant. For example the story of Daniel who was thrown into a lions den for praying to God, and God sent an angel into the lions den to close the lions mouths, and Daniel was not harmed. Someone going through a tough time could read this story and see if God got Daniel through a night with a bunch of hungry lions, that if they remain faithful to God he will get them through their problem, which also might not seem so bad anymore. The Bible also contains wisdom and virtues that if followed can save a person a lot of grief. Virtues like faith, self control, patience, kindness, morality, and love are talked about in The Bible. By studying these virtues and implementing them into your own life, you can save yourself from things like stress, anxiety, anger issues, and even trouble with the law. It is because God wants you to have a good life that these principles are given to us through The Bible, and the only way to know the way God wants you to live is to read his word, The Bible.

Another important religious aspect of The Bible is creation. There are many theories about where life came from and how the earth was formed. The Bible offers the idea of creation, in which the earth, plants, water, animals, and people were created in six days. One of the most controversial topics is the origin of life, there are many books, websites, and documentaries dedicated to looking into how this earth came about. If a person wants to examine all the possibilities and make a decision of their own about where they think life originated, they must study The Bible as one option for this. There are always debates on evolution versus creation, and to fully comprehend the subject and be able to think for yourself and make your own decision a person must read The Bible’s story of creation. The story goes that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day. This is also where we get our structure of a week, being seven days. So on the first day God created the Heavens and the Earth, as well as light and dark. On the second day He created the sky, then the third day He creates land, and the fourth day, stars. On the fifth day He created the life in the water, and on the sixth day, the life on land, including man. So why is this important? Every person, deep down questions their existence, and how life began. Did their ancestors crawl out of a mud puddle and through centuries of evolution become the human they are now, or did life come from a comet that crashed into earth, where did earth even come from? Or the sun and moon? Well The Bible has an answer for all these questions and more, whether or not you believe them to be true should depend on your logical decision after having read all the theories, including The Bible.

There are obviously many reasons The Bible should be studied in 2016, as I have stated The Bible is significant in Historical, Literate, and Religious aspects. What aspect a person decides to study The Bible for is entirely up to them. However I think if it is given a try one would find themselves intrigued to look into The Bible for its other aspects as well. It is after all the only book of its kind. There are areas of the world where The Bible is prohibited to be studied, in America we still have the right to study The Bible, maybe not in the public education system, but on our own time. And America’s rich history with The Bible suggests you should at least give it a try, who knows you might enjoy it. The Bible is often a ridiculed book in today’s society and is becoming less studied in modern times. Maybe some might find it irrelevant to read stories and writings from so long ago, but it is actually filled with tons of useful material in regards to life. We all are trying to live the best life we can, so why not read what is like the instruction manual to living a happy life. If you had to assemble something, why would you not use the instructions provided if they were available, the same can be applied to The Bible. God gave man his instruction manual to live life as it should be lived and yet people still choose to try to just figure it out for themselves.

I believe if more people studied The Bible in 2016 the world would be a happier, safer place to live. Obviously there would still be problems, human nature is not perfect, and that is why God gave us The Bible, so we might work on our imperfections and live a life pleasing to him. Thus by more people studying the wisdom and virtues of The Bible, more would try to implement what they learn into their own lives and overall a better society would be the outcome. I believe crime would go down, people would be in a general happier mood, they would enjoy their life, take pride in their work, and treat others with kindness. A joyfull, fullfilling life is possible, of course it takes sacrifice and hard work but if people are willing to give up their pride and follow God’s word in The Bible I believe they will find it nothing but rewarding.

I know that not everyone sees The Bible as a book that should be studied in 2016, many have never read even a single page. But for a book so unique, so loved yet so hated. So accesible and also having been banned in places, how can you not be interested in reading it. Perhaps this fast paced society in which books of all kinds are becoming less and less studied are simply to blame. No matter the cause my hope is that everyone would at least give it a try before dismissing it as either irrelevant, or fiction. After all many people who have set out to try and dissprove The Bible have ended up believing in its message after their research and further reading into The Bible.

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