The English word bible comes from the Greek word βιβλια — biblia, which means writings. Another common English word from that same root is bibliography. Just as a bibliography is the list of publications that were used as the basis for another book or research paper; the Bible is used by the Church as a reference work for study and practice. There was a time when we did not refer to it simply as the Bible but the Holy Bible. We did that at a time even before there was such a thing as The Surfers' Bible. Even among Christian groups that highly value to the notion of Church Tradition as a parallel witness, what we refer to as the Bible is considered important. The Jews have a great body of traditional works in the Mishna, Talmud, and Medrash that constitute such traditional witness, but they will tell you that, apart from some details, all of this can be derived from the study of what is written. The other important caveat is that you really cannot understand the written tradition without the oral one.
In Jewish tradition, it is said that the Torah has 70 "faces," that is, it can be learned in 70 perspectives. Additionally in each of these perspectives there are four levels of understanding. Clearly the study of the Bible can be a complicated business and there are many who have spent lifetimes in its study.
These pages are intended to provide an organized introduction to the Bible for people with limited familiarity with it. This site is the outgrowth of a number of years of teaching Bible classes in Christian Churches so the perspective is largely Christian. There are links to Jewish sites to get Jewish perspective because Christianity began as a sect within Judaism.
My observation has been that many possess a familiarity with different pieces of the scripture without a general knowledge of how it all fits together. The focus of this section of this site is to retell the Biblical story. Rather than approaching the Bible from the critical point of view that is so common today we will focus on what it says. Rather than looking at where the documents that came to be the Bible came from we will look at the story they tell. Having said that there are words, especially in this present site, about translations and the order of the books that make up our Bible, even lists of the books that are considered inspired by various Jewish and Christian groups. The inclusion or exclusion of these books do little to change the overall story.
The books of the Bible are generally grouped topically. Within a division they are often grouped chronologically. There are different threads of story line and message and even different versions of the same story. These are sometimes grouped together and sometimes not. The retelling here is going to follow the canonical order of the books with an eye on some overarching themes.
The other guiding principal is a theory of religious development known as "Original Monotheism." Original Monotheism holds that all of mankind at one time knew and worshiped a single all powerful God. Further a single all-powerful figures in most all religious traditions. Generally this God is dwelling in some unapproachable state. Thus the different religious systems are developed to allow man to approach the unapproachable. We can see this illustrated in the story that is related in the Bible. We also see that the farther man gets from creation the less comfortable he seems to be with the notion that he can, or even would desire to, have fellowship with this God. Of the three popular theories of religious development only Original Monotheism puts God at the center of the religion rather than man.