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What Is The Bible And Why Do People Read It?

With total sales of over 5 billion copies, the Bible is the bestselling book of all time.

It has estimated annual sales of 100 million copies per year. You can get a Bible in many places (e.g., churches, bookstores, online) and, if you don't have one already, you can get a free copy to download for your phone.

There are many possible reasons why you have decided to do this course. Maybe you have always hears of the Bible but didn't know what it is about. Maybe you have been going to church your whole life, but wanted to know more about the text that is so often refered to. Maybe your parents were very religious and you want to get a better idea if what they saw in this ancient writing. You might have taken this course to seek some spiritual answers or to better equip yourself for certain life situations. Whatever the reason, this course will help you take some steps forward in understanding and interpreting a book that has influenced billions of peoples lives throughout history.
    
By completing this course, your Bible reading should be:

  • More accurate - as your ability to correctly interpret improves
  • More enjoyable - as you understand more of what you are reading 

The Bible

The Bible is a collection of texts sacred in Judaism and Christianity. The word Bible comes from the Koine Greek word ‘ta biblia’, which literally means "the books" and from it is derived our English word “Bible”. Thought the word “Bible” is not used in Scripture, the Greek word ‘ta biblia’ is often used. This collection of writings comes from many different authors who wrote at different times, and in different locations. Jews and Christians consider the books of the Bible to be a product of divine inspiration (from God) and a record of the relationship between God and humans.

What does ‘Divine inspiration’ mean?
The term ‘Divine inspiration’ refers to the Christian belief that the Bible was not just a set of thoughts from human authors, but that they were somehow influenced by God. There are a number of passages that refer to this concept (e.g., 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 1 Corinthians 2:13, Mark 7:13). Exactly how God inspired the Bible is unclear, but there is evidence for both a human element (style, language, personal remarks) and a divine element (consistency, prophecy, accuracy, intrinsic self-authentication). Because of Gods role in producing the principles of the Bible, Christians use it as a means of communication from God about life and doctrine (teaching).  

With total sales of over 5 billion copies, the Bible is the bestselling book of all time. It has estimated annual sales of 100 million copies per year. You can get a Bible in many places (e.g., churches, bookstores, online) and, if you don't have one already, you can get a free copy to download for your phone.

Free Bibles for your mobile device

If you look up "free bible" in your mobile device app store, you will find one or more free bible options like the following:

  • BibleReader - Olive Tree Bible Software
  • Bible.is - Free Bible reading app
  • YouVersion - Free Bible reading app from Lifechurch.tv

If you have a laptop/desktop, there are some nice options for download:

  • e-Sword - Free Bible software. Includes extensive search functions, many available Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, maps, and other religious books.
  • The Word - Free comprehensive Bible study software with features including Bibles in many languages, non-Bible study resources (including maps), cross-referencing system.
     

There are hundreds of practical and spiritual reasons to read the Bible. While everyone may have a different personal reason, below are some of the common ones:

  • People read the Bible in order to understand what it says. This might sound simple, but many people grew up in Christian homes and attend church without actually knowing the Bible themselves. They rely on what their grandparents or pastors have told them. Some people decide that they need to see what it says without someone else choosing what is important.
  • People read the Bible in order to get guidance. People study the Bible because they don't trust that their own emotions and the morals of society are the best way to make choices. There is a proverb that says: "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Prov 28:26; Prov 3:5). Many seek such guidance from the Bible in terms of life decisions as well as moral decisions. There is a well quoted passage in the Bible from 2 Tim 2:15 (NIV) which states: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
  • People read the Bible in order to make decisions for themselves. Many things that are taught in church are not actually seen in the Bible. They are traditions that were started many years ago and have been passed down from generation to generation. A common example is that many people are surprised to see that there were no babies baptised in the Bible (christening). In the Bible, baptism was always an adult decision. Jesus even commented on this in Matthew 15:8-9 when he said: 'This people honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'. Another challenge is that every pastor or family might focus on different parts of the Bible. How does a person know if there is anything important that they don't know if they have never read it for themselves?
  • People read the Bible to grow in faith. Many people want to grow spiritually, but don't know how to. In Romans 10:17 we read: “faith comes by hearing the word of God”. For many people, the Bible is seen as one of the main sources of spiritual growth. People seek to grow in their character, faith, understanding and knowledge of God and Jesus.