FROM THE BOOK "HOW WE GOT THEBIBLE" by Neil R. Lightfoot.
Pertinentfacts you should know for the strengthening of your
Christian faith, compiled by Keith Hunt.
When I entered the Church of God back in the winter of 1961/62
some of the first books I obtained was on HOW we got our present
day King James Bible. A few of the books were LARGE and somewhat
technical. I particularly enjoyed and was appreciative of a
smaller book, of about 126 pages. It is from this book by Neil
Lightfoot that the following pertinent information is re-produced
for your edification.
FROM CHAPTER TWO
The Form of Our Bible Today
Our Bible today, as everyone knows, is divided into two
major sections known as the Old and New Testaments. The term
testament is an unfortunate translation (Greek, diatheke) and
would be better rendered as CONTRACT or COVENANT. Thus the basic
structure of the Bible hinges on the idea that God has made two
significant COVENANTS with His people, and that the New Covenant
has displaced the Old.
.......arrangement of Old Testament books found in the
English Bible is derived from the Latin Vulgate translation,
which in turn is derived from the Septugint or Greek
The books of the HEBREW Bible, however, are grouped
1. LAW : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy.
2. PROPHETS :
a. Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1
and 2 Kings.
b. Latter Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the
Book of the Twelve.
3. WRITINGS : Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon,
Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah,
1 and 2 Chronicles.
If we compare this arrangement with our English Bible we see
that the Hebrew Bible has but THREE major divisions: the LAW, the
PROPHETS, and the WRITINGS (cf. Luke 24:44).
There is not only a different structure, but also different
designations for the books. The twelve Minor Prophets, for
example, are taken together as ONE book and are known simply as
the Twelve. Another prominent difference appears by terming
Joshua, Judges, and the books of Samuel and Kings as Former
Prophets. These books which we regard as historical are known as
prophetic because they were written with a prophetic outlook
by men who most likely were prophets. However different the
arrangements, it is important to remember that the books included
in the English Bible are precisely the SAME AS found in the
The books of the New Covenant are grouped together in THREE
parts: (1) five books of HISTORY (matthew to Acts), twenty-one
books of DOCTRINE (Romans to Jude), and one book of PROPHECY
(1) The five books of History may be further divided into
four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles.......The first three
Gospels are known as Synoptic Gospels because of their SIMILAR
content. The Gospel of John was written at a later date and
presupposes the presence and knowledge of the first three
narratives. The Acts of the apostles is a kind of continuation of
the Gospel of Luke, since both works were from hand of Luke, and
because of their interconnection, they are sometimes referred to
(2) The twenty-one books of Doctrine are epistles written by
various inspired men......The Pauline Epistles are of two groups:
those written BEFORE his two years imprisonment in Rome (cf. Acts
28:30); and those written later (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) which
are sometimes called Pastoral Epistles. The book of Hebrews is
sometimes numbered in the Pauline group.......
(As a note: There is historical church evidence from early
writers that Paul did write the book of hebrews in Hebrew to the
Hebrew Jews, and that it was then translated by Luke into the
Greek language for wider distribution - Keith Hunt).
The General or catholic (universal) Epistles are comprised
of James, the letters of Peter and John, and Jude. In the early
Greek manuscripts these books are found immediately following the
Acts of the Apostles and before the Pauline collection of
(As a note: This order of books for the NT is the most
naturally logic. The life and teachings of Christ, the Acts of
the Apostles and the beginnings of the NT church, then the
relatively easy to understand general epistles, after that the
harder writings of Paul, and then the post-graduate study of the
book of Revelation - Keith Hunt).
(3) The one book of Prophecy, the book of
Revelation.....perhaps not the last book of the NT to be written,
but it suitably appears at the end of the Bible........
The Language of the Bible
...................It remains now for us to give some
attention to the language in which the various books of the Bible
were originally composed..........
The Bible was written originally in THREE languages: (1)
Hebrew, (2) Aramaic, and (3) Greek. Contrary to the opinion of
some people, these languages are not DEAD languages. Hebrew is
the spoken language of the new state of Israel; Aramaic is spoken
by a few Christians in the environs of syria; Greek, of course,
is spoken by millions of people today, although it is quite
different from the Greek of the NT.
(1) HEBREW. Almost all of the thirty-nine books of the OT
are written in Hebrew. Hebrew is a LARGE FAMILY of languages
known as SEMITIC, and is akin to such languages as Aramaic,
Syriac, Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) and Arabic......It is
written "backwards" (from right to left)........and possesses a
vocabulary that is unrelated to English words. The forms of the
Hebrew alphabet likewise present a problem and sometimes are
confused by the best-trained eye......In addition, the Hebrew
alphabet is without vowels. It is true that a system of
vowel-points has been added......but a person thoroughly trained
in the language this vowel system often proves a hindrance as
much as a help. Modern hebrew books and magazines are normally
printed without vowels; and this is precisely the way the OT text
(Note: As this book was written so long ago, I wonder if the
modern Hebrew books and magazines are still printed without
vowels. I found the last few sentence very revealing. I had
forgotten them over the years. To think that vowels could be as
much a hindrance as a help, very interesting - Keith Hunt).
(2) ARAMAIC. Aramaic is a kindred language to Hebrew, and
after the time of the exile (c.550 B.C.) became the tongue of the
common man in Palestine.......Since Aramaic was spoken by the
Jews several centuries before Christ, it is not surprising to
find some portions of the OT in Aramaic instead of Hebrew.
Aramaic sections of the OT include: one word as a place-name in
Genesis 31:47; one verse in jeremiah 10:11; about 6 chapters
in the book of Daniel (2:4b - 7:28); and several chapter in Ezra
To anyone who looks at a copy of the Hebrew Bible these
sections will appear NO DIFFERENT from other parts of the OT.
This is true because the Aramaic characters are like those of the
Hebrew, OR to be more exact, the square-shaped Hebrew letters
are actually BORROWED FROM THE ARAMAIC. So there is no difference
in appearance between the Hebrew and the Aramaic, BUT THE TWO ARE
The longest OT section in Aramaic begins in daniel 2:4. The
first part of this verse is in Hebrew, and the Aramaic portion
starts with the response of the Chaldeans, "O king, live
An INTERESTING confirmation of this linguistic change within
the verse has come to light in the last few years. The amazing
DEAD SEA SCROLLS have produced a fragment of THIS SECTION OF
DANIEL and in the MIDDLE OF DANIEL 2:4 THE HEBREW STOPS AND THE
ARAMAIC BEGINS - EXACTLY AS OUR TEXT READS TWO THOUSAND YEARS
(Note: Is God able to preserve His word, or is God able to
preserve His word? The Dead Sea Scroll of the book of Isaiah is
said to be in all effects just as we have the book of Isaiah in
our Bibles. God is able, He does live and He does have the POWER
to preserve His word even through the agency of human hands -
Aramaic CONTINUED FOR CENTURIES as the vernacular of
Palestine. The NT preserves for us Aramaic expressions of Jesus,
such as TALITHA CUMI (little girl, get up) in Mark
5:41.......Jesus HABITUALLY addressed God as ABBA (Aramaic for
Father), which did not fail to leave its mark on the vocabulary
of the early church (Rom.8:15; Gal.4:6). These expressions
clearly show that the language normally spoken by our Lord
and His Jewish followers was Aramaic.
(Note: Aramaic was a DISTINCT language from Hebrew, and so
this shows Jesus and His followers would have no compulsion in
using the Aramaic names for Deity, not the Hebrew names, which
shows it is not wrong, not a sin, as some claim, to translate
and use the names for the Deity into other languages - Keith
(3) GREEK. Although the spoken language of Jesus was
Aramaic, the books which comprise our NT were written in greek.
There is little question today on this point, although A FEW MEN
have maintained that some portions of the NT were issued at first
in Aramaic. It was in the PROVIDENCE OF GOD, since the gospel was
to be proclaimed to EVERY CREATURE, that the NT writers made use
of a language that was KNOW EVERYWHERE. GREEK in the FIRST
CENTURY, as English is today, was the "UNIVERSAL" language.
(Note: Many do not realize that so universal was the Greek
language that as far away as in the land of Britain, the Greek
language was known and used. It is recorded that the British
Druids were fluent in the Greek tongue - Keith Hunt).
The Greek of the NT exhibits certain linguistic
peculiarities. For a long time it was affirmed that these
peculiarities could be explained on no other basis than the
supposition of a "Holy Ghost Greek." RECENT DISCOVERIES AND
RESEARCH (Note: Remember this book was written in the very early
60's - Keith Hunt) have wholly overthrown this supposition and
now the language of the NT is more correctly termed HELLENISTIC
or KOINE (common) Greek. We have been brought to this
unmistakable conclusion due largely to DISCOVERIES among the
Greek PAPYRI. The significance of these papyri finds can scarcely
be OVER-EXAGGERATED. Their impact on the Greek text and its
vocabulary will be considered later.
The book by Ernest Martin called "THE ORIGINAL BIBLE
RESTORED" gives compelling proof that within the THREE
DIVISIONS of the OT (the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings)
were 22 books. The same named books we have today in our KJV, but
divided up and classified differently to make a set of 22 books
altogether. Martin shows that if we take the Gospels and Acts as
one set or collection, making 5 books, we are then left with 22
books for the NT. So 22 on one side (say the left), 5 in the
middle(Gospels and Acts), and 22 books left on the other side
(the right side). This all adds up to 49 books as originally.
Now the number 49 is 7 x 7, or seven complete sevens. There was
to be 49 days and then Pentecost or Firstfruits feast day. There
was to be 49 years then the year of Jubilee.
The number 22 in Biblical Numerology stands for LIGHT/MAKING
MANIFEST, AND the number 5 represents GRACE. All this I will
bring to you in future articles on the subject of Biblical
Numerology (How God uses Numbers) which is a fascinating subject.
All studies may be copied, published, emailed, and distributed as
led by the Spirit. Mr.Hunt trusts nothing will be changed (except
for spelling and punctuation error) without his consent.
To be continued