39. Bible

When you get serious about God, you want to start your own research. Having a dynamic spiritual experience quickly makes you realize you want to learn all you can about what happened to you. In the western world the Judeo-Christian tradition prevails. So you naturally turn to the Bible, its holy book, as the accepted depository of God information.

You wonder, "Where should I start? What does the Bible mean? Why two Testaments, an old one and a new one?" Bible means books and comes from the Greek word biblia. The Bible is the primary history of God's actions and revelations as recorded by Jews and early Christians.

It covers the period from creation (Adam) through Jesus' last disciple (John) who died at the end of the first century A.D. Its two-part division is for two epochs of human history. Old is before Jesus (BC) and the new epoch is after Jesus' birth, Anno Domini (AD). Testament simply means testimony about, or witness to those two historical epochs.

For Jews and Judaism, only the Old Testament is sacred - most especially, the record from Abraham (c. 1800 BC) through Malachi (c.460 BC). Judaism is rooted in the first five Old Testament books, known as the Law (Torah), or the books of Moses. The Old Testament divides into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. It records a history of a closed religious era, and how God once worked exclusively with tribal Jews through their temple and monarchy.

For Christians and Christianity, the New Testament is the place to start. Both Testaments are sacred but the New Testament records Jesus' new epoch, the start of the Kingdom of God on Earth. We live in the New Covenant era. Jesus closed the "Old" epoch. Jesus' death on the cross changed everything and brought in his New Covenant. Jesus made God easily available. He is freely open to all people who want to be in his presence.

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