The English word "Bible" comes from bíblia in Latin and bíblos in Greek. The term means book, or books, and may have originated from the ancient Egyptian port of Byblos (in modern-day Lebanon), where papyrus used for making books and scrolls was exported to Greece.
Other terms for the Bible are the Holy Scriptures, Holy Writ, Scripture, or the Scriptures, which mean sacred writings.
The Bible is a compilation of 66 books and letters written by more than 40 authors during a period of approximately 1,500 years. Its original text was communicated in just three languages. The Old Testament was written for the most part in Hebrew, with a small percentage in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek.
Going beyond its two main sections--the Old and New Testament--the Bible contains several more divisions: the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Poetry and Wisdom Books, the books of Prophecy, the Gospels, and the Epistles.
Learn More: Take an in depth look at the divisions of the Books of the Bible.
Originally, the Holy Scriptures were written on scrolls of papyrus and later parchment, until the invention of the codex. A codex is a handwritten manuscript formatted like a modern book, with pages bound together at the spine within a hard cover.
The Word of God
The Bible itself claims to be the inspired Word of God, or "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). It unfolds as a divine love story between the Creator God and the object of his love--man. In the pages of the Bible we learn of God's interaction with mankind, his purposes and plans, from the beginning of time and throughout history.
The central theme of the Bible is God's plan of salvation--his way of providing deliverance from sin and spiritual death through repentance and faith. In the Old Testament, the concept of salvation is rooted in Israel's deliverance from Egypt in the book of Exodus.
The New Testament reveals the source of salvation: Jesus Christ. By faith in Jesus, believers are saved from God's judgment of sin and its consequence, which is eternal death.
In the Bible God reveals himself to us. We discover his nature and character, his love, his justice, his forgiveness, and his truth. Many have called the Bible a guidebook for living the Christian faith. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (NIV)
On so many levels, the Bible is an extraordinary book, from its diverse content and literary styles to its miraculous preservation down through the ages. While the Bible is certainly not the oldest book in history, it is the only ancient text with existing manuscripts that number in the thousands.
For a long period in history common men and women were forbidden access to the Bible and its life-transforming truths. Today the Bible is the best selling book of all time, with billions of copies distributed throughout the world in more than 2,400 languages.
Learn More: Take an in depth look at the History of the Bible.