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Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible

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Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible


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  • Copyright 2006
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Pages: 336
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-7897-3419-2
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-3419-8

The Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible introduces you to the bestselling and most influential book ever published. The Bible is the core document of Western civilization, the pinnacle of world literature, and the backbone of three major world religions. To know the Bible is to know the world--and, many say, to know much more than the world. Yet those interested in learning more about this important work discover a surprising paradox: It is both widely discussed and widely ignored. The Bible is a formidable book, and many people love it from a comfortable distance but don't want to get too close. The Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible will help you close that distance and experience the Bible as it should be experienced, as a vibrant, living, and vital collection of texts that are just as inspiring and full of life today as they were thousands of years ago.

Get ready to feel like an expert right away. Inside The Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible, you'll learn how to:

  • Find a translation or study Bible that's perfect for you.
  • Interpret difficult Bible passages, taking into account their literary features and historical context.
  • Appreciate the Bible's breadth. As a literary work, it includes poetry, philosophy, folk tales, history, theology, religious law, and even erotica.
  • Understand the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as the deeply Jewish document that it is--and learn the approaches that rabbis have traditionally used to interpret scripture.
  • Recognize the courageous missionary spirit behind the New Testament, a collection of documents, secret and illegal at the time, that would later shape the faith of billions.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

How to Read the Bible

How to Read the Bible: Approaches and Translations

Table of Contents


Quick Start: How to Find a Specific Bible Book.

How This Book Is Organized.

Special Elements Used in This Book.


1. Getting to Know the Bible.

    The Greatest Story Never Told

    Obstacles to Reading the Bible

2. Where Did the Bible Come From?

    Disputed Questions

    The Story of the Hebrew Bible

    Literature of the Early Christian Church

    Councils and Canons

    The Public Bible




3. How to Read the Bible.

    Three Ways of Looking at the Bible

      As Holy Scripture

      As History

      As Literature

    Lost in Translations

      The King James Version (1611)

      The Douay-Rheims Bible (1609)

      The New International Version (1984)

      The Jewish Publication Society Tanakh (1985)

      The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

      The New American Bible (1990)

      The New Living Translation (1996)


4. The Meaning of Torah in Judaism.

    Torah Study in Judaism

      The Plain Meaning (Peshat)

      The Hinted Meaning (Remez)

      The Deeper Meaning (Derash)

      The Secret Meaning (Sod)

    The Other Torah

    Two Essential Prayers from the Torah

      The Shema

      The Song of Miriam

5. Who Wrote the Torah?

    The Books of Moses

    Four Groups of Authors

6. The Creation and the Flood.

    And the Earth Was Without Form

    In the Garden of Eden

    40 Days and 40 Nights

7. Rise of the Nations.

    Races and Nations in the Bible

    Faith of the Fathers

    A Man Called Israel

    From Canaan to Egypt

8. From Slavery to the Promised Land.

    Under Pharaoh's Rule

    Let My People Go

      10 Plagues and a Holiday

      Parting the Waters

    The 613 Commandments

      The Covenant Code (Exodus 20:22-23:33)

      The Ritual Decalogue (Exodus 34:1-26)

      The Priestly Collection (Leviticus 1:1-16:34, 27:1-34)

      The Holiness Code (Leviticus 17:1-26:46)

      The Book of the Law (Deuteronomy 12:1-26:15)

    40 Years in the Wilderness


9. Covenants Broken and Covenants Renewed.

    A Chosen People

    The Deuteronomistic Cycle

10. Conquests and Chaos.

    This Land Is My Land

    Here Come the Judges

      Ehud the Benjaminite (3:15-4:1)

      Deborah and Barak (4:4-5:31)

      Jephthah the Outlaw (11:1-12:7)

      Samson the Nazirite (13-16)

    Horrors of Anarchy

11. The Era of Kings.

    The United Kingdom (1020-920 B.C.)

      Saul and the Rise of David

      The Legacy of David

    Two Kingdoms

    By the Rivers of Babylon

12. The Era of Prophecy.

    The Second History

    Isaiah: The Great Prophet

    Jeremiah: The Weeping Prophet

    Ezekiel: The Visionary Prophet

    Daniel: The Prophet-Hero

    The 12 "Minor" Prophets

      Hosea: The Marrying Prophet

      Joel: The Locust Prophet

      Amos: The Earthquake Prophet

      Obadiah: The Avenging Prophet

      Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

      Micah: The Perceptive Prophet

      Nahum: The Triumphant Prophet

      Habakkuk: The Pleading Prophet

      Zephaniah: The Fiery Prophet

      Haggai: The Temple Prophet

      Zechariah: The Hopeful Prophet

      Malachi: The Justifying Prophet

13. Ruth and Esther.

    The Moabite Widow

    Queen Takes Knight


14. Biblical Poetry and Wisdom Literature.

    The Books of Wisdom

    The Biblical Voice

15. Psalms and Proverbs.

    Hymns of Ancient Israel

      Hymns of Praise

      Psalms of Trust

      Thanksgiving Psalms


      Royal Psalms

      Wisdom Psalms

      Liturgical Psalms

      Historical Psalms

    Speaking of Wisdom

16. Mortal Questions.

    And You Think You've Got Problems?

    The Problem of Evil

    Biblical Existentialism

    Sex and the Single Bible


17. The Books of Tradition.

    Fired from the Canons

    The Incredible Shrinking Bible

18. Nowhere in the Bible.

    The Second Place Finish

    Lost Books of the Bible

    10 Important Extrabiblical Texts

      Five Books Connected to the Hebrew Bible

      Five Books Connected to the New Testament

19. The Dead Sea Scrolls.

    11 Caves

    New Life by the Dead Sea


20. The Search for the Historical Jesus.

    Jesus, We Hardly Knew Ye

    Jesus in the Bible

    Roman Historians on the Life of Jesus

21. Before He Was Christ.

    Away in a Manger

    The Missing Years

      Jesus and the Holy Grail

      The Prophet Isa

22. The Good Shepherd.

    The Power and the Glory

    The Good News

      The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 7:12 and 22:36-38; _Luke 10:26-28)

      The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27; Luke 6:17-49)

      The Parables

23. This Is My Body.

    Into Jerusalem

    Stations of the Cross

    He Is Risen


24. The First Christians.

    The Magnificent 12

      Simon Peter, the First Pope

      Andrew, the First Patriarch of Constantinople

      James the Great

      John the Beloved

      Philip the Serpent-Slayer

      Bartholomew the Flayed

      Thomas the Doubter

      Matthew the Tax Collector

      James, Brother of Jesus

      Jude Thaddaeus, Patron Saint of Lost Causes

      Simon the Zealot

      Matthias the Chosen

    That's the Spirit

25. A New Religion.

    The Spread of Christianity

    The Apostle Paul

26. Letters of the Early Church.

    Message in a Bible

      How to Write an Epistle

    The Pauline Epistles


      1 Corinthians

      2 Corinthians





      1 Thessalonians

      2 Thessalonians

      1 Timothy

      2 Timothy



    The Catholic Epistles



      1 Peter

      2 Peter

      1 John

      2 John

      3 John


27. The End of the World.

    Signs and Visions

    Missed It By That Much


A. Biblical Phrases We Use Every Day.

    A Man After His Own Heart

    A Still, Small Voice

    By the Skin of My Teeth

    The Land of the Living

    Out of the Mouths of Babes

    The Apple of Your Eye

    At Wit's End

    The Powers That Be

    In the Twinkling of an Eye

    A Labor of Love

    Fight the Good Fight

    Stranger in a Strange Land

B. Great Quotations from the Bible.

    On God

    On Love

    On the Meaning of Life

C. 25 Great Bible Websites.

    Online Bibles and General Reference Sites

      The Bible @ Beliefnet

      The Bible Gateway



      Bible Resource Center

      Biblical Studies on the Web

      The Blue Letter Bible

      The New Testament Gateway


      The Unbound Bible

    Jewish Bible Study Resources

      Project Genesis

      Tanach Study Center

      Virtual Beit Midrash

    Quizzes and Entertainment

      Bible Games

      Bible Quizzes

      The Brick Testament


      The American Bible Society

      Catholic Biblical Federation

      The Society for Biblical Literature


      Bible Query

      The Christian Classics Ethereal Library

      Daily Bible Reading

      Early Christian Writings

      Early Jewish Writings

      The New Media Bible

      The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

D. 12 Good Books Based on the Good Book.

    Jesus Reimagined

    Nobel Endeavors

    Women of the Hebrew Bible

    Men of the Hebrew Bible

E. 12 Great Movies Based on the Bible.

F. Choosing a Study Bible.



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