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early 14c., from Anglo-Latin biblia, Old French bible (13c.) "the Bible," also any large book generally, from Medieval and Late Latin biblia (neuter plural interpreted as feminine singular), in phrase biblia sacra "holy books," a translation of Greek ta biblia to hagia "the holy books," from Greek biblion "paper, scroll," the ordinary word for "book," originally a diminutive of byblos "Egyptian papyrus," possibly so called from Byblos (modern Jebeil, Lebanon), the name of the Phoenician port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece (cf. parchment). Or the place name might be from the Greek word, which then would be probably of Egyptian origin. The Christian scripture was referred to in Greek as Ta Biblia as early as c.223. Bible replaced Old English biblioðece (see bibliothek) as the ordinary word for "the Scriptures." Figurative sense of "any authoritative book" is from 1804.
Walter Scott and Pope's Homer were reading of my own election, but my mother forced me, by steady daily toil, to learn long chapters of the Bible by heart; as well as to read it every syllable through, aloud, hard names and all, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, about once a year; and to that discipline -- patient, accurate, and resolute -- I owe, not only a knowledge of the book, which I find occasionally serviceable, but much of my general power of taking pains, and the best part of my taste in literature. ... [O]nce knowing the 32nd of Deuteronomy, the 119th Psalm, the 15th of 1st Corinthians, the Sermon on the Mount, and most of the Apocalypse, every syllable by heart, and having always a way of thinking with myself what words meant, it was not possible for me, even in the foolishest times of youth, to write entirely superficial or formal English .... [John Ruskin, "Fors Clavigera," 1871]
The book sacred to Christians, which they consider to be the inspired word of God. The Bible includes the Old Testament, which contains the sacred books of the Jews, and the New Testament, which begins with the birth of Jesus.
Thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are accepted as part of the Bible by Christians and Jews alike. Some Christians consider several books of the Old Testament, such as Judith, I and II Maccabees, and Ecclesiasticus, to be part of the Bible also, whereas other Christians, and Jews, call these the Old Testament Apocrypha. Christians are united in their acceptance of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament; Jews do not consider the writings of the New Testament inspired. The Bible is also called “the Book” (bible means “book”).
Note: By extension, any book considered an infallible or very reliable guide to some activity may be called a “bible.”
Bible, the English form of the Greek name _Biblia_, meaning "books," the name which in the fifth century began to be given to the entire collection of sacred books, the "Library of Divine Revelation." The name Bible was adopted by Wickliffe, and came gradually into use in our English language. The Bible consists of sixty-six different books, composed by many different writers, in three different languages, under different circumstances; writers of almost every social rank, statesmen and peasants, kings, herdsmen, fishermen, priests, tax-gatherers, tentmakers; educated and uneducated, Jews and Gentiles; most of them unknown to each other, and writing at various periods during the space of about 1600 years: and yet, after all, it is only one book dealing with only one subject in its numberless aspects and relations, the subject of man's redemption. It is divided into the Old Testament, containing thirty-nine books, and the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books. The names given to the Old in the writings of the New are "the scriptures" (Matt. 21:42), "scripture" (2 Pet. 1:20), "the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:2), "the law" (John 12:34), "the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms" (Luke 24:44), "the law and the prophets" (Matt. 5:17), "the old covenant" (2 Cor. 3:14, R.V.). There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New. (See APOCRYPHA.) The Old Testament is divided into three parts:, 1. The Law (Torah), consisting of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. 2. The Prophets, consisting of (1) the former, namely, Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings; (2) the latter, namely, the greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets. 3. The Hagiographa, or holy writings, including the rest of the books. These were ranked in three divisions:, (1) The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, distinguished by the Hebrew name, a word formed of the initial letters of these books, _emeth_, meaning truth. (2) Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, called the five rolls, as being written for the synagogue use on five separate rolls. (3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Between the Old and the New Testament no addition was made to the revelation God had already given. The period of New Testament revelation, extending over a century, began with the appearance of John the Baptist. The New Testament consists of (1) the historical books, viz., the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles; (2) the Epistles; and (3) the book of prophecy, the Revelation. The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is altogether of human invention, designed to facilitate reference to it. The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain sections for use in the synagogue service, and then at a later period, in the ninth century A.D., into verses. Our modern system of chapters for all the books of the Bible was introduced by Cardinal Hugo about the middle of the thirteenth century (he died 1263). The system of verses for the New Testament was introduced by Stephens in 1551, and generally adopted, although neither Tyndale's nor Coverdale's English translation of the Bible has verses. The division is not always wisely made, yet it is very useful. (See VERSION.)