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The Bible


Books of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament):
including the Books of the Law (a.k.a. Pentateuch &
The Torah), the books of History, Poetry & Wisdom,
Major Prophets and Minor Prophets

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In preparing this section, we have been amazed at the attitudes of some theologians. They express their own particular beliefs as absolutes, without any reference to the range of opinions held by other writers.
bullet Many conservative Christians believe that the Bible's:

bullet Books should normally be interpreted literally,

bullet Books are totally free of error in their autograph copies -- as originally written by their author, and

bullet Authors were inspired by God. 1

They believe that all scripture is useful for the guidance and spiritual development of the believer. A few think that the writers acted in the capacity of a stenographer, simply writing down the words that God placed in their mind. Most believe that the authors used their own writing style and words, drew from their experiences and beliefs, but were prevented by God from making any error. They look upon each book of the Bible as being totally consistent when compared to the rest of the Bible. And they believe that when discrepancies emerge between the Bible and other historical or archeological sources, that the Bible is correct.

bullet Liberal Christians tend to view the Bible as a very human document, that was "cut and pasted" together out of material from many sources. They look upon the authors as heavily promoting the beliefs of their particular group. Being human, they made occasional errors. Liberals look upon the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as describing an evolution in religious thought. This naturally leads to conflict among passages - particularly those written a thousand years apart.

Liberals tend to:
bullet interpret many passages as myth, allegory and poetry, rather than as the actual history of real events. e.g. the creation stories in Genesis.

bullet interpret many passages symbolically rather than literally.

bullet believe that some scripture (e.g. those passages regulating slaveryoppressing women, calling for the death penalty in response to minor transgressions, etc.) are profoundly immoral by today's religious and secular standards and should be rejected as evil and contrary to the will of God. 2

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Descriptions of individual books of the Hebrew Scriptures

We follow the common English classification for the Hebrew Scriptures which divides the books into five sections:  
bullet1. Five books of the Law: (a.k.a. the Torah & the Pentateuch), consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy

bullet Who wrote the Pentateuch?
bullet2. Twelve books of History: Josha, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings,1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
bullet3. Five books of Poetry and Wisdom: Job. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasts, and the Song of Solomon

bullet A comparison of the Book of Job with the parable of the Good Samaritan
bullet4. Five books by the Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Exekiel and Daniel
bullet5. Twelve books by the Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Michah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zecharih, & Malachi
bullet Archaeology and the Hebrew Scriptures

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  1. P.N. Benware, "Survey of the Old Testament", Moody Press, Chicago IL, (1993) (conservative Christian beliefs) You can read reviews and/or order this book from bookstore
  2. C.M. Laymon, Editor, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, Abingdon Press, Nashville TN (1977), P. 122 (liberal Christian beliefs) Read reviews and/or order this book
  3. Bible Notes at (conservative Christian beliefs)
  4. R.E. Friedman, "Who Wrote the Bible," HarperCollins, San Francisco, CA (1987, 1997) (Liberal Christian beliefs) Read reviews and/or order this book

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Copyright 1998 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2013-SEP-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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