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What is the Bible?

The Bible is the greatest love story ever told.

It shows us how much God wants a relationship with each one of us and how we can discover who we are and who God has created us to be. 

The story of Jesus is the lens through which we see God’s heart for the world and his love for humankind. 

The Bible in numbers 

  • Number of books: 66 
  • Approximate number of words: 750,000 
  • Approximate number of years taken to write: 1,400 
  • Approximate number of authors who wrote it: 40 
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What is the Bible? | The Bible Project


The Bible is often referred to as the word of God, but how did the authors know what to write?

A stock image of someone reading the Bible.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work
2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 (New Living Translation)

Paul, in this short passage, makes two really important points about the Bible.  

  1. He tells us where Scripture originates: it was ‘inspired by God’.  
  2. He tells us part of its purpose: for teaching, preparing and equipping Christ’s disciples for God’s work. 

When people speak of the Bible as inspired, they are referring to the fact that God influenced and directed the human authors of the Scriptures in such a way that what they wrote was the inspired word of God.  

God didn’t dictate or coerce the writer to put aside their upbringing and cultural perspectives, but used these to add greater depth and relevance for their audience.  

Neither did God put them into a trance and take over their writing hand! God, through the Holy Spirit, guided the authors of Scripture to enable them to write words which convey his truth. 

A life-changing read 

The Bible is more than just a general ‘how to’ advice book – how to treat others or how to live a contented life.  

Scripture is God’s living word that brings us to fullness of life in Christ and gives us the ability to live full lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

I read Mark’s Gospel in about an hour and, realising that this was not just simple but powerful, I read it again.
Lieut-Colonel Ian Barr

Where do I start? 

Salvation Army officer Lieut-Colonel Ian Barr says: ‘My advice to people new to reading the Bible has always been to begin getting to know Jesus by reading Mark’s Gospel – in one sitting if possible – and to read it in the Good News Bible or in similarly uncomplicated language.’ 

When Ian was 16 years old, he read Mark’s Gospel. He says: ‘I read it in about an hour and, realising that this was not just simple but powerful, I read it again.  

‘That night I made an adult commitment to the Christ who had made himself real to me through his word. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully to me as a young man who had known about Jesus, and loved him, but needed to experience his love, forgiveness and empowering in my life.’ 

The story of Jesus

Mark’s account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is a great place to start.

Read Mark

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Ian Barr explores some of the big questions surrounding the Bible and helps make the wonder of God’s word ever more real to us.

Learn more about prayer and what it means to start a conversation with God.

This Open Learning course introduces you to some of the passages in the Bible that can help you to grow in your new relationship with God.

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