The Bible is the Living Word of God. This means that even though the books of the Bible were written hundreds of years ago, they are still relevant for us today. God continues to speak to us through the words of Biblical literature
The Bible is a collection of books. It is a library of literature with a specific interest in God’s relationship with God’s people. The types of literature include poetry, proverbs, myth, genealogy, history, didactic fiction, and letters.
There are 27 books in the New Testament, which focus on the teachings, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his relationship with the early Christian community. The New Testament includes the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the letters of St Paul, other apostolic letters, and the Book of Revelation.
The stories in the Bible began through the oral tradition of the people of God. Before the written word, people passed on their history by telling the stories in their homes and communities. It was a process of sharing “family” stories, much like what we do whenever we gather with our own family members and talk about past family events. Eventually, the stories were written on scrolls of papyrus.
The books of the Old Testament were originally written in Hebrew. After the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Hebrew stories were translated into Greek. The books of the New Testament were written primarily in Greek.
The Bible canon (“canon” comes from a Greek word meaning “measuring stick”) was determined by councils of Jewish and Christian leaders. The books in the Bible were selected from a number of writings because they are believed to be divinely inspired, God’s Word.
As we read to understand a particular passage, we need to consider the historical context of the passage, its literary type, and textual issues such as translation and editing. We can consult resources to gain insight into the passage, such as introductions and footnotes included in a Bible and Bible dictionaries and commentaries.
Anytime we read the Bible, alone or with our students, we must read it in a spirit of prayer. We ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to hear God’s Word and live it every day of our lives.
It is very important that we, as catechists, regularly include hands-on activities with the Bible in our faith formation sessions. We need to help our students become comfortable with reading the Bible. We need to help them practice listening for God’s Word in the writings and applying that Word to their lives.
Teri Burns is director of faith formation at St. Robert of Newminster Parish, Ada, MI. She is the founder and author of the blog of www.catholicfamilyfaith.com