The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, biblía, "the books")[1][a] is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians. The Bible appears in the form of an anthology, compiling texts of a variety of forms that are all linked by the belief that they collectively contain the word of God. These texts include theologically-embellished historical accounts, hymns, allegorical erotica, parables, and didactic letters.

Those books included in the Bible by a tradition or group are called canonical, indicating that the tradition/group views the collection as the true representation of God's word and will. A number of Biblical canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents from denomination to denomination.[2] The Hebrew Bible overlaps with the Greek Septuagint and the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be mostly Jewish disciples of Christ, written in first-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon, primarily about the biblical apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect.

Attitudes towards the Bible also differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, high church Anglicans, Methodists and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of both the Bible and sacred tradition,[3][4] while many Protestant churches focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This concept arose during the Reformation, and many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching. Others though, advance the concept of prima scriptura in contrast.[3]

The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western world, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type.[5] According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating."[5] With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the most influential and best-selling book of all time.[5][6][7][8] As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.[9][10]


The word βιβλίον itself had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book". It is the diminutive of βύβλος byblos, "Egyptian papyrus", possibly so called from the name of the Phoenician sea port Byblos (also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece.

The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books")[11] was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books (the Septuagint).[12][13] Christian use of the term can be traced to c. 223 CE.[14] The biblical scholar F.F. Bruce notes that Chrysostom appears to be the first writer (in his Homilies on Matthew, delivered between 386 and 388) to use the Greek phrase ta biblia ("the books") to describe both the Old and New Testaments together.[15]

Medieval Latin biblia is short for biblia sacra "holy book", while biblia in Greek and Late Latin is neuter plural (gen. bibliorum). It gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae) in medieval Latin, and so the word was loaned as singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe.[16] Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια tà biblía tà ágia, "the holy books".[17]

The English word Bible is from the Latin biblia, from the same word in Medieval Latin and Late Latin and ultimately from Koinē Greek: τὰ βιβλία, romanized: ta biblia "the books" (singular βιβλίον, biblion).[14]

Textual history

By the 2nd century BCE, Jewish groups began calling the books of the Bible the "scriptures" and they referred to them as "holy", or in Hebrew כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ (Kitvei hakkodesh), and Christians now commonly call the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible "The Holy Bible" (in Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια, tà biblía tà ágia) or "the Holy Scriptures" (η Αγία Γραφή, e Agía Graphḗ).[18] The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne[19] and is now usually cited by book, chapter, and verse. The division of the Hebrew Bible into verses is based on the sof passuk cantillation mark used by the 10th-century Masoretes to record the verse divisions used in earlier oral traditions.[citation needed]

The oldest extant copy of a complete Bible is an early 4th-century parchment book preserved in the Vatican Library, and it is known as the Codex Vaticanus. The oldest copy of the Tanakh in Hebrew and Aramaic dates from the 10th century CE. The oldest copy of a complete Latin (Vulgate) Bible is the Codex Amiatinus, dating from the 8th century.[20]