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The Bible refers to one of two closely related religious texts central to Judaism and Christianity—the Hebrew or Christian sacred scriptures respectively.
The Hebrew Bible, composed between the 14th and 5th centuries BCE, is the main source for the history of ancient Israel. The five books of the Torah comprise the origins of the Israelite nation and its covenant with God. The Prophets consist of prophetic and ethical teachings, as well as the historic account of Israel. The Writings such as Psalms and Job are poetic and philosophical works. Israelite historians presented a picture of the ancient nation based on information that they viewed as historically accurate. Like modern historians, Hebrew writers provided historical explanations or background information of the events they describe (e.g., 1 Sam. 28:3, 1 Kings 18:3b, 2 Kings 9:14b-15a, 13:5-6, 15:12, 17:7-23).
Judaism recognizes a single set of canonical books known as the Tanakh, also called Hebrew Bible, traditionally divided into three parts: the Torah ("teaching" or "law"), the Nevi'im ("prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("writings").
The Bible as used by Christians adopted the Jewish, or Hebrew Bible into its canon, classifying it as the "Old Testament". Soon after the establishment of Christianity in the first century, Church fathers compiled Gospel accounts, and letters of apostles into a Christian Bible, in addition to the adopted Jewish Bible. This became known as the New Testament. The two together are referred to as "The Bible" by Christians. The canonical composition of the Jewish Bible is in dispute between Christian groups: Protestants hold only the books of the Hebrew Bible to be canonical; Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox additionally consider the deuterocanonical books, a group of Jewish books, to be canonical. The New Testament is composed of the Gospels ("good news"), the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles (letters), and the Book of Revelation.
The term "bible" is sometimes used to refer to any central text of a religion, or a comprehensive guidebook on a particular subject.
Old and New Testaments
Main articles: Development of the Old Testament canon and Development of the New Testament canon
The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the fourth century a series of synods produced a list of texts equal to the39-to-46-book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo in AD 393. Also c. 400, Jerome produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (see Vulgate), the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time. A definitive list did not come from an Ecumenical Council until the Council of Trent (1545–63)
During the Protestant Reformation, certain reformers proposed different canonical lists than what was currently in use. Though not without debate, see Antilegomena, the list of New Testament books would come to remain the same; however, the Old Testament texts present in the Septuagint, but not included in the Jewish canon, fell out of favor. In time they would come to be removed from most Protestant canons. Hence, in a Catholic context these texts are referred to as deuterocanonical books, whereas in a Protestant context they are referred to as Apocrypha, the label applied to all texts excluded from the biblical canon which were in the Septuagint. It should also be noted, that Catholics and Protestants both describe certain other books, such as the Acts of Peter, as apocryphal.
Thus, the Protestant Old Testament of today has a 39-book canon—the number varies from that of the books in the Tanakh (though not in content) because of a different method of division—while the Roman Catholic Church recognizes 46 books as part of the canonical Old Testament. The term "Hebrew Scriptures" is only synonymous with the Protestant Old Testament, not the Catholic, which contains the Hebrew Scriptures and additional texts. Both Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament Canon.