The History of the Bible

The word “Bible” comes from the Latin word ‘Biblos’ and means “collection of books”, “Library” or simply: “Books”. The Bible is comprised of 66 individual books.  There are 39 books in the Old Testament (Torat, Zaboor & Anbian); and 27 books in the New Testament (Injil) means “good news”.  The Bible was written under the inspiration of Allah by over 40 different authors from all walks of life: prophets, shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians, fishermen, priests, philosophers and kings, most were Jews. Allah didn’t recite it word by word.   But He gave them the message of awareness for the people of their age and for the people of the future. They wrote it in their own language, namely Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The miracle of this book is that, although it was all written over the course of the middle 1,600 years of human history each of its points is linked with the other.  Despite these differences in occupation and the span of years it took to write it, the Bible is an extremely cohesive and unified book. There is consistency and harmony in each book of the Bible.  Without Allah’s inspirational power this would be impossible.

The earliest book written was Job (Prophet Ayub), a wealthy landowner about 2,000 B.C. Ayub was a contemporary of Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) a pagan settler who became the forefather of the Jews, through Isaac (Israel) and the forefather of the Arabs through Ismail.  Then after about a 400 year gap when the Hebrews, the people of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt, Moses (Musa) prophet and statesman authored what are now the first 5 books of the Bible, known as the Tawrat (Pentateuch- the law): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. 

About 1000 B.C. David (Prophet Dawood), shepherd, poet and later King of Israel wrote the 150 Zaboor (Psalms) alongside other books of wisdom. The rest of the Old Testament the Ambian (the Prophets) continued to be penned, mostly by various Jewish prophets like Solomon (Prophet Suleiman), Son of David, scientist and King, Jonah (Younas) the prophet to Nineveh, Samuel (priest & prophet), Isaiah the prophet, Jeremiah, priest and prophet,  Ezekiel the priest, Daniel the chief official, Esther the queen of Persia, Nehemiah the prophet & governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, Joel the prophet, Amos farmer and prophet,  Obadiah the prophet, Micah the prophet, Nahum the prophet, Habakkuk the prophet, Zephaniah the prophet, Haggai the prophet, Zechariah the prophet and finally Malachi with a message for Israel.  (39 books altogether), until about 400 B.C.  The 39 books were all written in Hebrew and some chapters in Aramaic, a local language/dialect of the Jews, which is closely related to both Hebrew and Arabic. Then there is another 400 year gap of silence in revelations until Zero point of history at the birth of the Christ. (Al Masih)

Unlike the Old Testament, the entire New Testament's (Injiil), 27 books were all completed within a single generation, i.e. during the first few decades immediately following the life of Isa Al Masih. The authors of the four canonical Gospels and the book of Acts were Matthew, a tax collector, Mark, Luke, a doctor and John, a fisherman. The writers of the letters were Paul, a priest, scribe and professor, Peter & John, both fishermen and James, half brother of Isa Al Masih. They were all Jews and disciples of Isa, apart from Luke who was a non-Jew.  The Injiil was concluded by the Apostle John's final book, The Revelation. The Injiil was written in Greek and is available like this, unchanged till today.

In terms of volume, the Bible is with about 780,000 words ten times the size of the Qur’an with its 78,000 words just about 10%. So while it took almost 2000 years for the Bible to be completed it took 23 years only for the Qur’an.

Professor Faouzi Arzouni, Lebanese Arab Scholar, grown up in Senegal

Unique in human history, the Bible was and is like no other book

It’s the world best selling, most read, most famous, life-changing book. More people in the world hear it than read it. It has been translated into more than 340 languages. At least one book of the Bible has been translated into 2100 languages.

By the time of Mohammed (pbuh) there were translations done in Syrian, Coptic (Egypt) and Aramaic (Palestine) languages as well as Latin (Romans). It seems that Muhammad (pbuh) was sure that the Torah, (Tawrat) Psalms (Zaboor), and Gospel (Injiil) that existed then were authentic and valid. If not, he would not have encouraged people to believe and follow those books.

However, it is not believed that contemporaries had an Arabic version, nor any of the original language copies to be shown to the Prophet (pbuh). If he ever held it in his hands it must have been in the original languages. One of the oldest Arabic bibles was discovered in the 19th century at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt. The manuscript called Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex 151, dates back to in AD 867, which is about 200 years after the first copy of the Qur'an was compiled and distributed.

The first English translation of the whole Bible from the originals was handwritten and produced in the 1380's AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. The first ever printed book was the Latin language Bible by Johann Gutenberg, who invented the printing press in the 1450's, in Germany.

The Urdu translation from Greek and Hebrew originals dates back to 1843 AD. Presently, there are translations in Pakistan’s main languages like modern Urdu, Farsi, Pashtu, Beluchi, Punjabi and Sindhi, all available through Pakistan Bible Society Lahore. There are also new translations in Hindu minority languages like ‘Marwari’, ‘Parkari’ Bhiil, etc of Interior Sindh.  Free download of Translation modern Urdu

If you are in Lahore do visit the Pakistan Bible Society Museum, at Anarkali Bazar which has opened in 2013, on the occasion of its 150st year anniversary with a display of old Bibles, manuscripts, translations and accessories.

All translations of the Bible worldwide come from the most ancient copies of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. The Hebrew text used for translation dates back to the 1st century BC (Dead Sea Scrolls) that pre-date the life of Isa Al-Masih. The main Greek manuscript is based on several texts dating back to the 4th century.  However, fragments of the New Testament Greek text have been found dating back to the 1st century AD.

The text of the Bible can be traced back almost two thousand years to the oldest available manuscripts. There are 5200 anscient manuscripts available , which agree all on its content to match up with any textual criticism. None of the books have been altered in its original text throughout history and all are all available today in its original form. The following are exhibited and displayed in the British Museum in London which

they are the oldest 2 complete Bibles in the original Greek language.  They have been translated carefully in any modern language and are available everywhere today and accessible in the internet.

The Bible is more powerful in one’s own language than in the original Hebrew or Greek since Allah, who knows all language wants to speak to your heart. Bible translators are scholars, specialists in both Hebrew and Greek as well as the particular local language. They usually work in teams with indigenous people, supervised by authorized boards of local elders and linguistic consultants.

The differences in the Bible are in the modern language translations. New translations in the same language are done because wording needs to be changed, not the meaning “corrected.” The Bible doesn’t need corrections because it was written perfectly! It has no errors. The men who wrote the Bible received it directly from Allah. So the Bible is certainly not just for your shelf but for yourself!!! 

( Pakistan Bible Society )

Free download of the whole Bible translated into modern Urdu