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The Bible:  Its Structure and Form

Lesson One

Victor M. Eskew




A.     We are entering into a study about which there are many questions:  “The Inspiration, Transmission, and Translation of the Word of God.”


B.      In addition to the three words found in our title, there are many other words that will need to be defined as we advance in our study:  autographs, manuscripts, uncials, canon, Septuagint, and Apocrypha to name a few.


C.     The questions that are involved in this study have

1.       Destroyed the faith of some

2.       Cause individuals to seek answers that have greatly increased their faith




A.     The name “Bible”

1.       The word “Bible” is not found anywhere in the Word of God.

2.       It comes from the Greek word “biblos” which means “book.”  “The plural form of biblos is biblia, and by the second century A.D. Christians were using this latter word to describe their writings” (A General Introduction, Geisler & Nix, p. 17).

3.       Biblia gave rise to the Latin word of the same spelling “biblia.”

4.       This gave way to the Old French term “biblia.”

5.       Our English word “Bible” is from the Old French term, with an Anglicized ending.


B.      The Bible is composed of two covenants.

1.       Covenant:  a compact or agreement between two parties

2.       The Old Covenant

a.       Exodus 24:8


And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.


b.      This covenant was made specifically with Israel.

1)      Exodus 19:3-8


And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.  And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.  And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. 

2)    Deuteronomy 5:1-3


And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your years this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.  The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.  The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us alive here this day.


3.    The New Covenant

a.    Jeremiah prophesied of a new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34, esp. v. 31).


Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.


b.    The new covenant was needed because the Jews did not fulfill their part of the old covenant (Heb. 8:7-8).


For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Juda.


c.    Jesus brought in the new covenant and sealed it with His blood (Heb. 8:6; Matt. 26:28).


But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.


d.    This covenant is for all men (Mark 16:15), and by it will all men be judged who have been living since the cross of Calvary (John 12:48).

4.    NOTE:  Christ is the theme of both covenants.

a.    John 5:39


Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:  and they are they which testify of me.


b.    Chart (General Intro, p. 18)


In the OT Christ is                                       In the NT Christ is


                             In shadow                                                    In substance

                             In pictures                                                   In person

                             In type                                                         In truth

                             In virtual                                                     In reality

                             Latent                                                          Patent

                             Prophesied                                                   Present

                             Implicitly revealed                                         Explicitly revealed

5.    The relationship between the two covenants

a.    The OT is the NT concealed; the NT is the OT revealed.

b.    The New is in the Old contained, and the Old is in the New explained (Scroggie as quoted by Giesler & Nix, p. 18).




A.   The Hebrew Bible

1.    The most basic form was twofold:  the Law and the Prophets.

2.    Jesus told of the threefold division (Luke 24:44).


And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.


B.   The Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek in Alexandria Egypt (c. 280-150 B.C.). 

1.    This translation is known as the Septuagint (LXX).

2.    It regrouped the OT into four divisions:  Law, History, Poetry, and Prophets.


C.   When the New Testament was added to the Greek OT, the New Testament books were divided into the Gospels, History, Epistles, and Prophecy.


D.   The Latin Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible, followed the Greek divisions of the Bible.  Our English versions followed both the Greek and Latin in structure.


E.   Remember, Christ is the theme of both covenants.  “…He may also be seen as the subject in the sequence of each of the eight sections of the Scriptures (General Intro, p. 22).



Section                 Name                    Relationship to Christ                       Viewpoint


1                           Law (5)                  Foundations for Christ                        Downward

2                           History (12)            Preparation for Christ                          Outward

3                           Poetry (5)               Aspiration for Christ                            Upward

4                           Prophecy (17)         Expectation of Christ                           Forward

5                           Gospels (4)             Manifestation of Christ                        Downward

6                           History (1)              Propagation of Christ                           Outward

7                           Epistles (21)           Interpretation & Application of Christ               Upward

8.                          Prophecy (1)           Consummation of Christ                      Forward






A.   The Bible is “the Book.”


B.   It is truly a unique, “one-of-a-kind” book.


C.   Many have questions about it.

1.    It is from God or men?

2.    After 2000 years, do we still have the Testaments as they were originally given?

3.    How did translation process impact the message of the Bible.


D.   One thing is for certain:  This book is a message about Jesus Christ, the Son of God!