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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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THE Book by preeminence. "Next to God the Word," says Fuller (Pisgah Sight), "I love the word of God. I profess myself a pure leveler, desiring that all human conceits, though built on specious bottoms, may be laid flat, if opposing the written word." The term "Bible," though dating only from the 5th century in its sacred and exclusive use, is virtually expressed in the designations occurring in itself: "The Scripture" (John 10:35; John 20:9; Romans 4:3; 2 Peter 1:20); "the Book" (Psalm 40:7, cepher); "the Scripture (kithab) of truth" (Daniel 10:21). The books composing it are not isolated, but form together an organic unity, one whole made up of mutually related parts, progressively advancing to the one grand end, the restoration of the fallen creature through the love and righteousness of our God.
        The Lord comprehends and stamps with divine sanction the whole Old Testament, under the threefold division recognized by the Jews, "the law, the prophets, and the psalms" (including all the holy writings not included in the other two, namely, the Hagiographa) (Luke 24:44). The Torah, or law, is mentioned as a book (including the five books of the Pentateuch) (Joshua 1:8; Joshua 8:31-35; Joshua 24:26). The Hebrew names of the five books of the Pentateuch are taken from the initial words of the several books. The names we use are from the Greek Septuagint: "Genesis" (creation) answering to bereeshit ("in the beginning".) And so the rest: Exodus (Israel's departure from Egypt) answering to weeleh shemot ("and these are the names"), etc.
        "The prophets" comprise the former (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings), and the latter, comprising the greater (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) and the less (the twelve minor prophets). The including of histories among the prophets arose from the fact that they were the inspired productions of such prophetic men as Samuel, Gad the seer of David (1 Chronicles 29:29), Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo (2 Chronicles 9:29). The schools of the prophets trained such men as Isaiah for the office of historian (2 Chronicles 26:22; 2 Chronicles 32:32). Daniel is not included among the prophets, because he did not hold the prophet's office among the chosen people.
        The Hagio-grapha, or "sacred writings" (kethubim, from kathab, to write), include (1) Psalms, Proverbs, Job; (2) The Song of Solomon of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther; (3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Chronicles. The first three, from their initial letters, were called meth, "truth." The second five were called "the five rolls" (chamesh megillot), written for use in the synagogue on special feasts. Ecclesiastes (qoheleth) means "The Preacher." Chronicles bear the Hebrew name "words of days," i.e. records, the Greek paraleipomena, "things omitted" in Kings and here supplied as a supplement. The apocryphal books are never found in the Hebrew canon, and exist only in the Greek Septuagint.
        The Second Epistle of Peter (2 Peter 3:16) shows that the epistles of Paul were recognized as part of "Scripture" at the time when Peter wrote: "in all his epistles are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned ... wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures;" compare 2 Peter 3:2; "be mindful of the words ... spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior." Justin Martyr (Apology 1:66) states that "the memoirs of the apostles" were read side by side with the scriptures of the prophets. Clement of Alexandria speaks of the New Testament making up with the Old Testament "one knowledge." Tertullian terms them together "the whole instrument of both Testaments," "the complete-together Scripture." The Syrian version (Peshitto) at the close of the 2nd century contains the New Testament with the Old Testament.
        The eastern churches set the catholic epistles before the Pauline. The quotations, Luke 20:37, "at the bush," i.e. the section concerning the flaming bush; Romans 11:2 margin, "in Elias," i.e. in the passage concerning Elias; Acts 8:32, "the place of the Scripture"; show that some divisions of the Old Testament existed, with titles from their subjects. A cycle of lessons is implied in Luke 4:17; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:14. The law was divided into 54 Parshioth or sections; a section for each sabbath in the year. Shorter Parshioth also existed, subdivided into open sections (Petuchoth) like our paragraphs, marking a change of subjects; and shut ones (Satumoth) or less divisions. The divisions of the prophets were called Haphtaroth, from patar, to "dismiss"; as Missa or "Mass" comes from the dismissal of the congregation on its completion.
        Verses (Pecuqiym) were marked by the Masoretic editors of the text in the 9th century A.D. Stephens adopted them in his Vulgate, 1555; the English translation in the Geneva Bible of 1560. Our arrangement has adopted Cardinal Hugo's chapters and the Masoretic verses. Tartan, in the 2nd century, formed the first harmony of the four Gospels, called the Diatessaron. The elder Stephens, in a riding journey from Paris to Lyons, subdivided the New Testament chapters into verses, and the first edition with this division appeared in 1551. In reading the Bible we should remember these divisions have no authority; and where they break the sense, or mar the flow of thought, they are to be disregarded. The Four Gospels stand first in the New Testament, setting forth the Lord Jesus' ministry in the flesh; the Acts, His ministry in the Spirit, His church's (the temple of the Holy Spirit) foundation and extension, internally and externally.
        To the histories succeed the epistles of Paul the apostle of faith, Peter of hope, and John of love, unfolding the gospel facts and truths more in detail; just as in the Old Testament the histories come first, then the inspired teachings based on and intimately connected with them, in Psalms, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon of Solomon, and the Prophets. Finally comes Revelation, answering to Daniel, the prophetic Apocalypse of the Old Testament The first three Gospels are called "the synoptical Gospels," giving a synopsis of Christ's ministry in Galilee; John's gives His ministry in Judea. They dwell more on Christ's Spirit-filled humanity; He on His Divinity, from everlasting one with God.
        The New Testament 27 books, emanating from nine different persons, and the Old Testament 39 books, separated from each other by distances of time, space, and character, yet form a marvelously intertwined unity, tending all to the one end. Internal and external evidence disprove the possibility of their being written by several authors combining to palm an imposture on the world. How are we to account for the mutual connection and profound unity? The only answer that meets the exigencies of the case is, the word of God "came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).
        Rationalists try to disintegrate the parts of the sacred volume, but the more they do so the greater is the need for believing in one divine superintending Mind to account for a unity which palpably exists, though the writers themselves did not design it (see 1 Peter 1:10-12). If the parts of a watch be disconnected, it needs only for the maker to put them together again, to show their unity of design. However widely apart the makers of the several parts may live, the master mind used the makers as his workmen, and contrived and combined the parts into one. Infinite intelligence alone could combine into one the works of men of so various minds and of ages so. wide apart as the sacred writers, beginning with Moses the legislator and ending with John the divine. Moreover, anyone book cannot be taken from the canon without breaking a link in the complete chain. Inspiration was needed alike in producing each sacred book, and in guiding the church (while it was still possessing the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit) which to omit of even inspired books. Whatever was not necessary for all ages, though needed for the church's good for a time, were omitted (see Colossians 4:16).
        The credibility of the Old Testament is established by establishing that of the New Testament, for the Lord quotes the Old Testament in its threefold parts, "the law, the prophets, and the psalms," as the word of God. The sacred Canon of the Old Testament was completed under Ezra. frontCANON.) We find Daniel shortly before having in his hands the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:2). Paul says that one grand preeminence of the Jews was that unto them were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:2), and they are never accused of unfaithfulness in their trust. The monotheism of the Old Testament is the very opposite to the tendencies of Gentile and Israelite alike to idolatry. Again the Bible inverts the relative importance of events as men commonly regard them. Its sole aim is the honor of God, contrary to man's inclination.
        The great events of ordinary history are untouched, except in so far as flier bear upon the kingdom of God. Yet God is throughout represented as ruling in the kingdoms of men, Gentiles as well as Jews (Daniel 4:17). Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus while doing their own will, appear in the Bible as God's instruments, overruled to carry out His purposes. It is no Jewish vanity which causes the Bible to be silent about most of the great political events of the world and to dwell so much on Israel; for what the Bible records redounds to Israel's shame as an apostate people, and its allusions to surrounding nations are often to record their being made God's instruments to chastise themselves.
        Yet it is to the Bible alone we have owed for ages almost all that is most certain of the history of Moab (since confirmed by the Moabite stone), of the Amorites, and even of Nineveh and Babylon. The two latter were entombed for thousands of years until lately, and the discovery of their monuments has remarkably confirmed holy writ. The analogies of nature and of history to Bible truths powerfully confirm its emanation from the same God. The gradual development of the divine plan of redemption answers to the gradual development of God's design in the formation and in the moral government of the world.
        The historic development of the Bible scheme corresponds to God's working out His plans in the world by moral agents. And His revealing His will "in many portions" (polumeros; Hebrews 1:1, one prophet or inspired person or writer receiving one portion of revelation, another another: to Noah the quarter of the world where Messiah should appear, to Abraham the nation, to Jacob the tribe, to David and Isaiah the family, to Micah the town, to Daniel the time), and "in divers manners," corresponds to tits sending from time to time a Bacon, Newton, Shakespeare, etc., into the social world for the advancement of mankind in science and civilization. As to natural science, the Bible is so framed in language as to adapt itself (on being closely examined) to advancing intelligence, according as the ruder theories are superseded by the more accurate.
        The language being for all classes, not merely the so-called scientific, is phenomenal; it speaks by appearances, which even philosophers must often do, as in the phrase "sunrise," "sunset." The tongue through which the Old Testament revelation of God speaks is the Hebrew, that of the chosen nation, except parts of Ezra and Daniel and Jeremiah. The tongue of the New Testament is the Greek, best adapted of all languages for expressing most accurately the nicest and most delicate shades of thought and doctrine. A very remarkable proof of the Divinity of the New Testament is the marked difference between it and the writings of even the apostolic fathers that immediately succeeded: Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp. Daille remarked, "God has allowed a fosse to be drawn by human weakness round the sacred canon, to keep it from invasion."
        How remarkably too God kept the Jews, our librarians of the Old Testament, from altering, to meet their prejudices, the sacred books that record their sins and national disgrace. Though they hated and killed the prophets, they never mutilated their prophecies. King Jehoiakim alone cut a roll of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36:23-24), and burnt it in the fire. But the act is recorded as one of exceptional profanity; and immediately the same words were written again with added woes, to show man's impotence against the word of God. Also for 14 centuries the church, though in various sections of it falling into various unscriptural heresies, has never added to, nor taken from, the New Testament canon. How natural it, would have been for the church of Rome to have added something favorable to her pretensions. She has burnt saints, with their writings hung round their neck. She has shown her will to add to Scripture itself adding the Apocrypha to the Old Testament just where her addition cannot prejudice the cause of truth fatally, for the Jews witness against her in this.
        But in the New Testament, where she might have done mischief, she has been divinely constrained to maintain, without addition or subtraction, the canon which testifies against herself. The exact adaptation of the Bible to man's complex being, body, soul, and spirit -reason, emotion, conscience -and to outward nature in its varied aspects, confirms its divine authorship. It stands in marked contrast to all Gentile cosmogonies, in its majestic simplicity and evidently unmythical character. Of all other nations the oldest writings are poems, and they abound in poetic inventions. In the Bible, on the contrary, poetry is least found in the earliest books. Not until the broad midday light of David's reign does the first collection of poems, namely, his psalms, appear. The pagan ancient sacred stories, as those of the Hindus, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, present scenes of the unseen world merely gratifying idle curiosity and a prurient imagination. The same is true of the Koran.
        The Bible, with its old law of the Ten Commandments, gives the most perfect manifestation of the divine character and requirements from man, and this at a time when the human legislator, Moses, had just come from a nation sunk in the most debasing pollution and superstition. Another striking fact is, Israel has left scarcely any remains of art, and certainly nothing comparable to the masterpieces of the pagan; but it has handed down the Book which infinitely excels all that the genius of the whole world beside has produced. Pantheism, and the worship of nature as an abstract entity, lay at the root of all pagan idolatries. The Bible alone reveals the holy, just, loving, omnipotent, omniscient, personal, one and only God. Whenever their gods became personal, they ceased to be ONE; they were mere personifications of various powers of nature; fate, not the will of God, ruled all.
        But the word reflects the moral character of the perfectly holy God, and requires His worshippers to be what He is, holy. That such a book should originate among a small and rather perverse people, surrounded by idolatrous nations, and that it should receive additions in successive ages of the same people, harmonizing marvelously with the earliest books, in spite of frequent apostasy in the nation, can only be accounted for by believing its authorship to be divine. The Koran's moral precepts are at variance with its picture of the sensual heaven which awaits its votaries. The pagan mythologies in their indecent histories of gods counteracted their moral precepts. The morality of the Bible rests on the infinitely pure attributes of the God of the Bible.
        The Bible faithfully portrays man's universal corruption, its origin, and at the same time the sure hope of redemption, thus meeting fully man's profoundest wants. It gives peace to the conscience, without lowering the holy strictness of God's justice, but, on the contrary, in Christ "magnifying the law and making it honorable." There is an entire correspondence between the gospel way of salvation and the soul's deep conviction of the need of atonement for guilt.
        The lovely character of Christ in the Bible, the perfect manhood and Godhead combined, above whatever uninspired man conceived not to say attained, the adaptation of the Bible to man's varied distresses (which occupy the larger part of it), and to his circumstances in all times and places, the completeness wherewith the end corresponds to the beginning, the close presenting before us man enjoying God's presence and marriage-like union with Him, no curse, no sin, no pain, no death, and the tree of life and waters of life which the beginning represented him as possessing before the fall, all assure us that "the words of the Lord are pure, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6).
        There is a break in revelation now, just as there was for 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, after the outburst of them in connection with the rearing of the second temple. John the Baptist, at the close of the 400 years, ushered in the brightest light yet manifested. This period of New Testament revelations lasted for one century. Then have followed the 18 centuries which walk in the light of that last manifestation. The silence has been longer than before, but it will be succeeded by a more glorious revelation than all the past. The former 400 years' break directed the world's undivided attention to Messiah, so that His identity could not be mistaken.
        The Jews scattered providentially over the world by the captivity, and everywhere bearing the Old Testament, matured the universal expectancy during the silent centuries. Their present longer dispersion, and the diffusion of the whole Bible in all lands, are preparing for Messiah's manifestation in glory. Finally, the miracles wrought in connection with the Bible, and attested on infallible proofs, and the prophecies of the Old Testament (proved to have been given when they profess to be, by the fact that the Jews who oppose Christianity attest their age, and fulfilled minutely in the New Testament) establish the inspired truth of the Bible. Bad men could never have written so holy a book, and good men would never have written it if it were an imposture. Its sobriety and freedom from fanaticism and mysticism preclude the idea of its being the production of self deceiving fanatics.
        The national prejudices of all the New Testament writers, as Jews, were in behalf of an immediate temporal kingdom and an outwardly reigning Messiah, the very reverse of what His actual manifestation was. Nothing but superhuman inspiration could have turned them to write so spiritually and so at variance with all their early prejudices. Reader, if you want to know the divinity of the Bible, experimentally taste and feed upon it. The best defense of the Bible is the Bible itself. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. "Diamonds alone cut diamonds" (Fuller). "Have thou the palate of faith, that thou mayest taste the honey of God" (Augustine).

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'bible' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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