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Valley of Springs - Dan and Jo Acharya

Why is the Bible called a library?

On this page we will think about what kind of book (or books) the Bible is. We will find out how the Bible is divided into sections. We will learn how to read the different parts of the Bible.

You can read the whole page, or you can click one of these links to jump to the part you want to read.
 

The Bible is a library

2 big sections of the Bible: The Old Testament and the New Testament

7 smaller sections of the Bible: Different kinds of writing

Very small sections of the Bible: Books, chapters and verses

The library that tells God’s story

 

The Bible is a library

mage of lots of colourful books and Bibles on the shelves of a library.

The Bible is one big book made up of lots of smaller books. In this way the Bible is a library.
 

A library has lots of different books. They are written by different people, at different times and in different places. And they have different kinds of writing in them, like poems and stories and letters.
 

It is the same with the Bible. The Bible is made up of 66 books. They were written by different people, at different times and in different places. And they have different kinds of writing in them too. The people who wrote the 66 books all people believed in God. They wrote these books to tell other people all about God and what he had done. So the Bible is a library that tells us all about God’s work in the world and his friendship with people.
 

About 1600 years ago the 66 books were put together into one big book which we call ‘The Bible’. The 66 books were already special for Christians. But this was the first time they were put together in one big book.
 

So this is why the Bible is called a library. And because the Bible is a library, it can be confusing to just pick it up and read it. It is helpful to break the Bible down into sections. This will help us to read and understand each part better. So how is the Bible broken down into sections?
 

2 big sections of the Bible:
the Old Testament and the New Testament

Image of two big books - the Old Testament and New Testament sections of the Bible

First, the Bible is divided into two big sections. These are called the Old Testament and the New Testament. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. These make up the 66 books of the Bible.
 

The Old Testament

The books in the Old Testament were written before Jesus’s life on earth. They tell us that God made the world and wants us to be his friends. And they tell us about the people of Israel, who are also called Jews. They were God's special people. God chose them to follow him and help the rest of the world get to know him. The Old Testament is special to Jews as well as Christians.
 

The New Testament

The books in the New Testament were written after Jesus’s life on earth. They tell us about Jesus’s life and what he did for us. They tell us about the start of the church. And they tell us what will happen in the future when Jesus comes back. The New Testament is special to Christians.
 

7 smaller sections of the Bible:
Different kinds of writing

Image of any Bibles open at different sections

 
There are different kinds of writing in the world. We cannot read all these kinds of writing the same way. Or we might end up reading a funny story and thinking it was the news! There are different kinds of writing in the Bible too. When we read the Bible we need to know what kind of writing we are reading. Then we can understand it better.
 

The Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible are broken down into smaller sections. They group different kinds of writing together. So what are these sections of the Bible called?
 

Section 1: Old Testament history

The first section of the Bible is called Old Testament history. This section is 17 books from Genesis to Esther. The books in this section tell us about things that happened. We can read these books a bit like we would read a newspaper or a history book.
 

Section 2: Wisdom books

The next section of the Bible is called the wisdom books. This section is 5 books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. The books in this section are all different. They use different kinds of writing to say big things about life and God. In these books we can find songs, poems, wise sayings and stories.
 

Section 3: Books of prophecy

 

Image of a curious sheep looking at the camera, with other sheep in the background.The next section of the Bible is called the books of prophecy. This section is 17 books from Isaiah to Malachi. The books in this section make up the rest of the Old Testament. They are a kind of writing called prophecy. In the Old Testament, God gave messages to people called prophets. He told them to pass these messages on to everyone in Israel. In these messages, God warned Israel to stop doing bad things. And he promised that he would send a Saviour to help them.
 

Prophecy can be hard to understand because there are a lot of symbols and pictures in the words. In one place God says that the people of Israel are like his wife. In other places he says they are like sheep. The writers wanted us to see these pictures in our minds. They wanted us to think about what they might mean.
 

Gospels

The next section of the Bible is called the Gospels. This section is the first 4 books in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books tell us about Jesus’s life on earth. The word gospel means ‘good news’. These books are good news because Jesus is the Saviour who God promised in the books of prophecy. These books tell the same story, but they tell it in different ways. So they are a bit like reading about something that happened in 4 different newspapers.
 

New Testament history

The next section of the Bible is called New Testament history. This section is only one book: Acts. Acts tells us what happened to the first Christians and how they told people about Jesus. It is another book that we can read like a newspaper.
 

Letters

 

Image of womans hands holding a handwritten letter.The sixth section of the Bible is called the letters. This section is 21 books from Romans to Jude. These books are letters written by some of the first Christians. They were sent to churches. The main kind of writing in these books is teaching. They explain how Jesus saved us by dying and taking away our sins. And they talk about how God wants us to live as Christians. 

Vision

The last section of the Bible is a vision. This section is just the last book of the Bible: Revelation. Revelation is a vision that God gave to one of Jesus’s followers. It is like a dream that he had while he was awake. Like prophecy, Revelation has a lot of symbols and pictures in the words. It is one of the hardest books of the Bible to understand, because it talks about things that haven’t happened yet. It is a vision of what will happen in the future, when God makes everything right.
 

Very small sections of the Bible:
Books, chapters and verses

Next the Bible is divided into books. You can find all 66 books in a list at the beginning of your Bible. But some of the books of the Bible are still quite big. This makes it hard to find the part you are looking for, even if you know which book it is in. So about 1000 years ago the books of the Bible were broken down even further into very small sections called chapters and verses. This makes it much easier to find what you are looking for. You just have to know the Bible reference.
 

You might have seen Bible references before. They are normally written like this:

Image of bible reference John 3:16. John is the book. 3 is the chapter. 16 is the verse.

The word at the beginning is the name of the book. The first number is the chapter. The second number is the verse or verses. So if you see John 3:16 you can work out that the verse you need to find is in the book of John, chapter 3 and verse 16.
 

In the easy read part of this website we write Bible verses like this:
 

John chapter 3 verse 16
 

We write Bible verses like this to make them even easier to understand.
 

The library that tells God’s story

So now you know why the Bible is called a library. It has 66 books and different kinds of writing. The Bible is broken down into 2 big sections, 7 smaller sections and lots of very small sections. That means you can find a very small part of the Bible really easily!
 

The Bible is very special to Christians. This is because it tells us the story of God's work in the world and his friendship with people.
 

But there is an even bigger reason why the Bible is special. The Bible says that God's Holy spirit helped the people who wrote it. He helped them to say what God wanted them to say. That is why we sometimes call the Bible 'God's word'. And when we read it, The Holy Spirit helps us too. He speaks to us through the Bible. So when we read the Bible it is like having a conversation with God. Here is what the Bible says about this:
 

God’s word is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us.
(Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12, ERV)


So the Bible is not just a library of old books. It is one of the ways God speaks to us and teaches us through all the 66 books. By reading the Bible we can get to know him better.


 


 

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Where to Go Next...

Why are there different versions of the Bible? (easy read page)

What is the easiest version of the Bible to read and understand? (Easy read page)

How can I pray when bad things happen in the world? (Easy read page)

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Who We Are

Valley of Springs is the online home of Jo and Dan Acharya.
We write devotional blogs to help you grow in your faith and trust God in difficult times.

We also provide easy read Bible study and discipleship resources for Christians with learning difficulties.
Jo is the author of Refresh: a wellness devotional for the whole Christian life.

 

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Page credits

Library picture by Lubos Houska from Pixabay 

Two books picture by Spork Dork from Pixabay 

Lots of open books picture by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay 

Sheep picture by David Mark from Pixabay 

Letter in envelope picture by Miriam Salgado from Pexels