The Bible isn't a book but is a collection of books -- with around twenty letters thrown in as well. Any attempt to read it cover to cover usually proves aggravating, as many Bible books repeat what others have already described, and usually not in chronological order.
The Old Testament comprises the sacred literature (the "Scriptures") of Judaism, while the Old and New comprise the sacred literature of Christianity. The word 'testament" is roughly equal to "covenant," which is roughly equal to "agreement" or "deal." Thus the Old Testament follows the old covenant, or deal, made between God and the people of Israel, while the New Testament follows the new deal made between God and the Christians, via Jesus. The Old Testament reached its final form around 150 B.C., the New around A.D. 100.
Each book in the Bible is divided into chapters and each chapter is divided into verses, though these divisions often don't divide thoughts or even sentences very cleanly. They are useful, however, for locating specific points in the Bible.
Many people are under the impression that the thees, thous, and thines often associated with Bible scriptures reflect the nobility of their message. Actually, they reflect the nobility of Elizabethan English, the language in which the King James Version of the Bible -- the only English version for almost three hundred years -- was composed. The books of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and had existed for over a thousand years before the thees, thous, and thines were added. Jesus, Moses, and God never uttered a thee, thou, or thine in their lives.
Old as it may seem, before you can even begin to discuss the Bible, you have to ask "Which Bible are we talking about?"
Another problem in Bible analysis (one never mentioned by Bible literalists) is that no two Bibles are exactly alike; each translation reflects the politics and religious doctrine of its sponsor.
The Hebrew Scriptures
Last updated by Nelson Feb 12, 2009.