The Bible is the sacred book containing God’s revelation to people. It is the inspired word of God. It is the book through which God communicates with His people. 

The Bible as the word of God

The Bible is the word of God because

  1. The written scripture contain God’s word.
  2. Through the Bible God communicates his will to humans.
  • It contains word written by inspired authors such as the prophets who were sent by God.
  1. God himself took part in the writing of the Bible. e.g. God is believed to have written the ten commandments
  2. It contains the history of salvation realized through Jesus Christ.
  3. The Word gives revelation to mysteries.
  • The Bible contains a message of hope and reconciliation.
  • It reveals that God controlled what was being written and what He intended the writers to pass to the people.

The Bible as a library

The Bible is referred to as a library since it is a collection of inspired scriptures or books.

The Bible contains 66 books.

The Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old

Testament contains 39 books while the New Testament contains 27 books.

However, the Roman Catholic Church accepts 7 additional books referred to as Apocrypha or Deutero or canonical books. The word Apocrypha means hidden or secret. They are

  1. Esdras
  2. 1Tobit,
  • 2 Tobit,
  1. Judith,
  2. Ecclesiaticus,
  3. Baruch and
  • Maccabees

Why the Bible is a library.

Several studies show that:

  1. The Bible contains (66) book just like a library has many books. The Bible is a collection of books arranged in series.
  2. The Bible is a reference book for Christians. The authors of the Bible had a special spiritual guidance; hence each book was written for a purpose.
  • The books were written at different times in history.
  1. The Bible has literary works.
  2. The Books written contain different topics.
  3. The Bible has different books written by different authors.
  • The books of the Bible were written under different situations and circumstances.


Major divisions of the Bible

The bible is divided into two major divisions. These are the Old Testament with (39 Books) and the New

Testament with (27 Books). The word Testament means covenant or agreement with God.

The Old Testament books are divided into:

  1. Books of the law or the Pentateuch or Torah.
  2. Historical books.
  • .Poetic Books
  1. Prophetic books.

Law books or the Pentateuch or Torah

The Law books are

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers

Moses wrote these books. They contain the law of God as it was given to the people of Israel through Moses. They also contain the history of the Israelites from creation to the time they entered the Promised Land. The author Moses is regarded as a lawgiver, teacher and prophet.

Historical books

There are the 12 consecutive books from

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  •  Ezra
  •  Nehemiah

These 12 books record the history of the Israelites.

They also contain information about the life and achievements of some prophets for example the life history of Elisha and Elijah.

Poetic Books

The books are poetic in nature. The poetic books contain wise sayings, songs, and prayers. The poetic books are

  1. Psalms which was written by David
  2. Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  1. Song of Solomon written by Solomon and

 Prophetic books

These are divided into major and minor prophets. A prophet is a messenger of God, or God’s spokesperson. A prophet is a mouthpiece of God. Prophets pass information and messages from God to the people. Their messages from God concern the future.

  1. Five Major Prophetic Books. The major prophetic books are by

(i) Isaiah

(ii) Jeremiah

(iii) Lamentations

(iv)  Ezekiel and

The books are named after the prophets who prophesied and probably wrote them. Jeremiah wrote lamentations. These prophets are called Major Prophets because they cover a longer period of time. Their prophecies are long, and they prophesied over a long period of time.

  1. Minor Prophets.

There are 12 books of

  1. Hosea
  2. Joel
  • Amos
  1. Obadiah
  2. Jonah
  3. Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  1. Zephaniah
  2. Haggai
  3. Zechariah and

These books are by Minor Prophets who are said to have prophesied over a shorter period of time if you compare them with the Major Prophets.

New Testament books are:

  1. Biographical book or Gospels.
  2. Historical book (Acts of the Apostles).
  • The Epistles.
  1. Apocalyptic or Prophetic book

Biographical book or Gospels

Gospel means Good News. The disciples of Jesus wrote the biographical books. They contain information about the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The biographical books are four.

  • Mathew – Written by Mathew
  •  Mark – Written by Mark
  • Luke – Written by Luke, the doctor and
  • John – written by John (the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ)
  1. b) Historical books

There is one historical book, which is the Acts of the Apostles. Luke, the writer of the St. Luke’s Gospel, wrote it. The book of Acts tells us the history of the early church.

  1. c) The Epistles

There are two Epistles.

  1. Pauline Epistles
  2. and General Epistles

Pauline Epistles

These are letters written by Paul. They are 13 letters that Paul wrote to

  1. Romans
  2. 1Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  1. Galatians
  2. Ephesians
  3. Philippines
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  1. 2 Thessalonians
  2. 1 Timothy
  3. 2 Timothy
  • Titus and

General Epistles

Are letters written to the church by other people. The letters are 8 in number. They  are

  1. Hebrews
  2. James
  • 1 Peter
  1. 2 Peter
  2. 1John
  3. 2John
  • 3 John
  • Jude


 Apocalyptic or Prophetic book

This is the book of Revelation. It is the last book in the New Testament. It is different from other books. This is because it is prophetic of things to come. It is about the future. It was written by John the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ.


These books of the Bible are accepted as the Canon of the Bible. The term Canon means Standard or guidance or rule. Translation means expression of books by words and pictures, poems and songs from one language to another.

  • The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, the language of the Israelites.
  • Then between 250 – 100 BC, it was translated to the Greek language. The Greek translation of the Bible was known as Septuagint. This term refers to 70 translators. The Jews in dispersion or Diaspora used this translation. These were the Jews living outside Palestine.
  • Between 386 – 420 A.D. Jerome, a great Christian Scholar, translated the entire bible from Greek into Latin, the language of the Romans. This translation was called Vulgate. Christians used the Latin translation of the Bible up to the 16th century.
  • During the reformation in the 16th Century, Christians were encouraged to use their own native languages in worship. From that time, the Bible was translated into English and German. First English translation of the Bible was done by John Wycliffe in the 14th century ACE.
  • As Christianity spread to different parts of the world, there was the need for translations of the Holy Bible into various languages. In 1804, the British formed the Foreign Bible Society, which translated the Bible into many languages.
  • Johann Ludwig Krapf translated the New Testament into Kiswahili. This was the first Bible translation in East Africa.
  • Since that time, the Bible Society of Kenya has translated the Bible into other languages such as Kikuyu in 1951, Kikamba in 1956, Kimeru in 1964, Kalenjin in 1968, and Luhya in 1974.
  • By 1980 the Bible had been translated into 29 Kenyan languages. To date (2010) the Bible has been translated into 42 languages of Kenya.

 Translation and versions used in Kenya today

Besides Bible translation into several languages, there are many English translation versions, which are commonly used in Kenya. These are

  • King James Version
  • Jerusalem Bible
  • New International version
  •  English Bible
  • The Authorized Version
  •  Good News
  • Revised Standard Version
  • New King James Version
  • Amplified Bible
  • The living Bible
  • The African Bible
  • Common Bible
  • Today’s English Bible
  • American version among others.


 Writing of the Bible

By 2010, the Bible Society of Kenya had translated the Bible into 42 Kenyan languages. The need to read the Bible led to writing of Bible reading materials to teach literacy in local languages. Those who wrote the Bible used different styles, and figures of speech to make their message vivid and clear. Several literary forms were used in the writing of the Bible.

These are:

  • Poetry in Psalms; Psalms and Job. Notice the rhythm of the words
  • Prose in Leviticus, which is a Legislative text
  • Wise sayings in Proverbs
  • Prophetic speeches by Jeremiah
  • Prayers by Nehemiah
  • Love Songs for example the Songs of Solomon
  • Here see Pauline Epistles (Romans)
  • Gospels for example. Mark’s Gospel
  • Religious epics for example Exodus
  • Narratives for example. Genesis
  • Philosophical essays for example the book of Job. Here please notice the use of metaphors and similes in philosophical essays.

The effects of Bible translations on African languages

Bible translations:

  • Increased and deepened African faith in God.
  • Led to increased literacy. After Africans acquired literacy skills, they read the Bible and improved their literacy skills. Christian missionaries established schools in order to teach literacy that helped African to read the Bible.
  • Made it easy for missionaries to spread the gospel to the African communities.
  • Increased the demand for the Bible. This led to writing of Books and setting up of printing presses I African countries.
  • Made it easy for the expansion of the church i.e. more people became Christians.
  • Led to the emergence of independent churches and schools.
  • The missionaries and colonialists learnt the African languages.
  • The African converts realized that the missionaries were unfair to them. There was for example a different treatment of African by White missionaries. This was inequality of races, which was and is even now against Christian teachings.
  • Helped Africans to re-discover their cultural identity. For example the use of African instruments, dressings, and practice of polygamy, which David and other kings in the Old Testament did.
  • Led to the writings and spread of African languages. The missionaries learnt local languages.
  • Improved communications between missionaries and the local people because they could understand each other.
  • Increased printing of reading materials

The effects of Bible translations on Africans communities

After the first Bible translations, there were immediate effects or influences on some communities. For example, some community leaders did not agree with the Christian teachings. Some wanted to retain aspects of their African religion. As a result, some communities who disagreed with Bible translations established their own Christian denominations in order to preach the Bible, as they understood it. This was the emergence of independent churches. Some African communities built independent schools where their children could learn how to read and write without being forced to practice all the Christian teachings.

Why it is necessary to translate the Bible into African languages.

  • To enable people to read and understand the Bible in their own languages.
  • To facilitate the spread of Christianity as people would read, understand and get converted.
  • To indigenise Christianity, facilitate its adaptation to local situations and cultures.
  • So that missionaries/evangelists could use it as a tool to for educating Africans/desire to know how to read and write in order to read the Bible.
  • To revise the older versions and keep abreast with changes in the world.
  • So as to evangelise/cater for all the communities in Kenya.

Why the reading of the Bible is important to Christians to today.

  1. It provides moral and spiritual guidance.
  2. It helps Christians rediscover the will of God.
  • It is a way of worshipping God.
  1. It helps us to understand the Christian doctrine.
  2. It guides Christians on how to relate with God and fellow human beings.
  3. God reveals Himself to Christians through the Bible.
  • It helps a person to discover him/herself worth and dignity as human being.
  • It is a source of consolation to Christians.

Review questions

1) What is the importance of reading the Bible?

2) How is the Bible used in society today?

3) How does the Kenya Government use the Bible today?

4) Name the major divisions of the Bible in both the New Testament and the Old Testament

5) What are the effects of Bible translation on African languages?

6) Why is the Bible referred to as (a) a Library and (b) the Word of God

7) What is the meaning of the term inspiration?




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