Bible: Introduction

In The Beginning...

Sorry to interrupt so soon in the program, but what's a Bible?

Awesome question Mr. Narrator Dude. But it's like, the answer is totally complicated.

Complicated?!? There's nothing complicated about it! As anyone of culture knows, "Bye Belle" is the preferred farewell expression in Southern France.


I thought bi-bell meant twin hollow metal things...

...that reverberate when struck.

Actually the word is Bible, and I've invited our friend Mr. Bible to help explain the etymology or origin of the word.

Hey BibleDudes! My name comes from a Greek word, ta biblia, which means "the books." That's because those putting the Bible together understood that it wasn't just one book, but a collection of books. Ultimately though the term "Bible" goes back to Phoenicia. Ancient Phoenicia's major city was Byblos, which is today located in modern Lebanon. Byblos was so famous for writing that the Greeks used their name for this city (biblos) for all written things. It would be like calling cars "Detroit," cafés "Paris," beer "Milwaukee," beans "Boston," rice "Beijing," poutine "Québec," cows "Dallas," sand "Medina," plastic surgery "Los Angeles," boredom "Omaha," Jazz "New Orleans," duck-billed platypuses, "Sydney,"

[Mr. Bible][Map of Byblos]


Ahem... Mr. Bible, my darling, I'm so sorry to interrupt you, but I think we do indeed get the point.

[Mr. Bible]

Sorry BibleDudes. Related to the derivation of "Bible," you can still see the Greek term for "books" in English words such as bibliography, bibliophile, bibliology, and so on.


Hey! Isn't that Johannes Gutenberg?

Johannes Gutenberg

Ja, das is me, Herr BibleDudes. Ja, it was in Mainz way back in 1455 CE that I mechanized a moveable type. Before this, books had to be copied by hand, ja. But my invention allowed books to be rapidly and inexpensively mass produced, ya, and on a printing press. Ja, and the very first books my machine printed were about 180 Bibles, of which only about 50 exist today. They are quite rare, ja.

So while the Bible is a collection of books, this collection is by far the best-selling book of all time, the perennial best-seller, with more than a million copies purchased each year, and to date it has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. These books are literally the most influential writings ever produced. But exactly which books make up the Bible? Well it depends who you ask, all because of a thing called "canon."