1902 Encyclopedia > Bible > The Bible - Introduction. The Word "Testament".

(Part 1)


The Bible - Introduction. The Word "Testament".

The word BIBLE, which in English, as in Mediaeval Latin, is treated as a singular noun, is in its original Greek form a plural -- [ta biblia] the (sacred) books, -- correctly expressing the fact that the sacred writings of Christendom are made up of a number of independent records, which set before us the gradual development of the religion of revelation. The origin of each of these records form a distinct critical problem; and for the discussion of these questions of detail the reader is referred to the articles on separate Biblical books. The present article seeks to give a general account of the historical and literary conditions under which the unique literature of the Old and New Testaments sprang up, and of the way in which the Biblical books were brought together in a canonical collection and handed down from age to age. The Biblical development is divided into two great periods by the manifestation and historical work of Christ. In its pre-Christian stage the religion of revelation is represented as a covenant between the spiritual God and his chosen people the Hebrews. In accordance with this and in allusion to Jer. xxxi. 31, Jesus speaks of the new dispensation founded in His death as a new covenant (1 Cor. xi. 25). Hence, as early as the 2nd century of our era the two great divisions of the Bible were known as the books of the Old and of the New Covenant respectively. Among Latin-speaking Christians the Greek word for covenant was often incorrectly rendered testament, and thus Western Christendom still uses the names of the Old and New Testaments.

Read the rest of this article:
Bible - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries