By Mary Sayad

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  • Understanding the Bible
    An Introduction - Part 1

    Beloved Friends,

    As mentioned in my previous message, I am offering you a simplified understanding of the Bible. I realize that many of you have limited time and are unable to study the Bible thoroughly and perhaps the only access to the scriptures to some may only be the weekly scripture readings at Sunday liturgy. The easy-to-grasp, brief explanations that I will post at this website will help you to comprehend the purpose of the Bible as well as God's message to mankind.

    Most of my research on this subject came directly from the Holy Bible and a Bible handbook. In addition the pastor of our parish, Fr. Sami Baroody will be reviewing my explanations for verification and accuracy. Our parish is St. Ann's Melkite Catholic Church.

    The Bible is a collection of books written by different people at different times. These books were inspired by God and reveals His will and purpose for man. It is the world's best selling book and has been an inspiration to many people of many cultures throughout many generations.

    Some of the subjects in the Bible include history, geography, psychology, law, prophecy, spiritual compositions as well as God's will for mankind. It was written over approximately 1600 years, from about 1500 B.C. to about 100 A.D., in Aramaic (Christ's language), Greek and Hebrew. It was written by many authors who were inspired by God and therefore contains His word and His purpose for men.

    There are two parts to the Christian Bible: The Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament) contains seventy-three books. The Old Testament contains forty-five books. The other twenty-seven books were written after the time of Christ and they are the books of the New Testament.

    The subject of the forty-five books of the Old Testament may be separated into four parts:

  • Part 1 -The Pentateuch
    ("Pentateuch" comes from the Greek meaning five volumes.)

    The Law - These are the first five books of the Old Testament and they are also called the Law or Torah. Below are the five books of Moses. Moses gives the Law of God to the Hebrew people The Book of Genesis
    The Book of Exodus
    The Book of Leviticus
    The Book of Numbers
    The Book of Deuteronomy

  • Part 2 -The Historical Books

    The historical books relate the tribes, their battles and various life of the people including their chosen kings and kingdoms. In addition, the lives of the prophets are included in these historical books. There are a total of sixteen books in this category.

  • Part 3 - The Prophetic Books

    The prophets foretold coming events and were messengers of the one, true God. They consistently reminded the Hebrew people of their heritage as children of God. The prophets call their people to prayer as well as to repent and follow the commandments to worship God instead of idols.

  • Part 4 - The Wisdom Books

    These books contain spiritual compositions. This literature was used in the worship of the Hebrew people and are still used as the basis of our worship of God today. The Church Fathers refer to these books as The Writings.

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    To assist you in your Lenten obligations and inspirations, I am including a prayer of St. John Chrysostom. I hope that you apply it during this Lenten season as well as throughout your daily lives. This prayer serves as a reminder of our Christian obligations.

    Prayer of St. John Chrysostom

    Do you fast? Give me proof by your works.
    If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
    If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.
    Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, and the ear,
    and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.
    Let the hand fast, by being not avarice.
    Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
    Let the eyes fast by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
    Let the ears fast by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
    Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
    For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and
    devour our brothers and sisters. --

    Your companion in prayer,
    Mary

    To be continued......