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The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, biblía, 'the books') is a collection of religious texts, writings, or scriptures sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, Islam, Rastafari, and many other faiths. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilation of texts of a variety of forms that are all linked by the belief that they are collectively revelations of God. These texts include theologically-focused historical accounts, hymns, prayers, proverbs, parables, didactic letters, admonitions, essays, poetry, and prophecies. Believers also generally consider the Bible to be a product of divine inspiration.

Those books that are included in the Bible by a tradition or group are called canonical, indicating that the tradition/group views the collection as the true representation of God's word and will. A number of biblical canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents from denomination to denomination. The Hebrew Bible shares most of its content with its ancient Greek translation, the Septuagint, which in turn was the base for the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be Jewish disciples of Christ, written in 1st-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon, primarily about the biblical apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect or recognition.

Attitudes towards the Bible also differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, High Church Anglicans, Methodists and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of both the Bible and sacred tradition, while many Protestant churches focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This concept rose to prominence during the Reformation, and many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching. Others, though, advance the concept of prima scriptura in contrast, meaning scripture primarily or scripture mainly.

The Bible has had a profound influence on literature and history, especially in the Western world, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating." With estimated total sales of over five billion copies, it is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.[page needed]

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page with text beginning "Histoire Critique du vieux testament par Le R. P. Richard Simon"
Title page of Richard Simon's Critical History (1685), an early work of biblical criticism

Biblical criticism is the use of critical analysis to understand and explain the Bible. During the eighteenth century, when it began as historical-biblical criticism, it was based on two distinguishing characteristics: (1) the scientific concern to avoid dogma and bias by applying a neutral, non-sectarian, reason-based judgment to the study of the Bible, and (2) the belief that the reconstruction of the historical events behind the texts, as well as the history of how the texts themselves developed, would lead to a correct understanding of the Bible. This sets it apart from earlier, pre-critical methods; from the anti-critical methods of those who oppose criticism-based study; from later post-critical orientation, and from the many different types of criticism which biblical criticism transformed into in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Most scholars believe the German Enlightenment (c. 1650 – c. 1800) led to the creation of biblical criticism, although some assert that its roots reach back to the Reformation. German pietism played a role in its development, as did British deism, with its greatest influences being rationalism and Protestant scholarship. The Enlightenment age, and its skepticism of biblical and church authority, ignited questions concerning the historical basis for the human Jesus separately from traditional theological views concerning his divinity. This quest for the historical Jesus began in biblical criticism's earliest stages, and has remained an interest within biblical criticism, on and off, for over 200 years. (Full article...)
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"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Romans 8:38-39

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