The Holy Bible is the collection of writings that contain the records of divine revelation and the dealings of God with His chosen people, the tribes of Israel. The word “bible” comes from the Greek ta biblia, meaning “the books.” Thus the Bible is not just a single book, but is a divine library. The Christian Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is comprised of the records and prophetic writings of the Jews had among them during the Savior’s earthly ministry. The New Testament contains the writings of the Apostolic Age, selected by the Church for their value. The books in the New Testament are not the same in every Bible or in every Christian church. The books of the Bible have also varied in sequence over time, but generally they are found in the following order: the Four Gospels, Acts, the Epistles of Paul (mostly arranged according to length), the general epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and the Revelation of John. The Bible used by most non-Catholic churches today has 66 books (39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament). The Apocrypha generally has not been included.
The Bible is the work of many prophets and inspired writers acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It came into being part by part, a gradual growth extending over many centuries. In the Bible one can see in the books themselves evidence of the varied conditions of time and place and thought under which they were composed.
Councils were held in early Christianity to determine which of the writings were authoritative and which were heretical. Some good judgment was used, rejecting many spurious books. Times of persecution also precipitated decisions as to which books were true and which were false. No doubt many writings, from both the Old and the New Testament, have been lost (see Lost Books) and maybe even willfully destroyed, especially by governments persecuting early Christians. Some writings were discarded during a general apostasy after the death of the apostles. People fell into error, which started even while the apostles were governing the Church. Thus, they may have discarded or considered heretical some writings that contained the truth. The philosophies that gradually became accepted doctrine were generally the beliefs of people in the larger metropolitan areas, almost a majority rule, and not necessarily a reflection of God’s true doctrines. This is why prophets and apostles are necessary. They receive true doctrine through direct revelation, and thus keep the Church on solid ground. However, some sound guidelines were established that protected and kept the most authoritative books of the Bible. The guidelines followed by these early judges were as follows:
- Was the document written or dictated by a prophet or an apostle?
- Is the doctrine expounded consistent with known and accepted doctrines of the faith?
- Is the document already used and trusted in the Church?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the King James Version of the Bible, as it considers it most accurate version available in English. Joseph Smith worked on a translation of the Bible, and his work is listed in the footnotes of the page for certain verses . His translation of Matthew is contained in an appendix. The King James Version published by the Church has no changes in its original text.
The position of the Church regarding the Bible is that it contains the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. Joseph Smith taught that “many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” He also said that the Bible was correct as it came “from the pen of the original writers,” but that “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (History of the Church: 1:245; 6:57). The Church reveres and respects the Bible, but recognizes that it is not a complete nor entirely accurate record. It affirms also that the Lord has given additional revelation through His prophets in the Last Days that sustains, supports, and verifies the biblical account of God’s dealings with mankind.
*Pew Forum test shows Mormons know most about Christianity and Bible
The English Bible
The New Testament
The Old Testament