An atheist is a person who believes that no god exists.
This article is for a newcomer to the Bible. We think of the Bible as a single book but it is really a compilation of many books. The largest division of the Bible is between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Within each testament there are a number of books.
Old Testament/New Testament
The Old Testament is comprised of 39 books and the New Testament is comprised of 27 books. This division is primarily made due to the historical events surrounding the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament, written before Christ, covers events from the time of creation to the period of time after the return from exile. The New Testament, written after Christ, recounts events from Christ’s life, the early church, and a number of early writings.
The Old Testament Division
The Old Testament has been divided into three major sections: The Law, the Writings, and the Prophets.
|The Writings||Job-Song of Solomon|
|The Prophets||Joshua-Esther (Former Prophets), Isaiah-Malachi (Latter Prophets)|
This division was originally from the Jewish division of the Scriptures. It is actually mentioned in the New Testament. Jesus references “everything written about [him] in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
The New Testament Division
The New Testament is divided into three major sections as well.
Old Testament Books
The following is a list of every Old Testament book.
Song of Solomon
The New Testament Books
The following is a list of every book in the New Testaments
Chapters and Verses
Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters and verses. This system of versification was derived from the chapters and verses inserted into a Latin copy of the Bible by Stephan Langton (1150-1228). Chapters and verses were added to assist in locating specific passages quickly. They are listed in literature in the following way
[Book Name] [Chapter Number]:[Verse Number]
There are 5 books which do not fit this format due to their brevity. Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude are so short that they only have verses. For these books passages are listed as follows
[Book Name] [Verse Number]
This page is intended to help you locate and study prominent Bible characters.
|Person(s)||Location in Bible||Significance|
|Adam and Eve||Genesis 2-3||First man and woman|
|Noah||Genesis 6-9||Built an ark|
|Abram (later re-named Abraham)||Genesis 12-25||God made a covenant with Abram|
|Isaac||Genesis 17, 21-27, 35||Son of Abraham|
|Jacob (later re-named Israel)||Genesis 25-37||Son of Isaac|
|Joseph||Genesis 37-50||Son of Jacob (Israel)|
|Moses||Exodus 2-Deuteronomy 34||Delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt|
|Pharaoh||Exodus 5-14||Egyptian leader who oppressed Israel|
|Joshua||Exodus 17; Numbers 11, 14; Deuteronomy 3, 31, 34; Joshua 1-24||Leader of Israel who succeeded Moses|
|Deborah||Judges 4-5||A judge of Israel|
|Gideon||Judges 6-8||A judge of Israel|
|Samson||Judges 13-16||A judge of Israel|
|Ruth||Ruth 1-4||A Moabite widow who was loyal to her Hebrew mother-in-law|
|Samuel||1 Samuel 1-12, 25||A prophet|
|Saul||1 Samuel 9-31||First King of Israel|
|David||1 Samuel 16-1 Kings 2||King of Israel who succeeded Saul|
|Solomon||1 Kings 1-11 (see also the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes)||King of Israel who succeeded David|
|Hezekiah||2 Kings 18-20||A good king in Judah|
|Elijah||1 Kings 17-2 Kings 2||A prophet|
|Jesus Christ||Matthew, Mark, Luke, John||The Son of God|
|Paul (formerly, Saul)||Acts 8-9, 11-28 (see also Paul’s letters, Romans-Philemon)||Jewish convert to Christianity, wrote 13 books of the New Testament|
This is by no means a complete list. It is general in scope so as to be easy to use by someone new to Bible study.
There are so many English language translations of the Bible that it can seem very confusing for a new(er) Christian who has not considered which one(s) they should read. This page is intended to offer you some information about translations which I recommend.
For a list of Bible translations you should avoid, click here.
You should be aware of the following when choosing a Bible translation:
Committee Translation – Bible translations committees should be comprised of educated individuals with expertise in linguistics and translation of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. When Bible’s are translated by one individual they are prone to theological bias and other errors. A committee offers a system of checks and balances against this.
Literal vs. Dynamic Equivalence – There are good English translations which fall on this spectrum. At one end are translations which stick to more literal renderings (for example, preserving the original language’s word order when possible). At the other end are translations which offer a “dynamic equivalent” (explaining the meaning of the passage without much emphasis on the original word order). Both sides offer unique challenges. More literal translations can tend to be less easy to read through, while dynamic equivalent translations make a number of interpretive decisions for you. Both sides also offer unique benefits. More literal translations allow you to study bible words and details in more depth, while dynamic equivalent translations can be excellent for devotional reading.
Theological Bias – A bias is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be if you are not aware of it. Some Bible translations are translated with a distinct bias toward a group (such as the Roman Catholic Church, or cults like Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses). Other Bible translations are produced by representatives from multiple, similar, backgrounds (such as evangelical protestants from various denominational backgrounds). I would recommended investing in a Bible from the latter of these two.
Translational Notes – The original language documents from which our bibles are translated offer a number of translational challenges. Any good translation will have some system of notation to indicate to the reader when a decision had to be made in this. These challenges sometimes stem from variant readings and ancient copyist mistakes.
Age – There are English Bible translations dating back hundreds of years. Historically speaking, these older translations are not incorrect, but they were translated from a much smaller pool of available manuscripts by people with less linguistic resources available to them. The translators behind newer English language Bibles have been able to consult a more complete corpus of ancient documents previously unavailable to older generations. In most cases these newly discovered manuscripts confirm what was known, but in some cases we have been able to make corrections.
In addition to the number and quality of manuscript evidence, the English language is evolving with every new generation. The Bible you read should not sound drastically different from the way you would speak or write. Older Bibles with “thee” and “thou” no longer reflect current language.
With that said, I would recommend reading the following English Bible Translations. More information about each specific one can be found in the preface material at the beginning of each translation.
English Standard Version
New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update
New International Version
The Holman Christian Standard Bible
The NET Bible
Should I only read one Bible translation?
If you are brand new to the Bible, I would say yes. Stick to one of these translations, make underlines, highlights, take notes (whether in a paper copy or in a Bible app). Get to know God better. At some point in your bible study you will want to visit a different translation. No single translation is perfect and having studied and compared good translations will be of great benefit to your Christian walk.
The Bible contains a lot of content. It will be beneficial to be aware of where certain things are located. This page is intended to assist you in becoming more familiar with commonly referenced passages of Scripture.
This list is by no means complete, it is intended to be a starting point for becoming more familiar with the Bible’s content.
Location in Bible
|Creation||Genesis 1||The creation of all things|
|The Fall||Genesis 3||The fall of mankind into sin through Adam and Eve|
|The Flood||Genesis 6-7||Noah builds an ark and God sends a flood over the whole earth|
|The Burning Bush||Exodus 3||God speaks to Moses through a burning bush|
|The Ten Plagues||Exodus 7-12||God sends ten plagues on Egypt until the Pharaoh released Israel from slavery|
|Parting of the Red Sea||Exodus 14||God parts the Red Sea for Israel to escape from Pharaoh’s pursuit|
|The Ten Commandments||Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21||God gives Israel ten commandments through Moses|
|The Fall of Jericho||Joshua 6||The first major victory in Israel’s settling the promised land|
|David Fights Goliath||1 Samuel 17||David defeats Goliath with the help of God|
|David becomes king||2 Samuel 5||David is anointed king of Israel|
|Elijah and the Prophets of Baal||1 Kings 18:20-40||Elijah competes with the prophets of Baal over which one had the real God|
|Israel taken into Captivity||2 Kings 17:6-23||Israel is taken into captivity by Assyria|
|Judah taken into Captivity||2 Kings 25||Judah is taken into captivity by Babylon|
|The return from Captivity||Ezra & Nehemiah||Exiled Jews return to Israel and begin to rebuild|
|The testing of Job||Job 1-2||God allows Satan to test faithful Job|
|Isaiah’s vision of the Lord||Isaiah 6:1-6||Isaiah has a vision of God|
|The Suffering Servant||Isaiah 52:13-53:12||One of Isaiah’s most vivid prophecies of the events surrounding Jesus’ trial and death|
|Jeremiah visits the Potter’s House||Jeremiah 18||God uses the image of a potter and clay to illustrate his relationship to Israel|
|The Fiery Furnace||Daniel 3||Three faithful Israelites are thrown into a furnace as punishment for their faithfulness to God; they are preserved unharmed|
|Daniel and the Lion’s Den||Daniel 6||Daniel survives a night in a lion’s den|
|Jonah and the Large Fish||Jonah 1-2||Jonah is swallowed by a large fish|
|Jesus’ Birth||Matthew 1:17-25; Luke 2:1-21||The miraculous birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary|
|The Sermon on the Mount||Matthew 5-7; Luke 6:20-49||Jesus preaches a sermon on a mountain|
|Jesus’ Transfiguration||Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36||Jesus is transfigured|
|Jesus’ Trial, Death, and Resurrection||Matthew 26:46-28:10; Mark 14:43-16:8; Luke 22:47-24:12; John 18:1-20:10||The events surrounding Jesus’ death|
|The Day of Pentecost||Acts 2||The Holy Spirit fills the disciples and Peter preaches a sermon|
|Saul’s Conversion||Acts 9:1-19||Saul (Paul) meets Jesus and converts to Christianity|
|The Jerusalem Council||Acts 15||The Church begins formally engaging in mission to Gentiles|
|The Hall of Faith||Hebrews 11||A chapter recounting faithful believers through the ages|
|Letters to the Seven Churches||Revelation 2-3||Jesus dictates seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor|
The world of Bible translations it can seem very intimidating to a new believer. While there are a number of very good and useful English translations out there, there are also ones which you should avoid. This article is intended to identify specific English Bible translations which you should NOT use.
Cult Bible Translations
The New World Translation – This Bible “translation” is published by a cult called The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (aka Jehovah’s Witnesses). There are a number of incorrect translations in the NWT which are intended to support heresies taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Holy Bible, King James Version published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – While the text King James Version itself is not an issue, this specific version is published by a cult called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the LDS Church, or the Mormon Church). Their KJV contains numerous resources in footnotes and appendices which reference their other scriptures and support heretical or cultic teaching.
The Joseph Smith Translation – The JST is not a complete Bible translation, but rather a number of verses and passages which the founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, re-wrote. The verses in the JST can be found in the footnotes and an appendix of the KJV published by the Mormon Church (above). It has also been published as a separate book.
The Recovery Version -This translation was made by a cult called The Local Church (translated and published by their publishing arm, Living Stream Ministry). The Recovery Version contains a number of footnotes which support cultic doctrines and, in some places, heresies.
Is it sinful to read these translations?
No, it is not necessarily sinful to read them, however, as a new believer you are in formative times and these cult groups thrive on tricking people who don’t know better yet. I personally have all of these translations and they are very useful for understanding cult theology, but I would never trust them any further than that.
Catholic Bible Translations
There are a number of Bible translations which have been translated by Roman Catholics. One primary reason for avoiding Roman Catholic translations is because Catholics have added books to the Bible which are not Scripture (the books they have added are called The Apocrypha). Some of the most popular Catholic translations include:
Douay-Rheims Bible (DRB)
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The New American Bible (NAB)
The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE)*
*there are a number of study notes in the NABRE which betray a Catholic theological bias
Is it sinful to read the Apocrypha?
It is not sinful to read the Apocrypha, per se. What is sinful is to raise non-inspired writings to the status of Scripture. There is limited historical value in studying the Apocrypha, but it must be remembered that those writings were not considered scripture by the early church or by the majority of Christian leaders in the ancient world (it wasn’t until the mid 1500s when the Roman Catholic Church canonized the Apocrypha).
You don’t have to buy a physical book in order to read the Bible. There are many free websites and apps which allow you to read and study the Bible. Below are a few which I recommend:
Logos – This app is free and if you sign up for a free account you get access to a number of good study resources. I personally have purchased a number of other books and resources in addition to the free content. Logos is a good, innovative brand and updates their software regularly. [iPhone/iPad] [Android]
Olive Tree Bible – Published by HarperCollins, this app offers 2 free translations and has about 40 or so free book downloads when you register a free account. More resources are available for purchase in their in-app store. They also offer Apple Watch functionality. [iPhone/iPad] [Android]
Biblia – Biblia is a free logos product which allows you to study your resources in your web browser. My favorite feature is that it has a 2 collumn format and lets you link resources. You can have your bible and a commentary open and as you scroll through your bible the commentary automatically keeps up with the current passage.
Bible Gateway – Bible Gateway is a resource-rich bible study website.
Bible.com – Bible.com is from the same group who made the YouVersion app.
Bible.org – Bible.org is not an online bible, but I include it here as a starting point for bible study. It will connect you with numerous articles, sermons, and other media which will help you better understand God’s Word.