You must have probably seen the young man who goes to church with the Bible in the hand; and when the gospel text is read out, such as ?Our first reading is taken from 1 Chronicles 2:4,? he quickly flips his fingers  over the pages forward and backward and centre and everywhere in search of First Chronicles. But he can?t see where First Chronicles is. No First Chronicles in the Bible!

The second text, Ephesians 5:7, is likewise not seen. In fact, every quotation dodges him clean. And he finally puts down the Bible to rest in peace ?actually in a sort of: ?Requiescat-in-pace? annoyance!

Truly, he also does not know where Deuteronomy is, Ezra is, Mark is! And as for the rarely-quoted books like Micah, Zephaniah or Titus, they had better not been mentioned at all. They are strangers in Jerusalem in his eyes. Such a person is telling you, he is one of those called Kwesi Amankwaa Nyameson (K.A.N) Bible readers ?those with ?untouchable? and ?unreadable? Bibles which for centuries have not been opened for reading!

There is no doubt that there are such people who are clearly unfamiliar with the systematic arrangement of the books of the Bible and they need to be taught or encouraged to ?search the scriptures? as Jesus had commanded.

The best method for becoming well acquainted with the books of the Bible is constant reading of the scriptures.

It is to be said in passing that there are over 100 apocryphal books of the New Testament which are not at all recognized by most sections of the religious divide ?the Catholics and the Protestants. We shall not concern ourselves with these.

The Old Testament books (excluding the apocryphal or deutoro-canonical books) are grouped into five sections; namely, the books of Law, the books of History, the books of Poetry or the Writings, or the books of the Major Prophets, or the books of the Minor Prophets.

The books of the Laws, said to be written by Moses, are five in all (thus called Pentateuch, Greek word meaning ?five books?). The Hebrews themselves call them ?Torah? (the Laws).  These are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Interestingly, these books contain much of the History of Israel, and therefore should be the first to be read and studied so to give one the good grounding necessary for the appreciation of the other scriptures which follow.

Next to be studied are the twelve books of History consisting of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. All these books principally give the reader an insight into the mode of divine interactions with the people of Israel, their wars, tribulations, defeats on one side, and their enjoyment of some often temporary peace, victories, blessings and abundance on the other. The socio-economic and political administration of Israel are also highlighted in these books.

The books of Poetry, also known as the Writings, are third on the list. These are also five books. And they show devotion to God, the need to depend upon God and meditations on the meaning of life. The scriptures here constitute an excellent literary genre, everywhere suffused with moving poetic rhythms, the beauty of which is enhanced by metaphors, alliterations and what-have-you figures of speech.

These books are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon. The main theme of Jobs deals with the problems associated with human suffering of ?an upright man who through no fault of his was overwhelmed with misfortune but was ultimately restored to prosperity and happiness?, as one theologian puts it.

The Psalms, which theologian Godspeed describes as ?a veritable kaleidoscope of religious experience,? are known as the most loved, more widely used, and most familiar books of the Bible. But the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Songs of Solomon reflect on matters of the mind and heart, matters that range from divine wisdom and practical experience down to those of deep love and sentimental affections. The fourth group of books ?four in all ?is the Major Prophets. These are Isaiah, Jeremiah with Lamentations by Jeremiah), Ezekiel and Daniel, which give deep perceptions of the historical livelihood of the old Israelites. They also give Christological perspectives about the coming of Christ, his mission on earth, his present-day Church, and the upcoming millennial kingdom.

Lastly are the twelve books of the Minor Prophets. These are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Malachi. Some of these books are richly poetical, but almost all of them have reference to Christ?s First and Second coming.

Then the 14 Apocryphal books. These are generally divided into five sections ?the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (or the Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach), Historical Literature (1 Esdras, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees), Religious Romance (Tobit and Judith), Prophetic Literature (Baruch or the Epistle of Jeremiah and 2 Esdras); and Legendry Additions (Prayer of Manasses, the Rest of Esther, The Song of The Three Young Men, the History of Sussana, Bel and the Dragon).

The word ?Apocryphal? comes from the Greek: ?apokruphos? which means ?hidden, concealed? that is, ?hidden books?.

There is the argument that the Apocryphal books are ?non-canonical writings? which came into common use after the Reformation when the compilation of the Old Testament had been closed.

I however do not share the view that the Apocryphal books possess (as Professor Merill Unger puts it) ?historical and geographical inaccuracies and anachronism? and scriptural heresies; even though they are said to have great ?historical and literary value?. It is my opinion that the Apocryphal books are worth reading or studying since they shed some light on the historical and prophetic depths of the Old Testament scriptures.

The scriptures must be studied prayerfully and constantly ?at least two or three hours daily until they are well mastered.

A quick overview of our Bible-reading discussions takes us from the New Testament Gospels to the Epistles and Acts, back to the Old Testament scriptures, leaving for us only the Book of Revelation to study finally. The book also known as the Apocalypse (from the Greek work ?apocalypsis? (meaning: removing of the veil or unveiling) brings into full view some hidden future plans of God for the world and for the saved Christians in a period of time which is to come, and for eternity.

In other words, the Revelation is a book of prophecies, which gathers together all the varied fragments of the Old Testament predictions so to sift them, and to bring their Christological essentials forward into the pool of the New Testament end-time prophecies Thus in Revelation, we have an all- round mix of God?s prophetic oracles about mankind?s future. The key concept is that without the knowledge of the Old Testament prophecies, especially those of Daniel and the lsaiah, the reading or study of the book of Revelation offers only a partial understanding or appreciation of God?s plans.

The Revelation, written by St. John about AD 95, covers between 12 and 14 themes. Some of these are: the Rapture- that is, the resurrection and translation (Rev. 4:1-2), the Great Tribulation (Rev- 4 to 19: Jeremiah 30:5-8) and Satan and demon power (Rev. 12-12:16:13, lsaiah 14:12-14). Others are: the judgement of sinners (Rev. 20:11-15): the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21) the second advent of Christ (Rev. 19:1-10: lsaiah 54:5-7): the redemption of the earth (Rev.5): the false prophet (Rev. 13:11-18: Dt. 13:1-3: Daniel 3:1-11) and the eternal state (Rev. 22), etc.

Several views have been expresses about the Revelation, but generally they fall into the four classes. The first is that the prophecies are purely spiritual. That is to say, they only reveal the nature of the government of the divine world so to serve as a model for government on earth. This is the spiritual interpretation of the Revelation.

The second view is that the Rev elation is a forecast of the whole period of the church?s history, from its birth in the first century, through its trials and struggles in subsequent centuries up to its final victory in future. This is the historical interpretation, of the book.

The third is what is called the ?preterist?  interpretation, meaning that all events catalogued in the Revelation happened in one way or another in the first century, just to guide or comfort the suffering Christians of that period.

( To be continued)


The news of the unexpected, sad death of colleague journalist Komla Dumor of BBC, right in his residence in London, just last Saturday, has indeed been a shocker to this writer. This column therefore promises to wail this popular BBC broadcaster in prose and poetry, as usual, during his funeral in Ghana.   Meanwhile, condolences to his wife, children, Prof. Dumor (his father) and his family.

By Apostle Kwamena Ahinful


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