What we commonly call the Bible is the collection, the library, so to speak, of writings considered sacred by Judaism and, in an extended form, by Christianity. On the one hand, it can be said that the Bible is “the book of life” for Jewish and Christian communities in various senses. It reflects the life of these communities and the people connected to them. But it also expresses and nourishes the ultimate meaning of their life.

We are therefore dealing with the Bible in its relationship with the community in which it emerged, the Jewish and Christian religious tradition. The horizon of this approach is, therefore, theological, which is expressed by calling the Bible the “word of God.” But this word of God is incarnated in human language, in solidarity with historical circumstances, and conditioned by the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the environment in which it arose. The theological horizon, by calling into our presence the ultimate references of the human being, obliges us to dedicate an honest, serious, and scientific attention to the historical, literary, social, and cultural aspects that give shape to the “Bible phenomenon.”

In the forefront, this encyclopedia addresses subjects related to the Bible of Judaism, called in the Christian tradition the Old Testament, and those related to the part of Christian origin, the New Testament. These articles primarily illuminate the historical, cultural, and literary aspects. In this context, the Jewish and Christian reception of the Bible is also addressed.

The way of reading and interpreting the Bible is addressed in the entry on Biblical Reading and Hermeneutics. In the sense of contextual reading of the Bible, special attention is given to the Bible in Latin America. Some emerging subjects are also addressed, such as the Bible from the perspective of women and the Bible and cultures. Other current perspectives on biblical reading will be progressively integrated into this encyclopedia.

The Bible also represents a tradition of practical guidance for life for individuals and communities. This aspect is addressed in the article on Theology and Ethics in the Bible.

Specific articles are dedicated to themes related to faith, such as concepts around the truthfulness of the Bible: revelation, inspiration and biblical inerrancy, Bible and Sciences, and Bible and the Magisterium; and, on the other hand, to historical and cultural aspects, such as the formation and extent of the “biblical canon,” biblical languages, and ancient and modern biblical versions.

Johan Konings, SJ, FAJE, Brazil.