Religious Texts and Sources of Authority

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Bible Structure

  • The Bible consists of 66 books split into the Old and New Testaments.
  • The Old Testament describes the events before Christ, about the Hebrews who were believed to be the Chosen People of God.
  • The New Testament contains 27 books and were written after the death of Christ.

Old Testament:

  • The Books of the Law/Pentateuch (5)
  • The History Books (12)
  • Poetry and Wisdom (5)
  • The Prophets (17)

New Testament:

  • New Testament History (5)
  • The Letters/Epistles (21)
  • A Prophecy (1)

Problems arise when parts of the Bible are interpreted differently, often according to faith. Some faiths interpret the Bible literally, others view it as guidance or symbolism - to help understand the principles which can be applied in 'modern-terms'.

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How Can We Interpret Sacred Writing?

Is the Bible...

  • Direct revalation from God?
  • Divinely inspired?
  • God's words which must be interpreted?

Inerrancy - The Bible is absolutely correct in every detail

Typology - Broadly true, the life of Jesus though with some errors. The miracles did happen, which we expect as Jesus was the Son of God.

Allegory - A lot of the stories were made up to make people act in a certain way/  Jesus of Nazareth did exist as a real person, but the supernatural bits  are made up. The Bible is an important text on moral values.

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Where Did The Bible Come From?

  • Many of the oldest stories in the New Testament were passed on for centuries by word of mouth and whenever Christians met, they read Jewish scriptures together and listened to stories about Jesus from eyewitnesses, particularly the disciples.
  • The Psalms were first written because they were used in Temple worship.
  • The Epistles were penned from 49CE onwards so are the oldest books in the New Testament.
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What Authority Does The Bible Have?

  • Even though the Bible was written so long ago and in a world so different to ours, it still has things to say to us as we still refer to the Ten Commandments so the Bible still teaches us how to live peacefully.
  • The Bible still tells us how to live peacefully from the Ten Commandments and tells us to follow in the footsteps of the Good Samaritan etc. as it teaches us to have good morals
  • When we refer to the Bible as the 'Word of God' we mean that what is written in the Bible is to be taken literally. E.g. People could interpret that Creation literally took 6 days whereas other believe that this repreaents a larger timescale.
  • Most Protestants believe that the authority of the Bible is greater than that of the Church but Roman Catholics believe that only the Church can interpret the Bible so, therefore, the Church has more authority than the Bible.
  • Most Christians believe that the Bible is, in some sense, the 'Word of God' but this can be interpreted differently according to modern times.
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External Features of a Parish Church

  • It is usually in the shape of a cross to represent Jesus' sacrifice. The two wings are called the transepts which are at right angles to the nave (where the congregation sits).
  • A tower draws people's eyes to Heaven, reminding them of God. The tower would contain church bells which used to summon people to service.
  • The church lies on consecrated ground which is used for burials, so the dead are buried in holy ground.
  • The church usually has a cockrel shaped weather vane, which reminds people of the story of St Peter.
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Internal Features of a Parish Church

  • Altar - The most important place in the church - a table which holds the items for the Communion service. The altar is in the east end.
  • East Window - Often of stained glass, it is directly behind the altar and draws attention to it.
  • Pulpit - A raised box from which the minister gives the sermon or talks to the congregation.
  • Reredos - A painted or sculpted screen behind the altar. Often has pictures of Jesus, Mary or saints. Helps to focus attention on the altar.
  • Sanctuary - A raised platform where the most important parts of a service take place.
  • Lectern - A stand for the Church Bible. Often made in brass in the shape of an eagle.
  • Covered Font - Used to hold holy water for Baptism.
  • Nave - The main part of the church where the congregation sits.
  • Aisles - Often used in processions.
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