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The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, biblía, "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilation of texts of a variety of forms that are all linked by the belief that they are collectively revelations of God. These texts include theologically-focused historical accounts, hymns, prayers, proverbs, parables, didactic letters, erotica, poetry, and prophecies. Believers also generally consider the Bible to be a product of divine inspiration.

Those books included in the Bible by a tradition or group are called canonical, indicating that the tradition/group views the collection as the true representation of God's word and will. A number of Biblical canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents from denomination to denomination. The Hebrew Bible overlaps with the Greek Septuagint and the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be mostly Jewish disciples of Christ, written in first-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon, primarily about the biblical apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect.

Attitudes towards the Bible also differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, high church Anglicans, Methodists and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of both the Bible and sacred tradition, while many Protestant churches focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This concept rose to prominence during the Reformation, and many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching. Others, though, advance the concept of prima scriptura in contrast.

The Bible has had a profound influence on literature and history, especially in the Western world, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating." With estimated total sales of over five billion copies, it is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually. (Full article...)

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The Three Magi, Byzantine mosaic c.  565, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy (restored during the 19th century). As here Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes and Phrygian caps.

The biblical Magi (/ˈm/ or /ˈmæ/; singular: magus), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, also the Three Magi (Greek: Οι Τρεις Μάγοι; Hebrew: שלושת האמגושים‎; Arabic: المجوس الثلاثة‎; Middle Persian moɣ(mard), Old Persian magu- 'Zoroastrian clergyman') were distinguished foreigners in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition. They are said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.

Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels to mention the Magi. Matthew reports that they came "from the east" to worship the "king of the Jews". The gospel never mentions the number of Magi. Still, most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been three in number, based on the statement that they brought three gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to Isaiah 60:1–6, which refers to "kings [coming] to the brightness of your dawn" bearing "gold and frankincense". Further identification of the magi with kings may be due to Psalm 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him". (Full article...)
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"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." – Jeremiah 29:11

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