This Is How The Bible Got Its Name

Few books have had the breadth of cultural influence over the past two millennia as the Holy Bible, but there's actually more than one version. The Bible of Judaism, for example, stretches back before the time of Christ, according to World History. What's more, the word "bible" itself has its roots in an even earlier era. The Christian Bible, however, is likely what many in the West think of when they hear the word "bible. So, how did the Good Book get its name?

The Bible isn't actually a book at all — at least not how most people think of books today. Instead, it's more of an anthology of about 27 books in the New Testament, which was written anywhere from around A.D. 50 to A.D. 100. Otherwise, the Bible is divided into two parts: the Gospels and the Letters. According to the BBC, each conveys the teachings of Christ and provides guidance to leaders in the early Christian church,

The fact of the matter is, though, the word "bible" itself has nothing to do with the era during which Christ was alive, or even to Christianity. To understand how the Bible got its name, it's time to brush up on your Latin.

The word 'bible' is Latin

The story of how the Good Book got its name begins in the Mediterranean port city of Gebal, known to the ancient Greeks as Byblos. The Greek name for "papyrus" was "byblos," and at that time, Gebal was a major exporter of the material. Notably, papyrus was used for creating writing material and ancient scrolls, according to Britannica.

According to World History, the Phoenician alphabet — which birthed many modern alphabets, including English — also came from Byblos. Over time, the word "byblos" became "biblia" in Latin, meaning "book" or "books," and in Greek, "ta biblia," meaning "the books." This is also where modern language gets words like bibliography, bibliophile, and biblioteca (library in German).

For this reason, when the first editions of the Holy Bible came about, they were often referred to as "biblia sacra" ("holy book") or "biblia ta hagia" ("books of wisdom"). According to Compass News, we continue to use a variation on these names when we refer to the Bible to this very day. All that notwithstanding, the popularity and influence of one of the most widely-read books in the English language is unlikely to change anytime soon, even though the word "bible" comes from well before the time of Christ.