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The Bible, according to a 2007 edition of Time magazine, “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.”
True enough. With 5 billion copies floating around the world and even up in the International Space Station, the Bible is widely considered to be the bestselling book of all time. Approximately 100 million copies are sold each year.
Inside its pages is literally a cast of thousands of people. But below are some of the most popular historical people.
• Abraham: While so many biblical men and women directly or indirectly disobeyed God, Abraham’s faith was so strong that he was even willing to sacrifice his own flesh and blood, Isaac. Isaac was spared, of course, and Abraham journeyed from Mesopotamia to the Promised Land at God’s request. As a reward, God promised that Abraham’s descendants would become a “great nation,” which is modern Israel.
• Adam and Eve: They are two people, but the Bible refers to them as “one flesh.” They are important because, according to the Bible, they were the first man and woman on Earth. Every living human has come after them.
• David: Another favorite is David, perhaps Israel’s greatest king, became famous when, while just a boy, he faced off against a mighty enemy warrior named Goliath and, wielding a mere sling and stone, managed to topple the giant with a single well-aimed throw.
• Jesus: Born on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, Jesus launched a religious movement that eventually spread across the empire. His death on the cross brought deliverance from sin and his message of caring and kindness for all — even loving one’s enemies — is “still unrivaled for its profound insight and penetrating simplicity,” according to “The Bible for Dummies.”
• Mary: Among all Christians, Mary is revered more than any other woman found anywhere in the Bible. She was Jesus’ mother and a woman who carried herself with dignity and grace, a loving mother who, though she didn't fully understand her son at times, supported him to the end, even witnessing his execution on the cross.
• Moses: Moses is beloved for a life journey that led him as an infant inside a reed basket down the Nile to speaking to God through a burning bush and eventually freeing the Israelites from slavery and leading them to Mount Sinai, where he was given the Ten Commandments. He is considered the greatest prophet to ever live; he died at 120 years of age.
• Noah: He is one of the Bible’s favorites because his story, which appears in Genesis, is among the best-known and loved. According to Genesis, Noah — considered “the most righteous in his generation” — labored to build the famed ark, using it to ultimately save humanity and all land animals from a flood that God summoned to destroy mankind for its disobedience.
• Paul: This man is considered most responsible for spreading Christianity across the vast Roman Empire. What makes Paul so intriguing is that initially he was hoping to stamp out the religion, only to have a change of heart when God appeared before him in a blinding flash of light.
• Peter: Peter was Jesus' closest friend and, like most true friends, a rock for him to lean on. He was also a fisherman and eventually safeguarded the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
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