"Bible" in Modern Usage

Here is a quote from John Riches in The Bible: A Very Short Introduction, which I think is instructive for those who throw the term Bible around:

So, to put it simply, the term ‘Bible’, as a collection of sacred texts, is first used for the Christian scriptures, in their different versions. Only later is it used of Jewish scriptures in a manner which is designed to distinguish the Hebrew from the Christian scriptures. Thus the Bible, in most recent usage, is ambiguous: it may refer either to the Jewish or the Christian Bibles, in their various forms.


  • I’ve always used and understood the Bible to refer to the Christian Scriptures, while using “Hebrew Scriptures” or Tanakh for the other.

    • That works okay, except that Christian Scriptures vary among Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants. So, the term is still somewhat ambiguous, at least in my mind.