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The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the
Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as authoritative scripture Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from ...
, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a f ...

Hebrew Bible
or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
. The second division of Christian Bibles is the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
, written in the
Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek language, Greek spoken and written d ...
language. The Old Testament consists of many distinct books by various authors produced over a period of centuries. Christians traditionally divide the Old Testament into four sections: the first five books or Pentateuch (corresponds to the Jewish
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
); the history books telling the history of the Israelites, from their
conquest of Canaan The Book of Joshua ( he, ספר יהושע ') is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These t ...
to their defeat and exile in Babylon; the poetic and " Wisdom books" dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world; and the books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God. The books that compose the Old Testament canon and their order and names differ between various branches of Christianity. The canons of the
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
and
Oriental Orthodox The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings ...
Churches comprise up to 49 books; the Catholic canon comprises 46 books; and the most common Protestant canon comprise 39 books. There are 39 books common to all the Catholic canons. They correspond to the 24 books of the Tanakh, with some differences of order, and there are some differences in text. The additional number reflects the splitting of several texts (
Samuel Samuel ''Šəmūʾēl''; ar, إِشْمَوِيل ' or '; el, Σαμουήλ ''Samouḗl''; la, Samūēl is a figure who, in the narratives of the , plays a key role in the transition from the period of the to the institution of a under ...
, Kings,
Chronicles Chronicles may refer to: * ''Books of Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים ) is a Hebrew language, Hebrew prose work constituting part of Judaism, Jewish and Christian scripture. It contains a genealogy s ...
,
Ezra–Nehemiah Ezra–Nehemiah ( he, עזרא נחמיה , ') is a book in the Hebrew Bible found in the Ketuvim section, originally with the Hebrew title of Ezra ( he, עזרא, '). The book covers the period from the fall of Babylon in 539 BC to the seco ...
, and the
Twelve Minor Prophets The Minor Prophets or Twelve Prophets ( he, שנים עשר, ''Shneim Asar''; arc, תרי עשר, ''Trei Asar'', "Twelve") ( grc, δωδεκαπρόφητον, "the Twelve Prophets"), occasionally Book of the Twelve, is a collection of prophet ...
) into separate books in Christian Bibles. The books that are part of the Christian Old Testament but that are not part of the Hebrew canon are sometimes described as
deuterocanonical The deuterocanonical books (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its p ...
. In general, Protestant Bibles do not include the deuterocanonical books in their canon, but some versions of
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...

Anglican
and
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
Bibles place such books in a separate section called
apocrypha Apocrypha (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, ‘the hidden hings) The biblical Books received by the early Church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews fro ...
. These extra books are ultimately derived from the earlier
Greek Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible, various biblical apocrypha, an ...
collection of the Hebrew scriptures and are also Jewish in origin. Some are also contained in the
Dead Sea Scrolls The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are and religious first found in 1947 at the in what was then , near in the , on the northern shore of the . Dating back to between the and the , the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered ...

Dead Sea Scrolls
.


Content

The Old Testament contains 39 (Protestant), 46 (Catholic), or more (Orthodox and other) books, divided, very broadly, into the
Pentateuch (Torah)
Pentateuch (Torah)
, the historical books, the "wisdom" books and the prophets. The table below uses the spellings and names present in modern editions of the Christian Bible, such as the Catholic
New American Bible Revised Edition The New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) is an English-language Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek l ...
and the Protestant
Revised Standard Version The Revised Standard Version (RSV) is an English translation English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or ...
and
English Standard Version The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Sama ...
. The spelling and names in both the 1609–F10 Douay Old Testament (and in the 1582 Rheims New Testament) and the 1749 revision by Bishop Challoner (the edition currently in print used by many Catholics, and the source of traditional Catholic spellings in English) and in the Septuagint differ from those spellings and names used in modern editions which are derived from the Hebrew Masoretic text. For the Orthodox canon, Septuagint titles are provided in parentheses when these differ from those editions. For the Catholic canon, the Douaic titles are provided in parentheses when these differ from those editions. Likewise, the King James Version references some of these books by the traditional spelling when referring to them in the New Testament, such as "Esaias" (for Isaiah). In the spirit of
ecumenism Ecumenism (), also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle in which Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion ...
more recent Catholic translations (e.g. the
New American Bible The New American Bible (NAB) is an English translation English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or relate ...
,
Jerusalem Bible ''The Jerusalem Bible'' (JB or TJB) is an English translation English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or ...

Jerusalem Bible
, and ecumenical translations used by Catholics, such as the
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE) is an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medie ...
) use the same "standardized" (King James Version) spellings and names as
Protestant Bible A Protestant Bible is a Christian Bible whose translation or revision was produced by Protestants. Such Bibles comprise 39 books of the Old Testament (according to the Development of the Hebrew Bible canon, Hebrew Bible canon, known especially to ...
s (e.g. 1 Chronicle as opposed to the Douaic 1 Paralipomenon, 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings instead of 1–4 Kings) in those books which are universally considered canonical, the protocanonicals. The
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
(the Jewish commentary on the scriptures) in
Bava Batra Bava Batra (also Baba Batra; Talmudic Aramaic: בָּבָא בַּתְרָא "The Last Gate") is the third of the three Talmudic tractates in the Talmud in the order Nezikin; it deals with a person's responsibilities and rights as the owner of pro ...
14b gives a different order for the books in ''Nevi'im'' and ''Ketuvim''. This order is also cited in
Mishneh Torah The ''Mishneh Torah'' ( he, מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה, "Repetition of the Torah"), also known as ''Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka'' (ספר יד החזקה "Book of the Strong Hand"), is a Legal code, code of Rabbinic Judaism, Rabbinic Jewish religio ...
Hilchot Sefer
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
7:15. The order of the books of the Torah is universal through all denominations of Judaism and Christianity. The disputed books, included in one canon but not in others, are often called the
Biblical apocrypha The biblical apocrypha (from the grc, ἀπόκρυφος, translit=apókruphos, lit=hidden) denotes the collection of apocryphal ancient books thought to have been written some time between 200 BC and 400 AD. Some Christian churches include ...
, a term that is sometimes used specifically to describe the books in the Catholic and Orthodox canons that are absent from the Jewish Masoretic Text and most modern
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
Bibles. Catholics, following the Canon of Trent (1546), describe these books as deuterocanonical, while Greek Orthodox Christians, following the
Synod of Jerusalem (1672) The Synod of Jerusalem was convened by Orthodox Patriarch Dositheos Notaras in March 1672. Because the occasion was the consecration of the Church of the Nativity The Church of the Nativity, or Basilica of the Nativity,; ar, كَنِيسَةُ ...
, use the traditional name of '' anagignoskomena'', meaning "that which is to be read." They are present in a few historic Protestant versions; the German
Luther Bible The Luther Bible (german: Lutherbibel) is a German language Bible translation from Hebrew and ancient Greek by Martin Luther. The New Testament was first published in September 1522 and the complete Bible, containing the Old Testament, Old and Ne ...
included such books, as did the English
1611 King James Version
1611 King James Version
.


Books of the Old Testament

Empty table cells indicate that a book is absent from that canon. Several of the books in the Eastern Orthodox canon are also found in the appendix to the Latin Vulgate, formerly the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.


Historicity


Early scholarship

Some of the stories of the Pentateuch may derive from older sources. American science writer Homer W. Smith points out similarities between the
Genesis creation narrative The Genesis creation narrative is the creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyo ...
and that of the ''
Epic of Gilgamesh The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' () is an epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with ...
'', such as the inclusion of the creation of the first man (
Adam Adam (; Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long his ...

Adam
/
Enkidu Enkidu ( sux, 𒂗𒆠𒄭 ''EN.KI.DU10'') was a legendary figure in ancient Mesopotamian mythology, wartime comrade and friend of Gilgamesh Gilgamesh ( akk, 𒀭𒄑𒉋𒂵𒈨𒌋𒌋𒌋, translit=Gilgameš; originally sux, 𒀭𒉋 ...

Enkidu
) in the
Garden of Eden In Abrahamic religions, the Garden of Eden (Hebrew language, Hebrew: – ''gan-ʿĒḏen'') or Garden of God ( – ''gan-Yahweh, YHWH''), also called the Terrestrial Paradise, is the Bible, biblical paradise described in Book of Genesis, Genesi ...

Garden of Eden
, a tree of knowledge, a
tree of life #REDIRECT Tree of life#REDIRECT Tree of life The tree of life is a fundamental widespread mytheme or archetype in many of the world's mythology, mythologies, religion, religious and philosophy, philosophical traditions. It is closely related ...

tree of life
, and a deceptive serpent. Scholars such as Andrew R. George point out the similarity of the
Genesis flood narrative The Genesis flood narrative is the flood myth A flood myth or deluge myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main charact ...
and the
Gilgamesh flood myth The Gilgamesh flood myth is a flood myth A flood myth or deluge myth is a myth in which a great flood, usually sent by a deity or deities, destroys civilization, often in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood ...
. Similarities between the origin story of
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
and that of
Sargon of Akkad Sargon of Akkad (; akk, 𒊬𒊒𒄀 ''Šar-ru-gi''), also known as Sargon the Great, was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer ...

Sargon of Akkad
were noted by psychoanalyst
Otto Rank Otto Rank (; ; né Rosenfeld; 22 April 1884 – 31 October 1939) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, and teacher. Born in Vienna en, Viennese , iso_code = AT-9 , registration_plate = Vehicle regis ...
in 1909 and popularized by 20th century writers, such as and
Joseph Campbell Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. ...
.
Jacob Bronowski Jacob Bronowski (18 January 1908 – 22 August 1974) was a Polish-British mathematician and historian. He is best known for developing a humanistic approach to science, and as the presenter and writer of the thirteen-part 1973 BBC television doc ...
writes that, "the Bible is ... part folklore and part record. History is ... written by the victors, and the
Israelis Israelis ( he, ישראלים, translit=Yiśraʾelim, ar, الإسرائيليين, translit=al-ʾIsrāʾīliyyin) are the citizens and nationals of the State of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ...

Israelis
, when they burst through /nowiki>Jericho_().html" ;"title="Jericho.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Jericho">/nowiki>Jericho ()">Jericho.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Jericho">/nowiki>Jericho () became the carriers of history."


Recent scholarship

In 2007, a scholar of Judaism Lester L. Grabbe explained that earlier biblical scholars such as Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) could be described as 'maximalist', accepting biblical text unless it has been disproven. Continuing in this tradition, both "the 'substantial historicity' of the patriarchs" and "the unified conquest of the land" were widely accepted in the United States until about the 1970s. Contrarily, Grabbe says that those in his field now "are all minimalistsat least, when it comes to the patriarchal period and the settlement. ... ry few are willing to operate s maximalists"


Composition

The first five books –
Genesis Genesis may refer to: Literature and comics * Genesis (DC Comics), a 1997 DC Comics crossover * Genesis (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics villain * Genesis, a fictional character from the ''Preacher (comics), Preacher'' comic-book series * ''Genes ...

Genesis
,
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
, Leviticus,
book of Numbers The Book of Numbers (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
and
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
– reached their present form in the Persian period (538–332 BC), and their authors were the elite of exilic returnees who controlled the . The books of
Joshua Joshua () or Yehoshua ( he, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ ''Yəhōšūaʿ'') ''Yēšūʿ''; syr, ܝܫܘܥ ܒܪ ܢܘܢ ''Yəšūʿ bar Nōn''; el, Ἰησοῦς, ar , يُوشَعُ ٱبْنُ نُونٍ '' Yūšaʿ ibn Nūn''; la, Iosue functioned ...
,
Judges A judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. ...
,
Samuel Samuel ''Šəmūʾēl''; ar, إِشْمَوِيل ' or '; el, Σαμουήλ ''Samouḗl''; la, Samūēl is a figure who, in the narratives of the , plays a key role in the transition from the period of the to the institution of a under ...
and Kings follow, forming a history of Israel from the
Conquest of Canaan The Book of Joshua ( he, ספר יהושע ') is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These t ...
to the Siege of Jerusalem c. 587 BC. There is a broad consensus among scholars that these originated as a single work (the so-called "
Deuteronomistic History The Deuteronomist, abbreviated as either Dtr or simply D, may refer either to the source document underlying the core chapters (12–26) of the Book of Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos' ...
") during the
Babylonian exile The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
of the 6th century BC. The two
Books of Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים ) is a Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it i ...
cover much the same material as the Pentateuch and Deuteronomistic history and probably date from the 4th century BC. Chronicles, and
Ezra–Nehemiah Ezra–Nehemiah ( he, עזרא נחמיה , ') is a book in the Hebrew Bible found in the Ketuvim section, originally with the Hebrew title of Ezra ( he, עזרא, '). The book covers the period from the fall of Babylon in 539 BC to the seco ...
, was probably finished during the 3rd century BC. Catholic and Orthodox Old Testaments contain two (Catholic Old Testament) to four (Orthodox)
Books of MaccabeesThe Books of the Maccabees or Sefer Hamakabim, ''Book of the Maccabees'', recount the history of the Maccabees, the leaders of the Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an e ...
, written in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. These history books make up around half the total content of the Old Testament. Of the remainder, the books of the various prophets –
Isaiah Isaiah ( or ; he, , ''Yəšaʿyāhū'', "God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trus ...
,
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human acti ...
,
Ezekiel Ezekiel (; he, יְחֶזְקֵאל ''Yĕḥezqēʾl'' ; in the Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine ...

Ezekiel
, and the twelve "
minor prophets The Minor Prophets or Twelve Prophets ( arc, תרי עשר, ''Trei Asar'', "Twelve") ( grc, δωδεκαπρόφητον, "the Twelve Prophets"), occasionally Book of the Twelve, is the last book of the Nevi'im Nevi'im (; he, נְבִיאִ ...
" – were written between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, with the exceptions of
Jonah Jonah or Jonas, ''Yōnā'', "dove"; gr, Ἰωνᾶς ''Iōnâs''; ar, يونس ' or '; Latin: ''Ionas'' Ben (Hebrew), son of Amittai, is a prophet in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran, from Gath-hepher of the northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria ...
and
Daniel Daniel is a masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling ...
, which were written much later. The "wisdom" books –
Job Employment is the relationship between two parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview; cropped away black border edge.jpg, 300px, ''Hip, Hip, Hurrah!'' ...
,
Proverbs A proverb (from la, proverbium) is a simple and insightful, traditional saying A saying is any concisely written or spoken expression (linguistics), expression that is especially memorable because of its meaning or style. Sayings are categorize ...
,
Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes (; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , , grc, Ἐκκλησιαστής, ) written , is one of the Ketuvim ("Writings") of the Hebrew Bible and one of the wisdom literature, "Wisdom" books of the Christianity, Christian Old Testament. Th ...
,
Psalms The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh ...
,
Song of Solomon The Song of Songs (Hebrew: ''Šīr hašŠīrīm'', Greek language, Greek and grc, ᾎσμα ᾀσμάτων, translit=Âsma asmátōn; la, Canticum canticorum), also Song of Solomon, Canticle of Canticles, or Canticles, is one of the ''The Fiv ...
– have various dates: Proverbs possibly was completed by the Hellenistic time (332–198 BC), though containing much older material as well; Job completed by the 6th century BC; Ecclesiastes by the 3rd century BC.


Themes

God is consistently depicted as the one who created the world. Although the God of the Old Testament is not consistently presented as the only God who exists, he is always depicted as the only God whom Israel is to worship, or the one "true God", that only
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
is Almighty, and both Jews and Christians have always interpreted the Bible (both the "Old" and "New" Testaments) as an affirmation of the oneness of Almighty God. The Old Testament stresses the special relationship between God and his
chosen people Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves to be the chosen people ( he, עם סגולה / העם הנבחר) of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that ar ...
, Israel, but includes instructions for
proselytes The biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà 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 antholo ...
as well. This relationship is expressed in the
biblical covenant The Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a few passages ...
(contract) between the two, received by Moses. The law codes in books such as
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
and especially
Deuteronomy The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek ''deuteros'' + ''nomos'') is the fifth book of the Jewish , where it is called ''Devarim'' ( he, דְּבָרִים), "the words f Moses F, or f, is the sixth Letter (alphabet), let ...
are the terms of the contract: Israel swears faithfulness to
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
, and God swears to be Israel's special protector and supporter. ''The Jewish Study Bible'' denies that covenant means contract. Further themes in the Old Testament include
salvation Salvation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in re ...

salvation
,
redemption Redemption may refer to: Religion * Redemption (theology), an element of salvation to express deliverance from sin * Redemptive suffering, a Roman Catholic belief that suffering can partially remit punishment for sins if offered to Jesus * Pidyo ...
,
divine judgment Divine judgment means the judgment of God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a ...
, obedience and disobedience,
faith Faith, derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...

faith
and faithfulness, among others. Throughout there is a strong emphasis on
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

ethics
and
ritual purity Ritual purification is the ritual prescribed by a religion by which a person is considered to be free of ''uncleanliness'', especially prior to the worship of a deity, and ritual purity is a state of ritual cleanliness. Ritual purification may a ...
, both of which God demands, although some of the prophets and wisdom writers seem to question this, arguing that God demands
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), ban ...
above purity, and perhaps does not even care about purity at all. The Old Testament's moral code enjoins fairness, intervention on behalf of the vulnerable, and the duty of those in power to administer justice righteously. It forbids murder, bribery and corruption, deceitful trading, and many sexual misdemeanours. All morality is traced back to God, who is the source of all goodness. The
problem of evil The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil Evil, in a general sense, is defined by what it is not—the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, although in everyday usage it is of ...
plays a large part in the Old Testament. The problem the Old Testament authors faced was that a good God must have had just reason for bringing disaster (meaning notably, but not only, the
Babylonian exile The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
) upon his people. The theme is played out, with many variations, in books as different as the histories of Kings and Chronicles, the prophets like Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and in the wisdom books like Job and Ecclesiastes.


Formation

The process by which scriptures became canons and Bibles was a long one, and its complexities account for the many different Old Testaments which exist today. Timothy H. Lim, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply ...
, identifies the Old Testament as "a collection of authoritative texts of apparently divine origin that went through a human process of writing and editing." He states that it is not a magical book, nor was it literally written by
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...
and passed to mankind. By about the 5th century, BC Jews saw the five books of the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
(the Old Testament Pentateuch) as having authoritative status; by the 2nd century BC, the Prophets had a similar status, although without quite the same level of respect as the Torah; beyond that, the Jewish scriptures were fluid, with different groups seeing authority in different books.


Greek

Hebrew texts began to be translated into Greek in
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic language, Coptic: Rakodī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexandria'') is the List of cities and towns in Egypt, third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and Giza, ...

Alexandria
in about 280 and continued until about 130 BC. These early Greek translations supposedly commissioned by
Ptolemy Philadelphus ; egy, Userkanaenre wikt:mry-jmn, Meryamun#Clayton06, Clayton (2006) p. 208 , predecessor = Ptolemy I Soter , successor = Ptolemy III Euergetes , horus = ''ḥwnw-ḳni'Khunuqeni''The brave youth , nebty = ''wr-pḥtj ...
were called the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
() from the supposed number of translators involved (hence its abbreviation " LXX"). This Septuagint remains the basis of the Old Testament in the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
. It varies in many places from the
Masoretic Text The Masoretic Text (MT or 𝕸; he, נוסח המסורה, Nusakh Ham'mas'sora) is the authoritative Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic languag ...
and includes numerous books no longer considered canonical in some traditions: 1 and 2
Esdras Esdras ( grc-gre, ) is a Greco-Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
, , Tobit, 3 and 4
Maccabees The Maccabees (), also spelled Machabees ( he, מַכַּבִּים ''Makabīm'' or he, מַקַבִּים, ''Maqabīm''; or ''Maccabaei''; el, Μακκαβαῖοι, ''Makkabaioi''), were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of J ...
, the
Book of Wisdom The Book of Wisdom, or the Wisdom of Solomon, is a Jewish work written in Greek and most likely composed in Alexandria, Egypt. Generally dated to the mid first century BC, the central theme of the work is "Wisdom" itself, appearing under two prin ...
,
Sirach The Book of Sirach, also called the Wisdom of Sirach or simply Sirach (), and also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus (; abbreviated Ecclus.) or Ben Sira, is a Jewish work originally in Hebrew of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 17 ...
, and Baruch. Early modern
biblical criticism Biblical criticism is the use of critical analysis to understand and explain the Bible. During the eighteenth century, when it began as ''historical-biblical criticism,'' it was based on two distinguishing characteristics: (1) the concern to a ...
typically explained these variations as intentional or ignorant corruptions by the Alexandrian scholars, but most recent scholarship holds it is simply based on early source texts differing from those later used by the
Masoretes The Masoretes ( he, בעלי המסורה, Ba'alei ha-Masora) were groups of Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites ...
in their work. The Septuagint was originally used by
Hellenized Hellenization (other British spelling Hellenisation) or Hellenism is the adoption of Greek culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as ...
Jews whose knowledge of
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
was better than Hebrew. But the texts came to be used predominantly by gentile converts to Christianity and by the early Church as its scripture, Greek being the ''lingua franca'' of the early Church. The three most acclaimed early interpreters were
Aquila of Sinope Aquila (Hebrew language, Hebrew: עֲקִילַס ''‘áqīlas'', Floruit, fl. 130 Anno Domini, AD) of Sinope (modern-day Sinop, Turkey; la, Aquila Ponticus) was a translator of the Hebrew Bible into Greek language, Greek, a proselyte, and discipl ...
,
Symmachus the Ebionite Symmachus (; grc-gre, Σύμμαχος "ally"; fl. late 2nd century) translated the Old Testament into Greek. His translation was included by Origen in his '' Hexapla'' and ''Tetrapla'', which compared various versions of the Old Testament side by ...
, and
Theodotion Theodotion (; grc-gre, Θεοδοτίων, ''gen''.: Θεοδοτίωνος; died c. 200) was a Hellenistic Jewish scholar, perhaps working in Ephesus, who in c. 150 CE translated the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ...
; in his
Hexapla ''Hexapla'' ( grc, Ἑξαπλᾶ, "sixfold") is the term for a Textual criticism, critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in six versions, four of them translated into Ancient Greek, Greek, preserved only in fragments. It was an immense and complex ...
,
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
placed his edition of the Hebrew text beside its transcription in Greek letters and four parallel translations: Aquila's, Symmachus's, the Septuagint's, and Theodotion's. The so-called "fifth" and "sixth editions" were two other Greek translations supposedly miraculously discovered by students outside the towns of
Jericho Jericho ( ; ar, أريحا ' ; he, יְרִיחוֹ ') is a city in the . It is located in the , with the to the east and to the west. It is the administrative seat of the and is governed by the . In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. ...

Jericho
and
Nicopolis Nicopolis ( grc-gre, Νικόπολις, Nikópolis, City of Victory) or Actia Nicopolis was the capital city of the Roman province of Epirus Vetus. It was located in the western part of the modern state of Greece. The city was founded in 29  ...

Nicopolis
: these were added to Origen's Octapla. In 331,
Constantine I Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...
commissioned
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου) ...

Eusebius
to deliver fifty Bibles for the
Church of Constantinople The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople ( el, Οἰκουμενικὸν Πατριαρχεῖον Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, translit=Oikoumenikón Patriarkhíon Konstantinoupóleos, ; la, Patriarchatus Oecumenicus Constanti ...
. Athanasius recorded scribes around 340 preparing Bibles for
Constans Flavius Julius Constans ( 320 – 350), sometimes called Constans I, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thro ...

Constans
. Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists and that
Codex Vaticanus The Codex Vaticanus (Vatican Library, The Vatican, Vatican Library, Bibl. Vat., Vat. gr. 1209; no. B or 03 Biblical manuscript#Gregory-Aland, Gregory-Aland, δ 1 Biblical manuscript#Von Soden, von Soden) is one of the oldest copies of the Bible, ...
and
Codex Sinaiticus The Codex Sinaiticus (ShelfmarkA shelfmark is a mark in a book or manuscript that denotes the cupboard or bookcase where it is kept as well as the shelf and possibly even its location on the shelf. The closely related term pressmark (from pres ...
are examples of these Bibles. Together with the
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hel ...

Peshitta
and
Codex Alexandrinus The Codex Alexandrinus (London, British Library, Royal MS 1. D. V-VIII; Biblical manuscript#Gregory-Aland, Gregory-Aland no. A or 02, Biblical manuscript#Von Soden, Soden δ 4) is a fifth-century Christian manuscript of a Greek Bible,The Greek V ...
, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles. There is no evidence among the canons of the First Council of Nicaea of any determination on the canon. However, Jerome (347–420), in his ''Prologue to Judith'', claims that the Book of Judith was "found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures".


Latin

In Western Christianity or Christianity in the Western Roman Empire, Western half of the Roman Empire, Latin had displaced Greek as the common language of the early Christians, and in 382 AD Pope Damasus I commissioned Jerome, the leading scholar of the day, to produce an updated Latin Bible to replace the Vetus Latina, which was a Latin translation of the Septuagint. Jerome's work, called the Vulgate, was a direct translation from Hebrew, since he argued for the superiority of Development of the Hebrew Bible canon, the Hebrew texts in correcting the Septuagint on both philological and theological grounds. His Vulgate Old Testament became the standard Bible used in the Western Church, specifically as the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate, while the Eastern Christianity, Churches in the East continued, and continue, to use the Septuagint. Jerome, however, in the Vulgate#Prologues, Vulgate's prologues describes some portions of books in the Septuagint not found in the Hebrew Bible as being non-biblical canon, canonical (he called them ''
apocrypha Apocrypha (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, ‘the hidden hings) The biblical Books received by the early Church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews fro ...
''); for Baruch, he mentions by name in his ''Prologue to Jeremiah'' and notes that it is neither read nor held among the Hebrews, but does not explicitly call it apocryphal or "not in the canon". The Synod of Hippo (in 393), followed by the Council of Carthage (397) and the Council of Carthage (419), may be the first council that explicitly accepted the first canon which includes the books that did not appear in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a f ...

Hebrew Bible
; the councils were under significant influence of Augustine of Hippo, who regarded the canon as already closed.


Protestant

In the 16th century, the Protestant reformers sided with Jerome; yet although most Protestant Bibles now have only those books that appear in the Hebrew Bible, the order is that of the Greek Bible. Rome then officially adopted a canon, the Canon of Trent, which is seen as following Augustine's Carthaginian Councils or the Council of Rome, and includes most, but not all, of the Septuagint (3 Ezra and 3 and 4 Maccabees are excluded); the
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...

Anglican
s after the English Civil War adopted a compromise position, restoring the 39 Articles and keeping the extra books that were excluded by the Westminster Confession of Faith, but only for private study and for Anglican Liturgy, reading in churches, while
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
s kept them for private study, gathered in an appendix as biblical apocrypha.


Other versions

While the Hebrew, Greek and Latin versions of the Hebrew Bible are the best known Old Testaments, there were others. At much the same time as the Septuagint was being produced, translations were being made into Aramaic, the language of Jews living in Palestine and the Near East and likely the Aramaic of Jesus, language of Jesus: these are called the Aramaic Targums, from a word meaning "translation", and were used to help Jewish congregations understand their scriptures. For Aramaic Christians there was a Syriac language, Syriac translation of the Hebrew Bible called the
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hel ...

Peshitta
, as well as versions in Coptic language, Coptic (the everyday language of Egypt in the first Christian centuries, descended from ancient Egyptian), Ethiopic (for use in the Ethiopian church, one of the oldest Christian churches), Armenian people, Armenian (Armenia was the first to adopt Christianity as its official religion), and Arabic.


Christian theology

Christianity is based on the belief that the historical Jesus is also the Christ, as in the Confession of Peter. This belief is in turn based on Jewish understandings of the meaning of the Hebrew term messiah, which, like the Greek "Christ", means "anointed". In the Hebrew Scriptures, it describes a king anointed with oil on his accession to the throne: he becomes "The 's anointed" or
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
's Anointed. By the time of Jesus, some Jews expected that a flesh and blood descendant of David (the "Davidic line, Son of David") would come to establish a real Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem, instead of the Iudaea Province, Roman province. Others stressed the Son of Man, a distinctly other-worldly figure who would appear as a Last judgment, judge at the end of time; and some harmonised the two by expecting a this-worldly messianic kingdom which would last for a set period and be followed by the other-worldly age or World to Come. Some thought the Messiah was already present, but unrecognised due to Israel's sins; some thought that the Messiah would be announced by a fore-runner, probably Elijah (as promised by the prophet Malachi, whose book now ends the Old Testament and precedes Gospel of Mark, Mark's account of John the Baptist). None predicted a Messiah who suffers and dies for the sins of all the people. The story of Jesus' death, therefore, involved a profound shift in meaning from the Old Testament tradition. The name "Old Testament" reflects Christianity's understanding of itself as the Supersessionism, fulfilment of Jeremiah's prophecy of a New Covenant (which is similar to "testament" and often conflated) to replace the existing Covenant (biblical), covenant between God and Israel (Jeremiah 31:31). The emphasis, however, has shifted from Judaism's understanding of the covenant as a racially or tribally based contract between God and Jews to one between God and any person of faith who is "in Christ".


See also

* Abrogation of Old Covenant laws * Biblical and Quranic narratives * Book of Job in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts * Criticism of the Bible * Expounding of the Law * Law and Gospel * List of ancient legal codes * List of Hebrew Bible manuscripts * Marcion of Sinope * Non-canonical books referenced in the Bible * Quotations from the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament * Timeline of Genesis patriarchs


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Bernhard Anderson, Anderson, Bernhard. ''Understanding the Old Testament''. * Greg Bahnsen, Bahnsen, Greg, et al., ''Five Views on Law and Gospel'' (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993). * . * . * * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * (hardback), (paperback). * (clothbound) and (paperback).


External links

* . Full texts of the Old (and New) Testaments including the full Roman and Orthodox Catholic canons * - Tanakh * Protestant Old Testament on a single page * . Extensive online Old Testament resources (including commentaries) * * * : Old Testament stories and commentary * – Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the King James Version {{Authority control Old Testament, Christian terminology