The Old Testament is the first section of the Bible which Christians consider to be Holy Scripture. The Bible of Judaism is called Tanak.
The word Tanak is an acronym for the Hebrew Bible. The word is formed by the initial Hebrew letters of the three sections of the Hebrew Bible.
The T stands for Torah or the five books of Moses.
The N stands for the word Neviim, a word which means “Prophets.” This section of the Hebrew Bible includes the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets.
The K stands for Ketuvim, a word which means “Writings.” This section of the Hebrew Bible contains several historical books, the wisdom books, the poetic books, and the book of Psalms.
The Bible used in the Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Church includes additional books known as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. The word Deuterocanonical means “the second canon.” The Apocryphal books are not included in the Tanak nor in the Bible used by Protestants.
The Old Testament is the story of God working in the history of Israel to redeem the world unto himself. This story is told in a collection of books that were written by many writers over a period of one thousand years. Many Christians today ignore the Old Testament because they believe that it does not apply to the lives of Christians.
Jesus knew and loved the Old Testament. When Jesus began his public ministry he did so by reading from Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue in Nazareth. Throughout his ministry Jesus made several references to the Old Testament. The New Testament writers believed that Jesus fulfilled many of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah.
There is a wealth of information in the Old Testament that can enrich the lives of Christians. As the psalmist wrote:
The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.
Reverence for the LORD is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.(Psalm 19:7-11 NLT)
I have prepared a series of posts in order to introduce the Old Testament to people who desire to gain a basic knowledge of this section of the Bible. It is a fact that the Old Testament is unknown to many readers of the Bible. When finished, this introduction will consist of six posts. These are the posts that have been published to date (click on the links below):
NEXT: The Old Testament: Inspiration and Revelation
Claude F. Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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