- Old Testament
1. the first of the two main divisions of the Christian Bible, comprising the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. In the Vulgate translation all but two books of the Apocrypha are included in the Old Testament. See table under Bible.2. this testament considered as the complete Bible of the Jews.3. the covenant between God and Israel on Mount Sinai, constituting the basis of the Hebrew religion. Ex. 19-24; Jer. 31:31-34; II Cor. 3:6, 14.[1300-50; ME; trans. of LL Vetus Testamentum, trans. of Gk Palaià Diathéke]
* * *Sacred scriptures of Judaism and, with the New Testament, of Christianity.Written almost entirely in the Hebrew language between 1200 and 100 BC, the Old Testament (also called the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh) is an account of God's dealings with the Hebrews as his chosen people. In the Hebrew Bible, the first six books tell how the Israelites became a people and settled in the Promised Land, the following seven books describe the development of Israel's monarchy and the messages of the prophets, and the last 11 books contain poetry, theology, and some additional historical works. Christians divided some of the original Hebrew books into two or more parts, specifically, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles (two parts each), Ezra-Nehemiah (two separate books), and the Minor Prophets (12 separate books). The content of the Old Testament varies according to religious tradition, the Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant canons all differing from each other as to which books they include. See also Apocrypha, Bible.
* * *In its general framework, the Old Testament is the account of God's dealing with the Jews as his chosen people. The first six books of the Old Testament narrate how the Israelites became a people and settled in the Promised Land. The following seven books continue their story in the Promised Land, describing the establishment and development of the monarchy and the messages of the prophets. The last 11 books contain poetry, theology, and some additional historical works. Throughout the Old Testament, the Jews' historical relation to God is conceived in reference to the ultimate redemption of all humanity. The Old Testament's profoundly monotheistic interpretation of human life and the universe as creations of God provides the basic structure of ideas in which both Judaism and Christianity exist. The term Old Testament was devised by a Christian, Melito Of Sardis, about AD 170 to distinguish this part of the Bible from the New Testament. Except for a few passages in Aramaic, the Old Testament was written originally in Hebrew during the period from 1200 to 100 BC.The Hebrew canon recognizes the following subdivisions of its three main divisions: (1) the Torah (q.v.), or Pentateuch, contains narratives combined with rules and instructions in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; (2) the Neviʾim (q.v.), or Prophets, is subdivided into the Former Prophets, with anecdotes about major Hebrew persons in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and stories of the Latter Prophets exhorting Israel to return to God in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets; and (3) the Ketuvim (q.v.), or Writings, with poetry—devotional and erotic—and theology and drama to be found in Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.The total number of books in the Hebrew canon is 24, the number of scrolls on which these works were written in ancient times. The Old Testament as adopted by Christianity numbers more works for the following reasons. The Roman Catholic canon, derived initially from the Greek-language Septuagint (q.v.) translation of the Hebrew Bible, absorbed a number of books that Jews and Protestants later determined were not canonical (see apocrypha); and Christians divided some of the original Hebrew works into two or more parts, specifically, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles (two parts each), Ezra-Nehemiah (two separate books), and the Minor Prophets (12 separate books).
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