Chapter 2: The Old Testament. UNDERSTANDING THE SCRIPTURES. 1. The Law of the Old Testament (pp. 43–51) . 1. The Law in General: Matthew 5:17–20 . 2. Anger: Matthew 5:21–26 . 3. Adultery: Matthew 5:27–30 . 4. Divorce: Matthew 5:31–32 . 5. Oaths: Matthew 5:33–37 .
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UNDERSTANDING THE SCRIPTURES
1. The Law in General: Matthew 5:17–20.
2. Anger: Matthew 5:21–26.
3. Adultery: Matthew 5:27–30.
4. Divorce: Matthew 5:31–32.
5. Oaths: Matthew 5:33–37.
6. Retaliation: Matthew 5:38–42.
7. Love of Enemies: Matthew 5:43–48.
In your assigned group, explain how your passage presents a new teaching that perfects the Old Law.
Keep in mind that the phrase “the Law and the Prophets” refers to the Old Testament.
You have three minutes to analyze your passage, then share findings with the class.
What is the value of the Old Testament to Christians?
What is the importance of the first five books of the Old Testament?
The New Testament fulfills the promises of the Old Testament, which remain a treasure of perennial value.
The first five books of the Old Testament are the books of the Law.
Why does St. Matthew begin his Gospel with a genealogy?
St. Matthew wants to show his readers how Jesus Christ fulfills the covenants of the Old Testament, specifically, he is the New Adam.
What does it mean to say the New Testament fulfills the Old?
The New Testament completes and accomplishes what was written about in the Old Testament without having abolished it.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 122, what does the Old Testament contain?
It is a storehouse of sublime teaching about God. It contains sound wisdom about human life, provides a treasury of prayers, and presents the mystery of the salvation of all people in a hidden way.
Analyze the illustration “The Tree of Jesse” (p. 25).
How does this illustration show the relationship between the Old and New Testaments?
How many books are in the Old Testament?
There are forty‑six books in the Old Testament.
What are the four basic genres of books found in the Old Testament?
The four genres are law, history, wisdom, and prophecy.
What different names are given to the first five books of the Bible?
The first five books of the Bible are alternatively called the books of the Law (in Hebrew, Torah), the five Books of Moses, and the Pentateuch.
• Greek for “beginning”
• Recounts the creation and many famous biblical stories
• Takes the Israelites to Egypt
• Greek for “going out”
• The escape from Egypt and giving Moses the Ten Commandments
• Named for the Levitical priests
• Detailed book of religious laws
• Census of the tribes of Israel and their forty years in the desert
• Greek for “second law”
• New laws for the Promised Land
• Prophecies about Israel’s future
How certain are scholars about the sources of the Pentateuch?
Despite hard work, attempts to identify the sources are but conjecture and speculation.
What did the Pontifical Biblical Commission observe about the Pentateuch in 1948?
It is certain Moses was the substantial influence as Sacred Author and legislator in the Pentateuch.
What constitutes the Sacred Scriptures: the extant books or their original sources?
The extant books are the inspired Scriptures. Therefore, one need not “worry” if scholars cannot locate or perfectly trace all of their sources; even if the identity of the authors is not known, they were nonetheless inspired.
Complete the following table to organize the four‑source theory of the origin of the Pentateuch.
Write a one‑paragraph essay about the value of the Old Testament to Christians.
Consider both the Catechism, nos. 121–122, and the passage from Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount” examined in the Anticipatory Set (p. 24).
Study Questions 1–9, 18 (p. 40)
Workbook Questions 1–15
Practical Exercise 1 (p. 41)
Read “History” through “Prophecy” (pp. 28–33)
A reading of the account of the Tower of Babel (cf. Gn11:1–9).
Review the literal and spiritual senses of Scripture (p. 12).
In you assigned group, interpret the spiritual sense of this narrative.
Read Isaiah 9:6 (p. 31). Have a class discussion about why early Christians saw this as a prophecy about Jesus Christ using the following graphic to organize your findings.
He led the conquest of Canaan.
Judges were military leaders who helped in the conquest despite the unfaithfulness of the people.
A humble, foreign woman became the grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Christ.
The tragic story of Saul is told.
The story of King David is told.
The reign of David’s son, Solomon, ends in idolatry.
The Kingdom of Israel was divided and Israel was destroyed.
This retells 1 and 2 Samuel.
This retells 1 and 2 Kings.
The Temple was rebuilt.
This continues the story of Ezra.
This tells of a man and his son, helped by the archangel Raphael.
This heroic Jewish woman saved Israel by a clever strategy.
This heroic Israelite became Queen of Persia and saved the Jewish exiles there.
Which books of the Old Testament tell the story of King David?
The Books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles tell David’s story.
Which three historical books have a woman as their main character?
Each of the Books of Ruth, Judith, and Esther has a woman as its main character.
Which two historical books retell four other historical books?
1 Chronicles retells the story of 1 and 2 Samuel from a more religious point of view. 2 Chronicles retells 1 and 2 Kings with more emphasis on the kingdom of Judah.
What is the subject of the Book of Job?
It is about why the innocent suffer in this life.
Which is the greatest book of religious poetry, and to whom is it attributed?
The Book of Psalms is attributed to King David.
What is the subject of the Books of Ecclesiastes?
The Book of Ecclesiastes bemoans the vanity of worldly things.
Read silently St. Hippolytus’sCommentary on the Psalms (p. 39), and then discuss the following question:
What does apostolic Tradition reveal about the authorship of the Book of Psalms?
To what extent is it true to say the prophets warned, comforted, and predicted?
Many of the prophets warned of coming disasters if the people of Israel did not return to the true worship of God. When disasters struck, the prophets gave the people messages of comfort, reminding them of God’s continuing love and presence among them. Many prophets predicted future events, including the coming of the Messiah.
What was the people’s reaction to Jeremiah’s prophecy about the destruction of Judah?
They hated him for having given unpleasant news.
How is Isaiah’s “Ecce virgo” (cf. caption, p. 31) a prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ?
Isaiah wrote, “Behold, a young woman [virgo = virgin] shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (7:14). The Blessed Virgin Mary is the young woman who conceived and bore a Son while still a virgin. Her Son is the Son of God and lived on earth, hence fulfilling the name Emmanuel, which means God‑with‑us (cf. Mt 1: 23). At the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Christ’s last words are, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (28:20), which echoes the name Emmanuel.
Why are the prophets from Hosea to Malachi known as the minor prophets?
Their books are shorter (in Latin, minor).
How was the Prophet Hosea’s marriage a metaphor for God’s relationship with the Israelites?
Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him, but he took her back despite her infidelity. This was a metaphor for God’s “marriage” to Israel, who was unfaithful to him by worshiping other gods, but God continuously took her back despite this infidelity.
Which prophet foretold the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem?
Micah said a Savior to rule Israel would be born in Bethlehem.
What are the three divisions within the prophetic literature?
The prophetic books can be divided into major prophets, minor prophets, and post‑exilic prophets.
Which prophets are associated with the rebuilding of the Temple?
The rebuilding of the Temple is associated with Haggai and Zechariah. (Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the rebuilding [cf. p. 29], but Haggai and Zechariah are more closely associated with the rebuilding itself.)
What is the subject of the two Books of Maccabees?
The two books of Maccabees detail the Jewish revolt led by the Maccabeus family against the Greek rulers of Palestine, who were trying to Hellenize the Jews.
Free write for five minutes giving a broad outline of the history of Israel.
Study Questions 10–14 (p. 40)
Workbook Questions 16–21
Practical Exercise 2 (p. 41)
Read “Quick Outline of Old Testament History” through “What Typology Is and How It Works” (pp. 34–38)
Spend five minutes to locate one pericope (extract) from Proverbs you find especially poignant.
Share your proverb with the class.
Especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many critics of Christianity dismissed the narratives of the Old Testament as fables, mere stories invented by gullible religious people.
Beginning in the late nineteenth century and continuing until today, archaeologists in the Near East have made many discoveries that lend evidence to the historical existence of many of the people, places, and events chronicled in the Old Testament.
To get a glimpse into how the Old Testament recounts real history, do an Internet search for combinations such as “Bible” and “archaeology.”
What is the general outline of Old Testament history?
What is typology?
Using both internal and extrabiblical evidence, the events of Old Testament history can be chronologically arranged with good confidence, especially from the time of Samuel.
Typology is an important tool to understand the Old Testament because it allows people to understand—in its persons, places, and events—prefigurements of what was to come in the New Testament.
What is the time span of the Old Testament?
It spans from Creation until about one century before Christ.
How do scholars date biblical events in the Old Testament?
Scholars estimate dates using both internal evidence and extrabiblical sources. Internal evidence depends on what the books themselves say; extrabiblical sources include ancient writings and archaeological evidence.
From what point can biblical events be dated with good certainty?
They can be dated from the time of Samuel onward (ca. 1100 BC) with good certainty.
How did the Prophet Elijah prefigure Christ in the desert?
Elijah fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert and visited Horeb, the mountain of God where Moses received the Law. Christ went into the desert to fast for forty days and forty nights and there was tempted; when he emerged, he gave the New Law.
When did the Assyrians conquer Israel and take the northern tribes into captivity?
The Assyrians conquered Israel ca. 721 BC.
What happened ca. 586 BC?
The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried the Tribe of Judah into captivity.
Why was Cyrus called the messiah of the Jews?
He conquered Babylon and allowed the Jews to return home to Jerusalem.
What was King Antiochus’sgoal for the Jews?
He wanted to destroy completely the Jews’ worship of the one true God.
What was Antiochus’smeans to achieve his goal?
He thought, wrongly, public acts of extreme cruelty would persuade the Jews to give up their religion.
Discuss Romans 3:1–4:12.
How does St. Paul describe the relationship between the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament and the Law of faith in Jesus Christ?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, what does typology show?
Typology shows the unity of the two Testaments. God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigured what he would accomplish in the New Covenant in the Person of his Son.
What is the difference between how modern readers tend to view history and how God views it?
Modern readers tend to view history as a series of chronological events. God views all of history together—past, present, and future—as if one moment.
What is an example of the Old Testament providing an accurate prediction of the New Testament?
Old Testament prophets accurately predicted the advent of Jesus Christ and the sufferings he would endure for the salvation of all people.
What is an example of an event in the Old Testament that points to an event in the New Testament?
Abraham’s sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, points to God the Father’s sacrifice of his Only‑Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross.
Does the New Testament event foreshadowed in the previous question destroy the original meaning of the Old Testament event?
No; the Old Testament event stands on its own meaning. Using typology, people can see how the Old Testament event provides an analogy for the New Testament event.
Why is typology an important tool to understand the Bible?
Typology lets people see recurring patterns in the complex mass of material in the Old Testament. It helps to understand the New Testament in terms of the Old.
On your own, read the selection from Against Heresies on page 39, and then take part in a class discussion using the following questions:
According to St. Irenæus, why did God give the Old Testament to the Jews?
What does St. Irenæus mean by type?
For what did types allow?
Write a paragraph defining typology and apply its definition to one example.
(Hint: A number of examples are listed in CCC 1094.)
Study Questions 15–17, 19–21 (p. 40)
Workbook Questions 22–24
Based on what you know so far, free write for five minutes on the aspect of Old Testament history of greatest interest to you and why.