The Old Testament Christanity: An Introduction
The Old Testament • “Old Testament”: Christian term to refer to books still regarded as sacred by Judaism • “Scripture” or “Writing” graphe to describe these writings • Other ways of describing: • Hebrew Bible – stresses Hebrew people • First Testament – “Old” means “invalid” or “outdated” to some • Tanakh – Hebrew word used: T + N + K (Torah, Nevi’im, Kethuvim– Law, Prophets, Writings) • There is no one broadly accepted name
Shape of the Old Testament • Septuagint – LXX – Greek translation of Old Testament 275-100 BC in Alexandria Egypt • Masoretic text – Source for Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria; different than others • Use by Christians led to Jews abandoning it • Circa year 90 – Jewish scholars determined official canon of Hebrew Bible in Jamnia, motivated by rise of Christianity • Jerome – creating the Vulgate – noticed the difference between the two sets, with “Apocrypha” derives” • “Deuterocanonical” – no Hebrew version
Shape of the Old Testament • Hebrew Canon – 24 books (See p. 59) • Torah, Nevi-im (prophets), Kethuvim (writings) • “The Twelve”: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi • Christian Canon – 39 books • Five books of Law, Historical Books, Writings, Prophets
Shape of the Old Testament • Points of comparison: • Septuagint divided Samuel, Kings, Chronicles into two books • Hebrew canon includes some prophecy as historical • Book of Daniel: prophetic in Hebrew canon; “minor prophet” in Christian • Hebrew Canon treats 12 minor prophets as a single book • Christian canon places certain books alongside others where helpful (Ruth and Judges) • Both agree in first books of Old Testament; otherwise are different; Christian ends w/ Malachi foretelling the Messiah
Shape of the Old Testament Four Different Configurations: Judaism: canon and order of the Masoretic text, established at Jamnia Greek Orthodoxy: canon and order of Septuagint Roman Catholicism: canon and order of Septuagint, but with deuterocanonical works placed at the end Protestantism: canon of Masoretic text, order of the Septuagint, minus deuterocanonical
The Contents of the Old Testament • The Old Testament consists of 39 books (or 46 with Apocrypha/ deuterocanonical books): • Five books of Law • Historical books • Prophets • Writings
The Five Books of Law Five Books of Law/Books of Moses/Pentateuch/Torah/Five Scrolls Describes origin of the people of Israel, and revelation of God who called those people into being Sets forth the law that would give and safeguard distinctive identity and ethos of Israel as the people of God Collection of documents brought together around the time of the fall of Babylon in sixth century BC.
The Five Books of Law: Genesis • Genesis: Greek for “origins” • First creation account 1:1 – God created heavens and earth in six days • Second creation account – creation of humanity as made in the image of God • Flood story • Tower of Babel • Call of Abraham
The Five Books of Law: Exodus • Exodus: Greek “way out” • How people of Israel fell into slavery in Egypt, and the way in which Moses emerged as their deliverer. • Passover • Passing through the Reed Sea • Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai
The Five Books of Law: Leviticus • Sets for the characteristic religious and cultural practices and beliefs that marked Israel off from other peoples/nations • Specific guidelines for sacrifices • Rituals for the Day of Atonement • Dietary restrictions
The Five Books of Law: Numbers • The people are still wandering in the desert • Details of the preparations being made to invade Canaan • Book ends with Israel poised on the eastern side of the River Jordan waiting to enter the promised land.
The Five Books of Law: Deuteronomy • Deuteronomy: “Second law” • Written later, but looks back on Moses from the perspective of the people about to enter the land • One last reminder of the law before he dies, as assimilation occurs. • Moses does not make it to the new land.
The Historical Books The Historical books place a considerable emphasis on the importance of the acts of God in history Major purpose: historical narrative and theological commentary Book of Joshua begins historical commentary. Joshua is Moses’ successor as leader of Israel Joshua leads the battle of Jericho
The Historical Books • Next leaders are the Judges – charismatic leaders raised by God to deliver Israel from danger • Threats from people living there • Ruth – concerns and issues of the period • Samuel – describes kingship being established • Saul, David, Solomon first Kings • Regions: Israel to the north, Judah to the south; David united the two
The Historical Books • 1 Kings, 2 Kings: follow books of Samuel; • The four books provide continuous account of development and history of the kingdom of Israel from establishment of the monarchy to Babylonian Exile • After Solomon’s death: Split back to Israel North, Judah in the south • 722 B.C.: Assyrian Invasion; Israel is capture • Seen as a sign of God’s disfavor; Canaanite fertility cults • 587 B.C.: Babylonians take the south, people scatter (Diaspora)
The Historical Books • Chronicles 1 and 2: written with needs of restored community in mind. • Additional material to Samuel and Kings, though many of the same periods are covered • Solomon and David are portrayed more positively • David’s incident with Bathsheba • Solomon’s foreign wives/concubines omitted • Chronicles highlights the good to give hope final fulfillment may be achieved • Signs point to the messiah
The Historical Books Esther Ezra, Nehemiah – document events from overthrow of the Babylonian Empire by Persian monarch Cyrus in 538 B.C Israel allowed to return and rebuild the temple Theme: Israel’s religious life and the need for exiles to maintain their cultural and religious identities, through refusing to marry other local people Esther – way in which a Jewish community in Persian empire was spared from destruction
The Writings • “Writings” tend to focus on Wisdom and the knowledge of God • Four major writings: • Job • Proverbs • Ecclesiastes • Psalms • Song of Solomon/Song of Songs also included • Wisdom: Profound understanding about the mysteries of life, ultimately due to God • Solomon: Israel’s wisest king • True wisdom is a gift from God, no other source
The Writings: Book of Job • Job: three major questions: • Why does God allow suffering? • Or, does suffering equal dis-favor with God? • Is it because of sin? • Story opens with Job’s understanding of the matter • Job has everything: health, family, wealth • Satan approaches God • Job maintains faith • Three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, Sophar: Job must have sinned • God responds, clearing up confusion; Job maintains his faith
The Writings: Book of Psalms • “The Psalter”: series 150 psalms of that reached final form in third century BC. • Smaller collections: “Psalms of Asaph”, “Psalms of the Sons of Korah”, “Psalms of David” • Five books: • Book 1: Psalms 1-41 • Book 2: Psalm 42-72 • Book 3: Psalms 73-89 • Book 4: Psalms 90-106 • Book 5: Psalms 107-150 • Sung, poetic prayers
The Writings: Proverbs A collection of short proverbial sayings. Hebrew “proverbs” includes a broader range that has the sense of “parable” or “oracle” to suggest God’s involvement in human wisdom Solomon credited with speaking many
The Writings: Ecclesiastes Well-known song from the book of Ecclesiastes: • Wisdom literature that take sthe form of a collection of proverbs and observations. • Author Ekklesiastes – “The teacher” traditionally identified as Solomon as “Son of David”
The Writings: Song of Solomon/ Song of Songs • Known by both Song of Solomon and Song of Songs • Understood to have been written by Solomon; generally regarded as an outstanding love poem • Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
The Prophets: Isaiah • First of four “Major” prophets • Called to prophecy 740 BC; worked until 701 when Northern Israel fell. • Three sections: • First part (from Isaiah himself) • Chapters 36-20: Judah’s survival of threat of Assyria • Chapters 40-55: prophesy Judah’s later enslavement to Babylon and exile from the land; looks beyond immediate to a “new heavens and a new earth” • Contains many of the prophecies important to Christianity
The Prophets: Jeremiah • Longest book in the Bible; called to prophecy 626 B.C. • Turbulent years during his prophecy. The Assyrians had taken the north; Babylonians were gaining in strength; attacked Jerusalem multiple times. • Jeremiah warned people to make things right • Jeremiah's prophecies call people to remain faithful to God, not military alliances
The Prophets: Lamentations Attributed to Jeremiah; laments the destruction of Jerusalem Graphic portrayal of Jerusalem right after the fall of the city. Probably was not written by Jeremiah.
The Prophets: Ezekiel Ezekiel: focuses on apostasy, sin, and exile Ezekiel prophesies about the state of affairs in Jerusalem from his exile near Babylon; no evidence that he himself left Babylon. Exiles settled in Babylon along the “Kebar River”, an irrigation canal Ezekiel was born into a priestly family, who would have served in the temple.
The Prophets: Daniel Canticle of Daniel: Bless the Lord, all you works of the LordPraise and exalt Him above all foreverAngels of the Lord bless the Lord.You heavens, bless the LordAll you waters above the heavens, bless the LordAll you hosts of the Lord, Bless the LordSun and Moon, Bless the LordStars of heaven, bless the Lord.Every shower and dew, bless the Lord.All you winds, bless the LordFire and Heat, bless the Lord Cold and chill, bless the LordDew and rain, bless the LordFrost and chill, bless the LordIce and Snow, bless the LordNights and days, bless the LordLight and darkness, bless the LordLightings and clouds, bless the Lord Let the earth bless the LordPraise and exalt Him above all forever. More so apocalyptic than prophetic; sometimes grouped into the “writings” category. Stresses need to remain faithful to God, despite difficult circumstances.
The Prophets: Hosea Hosea is 8th century BC; written in the northern kingdom of Israel and prophesied to it during its final days before the fall to Assyria Hosea focuses on the unfaithfulness of Israel to God May have been written after he fled to safety in Judah.
The Prophets: Joel • Joel – little is known about Joel • Difficult to date • “Day of the Lord”; a day of Darkness is at hand in which destruction will come to Zion • A vast cloud of locusts is coming, seen as a sign of God’s judgment” • Joel looks forward to a coming day when the “Spirit of the Lord” will be poured out on the people of God • Christians see this as the Holy Spirit on Pentecost
The Prophets: Amos Amos focuses on the failures of the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos was born in southern Judah, ministered primarily to the north. Prophecy takes the form of judgment against both pagan nations and Israel for their sins; Israel bears greater responsibility, since they were God’s chosen people. The prophecy sees the lack of social justice as major failure.
The Prophets: Obadiah, Jonah • Obadiah – one of the briefest and difficult to date.. • Shows terrible conditions in Judah during exile • Jonah – describes the missionary journey of a prophet to the city of Nineveh at some point during 8th century B.C. • “Jonah and the Whale” story
The Prophets: Micah Micah – prophesied in southern kingdom Work is an attack on the corruption of life in the great cities of both kingdoms Judah and Israel are guilty of a series of unacceptable offenses, particularly those against the weak. Priests and prophets failed to speak out. Looks forward to the coming of a king from Bethlehem in Judah
The Prophets: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah • Nahum, Habbakuk – little known about them, some of the shortest books of the Bible • Some prophecies included in Advent readings of the Church as prophecies for Jesus • Zephaniah – important period of religius reform in Judah. “rediscovery of the Book of Law” led to a major religious reformation. • Speaks of Baal worship
The Prophets: Haggai and Zechariah • Haggai and Zechariah – dated to the period where the deported population of Jerusalem returns to rebuild the city • Haggai focuses on the need to rebuild the Temple as honor to God • Zechariah wishes to encourage the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple • Great messianic king, descendant of David, entering into the city of Jerusalem in triumph seated on a donkey.
The Prophets: Malachi • Malachi – “my messenger” generally thought of as final prophet of Old Testament period, at some time after the people returned to Jerusalem • Promise of forgiveness and restoration remains open • Malachi proclaims future coming of the “Day of the Lord” • Elijah will reappear to prepare his coming (John the Baptist?)