History and Story Behind the Old Testament of the Bible Part 2

About the religious books that make up the Old Testament of the Bible, history of the Jewish and Christian holy works.



Contents: There is slight disagreement among the Jewish and Christian versions of the Old Testament about the order of the books and the exact translations. Basically it is agreed that there are three sections: law, prophets, and writings. The Jewish Bible consists entirely of the Old Testament, whereas the Christian Bibles contain both Old and New Testaments, and while it is common to find volumes of the New Testament alone, one does find a Christian Bible of only the Old Testament.

According to Jewish sources, there are 24 books, because they came from 24 scrolls of original manuscript. The English Bible counts 39 because of further division of some of the scrolls and the addition of some books of the "Apocrypha," which are disputed as to inclusion in the Bible among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Because there are 24 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, Jews find particular significance in asserting the completeness of the 24-book Testament.

The contents may be summed up as a history of practices, anecdotes, and poetry which illuminate human nature and man's relationship to God. There is a strong emphasis on righteousness, but interpretation differs from translation to translation, and in the case of the Jewish faith, the Talmud is a further set of collected writings commenting upon the contents of the Old Testament (specifically the Torah).

Sample Quote:

That which hath been is that which shall be,

And that which hath been done is that which shall be done:

And there is nothing new under the sun.

--Ecclesiastes 1:9

Its Publishing History: Although the original scrolls were in Hebrew, by the time they were in general use, Aramaic, not Hebrew, was the popular tongue. An oral version in Aramaic grew up around the 1st century B.C.E. and also a Hebrew commentary on the law. Onkelos's Aramaic written translation changed some of the nuance of the original text, for he did not attribute human form and feelings to God. Translation had an important impact on the development of literature and language. Commerce with the Hellenistic world between 300 B.C.E. and 300 C.E. created a need for the Greek translation--the Septuagint, so called because allegedly 70 translators worked on it (some say 72--6 for each of the 12 tribes). The Apocrypha found in the Greek and Latin versions are not in the original Hebrew scrolls.

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