History and Story Behind the Old Testament of the Bible Part 3

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

STORIES BEHIND THE HOLY BOOKS OF THE WORLD

THE OLD TESTAMENT

The earliest printing of any part of the Bible was the Book of Psalms, in 1477 in Italy. The entire Bible, in a Jewish version, appeared in print in 1488, and the first Christian Bible was printed in Spain in 1514 under Cardinal Jimenez in six volumes, four of which included the Pentateuch in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. It was circulated in 1522.

The first text with commentaries by major medieval Jewish rabbis appeared in 1516; a second edition of it issued in 1522 is the prototype for the contemporary Jewish Old Testament. The first complete English Bible was translated by Miles Coverdale and printed in 1535. Luther's Bible was called the beginning of modern German. The 1560 Geneva Bible became known as the "Breeches Bible" because of its rendering of garments for Adam and Eve. The list goes on; it is nearly impossible to estimate the number of editions, translations, or copies of the Bible circulated over the years, especially if we were to consider all the ancient tongues, some of which are not even extant today. In 1916 the Jewish Publication Society of America printed a new English translation, which was a collaborative effort rather than a collection of individual translations. This version is in use today, and sales amount to approximately 20,000 copies a year; still, this figure does not begin to reflect the millions of Bibles spread throughout the world, or the number of Torahs and Bibles which were destroyed in attempts to wipe out the Jewish faith, or the consequent number written out by hand in secret or otherwise hidden.

Unusual Facts: According to the Book of Numbers, men must wear fringes on the borders of their garments as a reminder to keep the commandments. The Tallis, or prayer shawl, which serves as this reminder of the law, has tassels with fringes consisting of 8 strands, each tied in 5 knots. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for fringe is 600. Add to that the 8 (strands) and 5 (knots) for a total of 613-the number of laws in the Torah.

There is no mention of cats aboard Noah's ark. One commentary says that when the rodents started to overrun the ark, the lioness sneezed and produced a cat; formerly cats had been unknown, hence their omission. Actually, it is more likely that, as a carry-over from Egyptian oppression, the Jews refused to acknowledge the cat because it was given high status among Egyptians, along with their gods.

It is said that God made Adam a vegetarian but let Noah eat anything he wanted.

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