22 June 2023

What is the Old Testament? – Learn a little more about this sacred book

By Donald

Throughout the scriptures, we find numerous examples of mercy divine manifested through forgiveness, protection and provision. From Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt to the restoration of the nation after disobedience, God’s mercy is shown as an essential attribute of his character.

By making a serious study of the Old Testament, we see that points to the coming of Christ and how we can apply those teachings in our daily lives. So get ready to discover the spiritual richness and redemptive purpose found in the Old Testament passages.

Why is it important to study the Old Testament?

The study of the Old Testament is important because it gives us Knowledge about God’s creation and works. It is in this part of the Bible where we find fundamental stories that help us understand the purpose of the construction of the temple and its meaning. Furthermore, the Old Testament teaches us valuable lessons about the importance of obedience, sacrifice, and the role of the priesthood.

Knowing the Old Testament is important for several significant reasons. First, the Old Testament contains the revelation of God through the history and teachings of the prophets and leaders of the people of Israel. Through these accounts, we can better understand the nature and purposes of God, as well as his interactions with humanity.

Furthermore, the Old Testament lays the foundation for understanding and appreciate the New Testament and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Many messianic prophecies and promises are found in the Old Testament, and by studying it, we can see how they are fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus.

The Old Testament also provides valuable lessons on morality, justice, and wisdom. Through the commandments, psalms, proverbs and the stories of biblical characters, we get timeless principles that can guide our daily lives and help us make wise and ethical decisions.

In addition, the study of the Old Testament helps us to understand the continuity of history and the Jewish religious tradition, which is essential to fully appreciate the diversity and richness of the faith.

Parts of the Old Testament

The Old Testament of the Catholic Church contains 46 books divided into four parts: the Pentateuch, which tells the story; the historical books, which narrate what happened in the Kingdom of Israel; the prophetic chapters, which point out sin and proclaim the coming of Jesus; and the Wisdom chapters, which offer answers to common life questions for believers.

While Catholics call this collection the Old Testament, Jews call it the Tanakh. Also, for Catholics, the Bible includes both the Old and New Testaments, with a total of 73 books: 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

The mainline Protestant denominations only recognize the existence of 66 books in the Bible: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

Old Testament Features

The primary characteristics of the Old Testament are defined as follows:

  • It is a compilation of books of various literary genres written by different specialists over several centuries. Includes historical documents, folk tales, figures, poetry, oracles, prophecies, and letters.
  • Many of these books originated in Babylon and they continued until the sixth century, when they were completed in Jerusalem.
  • Within the ancient texts of divine revelation, the religious authorities consider that the books that make up the Old Testament They are divinely inspired.
  • The books that each religion considers sacred and the way they are organized They are called canonical.
  • This written mainly in Hebrewalthough it also contains parts in Aramaic and Greek.

Structure of the Old Testament

The structure of the Old Testament it is organized in different sections which comprise a variety of literary genres and range from the creation of the world to the time of the prophets. The basic structure of the Old Testament can be divided into the following sections:

  • Books of the Law (Pentateuch).
  • Historical books.
  • Poetic and Wisdom Books.
  • Major and Minor Prophets.

The structure of the Old Testament provides a full view of history, law, God’s wisdom and promises to his people, and is a fundamental part of the Jewish and Christian faith.

Old Testament books

the old testament consists of the following books:

  • Books of the Law (Pentateuch): The first five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, narrate creation, the history of the patriarchs, the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.
  • Historical books: These books recount the history of Israel from the conquest of the Promised Land to the period of the kings. They include books like Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and Ezra and Nehemiah.
  • Poetic and Wisdom Books: These books contain poetry, proverbs and reflections on life and faith. Examples of these books are Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.
  • Major and Minor Prophets: The books of the prophets are divided into major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). These books contain prophetic messages, warnings, and promises from God to the people of Israel.

These 39 books make up the Old Testament and cover a wide range of literary genres, including historical narrative, poetry, wisdom, and prophecy. Together, they provide insight into the history and faith of the people of Israel, as well as God’s promises and teachings in that time period.

Pentateuch or Torah

The Pentateuch, also known as the Torah, is traditionally attributed to Moses and is made up of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. In the Kingdom of Judah, the Pentateuch is part of the Torah, while Christians consider it part of the Old Testament. The different elements of the Pentateuch form a unity and in Judaism the Torah is considered as the prescriptions that Yahweh transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai, establishing a moral and social order for his people.

The Pentateuch is said to begin with the new creation and go up to the death of Moses. Through its chapters, the events that occurred in Israel, the people chosen by Yahweh, are narrated, and different doctrines attributed to it are addressed. The books of the Pentateuch are considered essential to understanding the Biblesince, according to believers, they reveal the manifestations in the chosen people and the interpretations of God’s plan for man.

Historical books

These books deal with the formation of the Israelite nation, exile in Babylon and return to Jerusalem. They tell the story of the crumbling walls of Jericho, the achievements of King David, the actions of Elijah, and a series of stubborn kings. The most important lesson they convey is that God keeps his word and demands obedience and loyalty from his people.

Wisdom Books

These books, known as ‘Writings’, convey wisdom and are traditionally attributed to important figures in the literary history of the Kingdom of Israel. Some of these books are Ecclesiastes and Psalms. They are situated between the Historical Books and the Prophets in the Bible.

Prophetic Books

These Old Testament books contain prophecies. The author of the Induction to the Hebrew Scriptures book explores the sociological background, historical and religious, as well as thematic, literary and theological characteristics of these books. In addition, it offers a complete analysis from different perspectives.

The prophetic books are divided into two parts: the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. examine the messages that emerged during exile, pre-exile and post-exile. In addition to its content and theological message, its teachings, virtues, and its applicability both in later times and in our modern society are evaluated.

The message of the prophetic books is clearly explained, fair, reasonable and understandable in this book. In addition, stories are told that were considered extraordinary manifestations of divine mercy.

What is the year of jubilee in the Old Testament?

Many Christian churches, especially Catholics and Orthodox, celebrate the Jubilee or Holy Year, a celebration that commemorates a sabbatical year with special significance. Its roots lie in Judaism, but in Christianity manifested itself for the first time at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, when he announced the completion of the year of God’s grace, as set forth in the Book of Isaiah.

For Catholics, the Jubilee Year is a time when special thanks are given, as indulgences to the faithful who meet certain requirements. This practice mimics the Jubilee Year observed by the Israelites and described in the Old Testament.

The Jubilee is a feast that is typically celebrated every 25 years in the Catholic Church, during which is granted a plenary indulgence. Catholic jubilees can be common or extraordinary. The Extraordinary Holy Year, or Jubilee, is declared to commemorate an exceptional event, while the Ordinary Holy Year, or Jubilee, is celebrated at pre-established intervals.

What is anathema in the Old Testament?

The meaning of ‘anathema’ in the Bible refers to expulsion even in the sense of excommunication. In the Old Testament, abominable words are mentioned that condemn the destruction of people and things through the curse of God. Anything that can no longer exist within the community is considered abominable.

The word has Hebrew origin and describes something mutilated, out of context and, above all, something that can no longer be attributed to God. It refers to something unclean or sinful. It is a decidedly derogatory term that implies the exclusion of something or someone. It represents a form of denial and, in the most serious cases, can lead to excommunication.

What is the Old Testament and the New Testament?

The Old Testament was inspired by God and is the means by which stories were made known to man. Christians refer to this book as the ‘old covenant’ because it considers two great historical stages of divine revelation. First corresponds to God’s covenant with Israel and is described in this series of books. The second, new covenant, is narrated in the New Testament.

The second part of the Christian Bible is the so-called New Testament, where the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are mentioned through the accounts of the first Christian communities. Also included are many pastoral letters from the apostles who formulated guidelines and finally the visions. The word ‘testament’ means ‘covenant’ in Hebrew (berit). Therefore, the ‘New Testament’ has a conspicuous meaning as ‘new covenant’, while the Old Testament means ‘old covenant’.

In short, the Old Testament is like a story that records all facts and events, especially those that occurred from the origin of the world to the coming of Jesus Christ. Several important facts from the Bible emerge in this story, with the first five books on the story and death of Moses being especially notable. All this has been studied thanks to the sharing of the elements that have occurred throughout history.