Essential Theology – Lesson 11

Having completed the Doctrine of Scriptures, Pastor Scott Craig, in this lesson, starts with the Old Testament Introduction.

If you are like many people you have at one time attempted to know the Bible and your attempt was by simply reading it. You went from Genesis to Revelation but became tangled in a jungle of fantastic stories, unpronounceable names, broken plots, unanswered questions, and endless genealogies. You may have even felt defeated as you came to believe that the Bible is a series of unrelated stories put together in random order.

Setting the (biblical) Record Straight

Many people see the Old Testament (OT) as a series of fragmented stories. A major reason for this is because the books of the OT in the Christian Bible are not put in chronological order as they are in the Hebrew Bible.

The Christian OT is made up of 39 books, written by 28 different authors, and spans a period of about four thousand years. It begins with creation and tells the story of the Jewish people up to 400 years before the birth of Christ. The 39 books are grouped into there categories: Historical, Poetical, and Prophetical. In our bibles:
The first 17 are historical and tell the story of the Hebrew nation.
The next 5 are the poetry of Israel (the Hebrew nation)
the last 17 are the prophecies to Israel.

Most people make the mistake of assuming that the whole OT was one long, unbroken story, one book in into the next until they were all finished. But the story is only contained in the first 17 books.

~ The Jewish OT ~ The Jewish OT is called the Tanakh, which is an acronym for the Jewish divisions (and locations of the divisions) of the OT: “T”orah (Law), “N”evi’im (Prophets) and “K”’tuvim (Writings) = ToNaKh.

Different Number of Books

The Tanakh consists of 24 books, not 39 as the Christian OT. This is because the Tanakh considers each of the following a single book: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and the twelve minor prophets which are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, Ezra-Nehemiah, and 1-2 Chronicles.

So, what the OT counts as 20 books appears in the Tanakh as five books.

Different Names

Many of the Tanakh books are simply called by their first words.
Genesis is actually called B’resheet + “in the beginning”
Exodus is called Sh’mot = “names” because the book starts out “these are the names”
Leviticus (about the levitical priesthood) is called Vayikra = “And He Called” from the opening words “and He called to Moses”
Lamentations which is called Eikhah = How” because it begins “How lonely lies the city.”

[When translating into someone else’s language, you have to consider the context. What makes sense to the people you are translating for. It is not a circumstance of just translating word for word.]

Different Order of the Books

The Torah (Law)
Genesis: B’fesheet
Exodus; Sh’mot
Levitcus; Vayikra
Numbers; B’midbar
Deuteronomy; D’varim

The Nevi’im (Prophets)
Joshua; Y’Hoshua
Judges; Shof’tim
Samuel; Sh’mu’el alef/Bet
Kings; M;laakhim alef/Bet
Isaiah; Yesha’yahu
Jeremiah; Yirmeyahu
Ezekiel; Yechiezk’el
Hosea; Hoshea
Joel; Yo’el
Amos; Amos
Jonah; Yonah
Micah; Mikhah
Nahum; Nachum
Habakkuk; Havakuk
Zephaniah; Tz’fanyah
Haggai; Hagai
Zechariah; Z’kharyah
Malachi; Mal’akhi

The K’tuvim (Writings)
Psalm; Tehillim
Proverbs; Mishlei
Job; Iyov
Song of Solomon; Shir-Hashirim
Ruth; Rut
Lamentations; Eikhah
Ecclesiastes; Kohelet
Esther; Seter
Daniel; Dani’el
Ezra; Ezra-Nehemiah
Nehemiah; Nechemyah
Chronicles; Divrei-Hayamim Alef/Bet

Geography of the OT

The entire land discussed in the OT; Canaan, Jerusalem, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Egypt, fits within an area about the size of Texas or 268,597 sq miles.

The Nine Eras (not speaking in terms of geological eras)

1. Creation – the creation of the world and man, and early events roughly covering 2,000 years.
2. Patriarchs – The birth of the Hebrew people through key fathers covering 200 years.
3. Exodus – The mass departure of the Hebrews after Four hundred years of slavery.
4. Conquest – The take-over of the Promised Land by the Hebrew people.
5. Judges – a 400 year period where Israel is governed by judges as rulers.
6. Kingdoms – 400 more years where Israel is a full-fledged nation ruled by a monarchy.
7. Exile – a 70 year period whee the people are dispersed and taken captive by foreign countries.
8. Return – Their return to rebuild their conquered cities and land.
9. Silence – A final 400 year period between the close of the OT and the beginning of the New Testament (NT).

During the Era of Silence an explosion of other religions developed. Why?

Links: Map of OT lands: http://www.bible.ca/maps/maps-near-east-500BC.htm Map of Texas [sample]: http://www.outlookmaps.com/shop/texas-topographic-map