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The Old Testament

The Protestant Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible of Judaism share the same books and texts, but they are organized differently. The Jewish Scriptures number 24 instead of 39 books and are presented in a different order. The Hebrew Bible is called the Tanakh. The first five books are traditionally linked to Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and are often referred to as the Law or the Torah (Judaism) or the Pentateuch (a Greek term, “penta” meaning five).

The Books of the Old Testament traditionally fall into five main groups:

The Torah: The first five books, attributed to Moses, describe the creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Abraham and the patriarchs, Joseph and the relocation to Egypt, Moses and the exodus from Egypt and 40 years wandering through the desert. In Exodus Moses receives the Ten Commandments. The book of Leviticus describes in detail God’s instructions for worship and living a holy life.

The next 12 books, Joshua through Esther, cover 1,000 years of history (roughly 1400 BC through 400 BC). It addresses the campaign to conquer the Promised Land, the time of the judges, the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, the divided kingdoms of the North (Israel) and the South (Judea), the defeats by the Assyrians and Babylonians, the exile and ultimate return to Judea/Jerusalem.

Wisdom and Poetry: These timeless principles show how to enjoy success and blessing regardless of the political and religious circumstances into which a person is born. These are also called “books of poetry” because they are largely written as poetry, especially the books of Psalms and Proverbs.

Major Prophets: Four prophets are designated as the Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. They are “major” not because of rank, but due to the length of their prophetic books. Isaiah called Judah to repentance, which postponed the judgment of God for 130 years. Daniel and Isaiah both contain many prophecies about Jesus.

Minor Prophets: The 12 Minor Prophets were raised up by God at strategic times during the history of Israel to call people back to Him. They are “minor” only because their books are shorter. Although applications of these books are limited largely to the people to whom they were written, many blessings can be found there.

The complete OT was written over a span of about 1,000 years, from 1400 BC (the books of Moses) through about 400 BC (Malachi). Except for small sections of Daniel and Ezra written in Aramaic (the spoken language in Palestine from 200 BC through 200 AD), the OT was completely written in Hebrew.

The 27 books of the New Testament were all written in Koine Greek (“street” or common Greek) by eight men, three of whom (Matthew, John and Peter) were original disciples and eyewitnesses of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul was not a personal disciple but had a special post-resurrection encounter with Jesus. Paul also had numerous meetings with the original disciples.

The books of the New Testament cover a little less than 100 years, from the birth of Christ to John’s vision of triumph in the book of Revelation. Most emphasis – from a historical perspective – is upon the three-year ministry of Jesus from 30-33 AD.

The books of the NT can be divided into five groups:

The Gospels: The New Testament begins with four records (books) of the life and teachings of Jesus, called the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Most of what is known about the life of Jesus of Nazareth is found in these four books. Each one describes the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Some events are recounted in all four, but each biography presents Jesus in a slightly different light, the variations are determined by the audience and the writer’s intent. The four gospels provide a comprehensive, multi-facetted view of Jesus of Nazareth, known better as Jesus Christ.

Church History: The 28 chapters of the book of Acts record the birth of the church (after Jesus’ resurrection), how the faith was introduced to the non-Jewish believers, and the spread of the new faith through the Roman Empire through the efforts of Paul.

The Pauline Epistles: The majority of books in the New Testament are the 13 Pauline epistles. These were written by Paul (in the period 49-62 AD); some to churches he started, some to individuals, and others had a special message for a general readership. Paul, “the apostle born out of due time,” was the intrepid missionary of the early church who did more to spread Christianity than any man on record in the Bible. His dramatic conversion is a classic testimony to the power of Jesus Christ to change lives, for he was transformed from a Christ-hating opponent to a Christ-serving advocate.

His letters – which can be traced in history by linking them to events described in the book of Acts – give profound answers to questions and solutions to problems in the early Christian church. Almost every human need is covered.

The General Epistles: This collection of letters – written for a specific need or to a group not reached by Paul – cover general truths needed by God’s people of every era. Authors include James and Jude (both brothers of Jesus) as well as the apostles Peter and John.

Prophecy: The last book is a book of prophecy about the coming judgment of Christ, and is called Revelation, also the Apocalypse.

The bible, from the front cover to the back cover can basically be explained with 4 letters L O V E! God’s love in creating us in his image, his love in watching over us as a good Father, giving his only begotten son to die for our sins, and the blood of his Son to cover our sins once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Oh, what a great and merciful God we serve!

Trivia Question: What does the name Jesus Christ Mean? Please post you answer/comments

Updated: December 9, 2009 — 9:35 AM


  1. annoited savior……

  2. You wrote: “Church History: The 28 chapters of the book of Acts record the birth of the church (after Jesus’ resurrection), how the faith was introduced to the non-Jewish believers, and the spread of the new faith through the Roman Empire through the efforts of Paul.”

    A logical analysis of the earliest MSS implies that the talmidim (apprentice students) in the original version of what later was redacted to “the gospel of Matthew”, were Torah-observing Yehudim (“Jews”) just like Ribi Yehoshua (ha-Mashiakh, the Messiah) from Nazareth. The historical record shows that Ribi Yehoshuas followers Netzarim continued to be in good standing among the Yehudim (“Jews”).

    The logical implications of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT, which demonstrates that the Jewish community (this does not include Hellenist “Jews” as Paul) were fully dedicated to Torah, is that the Netzarim continued to practise Torah until they all were killed. If they didn’t do their sincerest to keep the mitzwot in Torah they would have been excluded from the Jewish community, and as I wrote above that is not the historical case.

    Since you are Christians reading this I think that the website will be of interest to you. It contains logical and scientific research, previously unknown to most Christians, about Ribi Yehoshua (ha-Mashiakh, the Messiah) and what he and his followers taught. It is an essential read to learn about his teachings, which are in accordance with Torah – the instruction manual from the Creator.

    Have a very nice weekend!!

    Anders Branderud

  3. I appreciate your comment. Being of different faiths, you believe only in the first five books of the Bible which is the Torah. As a Christian I believe the Bible to be true and accurate from the front cover to the back cover which includes the Old and New Testaments. I believe the Messiah has already come, spread the good news, and was crucified for our sins. If I am not mistaken, you believe The Messiah has yet to come.

    The Jewish belief that the Messiah’s reign lies in the future has long distinguished Jews from their Christian neighbors who believe, of course, that the Messiah came two thousand years ago in the person of Jesus. The most basic reason for the Jewish denial of the messianic claims made on Jesus’ behalf is that he did not usher in world peace, as Isaiah had prophesied: “And nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). In addition, Jesus did not help bring about Jewish political sovereignty for the Jews or protection from their enemies.

    My bible tells me that once Israel becomes a nation, that generation will not pass away but see the coming of the Lord. Israel became a nation in I believe, 1948. My bible tells me that Jews would return from all corners of the world. That is happening. My bible also tells me to bless Israel. I bless Israel and you. So, let’s agree to disagree.

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