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The Original Bible

By Michael Dallen

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the Commandments is 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is One Lord.' - Mark 12:29 (see Deuteronomy 6:4)

For the last 26 centuries, since the time of the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, circa 450 BCE (Before the Common Era) - or, as many secularly minded academics say, since at least the 2d Century of the Common Era - the books of the Hebrew Bible have followed this order:

Torah (Hebrew, meaning teaching, guidance, law, or way): 1) Genesis 2) Exodus 3) Leviticus 4) Numbers 5) Deuteronomy

Prophets: 6) Joshua 7) Judges 8) Samuel 9) Kings 10) Isaiah 11) Jeremiah 12) Ezekiel 13) The Twelve: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nachum, Habbakuk, Zephania, Haggai, Zecharia, Malachi

Writings: 14) Psalms 15) Proverbs 16) Job 17) Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) 18) Ruth 19) Lamentations 20) Ecclesiastes (Koheleth or The Preacher) 21) Esther 22) Daniel 23) Ezra and Nehemiah (they originally were one "book" - really a scroll) 24) Chronicles

There is no god but He in Whom the people of Israel believe. - Koran, Sura 10:90

All these books were originally written in Hebrew. Some of the later books - Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah - also include some Aramaic, the language of Babylonia. Aramaic was the common tongue, the lingua franca, of the Jewish exiles in Babylon.

In the Old Testament of the Jews, the book of Divine righteousness, there are men, events and words so great that there is nothing in Greek or Indian literature to compare to it. - Friedrich Nietzsche (famous German philosopher, 1844 - 1900)

Israel's Holy Scriptures do not include the books of the apocrypha, which are often found in Catholic Bibles - intermixed with the Hebrew Scriptures, the "Old Testament," as it's called.

Calling the Hebrew Scriptures the Old Testament may suggest that it's been superseded and replaced by a newer Testament - testament being Latin for "covenant." But that's not the way the system works. God never reneges on His covenants! When He or His prophets say that a covenant is eternal, including all its terms and conditions, it's forever. The Old Covenant still works!

The apocryphal books, most of them originally written in Greek, include Maccabees (which tell the story of the Jewish Festival of Lights, chanukah or hanukah, celebrated during the winter solstice) as well as Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Judith and Tobit.

The Jews were the only ones whose sacred Scriptures were held in ever greater veneration as they became better known. - Jacques Benigne Bossuet (Catholic archbishop, France, c. 1681)

The Christian Scriptures - the "New Testament," or "New Covenant" - are another set of books. They begin with the Book of Matthew, or the Gospel of Saint Matthew.

When Jesus and his disciples spoke of "The Scriptures," they meant the "Old Testament."

This is a simple historical truth. We intend no offense to anyone. The books of the Christian Gospels came along only later. Most of them were written by Jewish writers who wrote not in Hebrew but in Greek, the lingua franca of the time.

As noted above, Testament means "covenant" in Latin. Calling the Bible the Old Testament or "Old Covenant" might lead one to misleadingly infer:

1) that it speaks of only one covenant, God's covenant at Sinai with Israel. Actually, it includes several other covenants, such as a covenant with Abraham, a later covenant with Isaac, a covenant with Jacob, etc. But it particularly includes the universal or the Noahide covenant, which is the First Covenant, which puts everyone into a direct covenantal connection with God; and

2) that God's covenants, which He Himself in the Bible repeatedly, emphatically insists are forever, may have become outmoded, or even entirely replaced by something else!


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