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EXEGESIS > Old Testament         


The Old Testament, consisting of thirty-nine books and covering the period from Creation until approximately four hundred years before Christ, is the first of the two major divisions of the Christian Bible. Written over a period of around one thousand years and written mainly in Hebrew, the focus is upon God's acts for His people and the preparation that was wrought by God for the coming Messiah.

In referring to both the Old and New Testaments, the word “testament” would be better and more appropriately rendered “covenant,” the most common translation of the Greek diatheke, a word that, according to Thayer, speaks of “a disposition,” “arrangement,” “compact” or “covenant.” The Hebrew berit, which is translated by diatheke in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament completed at Alexandria before Christ), conveys similar connotation. So, a covenant speaks of a relationship or an arrangement that involves obligations, and with the words "old" and "new" summarizes succinctly the essence of the Biblical Revelation. Paul spoke of “the reading of the Old Testament” (II Cor. 3:14 in the NKJV; it could also be “the reading of the Old Covenant” as in the NASB and ESV).

It is interesting to note that the word “testament” comes to us via Jerome’s use of the Latin testamentum in the Vulgate, and is brought into English by transliteration. However, Tertullian is believed to have first used testamentum in his writings. But the intent of the Biblical words (diatheke and berit) is best expressed by “covenant.”

Thus, the Old Testament and the New Testament can more suitably be spoken of as the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, with the New being viewed as the fulfillment of the Old, or the New as the accomplishment of what had been anticipated by the Old. These two divisions of the Canon are intricately related, being simply two phases of God’s great act of Redemption.

From the Septuagint comes the usual arrangement, also incorporated by the Vulgate, of the Old Testament books: Pentateuch, History, Poetry, and Prophecy. However, the Hebrew Bible has three divisions: Law, Prophets, and Writings. In this presentation the following division will be followed: Pentateuch, History, Writings, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets.  




        Major Prophets

        Minor Prophets

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