Why study the Old Testament? It’s the Scriptures that Jesus used.
The New is concealed in the Old, the Old is revealed in the New” – St. Augustine
- The Old Testament is written in Hebrew.
- Hebrew is written from right to left.
- The earliest Hebrew did not use vowels. For example, Genesis 1:1 would be: N TH BGNNG GD CRTD
- Jewish scholars in the 9-10th centuries AD added vowel “points” to the biblical text based on the traditional pronunciations. We call this the Masoretic Text.
- The language is dominated by verbs, not nouns (especially by concrete images, not abstractions).
- Some of the Old Testament is written in Aramaic (which was the lingua franca of the day when those books were written): Daniel 2:4-7:28; Ezra 4:8-6:18; Ezra 7:12-26; Jer 10:11
- The Hebrew Alphabet & Transliteration
How the Hebrew Bible came to be
- “First stage” (approximately 1200 BC-100 BC): The formation of separate literary units based on oral and written tradition. The writings had no vowels, no spaces, no chapter divisions and no verse divisions.
- “Second Stage” (approximately 400-90 AD): The formal formation of the Hebrew Bible as an authoritative collection of writings in three parts (Law, Prophets and Writings). This was finished by 90 AD.
- See How the Old Testament is organized
- “Third stage”: Preservation and transmission of the text; Masoretic text created; chapters and verse numbers added.
Overview of Old Testament History
- Chart: Bible History at a glance
- Biblehub: Old Testament Timeline
- Primeval History (creation; Genesis 1:1)
- Patriarchael history (Abram called c. 2000-1900 BC)
- Slavery in Egypt (c. 1720-1280 BC)
- Exodus from Egypt (c 1280 BC)
- Wilderness wanderings (c. 1280-1240 BC)
- Conquest & settlement (Crossing the Jordan River c 1240)
- Period of the Judges (c 1240-1050 BC)
- Establishment of the united monarchy (Saul anointed c. 1050 BC)
- Divided Monarchy – Northern Kingdom Israel (920-722 BC); Southern Kingdom Judah (930-586 BC)
- Babylonian captivity (586-538 BC)
- Return from exile (639 BC) & restoration (Temple restored c 515 BC)
- Basics of Bible Interpretation by Bob Smith (Entire book): Page 104 – Helpful Hints on Hebrew; Page 106 – What Every Bible Student Needs to know about Hebrew.
- Old Testament Exegesis: A Primer for Students and Pastors, Douglas Stuart (1984)