The narrative of the Bible is one consisting of many interconnected details contributing to a larger picture. It is an overarching series of accounts separated by a literary and chronological divide into two complementary works, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament was originally the Jewish Bible, or the Tanakh. The Tanakh – also known as Mikra (“What is Read”) – derives its name from an acronym that describes its composition:
- Ta (Torah) – The Teachings
- Na (Nevi’im) – The Prophets
- Kh (Kethuvim) – The Writings
Originally written in Hebrew with a few later elements being composed in Aramaic, the Tanakh provides a glimpse into the creation of our universe and what many consider ‘prehistory’ in its first book, Genesis, while its remainder records the origin and sociopolitical history of the Jewish people and their nation of Israel. Its importance was known even in antiquity, and it was ultimately translated in those early times into Greek (the Septuagint) and other languages. Little differs between the original Hebrew Tanakh and our modern Old Testament Scriptures beyond the order of the thirty-nine books in each; the new order coming from the influence of the Greek translation. From its inception, the Old Testament has been instrumental not only to the faiths of those who revere it but also to man’s understanding of the ancient cultures and customs of the Middle East, Egypt, and beyond.
The New Testament presents something altogether different. In short, it is the fulfillment of the prophecies recorded hundreds or thousands of years prior. Across its twenty-seven books we find the birth, life, teachings, and ultimate destiny of Jesus Christ, the foretold Messiah and Savior of humanity. The New Testament also sheds clarity on the Old Testament, addressing issues and positions that were left open in the earlier Scriptures. As one commentator declared, “the Old is in the New revealed; the New is in the Old concealed.”
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