The Christian Old Testament

Wow, as of Dec 30th, 2011, >60% readers claimed to have read the whole OT.  Join the poll — let’s see who you readers are.This diagram illustrates the ancient Hebrew texts which are present in the various Christian “Old Testaments”.  These texts were borrowed from the Jewish Tanakh (illustrated here). Hopefully the diagram helps make clear that “The Bible” is not one book, but a large variety of texts.  Seeing this, may help you to avoid the illusion of a Homogenized Bible.

Some of the differences in the content of the canons is due to the fact that The Catholic, Orthodox Christians based their collection on the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Greek) while the Protestants base theirs on the later Masoretic text.

More Reading:


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

11 responses to “The Christian Old Testament

  1. Hi Sabio

    Can you please clarify if you mean this post series to be about the Jewish Tanakh or about the OT section of Christian Bibles? Because in the text of the post you seem to refer to both but the diagram is of the OT arrangement and canon. As opposed to the Tanakh which only has 3 sections and in a different order?

  2. @ MichaelF
    Yeah, I will be using this mainly to discuss Christian stuff. I’d love you jumpin’ in on the Jewish stuff.

    I thought about how to include the Tanakh’s 3-part order in the diagram but it was too tough. And to equal the Protestant OT, you’d have to include #4.
    (1) Torah (which I labeled) and the same as the Christian Pentateuch
    (2) Nevi’im: Most of the ‘historical’ books
    (3) Ketuvin: The Wisdom books, the Major Prophets
    (4) The Twelve (trie Asar): The Minor Prophets

    So I just put up a new diagram to include these — thanx for the motivation. Any thoughts?

  3. Perhaps just noting the sources you used to gather who considers what as canon, just to avoid challenges (which will likely come from Christians who are only familiar with the Bible on their shelf.)

  4. @ John Barron:
    Ooops, thanx, good suggestion. I added a “further readings” section at the bottom. My diagram is based on the Wiki article entitled: “Books of The Bible”.

    The controversies over development of different canons and how books are decided is very complex. Like you said, some people will be surprised to see that other canons even exist — when I was younger, I was surprised.

    But the main purpose of the diagram is simply to illustrate (rather than write about) the variety of texts in OT.

    Do you have any other links which you feel would be instructive?

  5. Note to commentors: I chatted with MichaelF above and will be making future changes in the diagram and maybe more. I have some errors there. I broke out my “The Jewish Study Bible” and will consult it too. I love blogging. But for now, off to work!

  6. @ MichaelF:
    I separated the Jewish Canon and did another post on it. I hope that avoids confusion.

    To readers: MichaelF and I chatted off-line on this topic. I appreciate his input.

  7. CRL

    Might be a little bit of bias in your 60% number. Even anonymously, people are a bit more willing to brag about having read the whole thing than admit to having read little or none of it.

  8. @crl
    Absolutely — no controls here. Absolutely loaded with confounders.

  9. willbell123

    One correction, “Song of Songs” do you means “Songs of Solomon”?

  10. willbell123

    Oh and I am at about 1/8th read.

  11. @Willbell
    Yes, the “Song of Songs” is often called “The Songs of Solomon” by Protestant Christians. In my Catholic Bible (St Joseph Edition) it is called the “Canticles of Canticles” or “Song of Songs”. See Wiki for more.

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