Literature Study GuidesOld Testament Hebrew Bible

Old Testament | Hebrew-Bible | Study Guide


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Years Written

10th–2nd Centuries BCE


Religious Text



At a Glance

The Hebrew Bible is a collection of books originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic. It is sacred scripture for both Judaism and Christianity and important to other world religions, including Islam, Samaritanism, Yazdânism, the Druze, and the Bahá'í Faith. In Judaism the Hebrew Bible is called the "Tanakh" or simply the "Bible," and its contents are counted as 24 separate books. In Protestant Christian Bibles these same books make up the "Old Testament," but they are ordered and counted differently, as 39 books. In the Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches, the Old Testament includes additional books called "Apocrypha" or "Deuterocanonical."

The books of the Hebrew Bible were written by many authors over a span of several centuries. They focus on the history of the people of Israel, the revelation of divine law to Israel, and the relationship between the people of Israel and their god, Yahweh. The Tanakh is the source of key texts read during the Sabbath liturgy and informs later Jewish beliefs and practices. The Old Testament is the historical background and theological foundation for the 27 books of the New Testament and is an important source text for Christian theology alongside the New Testament. This guide follows the Jewish order and organization of the books of the Hebrew Bible: Torah, Prophets, and Writings.



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