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Old Testament


The sacred literature of Judaism, in which the corpus of writings is known simply as the Jewish Scriptures or Hebrew Bible, or even sometimes the Torah; it was also adopted by Christians as part of their sacred writings, and they began to call it the 'Old Testament' as distinct from the Christian writings that constitute the 'New Testament'.


The Old Testament writings span stories from Creation and the origin of the Jewish people to the centuries of Israelite history describing the rise of Davidic monarchy, the division of the kingdom, exile, and return from exile. The canon of the Jewish religious community, which was fixed AD c.100, was arranged into three parts - the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings - although the precise arrangement and divisions of the books have varied through the centuries.


The Law consists of the five books of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). The Prophets have been divided since about the 8th-c AD into the former and latter prophets: the former prophets consist of the narratives (presumed written by prophets) found in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and the latter prophets consist of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi). The Writings contain all remaining works: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.


All the books of the Hebrew Bible appear in the versions of the Old Testament used by Protestant Churches today, but divided so as to number 39 in total. Roman Catholic versions of the Old Testament, however, accept 46 works, the additions not appearing in the Hebrew Bible but being found in Greek versions and the Latin Vulgate. These extra works are considered part of the Old Testament Apocrypha by Protestants.