Our History In Context
At the time of Christ and the apostles in the early first century, their Bible was what we call the Old Testament. It was through these scriptures that Christ taught and fulfilled prophecies that pertained to him. Yet Christians today pretty much ignore the Bible of Christ’s time claiming, “It’s only for the Jews.” This is a monumental error on our part.
So to this end, we will present some of the basics regarding the Old Testament. Ezra, a Levite priest and Nehemiah put together the original configuration of the Israelite Bible or Old Testament in the latter part of the 5th century BCE after the House of Judah’s return from Babylonian captivity. According to the ancient Jewish Book of Jubilee’s, by 150 BCE, the accepted canon was three divisions with seven parts and 22 books. This was acknowledged in the writings of Josephus, a noted first century Jewish historian. It was also acknowledged by Christ in Luke 24:44.
The original 22 books of the Old Testament canon combined with the original 27 books of the New Testament canon add up to a total of 49 books. In scripture, the number seven represents totality or wholeness. Seven times seven is 49. Thus, the Biblical record would be considered whole or complete with these 49 books. Revisionists through the centuries have reconfigured the number of books so that they now total 66. In Biblical literature, the number six is the number of man.
The original order of books has been changed too, causing the sequential flow and symbolism from one book to the next as well as the parallel nature between the Old and New Testaments to be lost. This shuffled deck of books lacks the intended design order of the original. The original book order of both testaments can be found in Appendix One, pp. 277-278, of The Hijacked Elephant.
In Biblical literature the number 22 equates to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The number 22 also is the number of generations from Adam to Jacob, who we know as Israel. The Israelite Bible having 22 books, with seven parts and three divisions is no accident.
The tripartite division or three divisions are:
The Writings, sometimes referred to as The Psalms as the book of Psalms was the first book of this division.
The seven parts are:
The first division:
The Law, part one.
The second division:
The Former Prophets, part two;
The [Latter] Major Prophets, part three;
The [Latter] Minor Prophets, part four. Major and minor are designations determined by the length of the books.
The third division:
The Poetic Books, part five;
The Megillot or Festival Books, part six;
The Restoration Books, part seven.
The 22 books are:
The Law, part one includes as books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The Former Prophets, part two includes: Joshua-Judges [one book originally], and Samuel-Kings [also originally one book].
The Major Prophets, part three includes: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The Minor Prophets, part four includes: The Twelve, counted as a single book beginning with Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
The Poetic Books, part five includes: Psalms, Proverbs and Job.
The Megillot Books, part six includes: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther.
The Restoration Books, part seven includes: Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.
The three divisions of the Old Testament canon were put in order by rank. The Law was the first rank. These were the commands of God given to all Israel. The second rank belonged to the prophets, who represented God to Israel and were of higher rank than kings. For an example, see 2 Sam. 12 as Nathan the prophet is sent by God to chastise David over his killing of Uriah. The Writings division is the third rank and they have a royal theme running through them.
Not only did Ezra put together these books as canon, he changed the font, if you will, of the Hebrew letters in these 22 books. He changed from the traditional Phoenician style common in the day of Moses to the accepted modern fifth century BCE style of square script including the little pen strokes that provide vowels sounds and differentiate one Hebrew letter from another. Christ mentioned these when he said, “ … till heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled.” [Mat. 5:18].
Ezra made this change for a very important reason. There were other scrolls in use, mainly the Samaritans, who used the Phoenician style for their religious writings. Setting the canon in order and using the new script font, he immediately set the new canon apart from everything else that existed at the time. Once done, Ezra put together the Grand Assembly. These were 120 Levite priests, not those of Judah or Jews, the supreme ruling body who were responsible for reproducing canon scrolls for use in the synagogues. Each new scroll’s words were counted to be sure that they matched the original canon put together by Ezra to the exact word. This group eventually evolved over the centuries to become the Sanhedrin in the time of Christ.
To fully grasp the complexity, detail and nuance contained within the scripture canonized by Ezra would take more than a lifetime if one were to start from scratch. To dismiss the Old Testament as merely a collection of fables as atheists do is to speak in utter and profound ignorance. Yet to dismiss the Old Testament, the Bible Scriptures at the time of Christ, as being irrelevant for Christians is just as ignorant. For all that is the New Testament is based within the context of the Old Testament.[See the Feature article, The Tale Of Two Covenants].
1 No thanks to Jerome we have modern day Bibles that are misleading. They are a false representation of the original inspired order of the books, which in turn sets us wandering down the wrong path. Jerome hijacked the story from Genesis to Revelation. This goes to show how corruption of the truth has pervaded Christianity. We have more than 5500 manuscripts today including the premier three, the Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and the Ephraem all using the inspired order. The original order is as follows for the New Testament: the Gospels, Acts, the universal epistles [James, Peter, John, Jude], Pauls' epistles to the seven churches, Hebrews, and the pastoral epistles Timothy, Titus and Philemon and the book of Revelation.
Jerome's shenanigans shifted the focus of the Bible away from Jerusalem and the House of Israel to Rome and the gentiles. This is why the Book of Romans follows Acts in the Latin Vulgate. However, in the inspired order, the book of James, the apostle in Jerusalem, comes immediately after the Book of Acts. In verse one of James he says, "James, a servant of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes [the 12 sons of Israel], which are in the dispersion [scattered abroad], greetings!" Jerome intentionally took the focus away from our true heritage. "Our English Bibles follow the order given in the Latin Vulgate. This order, therefore, depends on the arbitrary judgment of one man Jerome (A.D. 382-429). All theories based on this order rest on human authority, and are thus without any true foundation." [Comparison Bible, Bullinger, Appendix 95, p. 139]. Again, for details, see the Feature article, Moving Forward.
For a history of the original order and why the inspired version of the Bible is important, Restoring The Original Bible, see Original Bible.
Italics and [ ] are the authors.
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