The Hebrew Scriptures are a three-part collection of scrolls known as the Torah, Prophets, and Writings, or “TaNaK” for short.
Did you know that the arrangement of the Old Testament in Christian Bibles is not original? Along with all ancient Jews, Jesus encountered the Scriptures as a three-part collection of scrolls known as the Torah, Prophets, and Writings, or “TaNaK” for short. In this video we’ll explore why this matters, and what happens when you read the Hebrew Scriptures in the traditional Jewish order
TaNaK / Old Testament
TaNaK for short
The Hebrew canon, or Old Testament, refers to the collection of Hebrew (and some Aramaic) books that were recognized as Scripture in ancient Israel. The traditional order we're talking about is referred to as “TaNaK.” The TaNaK is an acronym for the names of the three large subcollections of the Hebrew Bible: Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. See how the whole order of the Old testament is actually much different than you may think, and is the same order Jesus would have read them in.
In the beginning
In the beginning, God made a good world and invited the rest of creation, Human's being the crown jewel, to participate and help build a beautiful world. Of course, it didn't turn out that way, Humans and the rest of creation rebelled against God. However, God committed to saving the world through Abraham and his family, which is what the Torah is all about.
Torah, often referred to as “The Torah,” “Pentateuch,” or the “first five books of Moses,” is directly translated as “law” or “instruction.” These books tell the foundation story of the Israelites starting with Genesis 1-11 (pre-history), Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. It recounts their covenant with God and their role in human history.
Nevi’im means “prophets,” and this section was traditionally split into two groups, the former prophets (Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel - 2 Kings) and the latter prophets (Isaiah - Malachi). In Christian tradition, the former prophets are thought of as the “historical” books, and the latter prophets are categorized as the major and minor prophets. This tells the story of God's messengers to Israel, trying to get them back on track.
Ketuvi'im means “writings,” and this subcollection includes the rest of the Old Testament, everything from Daniel to Esther, from Proverbs to Job, and more. It is here, nestled at the end of the Ketuvim, that we see Chronicles wrap up the Hebrew canon.
A story without an ending
The Ketuvim contains Chronicles and Daniel, and these books along with the whole Jewish Bible, the TaNaK, also known as the Old Testament, are all pointing to a future Priest-Prophet-King who would come to rescue the Israelites and all of creation from evil, especially the evil of their own hands.