The Hebrew Scriptures are a three-part collection of scrolls known as the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim, or TaNaK.
Did you know that the arrangement of the Old Testament in Christian Bibles is not the original order? Along with all ancient Jews, Jesus encountered the Scriptures as a three-part collection of scrolls known as the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim, or TaNaK. In this video, we’ll explore why this ancient order matters and how it illuminates the unified story of the Old Testament.
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.
In the beginning
In the beginning, God made a good world and invited the rest of creation, and specifically humans, to participate in building a beautiful world. Of course, it didn't turn out that way. Humanity rebelled against God. But God stayed committed to saving the world through Abraham and his family, which is what the Torah is all about.
The Torah, often referred to as the Pentateuch or the first five books of Moses, is directly translated as “law” or “instruction.” These books tell the foundational narrative of the Israelites starting with Genesis 1-11 (pre-history) and followed by the stories of 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. These books tells the story of God's messengers to Israel as they try desperately to get a rebellious nation back on track.
Ketuvim 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, are all pointing to a future Priest-Prophet-King who would come to rescue the Israelites and all of creation from evil.
If you are jumping into the Gospels for the first time, or even the twentieth, get ready to be surprised all over again. Jesus never fails to challenge our paradigms of thought and dismantle our expectations. However, before you do jump in, let's take some time to understand...
3 Episodes •
In this series we explore how the Bible was written and the long process of its composition and manuscript history.
Making of the Bible Episode 1
This is the first of a three part series about the making of the bible. This first lecture is about the making of the books of the Old Testament and how much we know from the Bible itself about how it came into existence.
Making of the Bible Episode 2
This is the second part of the three part series on the making of the bible. In this episode we look at how the books of the New Testament were written and collected. If you haven’t listened to the first part, I highly recommend going back and listening to it.
Making of the Bible Episode 3
This is the third of a three part series on the making of the bible. If you haven’t listened to the other two episodes, I recommend listening to those first.