Are we really poor miserable sinners?
How did Jesus introduce the Old Testament?
You probably know the story. A few hours after Jesus’ Resurrection, Cleopas and his companion are strolling over to Emmaus, chattering about the awesome events of the day. Jesus appears and joins them in this discussion. They are kept from recognizing him and it is clear, from their words, that they fail to understand the reasons behind Jesus’ mission. Finally Jesus turns to them …
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)
So the Scriptures spoke of him. These were, obviously, what we call the Old Testament, the only holy writ available to the Jews of Jesus’ day. These were the Hebrew Scriptures, known to Jews ancient and modern as the Tanakh.
The “Complete Jewish Bible”, a modern translation of the Bible, by David Stern, a Jewish Christian, acknowledges this in his take on the above verse:
“Then, starting with Moshe and all of the prophets, he explained to them the things that can be found throughout the Tanakh concerning himself.”
This word is a Hebrew acronym, Tanakh, comprising of the three parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Torah, The Nevi’im and the Ketuvim.
The Tanakh is made up of exactly the same books as the Old Testament, but arranged differently, in the order that we consider them below.
Torah, often mistranslated as “Law”, is more correctly translated as “Teachings” or “Instruction”. It is made up of the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the Five books of Moses.
Nevi’im are the prophetic books, though not necessarily the ones you would expect. Let’s have a roll call:
Usual suspects: The major prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. The minor prophets – also called “the Twelve” – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Surprise entrants: These are the books that Christians know as the Histories - Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings.
Startling omission: Daniel – surely not?
Ketuvim are the “writings”, consisting of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, ending with 1 and 2 Chronicles, the final books in the Hebrew Scriptures.
So why is the Book of Daniel, considered one of the prophetic books in the Christian Bible, not considered a prophetic book in the Jewish Bible? Why is it not in the Nevi’im, along with Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea? Was Daniel not a prophet? How strange. This is worth examining … and it will be, next week.