The Old Testament. What is it? Does it still matter? To some Christians yes and to others no. Some Christians even hate the title of the Old Testament as much as the Jewish people do.
Reason being? They feel that the title “Old Testament” means that the book and it’s teachings are frankly, out of date. But is it? After all, the Old Testament covers more than half of the Bible. Also, many of the teachings in the New Testament actually come from the Old Testament.
For instance, the commandment from Jesus to love your neighbors as you love yourself. Jesus quoted Leviticus, a rule book for the Jewish people who had written the book in Moses’ time.
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:18
How did we get the Old Testament Anyway?
Would you believe that it was actually word of mouth? Many of the more memorable stories from the Old Testament and it’s protagonists were stories passed down from generation to generation. I know a lot of Christians will scoff at the idea, however; the Hebrews didn’t even have an alphabet until they settled in Israel after Moses had freed them from Egypt. Before the Exodus, the Jewish people would had to have written in other languages such as Phoenician or Egyptian.
The story of King David takes place about a thousand years before the Gospel. Around this time the Jewish people finally started rounding up all the spoken stories of their ancestors and began to compile them in volumes. This was needed to preserve the records of their people for the nation they now dwell. While the centuries tugged along the library of these stories grew and grew. These stories included laws, genealogies, poetry, songs, stories, and of course prophicies. Some of these books would be lost forever, only to be mentioned in the Bible by their titles, such as “The Record of Samuel the Seer, The Record of Nathan the Prophet, and The Record of Gad the Seer”
“As for the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer,” – 1 Chronicles 29:29
Eventually theses stories would become mainstream Jewish history and would become revered by them. The stories became organized and more meaningful. The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses, then came the books of the prophets, then lastly the rest of the books that would make up the Old Testament such as Proverbs, Psalms, and the story of Job.
We have no way of knowing why the Jews finally agreed on these 39 books which make up the Old Testament. Though I suspect it occurred after the Romans destroyed the temple in A.D. 70. out of necessity. The Jewish people probably felt they were systematically becoming more Roman than Jewish. They sought to solidify their faith and solidarity by finalizing the book. They then sent it out into the desert to spread their word since they no longer could worship in the temple for it was no more.
Is the “Old Testament” still relevant?
Paul thinks so. Paul wrote almost half of the “New Testament” and the only Bible he had available to him at that time was the Old Testament.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16
So yeah, I would say so!