The Old Testament refers to the books that form the first of the two-part Christian Biblical canon. These works correspond to the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), with some variations and additions. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the comparable texts are known as the Septuagint, from the original Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. In the Syriac Orthodox church, they are known as the Peshitta. The term "Old Testament" itself is credited to Melito of Sardis. Tertullian also used the Latin vetus testamentum. The Old Testament in the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox Bibles have 39 books in common.
Some scholars believe much of the Old Testament was written in Mesopotamia. It is believed the Old Testament was composed and compiled between the 12th and the 2nd century BC. Jesus and his disciples referenced it when discussing Jesus's teachings, referring to it as "the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms ... the scriptures". (Luke 24:44~45) The accounts of Jesus and his disciples are recorded in the New Testament.
The early Christian Church used the Septuagint, the oldest Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, as its religious text until at least the mid-fourth century. Until that time Greek was a major language of the Roman Empire and the language of the Church (except Syrian Orthodoxy which used the Syriac Peshitta and Ethiopian Orthodoxy which used the Geez). Also, the Church Fathers tended to accept Philo's account of the Septuagint's miraculous and inspired origin, and New Testament writers quoted extensively from the text. The Septuagint is the source for what has come to be called the Catholic Apocryphal, or Deuterocanonical books, containing 47 books rather than the 39 that are contained in the Masoretic (Hebrew) texts.
When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint in about 400 AD, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew text that was then available. He came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary, and others who regarded Jerome as a forger. But with the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome's version gradually increased in the West until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.
The Hebrew text differs in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ, and the Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the Septuagint as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church continue to use it in their liturgy today, untranslated. Many modern critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Hebrew text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, or ambiguous.
Many of the oldest Biblical verses among the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the Septuagint than with the Hebrew text (although the majority of these variations are extremely minor, e.g. grammatical changes, spelling differences or missing words, and do not affect the meaning of sentences and paragraphs). This confirms the scholarly consensus that the Septuagint represents a separate Hebrew text tradition from that which was later standardized as the Hebrew text, and some believe that passages from the Hebrew text were changed after the crucifixion to dis-way those who would convert to Christianity, however, since Christians at the time were using the Greek text, it had little effect.
Of the fuller quotations in the New Testament of the Old, nearly one hundred agree with the modern form of the Septuagint and six agree with the Hebrew text. The principal differences concern presumed Biblical prophecies relating to Christ. However, whether using the Masoretic Text or the Septuagint, the overall message is still clearly unobstructed.
For the purpose of our Bible study, I consult both the Hebrew (Masoretic) and the Greek (Septuagint) forms of the Old Testament.
JCSM's Top 1000 Christian Sites
Proud Member of
Christ Centered Web - Directory