Bible commentary Recommendations

Books Available in the time of Jesus

Now that we’ve finished the Old Testament, I had to wonder if all this material would have been available at the time of Jesus. I knew that Jesus and some of the apostles quote different parts of the Old Testament, but I also know that it wouldn’t make sense to be called that in the absence of a New Testament, right? The Christian Bible as we know it was actual put together hundreds of years after them anyway in the Council of Nicea.

As it turns out, everything here and then some would have been available, it was just separated differently. I googled around a bit and my old trusty BibleHub had some of the answer and an interesting new site called Bible Study Tools had a little more of what I was looking for. According to BibleHub, the Jews actually separated into three main books during the time of New Testament. They were the Law, the Prophets, and Writings. This makes sense out of some of the capitalization choices I know are down the road too. The Law is specifically the book of the Law which is also known as the Torah and is composed of the first five books of what we call the Old Testament. They are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All these books are stilled among the Jewish religious texts and now known as the Tanakh, except for one or two exceptions. Likewise, this set of books had been translated from Hebrew to Greek in the time of Jesus and has also been known as the Septuagint.

I have to be honest, looking it all up did make my brain hurt a bit but I also found the overall point that I was looking for. Everything we read about in the Old Testament would have been known by the people of Jesus’s time. The books weren’t lost somewhere, they weren’t waiting to be written, they weren’t waiting to be collected. They were experienced in a different order based on genre, but available. They were studied by people of the time.

So why didn’t anybody understand them? Well, no one really understands the New Testament either, so I feel more compelled to understand what being set in their ways and traditions looks like. They had already rationalized everything with what they had and I guess Jesus was sent in to shake it all up a bit. We’ll find out for certain as we eventually move on to those books.

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