My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE OLD TESTAMENT ACCORDING TO THE HOLY ORTHODOX
This is a brief description of each of the FORTY-NINE BOOKS of the Old Testament. It’s helpful to keep in mind that, like the earliest Christian community, the Orthodox Church of today continues using the Greek version of the Old Testament KNOWN AS THE SEPTUAGINT (70). The Septuagint–referencing the SEVENTY FINEST JEWISH SCHOLARS, from all TWELVE JEWISH TRIBES, who made the translation from the Hebrew into Greek–became the UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED VERSION OF THE Old Testament since the time of its appearance some three centuries before the birth of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ, together with His Apostles and Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also Peter and Paul, USED THE GREEK VERSION WHEN QUOTING THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THEIR GOSPELS AND EPISTLES (LETTERS). These inspired Old Testament books tell THE STORY OF GOD’S DEALINGS WITH ANCIENT ISRAEL, from approximately 2000 B.C. until the time of Jesus.
A study of the Old Testament in the light of the AUTHENTIC APOSTOLIC TRADITION will lead the reader to Him Who FULFILLED THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS AS HE PROMISED: Our Lord and God and Savior, JESUS CHRIST. This collection of FORTY-NINE BOOKS is traditionally SUBDIVIDED INTO FOUR SECTIONS 1) THE FIVE BOOKS OF THE LAW; 2) THE BOOKS OF HISTORY; 3) THE BOOKS OF WISDOM AND; 4) THE BOOKS OF PROPHECY.
THE FIVE BOOKS OF THE LAW
First there are the books of the Law: GENESIS, meaning “beginning,” since it recounts the beginning of God’s creation; EXODUS, which means “exit” or “departure,” referring to the journey of the Hebrews from out of slavery in Egypt; LEVITICUS, a book detailing worship as led by the priests ordained from the Tribe of Levi; NUMBERS, whose title is derived from the book’s opening account of the census or numbering of the people of Israel; DEUTERONOMY, meaning “second law, ” since it gives a detailed listing of the additional laws given by God through Moses.
These first FIVE BOOKS of the Old Testament, known as the PENTATEUCH (PENTA means “five” in Greek) describe GOD’S CREATION OF THE WORLD, the rebellion of Adam and Eve and the fall of man, and the history of God’s people from the days of Abraham, about 2000 B.C. , through the days of Moses, dated by many scholars at approximately 1250 B.C.
THE BOOKS OF HISTORY
The Second Section of the Old Testament is known as the HISTORICAL BOOKS. This group begins with the books of JOSHUA, the leader of the children of Israel following the death of Moses, who brings God’s people into THE PROMISED LAND after their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. JUDGES relate to the traditions of the various Hebrew Tribes and the exploits of their own particular heroes, the Judges of whom the title speaks, who ruled the nation. The book of RUTH is the charming and heroic account of a Gentile woman who placed herself under the protection of the One True God, and in the process became an ancestor of King David, and of his descended, Jesus Christ the Messiah of Israel.
FIRST AND SECOND KINGDOMS (First and Second Samuel), whose principle characters are Samuel the faithful Prophet, Saul the first king to rule over God’s people, and David, Saul’s successor and the first king of Judah in the south of Palestine. and Israel to the north. The books of THIRD AND FOURTH KINGDOMS (First and Second Kings) opens with the enthronement of David’s son Solomon and ends with the fall of the Kingdom, including the destruction of its capital city of Jerusalem, and the exile of God’s people from Palestine to Babylon.
FIRST AND SECOND CHRONICLES (First and Second Paraleipomenon) expand on the history recorded in Third and Fourth Kingdoms. The word Paraleipomenon is translated from the Greek and means “that which is omitted” in the two preceding books. The books of First and Second Ezra and Nehemiah continue this chronicle of divine history, focusing on the Jewish religious community after its return to Jerrusalem from exile in Babylon.
The final books in the Historical Section of the Old Testament reveal the stories of people who lived heroic and God-directed lives under foreign domination and during the exile: TOBIT, who was taken into captivity by the Assyrians; JUDITH, the pious and beautiful widow who saved her people from massacre by the invading Assyrian general, ESTHER, the Jewish Queen of Persia who achieved the revocation of Haman’s decree that would have allowed the persecution and mass murder of God’s people; and MACCABEES, the family of the Hasmoneans and their followers, the faithful people who began the revolt and fought the wars of independence against foreign armies occupying their land.
THE BOOKS OF WISDOM
The THIRD SECTION of the Old Testament is known as the books of WISDOM. The magnificent PSALMS is the HYMNAL OF BOTH ANCIENT ISRAEL AND OF THE CHURCH. The books of JOB, which in the canonical Greek LXX comes between PSALMS and PROVERBS, probes the depths of a man’s unshakable faith in the face of tragedy and innocent suffering. PROVERBS is a collection of MORAL and RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION taught to young people after their return from exile in Babylon. ECCLESIASTES tells of the preacher who philosophically seeks to understand the meaning of human existence that the good man can find in this life. The moving SONG OF SONGS by Solomon is a collection of LYRIC POEMS, written in the language of human love and courtship, which also speaks prophetically of God’s love for His beloved Bride, His Church. The WISDOM OF SOLOMON promises reward and immortality to the righteous, praises wisdom and condemns the folly of idolatry. The WISDOM OF SIRACH consists of lectures to young people on ETHICAL and RELIGIOUS THEMES.
These SEVEN BOOKS of WISDOM LITERATURE– The PSALMS, JOB, PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES, THE SONG OF SONGS, THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON, AND THE WISDOM OF SIRACH–Proclaim that HAPPINESS (or “BLESSEDNESS,” in the language of the Bible) is possible ONLY THROUGH FAITH and OBEDIENCE TO THE ONE TRUE GOD. (Source: The Orthodox Study Bible)
(To be continued)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape In His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God