Rearranged in their approximately chronological order, the Old Testament books become the harmonious and many-sided record of ten centuries of strenuous human endeavor to know and to do the will of God and of his full and gracious response to that effort. Unhesitatingly he abrogated certain time-honored Old Testament laws with the words, Ye have heard that it was said ... but I say to you. History. It is the English translation, through the Latin and Greek, of the Hebrew word, berith, usually rendered, covenant. One dominant aim determines the form of each book and the selection of individual passages and binds together the whole: it is effectively to set forth spiritual truth and to mould in accordance with God's will the characters and beliefs of men. The Purpose of the Old Testament Documents. For the intelligent student and teacher of to-day the Old Testament still remains a great mine of historical, ethical, and religious truth. Turning from the Jewish and mediaeval traditions and theories which so easily beset us, we ask, What is the real nature of the Old Testament as it is revealed in this new and clearer light? The Old Testament is the foundation for the story of Jesus in the New Testament. A careful study of the Gospels, in the light of the Old Testament, demonstrates that a very important element in his work, as the Saviour of men, was in thus separating the dross in the older teachings from the gold, and then in giving to the vital truth a clearer, more personal, and yet more universal application. The principles underlying the social sermons of Amos are as applicable to present conditions as when first uttered. His own interpretation of his relation to the sacred writings of his race was that he came to bring them to complete fulfilment. The great critic of Nazareth again set the example. There main purpose of the Old Testament is to reveal God's word to the Jewish people. The Real Nature and Purpose of the Old Testament, The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament. He did not, however, dictate to them the form of their writings nor vouch for their verbal inerrancy. As is well known, our English word Bible came originally from the Papyrus or Byblus reed, the pith of which was widely used in antiquity as the material from which books were made. The early narratives preserve the traditions of its origin; the lawgivers endeavored to define its terms and the obligations that rested upon the people; the prophets interpreted them in the life of the nation, and the … [Sidenote: Its different books of very different values]. Did the Dead Sea Scrolls contain the New... Why is it false to say that Hindus worship... What is a Computer Keyboard? Again, he has pronounced his Thou shall not to the natural and yet selfish human desire to transfer moral and intellectual responsibility from the individual conscience to some external authority. The ever-present evidence of the divine authority back of the spiritual teachings of the Old Testament as a whole is that they ring true to life and meet its needs. Detailing the history of the Jewish people is another main purpose of the Old Testament. Others, like Numbers, Chronicles, and Esther, are comparatively barren. At the same time, studied from the newer point of view, the examples of those early heroes are found to illustrate vital principles in human life and to inspire and warn the child of to-day as effectively as they did far back in the childhood of the race. iii.16, 17). The fact that it is a library consisting of many different books is recognized by the common designation of the two testaments. Its seat of authority is more fundamental. What is the collective name for the first 5 books... What stories do the Dead Sea Scrolls tell? What are the unclean animals in the Old... How many versions of the Torah are there? In these later days God has taken the Bible from the throne of infallibility on which Protestantism sought to place it. It contains the word of God because it faithfully records and interprets the most important events in the early religious history of man, and simply and effectively presents God's revelation of himself and of his will in the minds and hearts of the great pre-Christian heralds of ethical and spiritual truth. [Sidenote: Its ultimate basis of authority]. In the light of this truth the Jewish and medieval dogma that every word, and even every letter of Scripture, was directly dictated by God himself, seems sadly mechanical and bears the marks of the narrow schools of thought in which it took form. Such singleness of religious purpose is paralleled nowhere else except in the work and teachings of Jesus and his apostles. © copyright 2003-2020 Study.com. [Sidenote: Significance of the variations and inconsistencies]. Finally, the right and normal attitude toward the Old Testament leads to the wholesome conclusion that its different books are of very different values. God gives the Jewish people a set of laws and rules in which to live. About the middle of the second Christian century the Greek Christians (first in the so-called Second Epistle of Clement xlv.2) began to call their sacred scriptures, Ta Biblia, the books. [Sidenote: Its present fruits the proof of its inspired authority]. The Old Testament is also known as the Jewish Bible. Students of the rediscovered Old Testament also recognize, in the light of a broader and more careful study, the fact, so often and so fatally overlooked in the past, that its authority lies not in the field of natural science, nor even of history in the limited sense. It is not the support of the Church, although this also for the same reason is exceedingly significant. The ultimate basis of that authority, however, is not their presence in the canon of the Old Testament. Since the Old Testament is the record of a progressively unfolding revelation, it is obvious that all parts do not possess an equal authority. It was the supreme bond that bound together prophets, priests, sages, and psalmists, although the means by which they accomplished their common purpose differed widely. The standards of justice, tempered by love, which are maintained in the Old Testament laws make good citizens both of earth and heaven. Neglect and indifference, not Higher Criticism, alone permanently threaten the authority of the Old Testament as well as that of the New. This part of the Bible also details God's involvement in the history of the Jewish people. By their fruits we know them. God gives the Jewish people a set of laws and rules in which to live. Their individual peculiarities and minor errors often introduce us more intimately to the biblical writers and help us to understand more clearly and sympathetically their visions of truth and of God. Services, The History & Authorship of the Old Testament, Working Scholars® Bringing Tuition-Free College to the Community. [Sidenote: The record of God's vital, personal relations to the Israelitish race]. What is the main purpose of the Old Testament? Through the law, God actually intensifies our need to get life in order to break us from the illusion that we can ever get life from the law. All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. Time and patience were destined to increase man's knowledge in these great departments and also to develop his mind in attaining it. - Definition, Skills & Meaning, The Big Five Personality Traits & Workplace Behavior, Essay Introduction: Write a Thesis and Capture Your Audience, Literary Criticism: Definition, Examples & Forms, The Needs Theory: Motivating Employees with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Satire, Parody, or Spoof: Types of Humorous Writing, Reward Systems & Employee Behavior: Intrinsic & Extrinsic Rewards, What is a Chi-Square Test? [Sidenote: Its dominant purpose to teach spiritual truth]. The term Testament suggests not the form and authority of the books, but their theme.