Luke 24:44, What is the Tanakh?

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

//I usually try to stay away from words which may be unfamiliar to general users, but sometimes they slip into my posts. So let me go back to the basics of Hebrew scripture and settle a little of the confusion.

The Hebrew Bible is different from our Christian Bible. Jews today don’t have an Old Testament because it was never replaced with the New one. They have one set of scripture, all written before Jesus came along, known as the Tanakh … an acronym for Torah (the first five books of the Bible known also as the Pentateuch, and which I habitually refer to as the Law or the Law of Moses), the Nev’im (known also as the Prophets) and the Ketuvim (known as the Writings, books like Psalms and Proverbs). This is the scripture Jesus was familiar with. So when Jesus refers to “the Law and the Prophets,” he’s talking about written word: the books in our Old Testament traditionally thought to be authored by Moses and various Jewish prophets.

These three categories are in order by reverence. The Law of Moses was the most highly esteemed portion of the Tanakh, followed by the Prophets, and finally the Writings, which to many of the Jews was more like words of wisdom than scripture. I say “to many”, because different Jewish sects had different priorities. Sadducees did not elevate even the Prophets to the level of scripture, let alone the Writings. That is why Paul could say the Sadducees didn’t believe in resurrection; you won’t find any promise of an afterlife in the first five books of the Bible. But other sects sprang up which prized the prophets more highly; the Pharisees is an example. Another one in particular was founded on the idea that the Messiah had arrived. A man named Jesus. This sect soon spread to the Gentiles, became known as Christians, and began adding their own books to scripture … books meant to supercede the Tanakh with a new testament! So this final set of writings, revered most highly of all among Christians, is rightly considered a sacrilege by observant Jews!

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