How God Gave the Old Testament
Many often take the Old Testament for granted, never wondering how it came to contain its books, and how it is still reliable today. This tract explains who wrote it, how we know we have the correct books, and the evidence that it is still reliable today. The books below are agreed to by Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox and Jews. The Jews combine Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles into one book each.
|Book||Author||Dates B.C.||Some references|
|Genesis||Moses||~1407||Mt 19:4;Mk 10:6|
|Exodus||Moses||~1407||Mt 22:32; Lk 2:23|
|Leviticus||Moses||~1407||Mt 22:39; Lk 2:24|
|Numbers||Moses||~1407||2 Tm 2:19 (LXX)|
|Deuteronomy||Moses||~1407||Mt 22:37; Lk 4:4|
|Judges||anon. Samuel?||1377-1004||~Heb 11:32|
|Ruth||anon. Samuel?||~1011||~Mt 1:5; ~Lk 3:32|
|1 & 2 Samuel||anon. Samuel?||1050-1004||Rom 15:9; 2Cr6:18|
|1 & 2 Kings||anonymous||~950-550|
|1&2 Chronicles||anon. Ezra?||~950-550|
|part written||340 B.C.|
|Ezra||Ezra||450-430||Neh 8:1; 12:32|
|Job||anonymous||perhaps 2100||Rom 1:35; 1Cr3:19|
|Psalms||David & others||~1050||Mt 8:2; Lk 13:35|
|Ps 137||after 587|
|Proverbs||Solomon,Agur,||~971-931||Rom 12:20; Jms4:6|
|S. of Solomon||anonymous||after 967|
|Isaiah||Isaiah||696-622||Mt 13:14; Lk 3:4-6|
|Jeremiah||Jeremiah||627/6-587||Mt 21:14; Lk 23:30|
|Jer 52:31-34||~561 B.C.|
|Daniel||Daniel||606-536||Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14|
|Hosea||Hosea||~790-710||Mt 12:7; Lk 23:30|
|Joel||Joel||900;587;400?||Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13|
|Amos||Amos||760 (earthquake)||Acts 7:43; 15:16-8|
|Jonah||Jonah||~763||2 Ki 14:25;|
|Micah||Micah||before 722||Mt 2:6; Mt 10:35-36|
|Habbakuk||Habbakuk||~697-598||Acts 13:41; Rom 1:17|
|Haggai||Haggai||520-515||Ezra 5:1;Heb 12:6|
|Zechariah||Zechariah||520-515||Mt 21:5; Jn 12:15|
|Malachi||Malachi||538; 450-430||Mt 11:10; Lk 7:27|
What Books are Not In The Old Testament?
In ancient times, just as now, there are a number of religious and historical writings, many of varying quality. Besides the apocryphal books, there are what a called "pseudo-apocryphal books" that are not accepted by anyone today. These are often spurious works that claim to be written by a great historical figure but in fact are not. Of course if something is false, it is not God's word. Other books, while not per-fect, are not too bad. Of course if a godly person writes something that is true, that is not necessarily God's word, nor did they claim it to be so. Likewise a good Christian book written today can be good, but not God's word. Some books, like First Enoch, are more complicated. First Enoch is a composite book, with the oldest author likely writing most of the first section. By the way, Jude 14-15 quotes from the oldest part of First Enoch.
The Old Testament itself mentions some books and records we do not have any copies of today.
Acts of Solomon 1 Kings 11-41
Chronicles of Kings 1 Ki 14:19, 29, 2 Ki 19:9-12, 11
Kings of Judah/Israel 2 Chr 16:11,25:26;28:26,32;27:2;
Kings of Israel 2 Chr 20:34;33:18;24:7;1Ki14:19
Jasher (Upright one) Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18
Wars of the Lord Numbers 21:14
These are not scripture, but simply other reliable records.
First Question: Do We Have the Right Books?
Independent of anyone else, how do we determine if a book belongs in the Old Testament, when the book was written at an unknown time, by unknown author, who refers to events we cannot verify as true or false? The simple answer is that we cannot; we need help for confirming Old Testament scripture from another source.
Jesus is the Answer!
A song says, "Jesus is the answer"; He is the answer for this question too. Jesus answered this question in three ways: his teaching about scripture in general, his comments on specific prophets and books, and finally what he did teach about the transmitted reliability of scriptures to His day.
1. Jesus defended himself against Satan by quoting scrip-ture as God's direct word, "It is written..." Matt 4:4,7,10, Luke 4:4,8,12. Jesus stated that scripture cannot be broken in John 10:35, and scripture was "the commands of God" in Mark 4:8-9. His entire life was spent quoting, living, and fulfilling scripture as all the gospels show.
2. Jesus rebuked the Sadducees, who only accepted the Torah (Law) as the Word of God. Matt 22:29 says, Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." Jesus said the following people wrote their books:
Moses in Mark 10:3,5; Luke 20:37
David in Matt 22:43-5; Mark 12:36-7; Luke 20:42-4
Isaiah in Matthew 15:7
Daniel in Matthew 24:15
3. The Jews in Palestine had the same Old Testament as Protestants have today. They divided scripture into three categories: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Jesus said "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" in Lk 24:27,44. (Psalms is the earlier name for Writings.) He references the order of books in Mt 23:35 and Lk 11:51.
Jesus was silent on any need for correcting, adding to, or taking away from the scripture that was accepted in Judea at that time. As far as scripture was concerned, as the song says, "All things were beautiful in His Time."
Second Question, But What About Today?
Knowing that we have the correct books in the Old Testament solves a major problem concerning sources of authority for belief. However, we have another problem. How do we know that scripture today is not substantially altered? There are three sources of Confirmation
1. God's Promise
God's Word is God's Word, whether spoken, written, or both. Jeremiah 1:12 promises that God is watching over His word to perform it. Psalms 119:89 says, "Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens."
How about on earth? Isaiah 59:21 "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the LORD."
1 Pet 1:24 quoting Isa 40:8 "...For 'All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."
Isa 55:11 "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desired and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." God's ability and promise ensure His word is preserved.
God's word will not mislead His people on the essentials.
Prov 30:5-6 "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar."
2 Tim 3:15 "and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
2 Tim 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in right-eousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" See also Hebrews 4:12.
Heb 4:12: "The word (logos) of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
2. Confirmed by Jewish and Christian Writers
New Testament─ ~250 quotes. Every O.T. book except Ecclesiastes, Esther, Song of Solomon
3. Ancient Manuscripts We Have Today
The simplest evidence of reliability is in museums today.
Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714