תנ”ך‎ Tanakh

By Levi Clancy for לוי on
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The תנ"ך‎ Tanakh is the Jewish canon.
It is a metanarrative for both Judaism and Christianity.

The תנ"ך‎ Tanakh is also known in Hebrew as the מקרא Miqra, and in English as the Hebrew Bible. It is mostly the same as Christianity's Old Testament. These writings are the cultural glue holding together both Jewish and Christian religious communities.

The תנ"ך‎ Tanakh has three parts: תורה Torah (Law/Teaching/Pentateuch), נביאים Nevi’im (Prophets) and כתובים Ketuvim (Writings).

תורה Torah tells the pre-monarchic history of the Israelites, mainly answering from where did the Israelites come (including the Creation) and how Israel came to be a people. The Prophets covers the history of monarchic Israel as a nation settled in the land of Canaan with a king.

The Writings tells of the post-monarchic era of Israelite history when it was no longer a nation with its own land, but rather in a state of exile without land.

There are minor differences between the Jewish תנ"ך Tanakh, and the Christian (Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Coptic) versions known as the Old Testament.

The contents of the תנ"ך Tanakh are identical to the Protestant Old Testament, though individual books are ordered differently; thus the Tanakh is also called the Hebrew Bible. The Catholic Old Testament is slightly different from the Protestant version, as it contains seven additional books written later than the Tanakh: the Apocrypha, which are recognized by Protestants as good but not canonical, and by Catholics as holy but not legislative.

In addition to the Protestant and Catholic Old Testaments is the Eastern Orthodox version. This is identical to its Catholic counterpart except for in the Historical Writings and Wisdom Books. In the tables below, the Eastern Orthodox version should be assumed to be identical to the Catholic version except where specified otherwise.

The Bible has had several tangible incarnations, transitioning from its beginnings in an ancient Israelite culture of oral transmission (Schniedewin 2004) into an incarnation on various scrolls, followed by consolidation into a single codex and then continuing to be rewritten over millennia.

It has also had several contextual evolutions, as various cultures with different ideological notions have approached it differently. Archaic folk societies focused on community ownership and authorship, or, as with the ancient Semitic world, completely disregarded authorship. For example, ancient Hebrew lacks a word for "author" and timeless lore such as Epic of Gilgamesh, The Enuma Elish, Baal and Mot and The Shipwrecked Sailor have no authors. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal a startling rendition of the Book of Deuteronomy that was written in the first-person voice of God, as opposed to in the third-person from Moses' perspective. Despite this claim of authorship, it is unlikely that God directly wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls; the use of a first-person voice was likely an attempt to cement the authority of the scrolls rather than a direct ploy to clarify authorship.

Later, Greece’s own renaissance – the Hellenistic Age – procured many literary works depicting tales allegedly borne from ancient Israel. Combined with Greece's own developing individualism, these writings often directly addressed authorship – usually attributed directly to God or an angel, either directly or by commanding a person.

In modern America – similar to as in the Hellenistic age -- reverence for individuality has given the Bible a new context in which to be understood. American research has oft tried to find a single sect (if not individual) responsible for creating the Bible. This distressing endeavor ties together the lack of interest in authorship among the ancients, and the glorification of the individual among Greeks and their ideological descendants, Americans.

Schniedewin states his theory that when the Bible was written is more important than by whom because authorship was nonexistent when the Bible was written, and also because knowing the greater audience provides deeper (albeit indirect) insight than the simple identity of an author(s).

תורה Torah (Instruction)

The תורה Torah (Hebrew instruction), known to Christians as the Pentateuch, spans pre-monarchic Israel.

The first five books of the תנ"ך Tanakh comprise the תורה Torah (Hebrew instruction) (aka The Law; Pentateuch).

TanakhProtestantCatholic
(Orthodox)
Overview

בְּרֵאשִׁית Bereshith
in the beginning

Genesis

Genesis

Genesis ends with Abram's children founding the tribes of Israel, but they are not in Canaan; they have been whisked away to Egypt. Thus the end of Genesis sets up Exodus.

שמות Shemot
names

Exodus

Exodus

Exodus chronicles the fulfillment of God's promises to Abram.

ויקרא‎ Vayikra
and he called

Leviticus

Leviticus

Leviticus and Numbers are primarily dictates and commandments from God, encompassing principles and minutiae which the Israelites must oblige.

במדבר‎ Bamidbar
in the desert

Numbers

Numbers

דברים Devarim
words

Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy ends with the Israelites' arrival at Canaan, but they do not settle and fully inherit the land until Prophets, the next major section of the Bible.

נביאים Nevi'im (Prophets)

After the five books comprising the תורה Torah, come the נביאים Nevi'im (prophets) books spanning the rise and collapse of Monarchic Israel.

The leaders of Israel, particularly the prophets, are referred to as the successors of Moses. They are categorized as either the former prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) or the latter prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve), a reference to the way the books are ordered and not their chronology.

The Twelve are known as minor prophets, while the others are regarded as major prophets.

TanakhProtestantCatholic
(Orthodox)
יהושע Y'hoshuaJoshuaJoshuaJoshua succeeds Moses and his military leadership wins Canaan for the Israelites, who finally inherit the land.
שופטים ShophtimJudgesJudgesTribal Israel fails to really exert control over Canaan.
רות RutRuthRuth
שמואל Sh'muelI and II SamuelI and II SamuelThe rise (Saul, David, Solomon) and fall (Israel and Judah) of monarchic Israel, and the building of the temple.
מלכים M'lakhim
(messengers)
I and II KingsI and II KingsIsrael is now split into Israel and Judah, and in the end both succumb to the Babylonians. This period is equivalent to 930 BC to 586 BC.
ישעיה Y'shayahu‎IsaiahIsaiah
ירמיה Yir'mi'yahuJeremiahJeremiah
יחזקאל Y'khezqelEzekielEzekiel
תרי עשר Trei Asar
(twelve)
Twelve ProphetsTwelve Prophets
דברי הימים Divrei Hayamim
(matters of the days)
I and II ChroniclesI and II Chronicles
עזרא ונחמיה

Ezra v’Nechemia
(I Esdras)The editor incorrectly dated the missions of Ezra and Nehemiah. Rather than the former preceding the latter, Nehemiah likely left Susa for Jerusalem in 445 BC; and Ezra likely arrived in Jerusalem much later, around 398 BC under Persian king Artaxerxes II.
EzraEzra
(II Esdras)
NehemiahNehemiah
(II Esdras)
EstherEstherEsther
Judith
Tobit
I Maccabees
II Maccabees
III Maccabees
IV Maccabees

כתובים Ketuvim (Writings)

Known to Christians as the Wisdom Books.
TanakhProtestantCatholic
(Orthodox)
תהלים TehillimPsalmsPsalms
איוב IyovJobJob
משלי MishleiProverbsProverbs
רות RutRuthRuth
קהלת KoheletEcclesiastesEcclesiastes
שיר השירים
Shir Hashirim
Song of SongsSong of Songs
קהלת KoheletEcclesiastesEcclesiastes
איוב IyovJobJob
תרי עשר Trei Asar
(Hebrew twelve)
Twelve ProphetsTwelve Prophets
ישעיה Y'shayahu‎IsaiahIsaiah
ירמיה Yir'mi'yahuJeremiahJeremiah
Baruch
איכה EikhahLamentationsLamentations
(Letter of Jeremiah, part of Catholicism's Baruch)
יחזקאל Y'khezqelEzekielEzekiel
EstherEstherEsther
דניאל Dani'elDanielDaniel
עזרא ונחמיה

Ezra v’Nechemia
Ezra
Nehemiah
Ezra
Nehemiah
(II Esdras)
דברי הימים
Divrei Hayamim
(matters of the days)
I and II ChroniclesI and II Chronicles
(Odes)
Wisdom
Sirach

Glossary

TermOverview

Dan to Beer-sheba

Refers to the northern and southern boundaries of Israel.

Threshing floor

It is a community gathering space after the harvest, a flat space, and this is particularly important because in the hilly country there is not much flat space where people can gather.

Pericope

A section of biblical treat usually corresponding to a narrative portion. Just kind of s thematic content section of the bible.