The Tanakh (The Bible, The Old Testament)

Why have I called the Old Testament the Tanakh? The work the Christians call the Old Testament, modern Jews generally call the Bible. The Bible of the Jews consists of those books that were written before Jesus was born. To call this work the Old Testament is therefore to use a Christian term; to use the Jewish term (the Bible) is potentially confusing, since the Christian Bible is a much larger work, including the life, teachings, and aftermath of the death of Jesus of Nazareth (a Jew, by the way).

I have therefore chosen the word Tanakh, which is an acronym made from the Hebrew names for the three parts of the Jewish Bible: the Torah (the Teaching or Law, also known as the Five Books of Moses, which runs from Genesis through Deuteronomy), the Nevi'im (the Prophets), and the Kethuvim (the Writings, books which in the Christian Old Testament fall betwen Deuteronomy and the Prophets but in the Jewish Bible follow the Prophets). Tanakh is a neutral term that gives no offense to Jews--as the term Old Testament may--and is perfectly acceptable to Christians as well.

Just as I will expect you to read all of your mythology book so that you will know the stories of the Greeks and Romans that writers have repeated and imitated down through the centuries, so you ought to know the stories of the Tanakh because writers all over Europe used their stories in a variety of ways down through the ages.

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Rev 12/97