Facts You Didn’t Know About the Accuracy of the Old Testament

by Lyn Leahz, 12/25/2012

THE OLD TESTAMENT

The first 39 books of the Bible are known as the Old Testament. They were first written down in Hebrew and Aramaic, the ancient languages of the Jews. We do not have any of the original manuscripts (known as autographs) today. When the Old Testament authors finished their scrolls, they did not have modern copy machines or mechanical presses to duplicate their writings. The work of copying belonged to Jewish scribes, who would laboriously make handwritten copies of the original writings. When the documents became worn out, the scribes made new copies from the old copies. Unfortunately, many of these scrolls have not survived over time. They deteriorated in the climate of the Bible lands. As a result, today there are few surviving original copies of these early holy books, first written down about 1400 B.C.

Before 1947, the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament dated from the ninth and tenth centuries A.D. These were copies of the Pentateuch–the first five books of the Bible. In 1947, however, there was an amazing discovery. Bedouin shepherds found a priceless treasure in the caves near the Dead Sea. They discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. These second-century B.C. copies of all the books of the Old Testament (except Esther) were from the library of a Jewish religious group (called the Essenes) at Qumran who lived about the time of Jesus. This remarkable find revealed that the Old Testament text had changed very little over a thousand years. In fact, the Qumran manuscripts were so similar to the ninth-century documents, it showed that the scribes had done an outstanding job of accurately passing on the sacred writings. By this we know that the Old Testament as we now have it is probably very similar to the way it was originally written.

HOW THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS PUT TOGETHER

Jewish tradition holds that the scribe Ezra (whose story is told in the Book of Ezra) compiled the books of the Old Testament. Lacking evidence, however, we do not know for certain how the books actually came together in the collection we now have. We do know that by the time of Jesus, the Hebrew sacred writings usually comprised the 39 books we accept as the Old Testament. And Jesus himself makes it clear which books he and his apostles accepted as their “Bible.”

The Jews arranged their sacred books into three major divisions: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. When Jesus spoke to his disciples about the Old Testament, he referred to these same groupings. Besides, most of the books of our Old Testament are quoted somewhere in the New Testament. It seems, then, that Jesus and his followers were familiar with the same Old Testament we have today.

Besides the 39 Old Testament books, the Jews had other holy texts. These books and chapters are known as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings, and may be found in some Bibles. In the Greek version, these writings were given the same respect as other Old Testament books. However, in the Hebrew Bible, they were not considered to have the same authority as the other books of the Bible.

OTHER ANCIENT VERSIONS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

One of the most important translations of the Old Testament is the Greek version known as the Septuagint. Jews who spoke Greek and many Christians of the first centuries A.D. used the Septuagint. It has been suggested that this text was put together at the request of Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus, who reigned from 285-246 B.C. The Pharaoh wished to have a translation for his library to Alexandria. As Christianity spread to people of other cultures and languages, the Old Testament was translated into Latin, Syriac, and Egyptian–and eventually other languages.

Coming next: Historical Facts About the New Testament

*Bible Almanac, Publications International LTD.

About Lyn Leahz

Lyn Leahz is a journalist, radio show producer and host, author, as well as contributor to numerous alternative media news and opinion sites including her own site, Freedom Nation News. Of particular note, Lyn’s YouTube channel reaches nearly 200,000 subscriptions, having become one of YouTube’s leading channels on the varied topics associated with “the last days”. For example: a recent interview with author and Christian radio personality, Benjamin Baruch, has garnered over 483,000 views! Her program covers a broad spectrum of subjects: End-times events, spiritual warfare, personal and national repentance, as well as breaking news that speaks to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Lyn’s ministry skyrocketed after completing her first Christian fiction end-times’ novel, Soul Deceiver, in 2011 (available through Thomas Nelson, Westbow Press Publishing Company). Aside from her YouTube channel, Lyn has two radio shows on Leading Edge Radio Network: (1) “Out of the Darkness”, co-hosted with Benjamin Baruch, and (2) “The Lyn and Lisa ‘When Conspiracy Becomes Reality Radio Show’” (with her co-host Lisa Haven). She has interviewed numerous famous personalities like Christian-political artist Jon McNaughton, Brent Baum and Bruce Hall, Producers of the Finding Noah Film, Brett Creamer (also featured on Rick Wiles’ TruNews radio broadcast), 
Michael Snyder, author of the Economic Collapse Blog and End of the American Dream Website (recently featured on “The Jim Bakker Show”); as well as John Shorey, best selling author of The Window of the Lord’s Return, who has also been a frequent special guest on “The Jim Bakker Show” and “It’s Supernatural” produced by Sid Roth. She also has been featured in Prophecy In the News and will be speaking at the 2016 Prophecy In the News Annual Pike’s Peak Conference, as well as interviewing live on her youtube channel other prominent speakers attending the event. My websites: http://LynLeahz.com, http://freedomnationnews.com https://www.youtube.com/user/LynLeahz
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4 Responses to Facts You Didn’t Know About the Accuracy of the Old Testament

  1. Steven Sawyer says:

    Fascinating. I always enjoy reading historical info about the Bible. Thank you for sharing and may God richly bless you, my sister.

    • Lyn Leahz says:

      God bless you, Steve. I love this stuff too! I have tons more. I will be publishing another post along with this one on the New Testament..so be sure and watch for it! Thank you for your comments, they are always appreciated.

  2. ptl2010 says:

    I had the privilege to visit Qumran recently as part of my Israel tour in December 2012, and also to see the Dead Sea scrolls in the museum. It is amazing that men took the time to write – such beautiful consistent writing on parchment, as if they were printed and thank the Lord for preserving and revealing them to His glory.

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