Hebrew Bible

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This article is about Hebrew and Aramaic texts that constitute Jewish scripture. For the Jewish canon, see Tanakh. For the major textual tradition, see Masoretic Text. For their use in the Christian Bible, see Old Testament. For the series of modern critical editions, see Biblia Hebraica.
Page from an 11th-century Aramaic Targum manuscript of the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew Bible (also Hebrew Scriptures or Jewish Bible; Latin: Biblia Hebraica) is a term used by biblical scholars to refer to the Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ"ך‎), the canonical collection of Jewish texts, which is the common textual source of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel, Ezra and a few others).

The content, to which the Protestant Old Testament closely corresponds, does not act as source to the deuterocanonical portions of the Roman Catholic, nor to the Anagignoskomena portions of the Eastern Orthodox Old Testaments. The term does not comment upon the naming, numbering or ordering of books, which varies with later Christian biblical canons.

The term Hebrew Bible is an attempt to provide specificity with respect to contents, while avoiding allusion to any particular interpretative tradition or theological school of thought. It is widely used in academic writing and interfaith discussion in relatively neutral contexts meant to include dialogue among all religious traditions, but not widely in the inner discourse of the religions which use its text.[1]


Hebrew Bible is a term that refers to the Tanakh (Jewish canon) in relation to the many Christian biblical canons. In its Latin form, Biblia Hebraica, it traditionally serves as a title for printed editions of the Masoretic Text.

Many biblical studies scholars advocate use of the term "Hebrew Bible" (or "Hebrew Scriptures") when discussing these books in academic writing, as a neutral substitute to terms with religious connotations (e.g., the non-neutral term "Old Testament").[2][3] The Society of Biblical Literature's Handbook of Style, which is the standard for major academic journals like the Harvard Theological Review and conservative Protestant journals like the Bibliotheca Sacra and the Westminster Theological Journal, suggests that authors "be aware of the connotations of alternative expressions such as... Hebrew Bible [and] Old Testament" without prescribing the use of either.[4]

Additional difficulties include:

Origins of the Hebrew Bible and its components[edit]

The books that constitute the Hebrew Bible developed over roughly a millennium. The oldest texts seem to come from the eleventh or tenth centuries BCE, whilst most of the other texts are somewhat later. They are edited works, being collections of various sources intricately and carefully woven together.[citation needed]

Since the nineteenth century, most scholars have agreed that the Pentateuch (the first five books of Scriptures) consists of four sources which have been woven together. These four sources were combined to form the Pentateuch sometime in the sixth century BCE. This theory is now known as the documentary hypothesis, and has been the dominant theory for the past two hundred years.[7] The Deuteronomist credited with the Pentateuch's book of Deuteronomy is also said to be the source of the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings (the Deuteronomistic history, or DtrH) and also in the book of Jeremiah.

Scholarly editions[edit]

Several editions, all titled Biblia Hebraica, have been produced by various German publishers since 1906.

There are currently[when?] three projects in progress to produce a new critical edition of the Hebrew Bible:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eliezer Segal, Introducing Judaism (New York, NY: Routledge, 2009). Page: 12
  2. ^ Safire, William (1997-05-25). "The New Old Testament". The New York Times .
  3. ^ Hamilton, Mark. "From Hebrew Bible to Christian Bible: Jews, Christians and the Word of God". Retrieved 2007-11-19. Modern scholars often use the term 'Hebrew Bible' to avoid the confessional terms Old Testament and Tanakh. 
  4. ^ Alexander, Patrick H; et al., eds. (1999). The SBL Handbook of Style (PDF). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. p. 17 (section 4.3). ISBN 1-56563-487-X. 
  5. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica". 1911  |chapter= ignored (help).
  6. ^ For the recorded teachings of Jesus on the subject see Antithesis of the Law#Antitheses, for the modern debate, see Christian views on the old covenant
  7. ^ Hamilton, Mark (April 1998). "From Hebrew Bible to Christian Bible: Jews, Christians and the Word of God". Frontline. From Jesus to Christ. WGBH Educational Foundation. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Brueggemann, Walter. An introduction to the Old Testament: the canon and Christian imagination (Westminster John Knox Press, 1997).
  • Charlesworth, James H., ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. (2 vols.; Garden City: Doubleday, 1985).
  • Hamilton, Mark (April 1998). "From Hebrew Bible to Christian Bible: Jews, Christians and the Word of God". From Jesus to Christ. PBS.org/Frontline. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  • Johnson, Paul (1987). A History of the Jews (First, hardback ed.). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79091-9. 
  • Kugel, James. The Bible as It Was. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  • Kugel, James. In Potiphar's House: The Interpretive Life of Biblical Texts. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990).
  • Kuntz, John Kenneth. The People of Ancient Israel: an introduction to Old Testament Literature, History, and Thought, Harper and Row, 1974. ISBN 0-06-043822-3
  • Leiman, Sid. The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture. (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1976).
  • Levenson, Jon. Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible. (San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1985).
  • Minkoff, Harvey. "Searching for the Better Text". Biblical Archaeology Review (online). Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  • Noth, Martin. A History of Pentateuchal Traditions. (1948; trans. by Bernhard Anderson; Atlanta: Scholars, 1981).
  • Schniedewind, William M (2004). How the Bible Became a Book. Cambridge. ISBN 9780521536226. 
  • Schmid, Konrad. The Old Testament: A Literary History. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012).
  • Vermes, Geza, ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English. (3d ed.; New York: Penguin, 1987).

External links[edit]