Talk:Old Testament

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"the canon of the Hebrew Bible was established already by about the 3rd century BC"[edit]

WP:UNDUE WP:FRINGE, much? Most scholars date the Book of Daniel (in the canonical Hebrew/Aramaic form accepted by Jews and Protestants) to the 160s BCE. If what is meant is that the canon began to be formed, or had reached something resembling its final form, then this should be clarified in the text, because it certainly doesn't look like that. There are two cited sources: one an introductory book from OUP, and the other a text the citation quotes. The quote from the latter (which dates the canon formation to the late second or early first century) directly contradicts the text; the former is from the same publisher as the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible, which, on pp. 2185-2188, gives a much more nuanced picture. Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:05, 11 October 2016 (UTC)

"Theologically loaded term"[edit]

See here ("Because the term "Old Testament" is a theologically loaded term, it sort of suggests the doctrine that the New Testament has somehow fulfilled or surpassed or antiquated the Bible of ancient Israel, you're going to hear me refer to the object of our study as the Hebrew Bible. You may certainly use any other term, and you may certainly use the term Old Testament, as long as it's clear we're talking about this set of 24 books and not some of the other things that are in the Old Testament that aren't in the traditional Hebrew Bible. It means you're studying less, so that might be a good thing. So, it's fine with me if you want to use that but I will prefer the more accurate term "Hebrew Bible."") and here ("We just use different terms, because for the Jews, of course, Hebrew scripture is not old, in the sense of passé."

See also here (4:04~4:23, especially "I didn't pick the name").

This term is avoided in scholarly discourse in religious studies departments in universities that aren't Christian universities, and apparently when it is used it is used as a concession to popular understanding and quickly clarified that it is problematic. Christians use the term to imply that, with the coming of Jesus, the Hebew Bible is antiquated (the use of "New" to distinguish another set of books written almost 2,000 years ago from the "Old" Testament makes this clear). This clarification should probably be added somewhere to the article body, and perhaps also the lead. The above lectures (and introduction to a seminar) are probably not the best sources for the claim, though. The fact that in the third video the presenter grins and laughs and that everyone in the audience appears to be "in on the joke" implies that other sources that clearly discuss the problem should not be difficult to find, mind you.

Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:58, 23 October 2016 (UTC) (edited 02:34, 27 October 2016 (UTC))

Are you suggesting a move? If so, say so. If not, please state what you're discussing here. In short, it's the WP:COMMONNAME of the book in English. I know of several who call it "Hebrew Bible" and even fewer who call it "Hebrew Scriptures", but again, they are in a minority. Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:21, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
No, I'm not suggesting a move. I explicitly stated that what I was suggesting was that we cite the fact hat this is a theologically loaded term within the article. I might have also directly stated that since the term "Old Testament" actually refers to a different set of concepts to "Bible" (which the JPS prefers to either "Hebrew Bible" or "Tanakh"), "Hebrew Bible", "Tanakh", "Greek Orthodox Old Testament", "Roman Catholic Old Testament" and "Protestant Old Testament", maintaining a separate article with the title "Old Testament" (rather than implicitly conflating it with one or more of the other terms)makes sense. Hijiri 88 (やや) 08:12, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
By the way, I grew up in Ireland in the 1990s, and my parents are Catholic -- I have no reason to think that the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament are the same thing. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:27, 24 October 2016 (UTC)
Aren't there Wikipedia articles on Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, Masoretic text, Deuterocanon, etc., which make the distinctions clear? TomS TDotO (talk) 16:19, 24 October 2016 (UTC)
If those articles point out issues related to the term "Old Testament" and the Old Testament article doesn't (and I haven't read them so I don't know), that is a problem. Currently, the closest this article comes to it is the paragraph beginning The name "Old Testament" reflects Christianity's understanding of itself, which ... really doesn't seem to get it. Or rather, it appears to get it but is worded in such a way as to mislead our readers into not getting it. Hijiri 88 (やや) 21:26, 24 October 2016 (UTC)
There is the hatnote to the present article which says: This article is about the Old Testament Scripture canon of the Christian Bible. For the related Jewish canon, see Tanakh. For its Hebrew and Aramaic text, see Hebrew Bible. For the major textual tradition of that text, see Masoretic Text. For the ancient Greek version, see Septuagint. For the theological concept of the Old Covenant, see Mosaic covenant. TomS TDotO (talk) 06:02, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
Dudes, how are you not getting my point? My original post was not that long -- why would you think I'm talking about moving the page or about disambiguation? I'm talking about discussing the terminology issue in the text of the article. Hijiri 88 (やや) 12:13, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
We're not getting your point because you're not making it well. The terminology is fine, and the COMMONNAME. Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:49, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
"The terminology is fine" is your opinion, but the scholars I quoted above disagree, and WP:COMMONNAME has nothing whatsoever to do with what I am saying. COMMONNAME is for establishing the titles of articles, and cannot be used to filibuster proposed additions to the article content. Please actually read my comments before replying or insisting that I am not making my point well. Hijiri 88 (やや) 21:04, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
But the scholars are an insignificant percentage of those using the term. Adding a sourced sentence to support alternate use is acceptable. Anything else is WP:UNDUE as pastors, laity and adherents far outnumber adherents. Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:09, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
So you are saying that the view embraced by the majority of scholars in universities, and the view of virtually all Jews (followers of the religion of the people that original wrote the work, mind you), is FRINGE and not even worth noting in the article per UNDUE? Are we seriously having this discussion? Do you want me to take this to the noticeboards or start an RFC? Because I guarantee you the result will embarrass you. Hijiri 88 (やや) 07:45, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Additionally, your equation of the "Old Testament" with the Hebrew Bible is actually a minority view among Christians: Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Ethiopian Christians all use the term "Old Testament" with meanings different to mainstream Protestants. Hijiri 88 (やや) 07:49, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Tanakh is linked in the hatnote. Hebrew Bible is as well. As usual, you're making a mountain out of a molehill. I'm done in this discussion. Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:14, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Given how important this topic is, and how widely it has been covered in top-quality scholarly literature, the current 3,000-word length of our article is pitiful. I think one area that needs to be expanded is discussion of the name itself. The only mention of this in the article at present is the sentence about Jeremiah's prophecy. I provided some reliable sources above that address the topic, but I said that some other sources would probably be better. If you are not going to help finding such sources, then you should stay out of my way while I search, and you shouldn't have driven this discussion down a garden path about hatnotes and RMs as you have. Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:31, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, we should have a discussion in the article about terminology, how the word "Old" is used in contrast to the New Testament and how Hebrew Bible is often used as a more neutral term. And how Tanakh (mostly) covers the same thing. (Also, a few scholars in the past have used "Older Testament", but that usage never really caught on.) But yes - the video is not the best source, and we certainly shouldn't be saying that "Hebrew Bible" is somehow "more accurate". (The term "Hebrew Bible" has its own problems, of course, since a significant portion of it is written in Aramaic.) StAnselm (talk) 04:33, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
Agree. A sentence or so, is sufficient. Walter Görlitz (talk)
(edit conflict)@StAnselm: From what I can tell, "Tanakh" and "Hebrew Bible" are near-synonyms, except where "Hebrew Bible" is used as a neutral term for the "Protestant Old Testament" rather than the "Jewish Bible" and so follows the Christian ordering of the books, while "Old Testament" by itself is more ambiguous because, depending on the Christian denomination, it refers to slightly different sets of books. (The Hayes lectures I linked above are weird. Apparently someone higher up than her in Yale gave it the title "Introduction to the Old Testament" while she herself rejects the term in favour of "Hebrew Bible", or often "Bible". And if you examine the ordering of the lectures closely, she seems to be following the Jewish canon rather than the Christian, so "Old Testament" isn't even technically accurate from a Protestant perspective, because the order she discusses the books in makes it clear she is talking about the Jewish Bible.) As for the linguistic problem with "Hebrew Bible", there are a whole bunch of issues to unpack and I think we should probably take a "wheat and weeds" approach to it in the short run and throw it all in as it comes, and clean it up (possibly splitting peripherally relevant material off to our Hebrew Bible and Tanakh articles) later. One example of another problem that would not be entirely out of place in this article but would in the long run be better off in the "Hebrew Bible" article is the fact that Jewish Study Bible (and presumably other JPS publications) avoids the phrase "Hebrew Bible" for the reason that within Judaism it is redundant. Hijiri 88 (やや) 05:49, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
Yes, "Hebrew Bible" most often refers to the book with the Jewish ordering. StAnselm (talk) 06:01, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
@WG: A sentence or so is sufficient? Why would you think that? The term is "theologically loaded", which implies to me that it has been the subject of much discussion of the subject. The fact that while most of the people who wrote, compiled and first canonized these texts were Jews (all of them were either "Israelites" or "Jews") modern Jews see the phrase as problematic is almost certainly worthy of more than a sentence or so. And why did you uncollapse the above off-topic discussion where you repeatedly accused me of stealth-proposing a rename or merge and cited policies to argue against this strawman you propped up? Are you proud of that and want all the world to see it? Hijiri 88 (やや) 05:49, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
I don't see anything problematic in >'s suggestion, which I understand is that we note the theological significance of the term "old testament" (i.e., it implies the new testament). I'm not sure whether this ext point is in the article, but the very order of the books in the OT carries that significance: Daniel is treated as a prophetic book predicting the coming of the Christ, for example, and the last book is Malachi instead of Chronicles, which reverses the message of the Hebrew Bible. Definitely worth drawing this out.PiCo (talk) 22:14, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
Except that in using the Septuagint order it is (perhaps) actually drawing on pre-Christian traditions. (I also don't think the difference with Malachi is as big as all that since in the Hebrew Bible it is still the last book of the Nevi'im.) Anyway, there seems to be a rough consensus to include a section, perhaps under the heading "Terminology". I think it would be helpful to say how the OT connects to Septuagint. StAnselm (talk) 05:55, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
If you really have the time and inclination to follow this up (I don't), you might like to look at this book which explains the theological significance of ending the OT with Malachi. There's also John Barton's "Canons of the Old Testament" in Text in Context - he notes how there is great fluidity around the Hebrew Bible order of books, and I think notes a few of the theological implications. Anyway, is quite right, the order of books in the OT isn't accidental, it's full of theological significance. PiCo (talk) 09:36, 2 November 2016 (UTC)

49 or 50 books?[edit]

The lede says "Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches choose the Old Testament version with 49 books." However, the table lists 50 books. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:05, 13 November 2016 (UTC)

Sorry, in fact the numbers suggested inconsistently by the article are 49, 50, 52:

...and Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches choose the Old Testament version with 49 books.

       Eastern Orthodox
       Old Testament
       (50 books)
       Eastern Orthodox
       Old Testament
       (50 books)
   1    Genesis
   2    Exodus
   3    Leviticus
   4    Numbers
   5    Deuteronomy
   6    Joshua (Iesous)
   7    Judges
   8    Ruth
   9    1 Samuel (1 Kingdoms)[f]
   10   2 Samuel (2 Kingdoms)[f]
   11   1 Kings (3 Kingdoms)[f]
   12   2 Kings (4 Kingdoms)[f]
   13   1 Chronicles (1 Paralipomenon)
   14   2 Chronicles (2 Paralipomenon)
   15   1 Esdras[g][h]
   16   Ezra (2 Esdras)[f][i][j]
   17   Nehemiah (2 Esdras)[f][i]
   18   Tobit (Tobias)[g]
   19   Judith[g]
   20   Esther[k]
   21   1 Maccabees[g]
   22   2 Maccabees[g]
   23   3 Maccabees[g]
   24   3 Esdras[g]
   25   4 Maccabees[m]
   26   Job
   27   Psalms[n]
   28   Prayer of Manasseh[o]
   29   Proverbs
   30   Ecclesiastes
   31   Song of Songs (Aisma Aismaton)
   32   Wisdom[g]
   33   Sirach[g]
   34   Isaiah
   35   Jeremiah
   36   Lamentations
   37   Baruch[p][g]
   38   Letter of Jeremiah[q][g]
   39   Ezekiel
   40   Daniel[s]
   41   Hosea
   42   Joel
   43   Amos
   44   Obadiah
   45   Jonah
   46   Micah
   47   Nahum
   48   Habakkuk
   49   Zephaniah
   50   Haggai
   51   Zechariah
   52     Malachi


Why would the assessment of the Old versus New Testments, coming from an atheist (Nietzche), whose best-known statement is "God is dead," be inserted into this article? His assessment is that the OT appeals to his literary tastes more than the NT does, but so what? He didn't believe any of it, so who cares? This article is about the OT, so why bring the NT into it for the sole purpose of disrespecting it? The NT was first written in Greek, by people whose first language might have been Aramaic, whereas the OT was written in Hebrew by people whose native language was Hebrew, and it may well be better, as literature, for this reason. For religious people, it is the content that is important, and for a bombastic atheist to prefer the literary style of the OT to that of the NT is irrelevant.77Mike77 (talk) 21:27, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

We can start the topic by conceding that, just as no modern expert on Plato is expected to be a Platonist (even of the Middle or Neo- sort), no Bible expert should be expected to accept the ideas it puts forth, far less believe in its god(s) or its divine origin.

— Philip R. Davies, Reading the Bible Intelligently
Quoted by Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:40, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

The Old Testament consists of translations?[edit]

In the article we read, "The Old Testament consists of translations of many distinct books". I find this hard to grasp. It seems that the OT exists in Hebrew, and that there are translations of it into e.g. English, but the (original) OT itself is not a translation. Perhaps I'm missing an important point, but this assertion seems, on the face of it, a little bizarre. Can anyone clarify? -- (talk) 16:21, 9 July 2017 (UTC)

I think it should be removed. The article talks a lot about translations, but I don't think we can say the OT is the Septugaint or the Vulgate or some other translation. StAnselm (talk) 18:44, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
Fixed. StAnselm (talk) 18:31, 10 July 2017 (UTC)