The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh[a] (//; Hebrew: תָּנָ״ךְ Tānāḵh), also known in Hebrew as Miqra (//; Hebrew: מִקְרָא Mīqrā), is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. Different branches of Judaism and Samaritanism have maintained different versions of the canon, including the 3rd-century Septuagint text used by Second-Temple Judaism, the Syriac language Peshitta, the Samaritan Torah, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and most recently the 10th century medieval Masoretic text created by the Masoretes currently used in modern Rabbinic Judaism. The terms "Hebrew Bible" or "Hebrew Canon" are frequently confused with the Masoretic text, however, this is a medieval version and one of several texts considered authoritative by different types of Judaism throughout history. The modern Masoretic text is mostly in Biblical Hebrew, with a few passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel and Ezra, and the verse Jeremiah 10:11).
|Period||8th/7th centuries BCE – 2nd/1st centuries BCE|
|Hebrew Bible at Hebrew Wikisource|
The authoritative form of the modern Hebrew Bible used in Rabbinic Judaism is the Masoretic Text (7th to 10th century CE), which consists of 24 books, divided into pesuqim (verses). The contents of the Medieval Masoretic text are similar, but not identical, to those of the Protestant Old Testament, in which the material is divided into 39 books and arranged in a different order. This is due to the Tiberian-Masoretic text having been considered the "original" Hebrew text across Europe since the Renaissance, including within the Catholic church. Scholars within the Catholic church started to treat these books differently due to this misunderstanding of the Masoretic text, and Martin Luther took this understanding even further due to the Ad Fontes influence of Humanism. Luther did not know the Masoretic was a modern interpretation when using it to justify removing 7 books from the Christian Old Testament. The ancient Christian Bibles currently used by the Catholic and Orthodox churches are based on the Septuagint, which was considered the authoritative scriptural canon by Second-Temple Judaism practiced by the 1st century Christians.
In addition to the Masoretic Text, modern scholars seeking to understand the history of the Hebrew Bible use a range of sources. These include the Septuagint, the Syriac language Peshitta translation, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls collection and quotations from rabbinic manuscripts. These sources may be older than the Masoretic Text in some cases and often differ from it. These differences have given rise to the theory that yet another text, an Urtext of the Hebrew Bible, once existed and is the source of the versions extant today. However, such an Urtext has never been found, and which of the three commonly known versions (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch) is closest to the Urtext is debated.
Tanakh is an acronym, made from the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text's three traditional divisions: Torah (literally 'Instruction' or 'Law'), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)—hence TaNaKh.
The three-part division reflected in the acronym Tanakh is well attested in the rabbinic literature. During that period, however, Tanakh was not used. Instead, the proper title was Mikra (or Miqra, מקרא, meaning reading or that which is read) because the biblical texts were read publicly. The acronym 'Tanakh' is first recorded in the medieval era. Mikra continues to be used in Hebrew to this day, alongside Tanakh, to refer to the Hebrew scriptures. In modern spoken Hebrew, they are interchangeable.
Many biblical studies scholars advocate use of the term Hebrew Bible (or Hebrew Scriptures) as a substitute for less-neutral terms with Jewish or Christian connotations (e.g. Tanakh or Old Testament). 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. Alister McGrath points out that while the term emphasizes that it is largely written in Hebrew and "is sacred to the Hebrew people", it "fails to do justice to the way in which Christianity sees an essential continuity between the Old and New Testaments", arguing that there is "no generally accepted alternative to the traditional term 'Old Testament'."[verification needed] However, he accepts that there is no reason why non-Christians should feel obliged to refer to these books as the Old Testament, "apart from custom of use".
Christianity has long asserted a close relationship between the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, although there have sometimes been movements like Marcionism (viewed as heretical by the early church) that have struggled with it. Modern Christian formulations of this tension include supersessionism, covenant theology, new covenant theology, dispensationalism, and dual-covenant theology. All of these formulations, except some forms of dual-covenant theology, are objectionable to mainstream Judaism and to many Jewish scholars and writers, for whom there is one eternal covenant between God and the Israelites, and who therefore reject the term "Old Testament" as a form of antinomianism.
Christian usage of the "Old Testament" does not refer to a universally agreed upon set of books but, rather, varies depending on denomination. Lutheranism and Protestant denominations that follow the Westminster Confession of Faith accept the entire Jewish canon as the Old Testament without additions, although in translation they sometimes give preference to the Septuagint (LXX) rather than the Masoretic Text; for example, see Isaiah 7:14.
"Hebrew" refers to the original language of the books, but it may also be taken as referring to the Jews of the Second Temple era and their descendants, who preserved the transmission of the Masoretic Text up to the present day. The Hebrew Bible includes small portions in Aramaic (mostly in the books of Daniel and Ezra), written and printed in Aramaic square-script, which was adopted as the Hebrew alphabet after the Babylonian exile.
There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed: some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty, while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later.
The original writing system of the Hebrew text was an abjad: consonants written with some applied vowel letters ("matres lectionis"). During the early Middle Ages, scholars known as the Masoretes created a single formalized system of vocalization. This was chiefly done by Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, in the Tiberias school, based on the oral tradition for reading the Tanakh, hence the name Tiberian vocalization. It also included some innovations of Ben Naftali and the Babylonian exiles. Despite the comparatively late process of codification, some traditional sources and some Orthodox Jews hold the pronunciation and cantillation to derive from the revelation at Sinai, since it is impossible to read the original text without pronunciations and cantillation pauses. The combination of a text (מקרא mikra), pronunciation (ניקוד niqqud) and cantillation (טעמים te`amim) enable the reader to understand both the simple meaning and the nuances in sentence flow of the text.
The number of distinct words in the Hebrew Bible is 8,679, of which 1,480 are hapax legomena,: 112 words or expressions that occur only once. The number of distinct Semitic roots, on which many of these biblical words are based, is roughly 2000.: 112
The Tanakh consists of twenty-four books, counting as one book each 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, and Ezra–Nehemiah. The Twelve Minor Prophets (תרי עשר) are also counted as a single book. In Hebrew, the books are often referred to by their prominent first words.
The Torah (תּוֹרָה, literally "teaching") is also known as the "Pentateuch", or as the "Five Books of Moses". Printed versions (rather than scrolls) of the Torah are often called Chamisha Chumshei Torah (חמישה חומשי תורה "Five fifth-sections of the Torah") and informally as Chumash.
Nevi'im (נְבִיאִים Nəḇīʾīm, "Prophets") is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim. This division includes the books which cover the time from the entrance of the Israelites into the Land of Israel until the Babylonian captivity of Judah (the "period of prophecy"). Their distribution is not chronological, but substantive.
The Former Prophets (נביאים ראשונים Nevi'im Rishonim)
The Latter Prophets (נביאים אחרונים Nevi'im Aharonim)
The Twelve Minor Prophets (תרי עשר, Trei Asar, "The Twelve"), which are considered one book:
Kəṯūḇīmַ (כְּתוּבִים, "Writings") consists of eleven books.
In Masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stichs in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emetַ (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields Emet אמ"ת, which is also the Hebrew for "truth").
These three books are also the only ones in Tanakh with a special system of cantillation notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.
The five relatively short books of the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther are collectively known as the Ḥamesh Megillot (Five Megillot). These are the latest books collected and designated as "authoritative" in the Jewish canon, with the latest parts having dates ranging into the 2nd century BCE. These scrolls are traditionally read over the course of the year in many Jewish communities.
These books are read aloud in the synagogue on particular occasions, the occasion listed below in parenthesis.
Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, Ezra–Nehemiah and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics.
The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud (Bava Batra 14b – 15a) gives their order as Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.
In Tiberian Masoretic codices, including the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order is Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.
It is a major subject in the curriculum of Orthodox high schools for girls and in the seminaries which they subsequently attend, and is often taught by different teachers than those who teach Chumash. The curriculum of Orthodox high schools for boys includes only some portions of Nach, such as the book of Joshua, the book of Judges, and the Five Megillot. See Yeshiva § Torah and Bible study.
There are two major approaches to the study of, and commentary on, the Tanakh. In the Jewish community, the classical approach is a religious study of the Bible, where it is assumed that the Bible is divinely inspired. Another approach is to study the Bible as a human creation. In this approach, Biblical studies can be considered as a sub-field of religious studies. The latter practice, when applied to the Torah, is considered heresy by the Orthodox Jewish community. As such, much modern day Bible commentary written by non-Orthodox authors is considered forbidden by rabbis teaching in Orthodox yeshivas. Some classical rabbinic commentators, such as Abraham Ibn Ezra, Gersonides, and Maimonides, used many elements of contemporary biblical criticism, including their knowledge of history, science, and philology. Their use of historical and scientific analysis of the Bible was considered acceptable by historic Judaism due to the author's faith commitment to the idea that God revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The Modern Orthodox Jewish community allows for a wider array of biblical criticism to be used for biblical books outside of the Torah, and a few Orthodox commentaries now incorporate many of the techniques previously found in the academic world, e.g. the Da'at Miqra series. Non-Orthodox Jews, including those affiliated with Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism, accept both traditional and secular approaches to Bible studies. "Jewish commentaries on the Bible", discusses Jewish Tanakh commentaries from the Targums to classical rabbinic literature, the midrash literature, the classical medieval commentators, and modern-day commentaries.
Modern scholars often use the term 'Hebrew Bible' to avoid the confessional terms Old Testament and Tanakh.
With many other scholars, I conclude that the fixing of a canonical list was almost certainly the achievement of the Hasmonean dynasty.
.. classes in Chumash, Nach, Practical Halacha, Tefilla, ...
know little Nach, are unexcited by the study of ..
Tova joined the .. faculty this fall as a Nach teacher .. High School for Girls.
Description. Nach metzudos on ...
of divine origin
human rather than divine document
Modern scholars have also unmoored ... Most unsettling to religious Jews
watered-down Judaism soon turns to water
Song of Songs ... was entirely profane .. could not have been written by Solomon