The early Christian use of the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament takes up two-thirds of the Christian Bible.  The Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, is divided into three major parts, the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim.  The Torah was known as the Law or instruction.  The works of the prophets was called Nevi’im.  Finally, the Writings were called Ketuvim.  New Testament writers used these three terms of the law, the prophets, and the writings when they referred to the Hebrew Scriptures, the only Bible that they knew.  Most of the final codification of the Hebrew Bible had taken place centuries before the time of Jesus Christ.  Thus, the Christians often referred to the law and the prophets when they were talking about the books of the Hebrew Bible.  These early Christians never referred to their own writings as the Bible.

The Old and the New Testament

The two major parts of the Christian Bible are the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Does this give a false impression that we have two different Bibles?  The New Testament books make references to the Old Testament works.  There was no New Testament canon until the second century, since consensus on its contents did not occur until the late fourth century.  The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible canon has an even more complicated history.  Often, people are surprised to learn that two-thirds of what we call the Christian Bible actually existed before the time of Christ, since it describes the words and actions of God’s interaction with his promised chosen people, the Israelites, the Hebrews, or the Jews.