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The Old Testament and the New Testament: the history of formation, content, similarities and differences

Christianity at the moment is the most widespread religion in the world. According to international statistics, the number of its adherents exceeds two billion people, that is, about a third of the world's population. Not surprisingly, it was this religion that gave the world the most replicated and famous book - the Bible. The Holy Scriptures of Christians on the number of copies and sales are topping the best bestsellers for 1500 years.

Composition of the Bible

Not everyone knows that the word "bible" is simply the plural form of the Greek word "vivlos", which means "book". Thus, it is not a single work, but a collection of texts belonging to different authors and written in different epochs. The extreme time thresholds are estimated as follows: from the XIV century. BC. E. For the II century. N. E.

The Bible consists of two main parts, which in Christian terminology are called the Old Testament and the New Testament. Among the adherents of the church, the latter prevails in its meaning.

Old Testament

The first and largest part of the Christian Scripture was formed long before the birth of Jesus Christ. The books of the Old Testament are also called the Hebrew Bible, since they have a sacred character in Judaism. Of course, for them the adjective "old" with respect to their writings is categorically unacceptable. Tanakh (as he is called in their midst) is eternal, unchanging and universal.

This collection consists of four (according to the Christian classification) parts, which bear the following names:

  1. Law books.
  2. Historical books.
  3. Educational books.
  4. Prophetic books.

Each of these sections contains a certain number of texts, and in different branches of Christianity there may be a different number. Some books of the Old Testament can also be combined or dismembered among themselves and within themselves. The main version is considered to be an editorial consisting of 39 titles of various texts. The most important part of the Tanakh is the so-called Torah, which consists of the first five books. Religious tradition claims that its author is the prophet Moses. The Old Testament was finally formed around the middle of the first millennium BC. E., And in our era is adopted as a sacred document in all branches of Christianity, except for most Gnostic schools and the church of Marcion.

New Testament

As for the New Testament, it is a collection of works born in the bowels of the nascent Christianity. It consists of 27 books, the most important of which are the first four texts, called the Gospels. The latter are the biographies of Jesus Christ. The rest of the books are the letters of the apostles, the book of Acts, telling about the first years of the life of the church, and the prophetic book of Revelation.

A Christian canon was formed in this form by the fourth century. Prior to this, among various groups of Christians were spread, and even revered as sacred, and many other texts. But a number of ecclesiastical councils and episcopal definitions legitimated only these books, all the others having been deemed false and insulting to God. After that, the "wrong" texts began to be massively destroyed.

The unification process of the canon was initiated by a group of theologians who opposed the teachings of the presbyter Marcion. The latter, for the first time in the history of the church, proclaimed the canon of sacred texts, discarding almost all the books of the Old and New Testaments (in its modern version) with a few exceptions. To neutralize the sermon of his opponent, the authoritative persons of the church formally legalized and sanctioned a more traditional set of scriptures.

Nevertheless, in different parts of the world, the Old Testament and the New Testament have different versions of the codification of the text. There are also some books that are accepted in one tradition, but are rejected in another.

The doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible

The very essence of the sacred texts in Christianity is revealed in the doctrine of inspiration. The Bible - the Old and New Testaments - is important for believers, because they are sure that God himself guided the writers of the sacred works, and the words of the scriptures are literally a divine revelation, which he gives to the world, the church and every person personally. This belief that the Bible is a letter from the Lord addressed directly to each person, encourages Christians to constantly study it and look for hidden meanings.


During the development and formation of the canon of the Bible, many of the books that originally included it later turned out to be "overboard" for church orthodoxy. This fate suffered such works as, for example, "Shepherd Erma" and "Didachi". Many different gospels and apostolic epistles were declared false and heretical only because they did not fit into the new theological tendencies of the orthodox church. All these texts are united by the common term "apocrypha", which means, on the one hand, "false", and on the other - "secret" writings. But it was not possible to permanently etch traces of unwanted texts-there are allusions in the canonical works and the concealment of a quotation from them. For example, it is likely that the newly-discovered Gospel of Thomas, which was lost, and in the twentieth century, served as one of the primary sources for the sayings of Christ in the canonical gospels. And the generally accepted message of the apostle Judah (not Iscariot) directly contains quotations with references to the apocryphal book of the prophet Enoch, while affirming her prophetic dignity and authenticity.

The Old Testament and the New Testament are the unity and differences of the two canons

So, we found out that the Bible consists of two collections of books of different authors and times. And although Christian theology considers the Old Testament and the New Testament as one whole, interpreting them through each other and establishing hidden allusions, predictions, prototypes and typological connections, not everyone in the Christian community is inclined to such an equal assessment of the two canons. Marcion rejected the Old Testament from scratch. Among his lost works were the so-called "Antitheses", where he contrasted the teachings of Christ to the teachings of Tanakh. The fruit of this distinction was the doctrine of the two gods - the Jewish evil and capricious demiurge and all-good God the Father, whom Christ preached.

Indeed, the images of God in these two covenants vary considerably. In the Old Testament he is represented as a vindictive, strict, rigid ruler, not without racial prejudice, as would be expressed today. In the New Testament, on the contrary, God is more tolerant, merciful and generally prefers to forgive, rather than punish. However, this is a somewhat simplified scheme, and if desired, you can find the opposite arguments with respect to both texts. Historically, however, it has happened that churches that do not recognize the authority of the Old Testament have ceased to exist, and today the Christian world is represented in this respect only by one tradition, except for the various reconstructed groups of neognostics and neo-marcionite.

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