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When Old Testament Written?
The Old Testament is one of the two most significant divisions of the Christian Bible, the other being the New Testament. It is a collection of various ancient Hebrew writings, including stories, poetry, laws, and prophecies that were written over a period of centuries, from about 1400 BC to about 400 BC.
The authors of the Old Testament were primarily ancient Israelites and Jews, many of whom lived in the region we now know as Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. These authors wrote the manuscripts that make up the Old Testament in their native language, Hebrew, and many of them used other languages like Aramaic and Greek.
The Old Testament contains several distinct genres, such as books of the law (the Pentateuch), historical books (Joshua, Judges, Kings and Chronicles), sapiential books (Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes), poetic books (Psalms and Lamentations), prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel), and apocalyptic books (Daniel and Revelation).
The process by which the Old Testament was written and collected is complex, spanning several centuries and involving many people. Many of the texts that were composed during this period are now lost and much of what survives is incomplete.
The earliest writings of the Old Testament date back to about 1400 BC, when Moses is believed to have written the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch. These books, which include the stories of Adam and Eve, the Ten Commandments, and the Exodus, were eventually incorporated into a single volume, known as the Torah.
Other books were added to the Old Testament over the following centuries, including the historical books (Joshua, Judges, Kings, and Chronicles), the sapiential books (Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes), and the prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel). These books all had their own authors, who were often contemporary to the events they describe.
The books of the Old Testament were collected and canonized by rabbinical groups and councils throughout the centuries. This process began in the 5th century BC with the formation of the Great Assembly, which eventually codified the Hebrew Bible. The Great Assembly set the parameters for the accepted books of the Old Testament and excluded those which did not meet certain qualifications.
In the 2nd century BC, Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes began the process of comparing and collating the various manuscripts of the Old Testament to create a standardized version. This process was completed by the 10th century AD, and the Masoretic Text, as it is known, is the version of the Old Testament used by most Jews and Christians today.
The Old Testament is a cornerstone of the Christian faith, its timeless stories, laws, and prophecies having a profound influence on the lives of millions of people around the world for thousands of years. By understanding when and how this collection of important texts was written, we can gain a better appreciation of its significance and its place in the Christian tradition.
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