The Old Testament of the early church (2 Timothy 3)

Bilderesultat for the law and the prophets

The Law And The Prophets Point Us To Jesus.

The first Christians referred to the Old Testament as “the Holy Scriptures” (Luke 24:44, John 1:45, Acts 28:23, Romans 1:2, 2 Timothy 3:15) and, despite the fact that it was not explicitly “Christian”, as their fundamental source of doctrinal and moral teaching (Romans 3:21, 2 Timothy 3:1-17).

The Old Testament of the first century was divided into two or three sections in early Jewish and Christian thought. The two-part division of the Old Testament into “the Law and the Prophets” was the most common (Matthew 22:40, Acts 13:15, Romans 3:21), see also 2 Maccabees 15:9). Already in the second century B.C. some authors began to refer to a three-fold division of the Old Testament similar to that used by the Jews to this day: the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. The prologue to Ecclesiasticus in the Apocrypha refers to “the Law, the Prophets and of David”. Here “David” serves as a title for the third division, since it began with his Psalms. Similarly, in Luke 24:44 Jesus stated that “everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms“. This way of referring to Scripture combines with other evidence to strongly suggest that the Old Testament canon had been firmly established before the middle of the second century A.D.

It is important to note that the books of “he Law and the Prophets” were the same as the 39 books of the Christian Old Testament. Rabbis had developed different ways of counting the number of books (for example, the 12 “Minor Prophets” are often simply called “The Twelve” and counted as a single book in Jewish sources), but the content was the same. There is no evidence that either first century Jews or Christians regarded any other religious books o the Jews, including the so-called Apocryphal books and the numerous pseudepigraphal books, as canonical. Over against such groups as the Sadducees and the Samaritans, by contrast, mainstreamed Jews and Christians did not restrict the canon to the Law (Pentateuch) only. Finally, the outright rejection of the Old Testament in some Christian circles, such as by the followers of Marcion and the early Gnostics, was plainly a heterodox aberration.


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