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Introduction to the Hebrew Scripture


Introduction to the Hebrew Scripture Why Read the Bible? The canon known as the Bible literally means the books What is Your Idea of the Bible? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to the Hebrew Scripture

Introduction to the Hebrew Scripture
  • Why Read the Bible?

The canon known as the Bible literally means the
What does the canon mean?
It is the ecclesiastical rule (law) approved by
the Church
What is Your Idea of the Bible?
  • What does it mean to say the Bible is the Word
    of God?
  • How did the Bible come about?
  • How was it passed down from generation to
  • What is its message and meaning for us today?

What is the Bible?
  • The Bible is a sharing of a peoples faith a
    record of a nations belief in God. It is the
    historical reality of Gods relationship with his
  • These people believed God really did intervene in
    human history and that he really does care about
  • And the roots of our Christian faith are found in
    the Hebrew Scriptures.

  • The Bible then, was written as a book of
    Religious Truth. That is, it was not that other
    truths were not important, they were simply not
    AS important.
  • The ancient Hebrews understood God only as a God
    who was involved in his creation and the very
    cause of everything that happened.

We are the first in human history to see our
planet in this light. We look for a more
scientific cause and effect. They saw only God
as the cause of what happened and the effect of
  • Their view of the world around them was much
    different from ours in that it was much simpler.
  • How is our world different today than in the time
    of the ancient Hebrews?

The Bible Must be Read in its Proper Context
  • The culture, politics, and religion were much
    different from our own.
  • The historical context was far different from
    that of today.
  • The authors of the Bible were writing to the
    people of their own timeits quite unlikely that
    they ever had us in mind.
  • So the better we understand their culture and
    their world, the more likely we are to understand
    what they were trying to say.

  • Have you ever tried to read the Hebrew Scripture?
  • All at once or small bits at a time?
  • Did you fine it difficult? If so, what were some
    of the problems experienced?
  • The Bible is not an ordinary book. It must be
    read slowly, prayerfully, studiously, and

The Hebrew Scripture
  • The Bible you own today came to you in its
    complete form. But there was much involved in its
    history and its formation.

How Did The Bible Get Here?
  • Remember the Hebrews believed that they had
    experienced God and his saving presence in their
    lives-and they wanted their descendents to
    understand and appreciate this.
  • How was this information learned and passed down
    from one generation to the next in this ancient
  • By word of mouth. i.e. ORAL TRADITION
  • As time passed, certain details in stories
    changed., added, or even lost, but the basic
    message of the story was still there. Eventually,
    these fragments were written down on sheets of
    goat/sheep skin called parchment as a collection
    of stories.

Home Work Assignment
  • Write a story of a tradition of your family
    passed down but not written down. Ask your
    parents and grandparents about your family
    history. How far back can you trace your family
    story on the basis of the spoken word (oral
    tradition). What can you conclude about oral
    tradition in our society?

Oral Tradition
  • Oral tradition is still used today in some
    societies. Many people in the Central Pacific
    (Caroline Islands and the Gilberts) navigate the
    open seas using techniques passed down from
    generations by word of mouth.
  • Songs were composed using the elements of their
    navigation system. By chanting these songs as
    they voyaged, they would know which stars to
    observe and follow.

  • Recently, ancient routes were retraced using only
    the ancient oral tradition of navigation. The
  • They were amazingly accurate-even by today's
  • This experiment suggests the likelihood that much
    of the oral tradition behind the stories in the
    Bible are accurate as well.

What Are the Benefits / Risks of Oral Tradition
  • Benefits
  • Commit to memory-its not forgotten
  • Will have the knowledge even if illiterate
  • Risks
  • Knowledge can get changed / distorted over time
  • Its lost if not passed down

Writing Down the Oral Traditions
  • It was about the time if king David that the
    first written documents were produced. Later the
    PROPHETS and SAGES wrote down their works.
  • Gradually, the various written accounts (stories)
    were collected and put into a chronology over the
    years and edited. And the Bible as we know it was
    born. Editing is the putting order into the
  • These three stages of development Oral,
    Written, and Edited have no definitive times
    lines between them. At times, all three were
    going on simultaneously throughout the ancient

Will the Real Bible Please Stand Up!
  • Are the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Bible
    the same?
  • What are the differences?
  • The Catholic Bible contains the deuterocanonical
  • Why is there a difference?

Home Work assignment
  • Compare the Hebrew Scripture of the Protestant
    Bible and Catholic Bible. List the differences in
    the two. What type of Bible do you have at home?
    At school?

Why the Difference?
  • The Bible was first written in the language of
    the people who believed that they had experienced
    God that is, Hebrew.
  • Translations soon followed into Greek
    (Septuagint) and Latin (Vulgate)
  • The translation used during the time of Jesus
    Christ was the Septuagint.

  • What happens between C.E.67
  • and 70?

  • In C.E.90 Jewish leaders meet in Jamnia Israel to
    decide their fate after the fall of Jerusalem.
    They begin to consider which books to accept into
    their cannon of Scripture.
  • The Jews decide over a period of time to include
    the lesser of books.
  • The Christians had already begun to form their
    own cannon by this time-based primarily upon the
    traditional acceptance of the Septuagint - which
    was the accepted cannon during the historical
    period of Jesus life.

The Deuterocanonical Books
  • The additional books included in the Catholic
    Bible are called deutero-cannonical books.
  • Does the Protestant Bible have the same of
    books as the Catholic Bible or the Jewish
  • Why do you think that is?

The Protestant Bible
  • After the Protestant Reformation the Protestant
    groups went back to the decision made by the Jews
    at Jamnia with regard to which books would be in
    the Hebrew Scripture and which would not. The
    Protestants followed the Jewish Canon. (39 Books)
  • The Catholic Church retained the longer canon
    which predated the decisions at Jamnia. (46

  • Imagine all the texts and versions of the Bible
    available in all the languages of the world
  • Does this demonstrate the generally accepted
    importance of the Bible as the word of God?

The Bible and Faith
  • The Bible is a book of faith. Faith is not quite
    the same as knowledge.
  • Whats the difference between faith and
  • Knowledge is what we learn, either by ourselves
    or from others. It comes from our senses-sight,
    hear, touch, taste, smell. We know b/c we
    experience it.
  • Experience is important.

  • How do we know ice is cold?
  • How do we know the sky is blue?
  • We know b/c we can perceive
  • How do we go about finding out information that
    cannot be experienced by observation? Or
    questions that cannot be answered by using only
    the data gathered by our senses b/c no physical
    data is to be had in the areas?

What are Some of the Questions?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • Where do I go when I leave here?
  • What happens to me when I die?
  • It is here that faith enters
  • If knowledge is based upon information gathered
    from the senses, faith is belief in something
    based upon the word of someone else.

  • Put simply, we believe b/c someone of trust told
    us so.
  • Much of life is based on some type of trust
  • We trust others even unconscious trust- in many
    ways. Give some examples of how we do this daily.
  • Crossing a busy street, or driving through an
  • Architects and contractors ability to make sturdy
  • Doctors,- the medical field in general

Belief Acceptance
  • Belief does not always imply total acceptance of
    a statement. Often it is the idea itself which is
    believed rather than the specific language used
    to express it.
  • When reading the Bible we must get behind the
    language to the idea it conveys.

Conscious exaggeration
  • Many of us make conscious exaggeration
    statements in our daily speech
  • What are some you hear every day?
  • I ALWAYS have homework
  • I NEVER get to go.
  • EVERYBODY has one.
  • Hes as BIG as a house
  • Hes as STRONG as an ox

Always Look for the Message
  • These type of statements arent concerned so much
    about the words- the interest is in getting the
    message across. The exaggeration is used to make
    a point.
  • So when reading, we shouldnt get so distracted
    by unusual descriptions or details in the text
    that we forget the religious message the writer
    meant to convey.

  • We have to remember that were not reading the
    Bible as a historical narrative of ancient times.
    Rather we are looking for the religious message
    that it contains. The message that is often
    hidden in the prose (text/style)

Biblical Inspiration and Inerrancy
  • We believe the claim that the Bible is the word
    of God.
  • But what exactly does that mean???
  • There are two generally accepted characteristics
    the Scriptures contain INSPIRATION and

Biblical Inspiration
  • Did God have an angel whisper words into the ear
    of the writers and tell them what they should
    write down?
  • NO! That would be note taking
  • Inspiration in its proper sense is a religious
    mystery. Its something we believe, even though
    it cannot be fully explained.

  • Faith would be impossible without religious
    mystery. If every element of faith could be
    explained, we would know everything. Religion
    would simply be reduced to an intellectual

  • God utilized the author to get the religious
    message across to the people, and the message
    probably had far more important meaning than the
    one the author wrote consciously.
  • Biblical inspiration is basically a matter of God
    getting a message across to people in terms they
    can understand.
  • One of the proofs of Gods love for us is that he
    communicates with us in a way that is
    intelligible to us.

Biblical Inerrancy
  • All the books of the Bible are inspired, but that
    doesnt mean that the Bible contains no mistakes.
  • We can search the Scriptures and find statements
    that are historically inaccurate - or that modern
    science would contradict. As long as we are
    dealing with humans, were dealing with the
    possibility of mistakes.
  • When we say the Bible has no mistakes, we are
    talking about inerrancy.

  • Inerrancy refers to the fact that there are no
    mistakes in religious truth that God wants to
    reveal to us.
  • The Bible is a book of religious belief, and it
    must be taken as such. In that sense, it contains
    no mistakes.

Approaches to the Bible
  • The way that we approach the Bible will very much
    determine the way we will read it and thus, the
    degree to which we understand it.
  • There are three approaches to the Bible we are
    going to discuss
  • 1. The Fundamental Approach
  • 2. The Scientific Approach
  • 2. The Critical Approach
  • Do you know which approach you use?

Fundamental Approach
  • The fundamental approach is a literal
    interpretation of the Bible text.
  • Those who adhere to this view insist on taking
    every phrase, description, and text of the Bible
    literally that is word for word as they appear
    in the text.
  • Can you see any dilemmas that might arise using
    this approach?

  • The historical and cultural context is different.
  • The changes in language is also very important.
    Language in ancient times was not as developed.
    Words had multiple meanings and the meaning of
    certain words have developed and changed over
    time languages change.
  • Remember, the IDEA to be communicated is more
    important than the words chosen to express it

Scientific Approach
  • This isnt really an approach to study scripture
    at all its an approach to ones view of life
    and environment.
  • The scientific approach would say whenever
    science and the Bible contradict one another,
    preference is to be given to the scientific

  • Do you see any problems with this approach?
  • The problem here is that an investigation of the
    meaning of the scriptural passage in question is
    completely ignored.
  • Besides, discarding the biblical view in favor of
    the scientific approach may eliminate some of the
    biblical problems, but it does nothing to solve

Critical Approach
  • This approach attempts to take the Bible on its
    own terms instead of ours. This approach tries to
    get behind the written word

  • This method takes into account the importance of
    the policies, culture, and circumstances
    surrounding the biblical account.
  • Those using this approach try to discern the many
    oral traditions that predate the written account,
    and how various traditions were woven together
    and edited into the biblical story.
  • This approach tries to determine what the
    biblical authors were saying to the people of
    their own time.

  • If we find out what that message was, we will
    have a better chance of understanding how that
    message applies to our own situation today.
  • Which one of these three methods does the
    Catholic Church endorse?
  • The Critical Approach
  • Do you have a better idea of your approach to the
    Bible now?

A Historical Sketch of Ancient Israel
  • The history and religion of the Israelites begin
    with Abraham. He was a nomad, (wandering
    herdsman) living in the region of Iraq around
    1850 B.C.E.

  • God makes a covenant with Abraham to give his
    descendents the land of Canaan. This covenant is
    inherited through his son Isaac and grandson
    Jacob and their wives. These are the patriarchs
    (head/father of a tribe) and matriarchs of the
    Jewish faith (The fathers and
    mothers - founders)

What is a Covenant?
  • Is a covenant and a contract the same thing?
  • A contract is based on a legal obligation. A
    covenant is based on love. It has two sides if
    it was offered in love, it was to be responded to
    with love.

Three Parts to Gods Covenant
  • The first part of the covenant specified that
    Abraham would be the father of a nation.
  • The second part promised to give the land of
    Canaan to the descendants of Abraham.
  • What was the promise that Abraham and his
    descendents were to keep to God?
  • The descendents of Abraham would reveal the one
    God to the world.
  • Who or what did people worship if it wasnt the
    God we know today?
  • The third part of Gods promise is the story of
    the New Testament

  • The descendents of Abraham travel to Egypt to
    avoid famine and are eventually enslaved by the
    Egyptians for 400 years 1700-1250 B.C.E.

Moses in Exodus
  • About 1250 B.C.E. God reveals to Moses his name
    Yahweh I am the one who is always present.
  • Moses then leads the Israelites out of the
    bondage of the Egyptians
  • Moses then encounters God on Mount Sinai
  • What happens there?

  • Moses is given the 10 Commandments.
  • The covenant made was God would make the
    Israelites the people of God. God would be with
    them as long as they kept the covenant. The
    Israelites part of the covenant was to keep Gods

David Becomes King
  • They wander in the desert 40 years. Led by
    Joshua, the Israelites enter Canaan and for the
    next 2 centuries fight against the people living
    in the region. They abandon their nomadic ways.
  • Around 1000B.C.E. David becomes king

The First Temple
  • Solomon, the son of David, builds the Temple in
    Jerusalem. It becomes the principal place of
    worship for the Jewish nation. It becomes both a
    political and religious capital

Two Nations
  • Solomon dies - the nation is divided into two
    kingdoms Israel in the north and Judah in the
  • The Assyrians take over Israel in 722 B.C.E. and
    the Babylonians destroy Judah in 587 B.C.E.

Not Holding up Their End Of the Bargain
  • The Israelite people were forced into service and
    forced to pay heavy taxes. Kings often practiced
  • Prophets spoke against both kingdoms injustices
    but most of the time to no avail.
  • The Assyrians crush the northern kingdom in 721
    B.C.E. and took its people into exile
  • In 521 B.C.E. the Babylonians destroy Judah (and
    Jerusalem) and take its people to Babylonia as

  • The Israelites are exiled to Babylon for 50 years
    and then allowed to return to the land of Judah
    which had now become a district within the
    Persian Empire.
  • Upon their return, they were to become known as
    Jews taken from the word Judah
  • The Temple and the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt
    and once again became the religious capital of
    the Jews.

  • The Diaspora refers to the dispersion (exile) of
    the Jewish people after they were conquered.
  • The Jewish leaders begin collecting and
    reflecting on their ancestral writings in Hebrew
    and by about 400 B.C.E. the major books of what
    would become the Hebrew Scriptures were

400 B.C.E. to Christ
  • The Persian empire is conquered by the Greeks in
    330 B.C.E. and the Greeks seize control of
  • The Romans capture Jerusalem from the Greeks in
    63 B.C.E. The Romans were tolerant of other
    cultures and religions but severely punished its
    subjects for revolts.
  • It was a dark time for the Jewish people. They
    longed to be released from oppression. Many Jews
    looked for the coming of the messiah, one sent by
    God to save them. Many expected this messiah to
    be from the family line of David.

Jesus the Savior
  • During a time of darkness and defeat for the
    people of Israel, Jesus is born one of the house
    of David.
  • Christians see Jesus as the fulfillment of all of
    Gods promises to Israel and the savior of the

  • The Romans destroy the Temple for good during the
    Jewish revolt in 70 C.E.
  • The surviving Jews were once again forced to
    leave their land and dispersed to Africa, Asia,
    and Europe.
  • The Diaspora stressed the need for an official
    set of scriptures to guide Jewish religious life.
  • Why would this be so important to the Jews?

To maintain a sense of identity as a people set
apart and bound by the covenant with God
  • A sense of connectedness to their ancestors who
    had been dispersed from Babylon generations

The Types of writings in the Hebrew Scriptures
  • There are stories, legends, letters, biographies,
    poems speeches, laws, prayers, and proverbs in
    the scriptures. All of these writings have been
    assembled into the following sections
  • Pentateuch
  • Historical Books
  • Wisdom Books
  • Prophetic Books

  • These five books are the primary scriptural
    authority in the Jewish faith
  • Historical Books
  • These books tell of Israels conquest in the land
    of Canaan and the break up of the nation of

Wisdom Books
  • These books consist of Job, Psalms, Proverbs,
    Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Sirach, Song of Songs
  • Prophetic Books
  • This book tells about the men who loved Israel
    and warned it that to depart from fidelity to God
    would lead to moral blindness and destruction as
    a nation.
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