I am starting a new journey through the Bible. This year, I am going to begin… in the beginning. And, I will work through the scrolls slowly, deliberately studying to understand cultural and historical context, and focusing on the biblical narrative.

This year, I am committed to studying the Bible the way Jesus, or any first century Jewish person would have known the Scriptures. Jesus didn’t have a Bible that looked like the ones I have today. (Yeah, I have multiple Bibles, and am allowed to read them openly, publicly, cross reference translations! Wow, God is good.)

So, to be intentional about the way I understand the Bible. I’ll be reading the Tanakh, or the Hebrew Bible.

The Tanakh - What Is It?
The term "Tanakh" is an acronym representing the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (Law), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). This structure not only categorizes the content of the Hebrew Bible but also significantly influences the arrangement of its books. The Tanakh, traditionally recognized in Judaism, contains the same books as the Christian Old Testament but with a distinct order and division.

The Order of Books
The most striking difference between the Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament is the order of the books. In the Tanakh, the books are organized differently and can be grouped as follows:

  • Torah (Law): This section remains consistent with the first five books of the Christian Old Testament, including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  • Nevi'im (Prophets): This section is divided into two categories - the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets. The Former Prophets encompass Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, which are narrative histories. The Latter Prophets include the prophetic writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve (the Minor Prophets), with some variations in order. This year, I'll be reading them in this order: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
  • Ketuvim (Writings): This section contains various books, such as Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah (considered one book), and Chronicles, albeit not in the same order as the Christian Old Testament.

The order of the books in the Christian Old Testament is influenced by the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. It groups the books by type, such as historical, poetic, and prophetic, which results in a sequence distinct from that of the Tanakh.

Exploring the Tanakh's unique structure deepens my understanding of the foundations of my faith and fosters a sense of unity with my Jewish counterparts. I envision wandering in the wilderness and then entering the Promised Land and Joshua stands up and recounts the words and teachings of Moses to His Chosen people, and to the sojourners that were living with them!

I am committing to hearing the Scriptures as Jesus would’ve heard them. I am committing to focusing on the story of God’s chosen people and how they will bless all the nations of the world. I am committing to getting to know my God and His character more.

Will you join me!? I would love to have someone to marvel with, nerd out with, and partner in prayer with. Andiamo, friend! Let’s do it.