The Old Testament is a compilation of various Jewish books (mostly mirroring the Tanakh) and used by Christians as the first segment of their religious scriptures. The second segment is the New Testament, and both segments together comprise the Christian bible, of which the Old Testament makes up about three quarters of the length. Every major denomination of Christianity disagrees about which books should be considered canon to the Old Testament.
Christians refer to the these books as the "Old Testament" because they believe that the covenant between Yahweh and humankind was ended through the torture and execution of Jesus, and that, before he was killed, Jesus gave humans a new covenant which is described in the New Testament. Jews, however, who don't see Jesus as the messiah, do not believe that the original covenant between them and Yahweh has ended because, in the Torah, Yahweh says dozens of times that the covenant will never end.
Every major denomination of Christianity disagrees about which books should be considered canon to the Old Testament and what the books should be called. Because of this, they each have different old testaments and print different bibles.
|Shemuel||1 Samuel||1 Kings||1 Kingdoms|
|2 Samuel||2 Kings||2 Kingdoms|
|Melakhim||1 Kings||3 Kings||3 Kingdoms|
|2 Kings||4 Kings||4 Kingdoms|
|Divrei Hayamim||1 Chronicles||1 Paralipomenon||1 Paralipomenon|
|2 Chronicles||2 Paraleipomenon||2 Paraleipomenon|
|Ezra-Nehemiah||Ezra||1 Esdras||2 Esdras|
|1 Machabees||1 Maccabees|
|2 Machabees||2 Maccabees|
|Prayer of Manasseh|
|Shir Hashirim||Song of Solomon||Canticle of Canticles||Aisma Aismaton|
|Letter of Jeremiah|
The following books are considered apocryphal or pseudographical by all major denominations of Christianity and Judaism.
- Additions to Esther
- Apocalypse of Abraham
- Apocalypse of Moses
- Ascension of Isaiah
- Assumption of Moses
- 2 Baruch
- 3 Baruch
- Bel and the Dragon
- Eldad and Modad
- Book of Enoch
- Second Book of Enoch
- History of Joseph
- History of the Captivity In Babylon
- History of the Rechabites
- Jannes and Jambres
- Joseph and Aseneth
- Book of Jubilees
- Ladder of Jacob
- Letter of Aristeas
- Life of Adam and Eve
- Lives of the Prophets
- Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
- Odes of Solomon
- Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children
- Prayer of Jacob
- Prayer of Joseph
- Psalm 151
- Psalms of Solomon
- Sibylline Oracles
- Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
- Vision of Ezra
Christians have been arguing for 2,000 years (and Jews for centuries earlier) over which writings should be considered canon, and they continue to disagree to this day. If Yahweh wanted a specific canon, why didn't he reveal it to everyone everywhere? Why allow for ambiguity or debate to decide which writings are endorsed by Yahweh? Do any of them have the correct canon, and, if so, are all other denominations guilty of blasphemy for using the wrong canon? Did they fail as Christians because their bible contained books that taught them to behave differently than later Christians?
There is much conjecture and debate about the authors of the books in the Old Testament canon. In most of the books, the author doesn't identify himself, and historians believe that the majority of the books are not written by either the traditionally accepted authors or the the authors named in the books.
We should expect books inspired by a god to be rife with deep philosophical wisdom, full of inexplicable insight to the very foundations of the universe, and written in the most interesting way possible, but the actual content of the books of the Old Testament is unimpressive. Large sections of the book are dedicated to pointless lineages, bizarre animal sacrifice rituals, and long lists of strange taboos. Rather than provide deep wisdom, science, or enlightened morality, the authors speak of conventional wisdom of the time, describe science in basic and often flawed ways, and promote slavery and other forms of barbarism. Rather than be written in an exciting manner, the book is so poorly written most Christians don't even read it.
Many of the books of the Old Testament show signs of redaction. The Torah is so messed up that historians have proposed various solutions like the Documentary Hypothesis to account for it. None of the earliest surviving manuscripts match.