Day 15: Deuteronomy 23:12-34:12 || Read the CEB online.
If you’re keeping up with us, it’s Day 15…congrats! You’ve completed 1/6 of your reading for the summer! By the end of today’s reading, we’ll finish off Deuteronomy…and with it, the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible. Known as the Torah (“law” or “instruction” or “teaching”) or Pentateuch (“5 books”), this was the earliest part of the Bible regarded by God’s people as Holy Scripture. Begun as oral stories and eventually written down over the course of centuries and then edited into what we read today, the Torah provides the foundation for people of faith to know who God is, who we are, and how we each live in relationship with the other.
The next part of the Bible we enter is called in Hebrew the Nevi’im or Prophets. What we often call “The Historical Books,” covering the entrance to the Land until the Babylonian Exile, is known as the Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings. These latter books were so lengthy as to be divided into 2 different scrolls when written down, but should be regarded as a single work each. The Latter Prophets are probably what you have in mind when you think of the collected works of the Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve “Minor Prophets.” The Nevi’im were the next collection to be canonized, or collected as Scripture. By the time of Jesus, these were the two main collections of Scripture–which is why Jesus refers to the Bible as “The Law and the Prophets.”
The final collection of Scripture texts in what we call the Old Testament is the Writings or Ketuvim. While some of the books in this part were considered Scripture fairly early (ie, the Psalms), some were not fully considered to be included until the second destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. When you think of Writings, you might think of things like the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs…but other books in this category include I & II Chronicles, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Ezra & Nehemiah, Lamentations, & Job. The five Scrolls or Megillot (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, & Esther) are each read in their entirety on certain Jewish festivals each year.
While God’s involvement in the inspiration and creation of these texts — full of beauty and truth — is mysterious to us, what is clear is that from the very beginning up to right now, God has involved human beings in the process of writing, editing, collecting, reading, translating, and sharing Scripture. The Holy Spirit is still at work!
What do you want to know more about how the Bible came to be?
What is your favorite book of the Bible?
Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for our U.M. ARMY team in West Monroe, Louisiana!