The Message of the Old Testament

The word ‘Bible’ comes from the Greek ‘Biblos’, meaning ‘a written volume’, ‘scroll’ or ‘book’. The Bible, however, is not a single book but a library of books. It is called the ‘Holy’ Bible to distinguish it from ‘bibles’ or handbooks on all sorts of other subjects.

Photo of the Lindisfarned Gospels

The Lindisfarne Gospels - an early English Bible


The Bible is divided into two volumes, the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Testaments. ‘Testament’ means a solemn covenant promise or agreement.

The theme of the Old Testament (literally, the ‘old covenant’) is God’s agreement with Abraham and the people of Israel. God promises Abraham that he will be the father of ‘many nations’. His descendants will occupy the ‘promised land’ of Canaan – but only if the people are faithful to God, and follow his commands.

Canaanite altar at Megiddo

A Canaanite altar at Megiddo


In contrast, the New Testament tells of the ‘new covenant’ made by God with both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) through his son, Jesus Christ.

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