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Related to Tanakh: Talmud, Septuagint, Ketuvim


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Hebrew scriptures are called Tanakh. This is an acronym based on the three sections comprising the whole. Each section contains books written by many different authors over many centuries. So the Tanakh can probably best be thought of as a library or collection, rather than a single volume. But it tells a unified story, a history of the Jewish people from the beginning of creation until about 400 BCE.

The first part is called Torah and consists of five books. These are called the Pentateuch (from penta for "five") or the Books of Moses (because they were purportedly given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai). Torah relates the history of the Hebrew people from Creation ("In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth": Genesis 1:1) until the death of Moses ("Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face... For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel": Deuteronomy 34:10, 12).

The second part is called the Prophets (Nev-im). These books are said to be the work of men who were called by God over a period of centuries to speak the divine truth boldly and without equivocation. The prophets called for a return to the commandments through social change. They prophesied dire calamities, many of which later came to pass, if the people turned away from the guidelines set forth on Mount Sinai when Moses delivered the law. Many of them, Isaiah being the most prominent, foresaw the coming of a Messiah who would free the people from tyranny and usher in a day of peace and prosperity for the whole earth.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him... The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them... They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:1-9)

The third part is called the Writings (Kethuvim). It consists of a very diverse selection of "wisdom literature" ranging from the poetry of the Psalms to the tragic drama of Job.

Much of the material comprising Tanakh consists of oral tradition, eventually written and edited by many hands during the centuries before 400 BCE. The documents were finally standardized in written form and translated into Greek in a volume called the Septuagint (the "work of the seventy scholars") in 250 BCE. Finally, in the years between 90 and 98 CE, rabbis meeting in the town of Jamania established the criteria that became the standard against which the various books were to be judged. The "final cut" depended on whether or not each individual book met three obligations:

1. Antiquity (written before 400 BCE)

2. Language (Hebrew, except for a few that were written in Aramaic) 3. Moral Integrity The books that were rejected were Baruch, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), 1 and 2 Macabees, Wisdom of Solomon, and additions to Daniel and Esther (see Apocrypha). The books that were accepted now make up the Hebrew scriptures, called Tanakh by Jews and Old Testament by Christians.

As the centuries passed, rabbis and scholars produced an immense library of interpretations and commentaries. These came to be known as Midrash. The earliest Midrash text is probably a version of the Haggadah, a ritual used at every Passover meal (see Passover). One of the most quoted concerns an incident involving the famous Rabbi Hillel, as related in Nahum Glatzer's Hammer on the Rock:

Once a heathen came before Shammai. He said to him: I will be converted, if you can teach me all the Torah while I stand on one leg. Shammai pushed him away with the builder's measure he had in his hand. The man came before Hillel. He converted him. He said to him: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is all the Torah. The rest is commentary—go and study."

The oral laws and rituals of Judaism, based on Tanakh, were eventually codified and became known as Mishna. These, too, developed their own commentaries, called Gemara. Together they comprise the great body of Jewish literature known as Talmud.

Some conclude that Tanakh, Midrash, and Talmud tie Judaism down to an ancient, out-of-date past; that they all seem to point to an old wisdom, out of touch with present-day reality. But Hebrew scripture takes the position that truth is an eternal reality. Michael Lerner, a philosopher and psychologist, is known as an advocate of Jewish liberation theology (see Liberation Theology). He writes eloquently of a reform movement within Judaism that is rooted in Torah. His language is modern and his ideas very contemporary. In his book Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation, he comes to this conclusion:

If ever there was a category that seemed scary, it's this one: getting real. The more asleep people are, the more they feel threatened by the concept, dismiss it as New Age or flakey or contentless. The more awake you are, the more you've had experiences in which you've moved from being more unconscious to more conscious, and hence the more you understand what is being talked about.

Rabbi Hillel wouldn't have put it that way. But he would have understood.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The TaNaKh seems to struggle with balancing the need and the challenge, human ownership with the truth that only God is the land's true owner.
New Testament, the Tanakh, and the Jewish Publication Society
(6.) See, e.g., Zechariah 8:16-17 (Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures, The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (1985)) ("These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.
Akenson describes the historical narratives of Ezrah/Nehemiah as the final section which provide a narrative frame with Genesis -- Kings for Tanakh. The emergence of Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Esther and Judith, and Tobit during this period allows him to present the differences between components in the eventual Jewish canon and various Christian canons.
Let's assume that the robot resembles an average human and passes the Turing test, and that he is thoroughly familiar not only with Jewish foundational texts like the Torah, the rest of the Tanakh and the Talmud, but also all that followed, up to and including today's Jewish literature and philosophies.
Therein one finds more hapax legomena (4) and other rare words than in virtually any other chapter of Tanakh.
Launched over Hanukkah, 929 is a $12 million Israeli initiative to turn the Tanakh into a national conversation.
His books include "Two Anointed Ones in the Tanakh, Bible and Qur'an: Revealing the Mashiach, Messiah and UMMI", "End Times 5775", "New World Order of One", "One World Religion: Guide to Money & Prosperity", "My Future Mother", "Secrets of God", "7 Day Bodhi", and others.
Traditional views concerning the Tanakh, and traditional commentary on the Tanakh, have their place in Introduction to Judaism courses--but that place is not at the beginning of the course, when the Tanakh is introduced (though they might be acknowledged briefly then), but later, where these views and commentaries can be discussed in relation to the time period in which they developed.
The Jews called their holy scripture "Tanakh," derived from Ta (Torah), Na (Neviim), and Kh (Khetuvim).
Sacred Tropes: Tanakh, New Testament, and Qur'an as Literature and Culture.
Adam as Israel; Genesis 1-3 as the introduction to the Torah and Tanakh. (reprint, 2011)