Jesus’ Bible and Ours: Is there a Difference?

Jesus’ Bible and Ours
Is there a Difference?

Jesus’ Bible and the Bible we read today seem to be different. He refers to a Bible made up of three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.

Jesus told his disciples that “Moses and all of the Prophets” predicted that the Messiah would first have to suffer and then He would enter His glory. Luke 24:26-27. Jesus also claimed that everything written about Him in the “Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms” had to be fulfilled. Luke 24:44. In John’s Gospel, He called His Bible, “the Scriptures. John 5:39-40; 46-47.


Jesus' Bible and Ours:


Is there a difference?

What was Jesus referring to when he spoke of ‘the Law,” “Moses,” “the Prophets,” “the Psalms” and “the Scriptures”? All these names sound confusing. It can be confusing. But with a little explanation, it can all become clear.

Jesus’ Bible was the Jewish Scriptures, commonly referred to today as “the Tanakh.” The Tanakh is divided into three sections: 1. The Law (or “Moses” or “the Pentateuch” or “the Book of the Law”) 2. The Prophets (the former prophets and the latter prophets). 3. The Writings (or “the Psalms” because it stands first in the section). Let’s examine the three sections of Jesus’ Bible and clear up the confusion.

The Tanakh: Jesus’ Bible

1. The Torah (the Pentateuch)
“T”: The Torah is also called “Moses” (its author), “the Book of the Law,” “the Pentateuch” or just “the Law.” The Torah contains five documents: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy. What is important, of course, is that Jesus claimed that the Torah (“Moses,” “The Law”) spoke about Him. He was its focus. Each of the major characters in the Pentateuch, for example, foreshadows Jesus (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, & Moses).

2. “N”: Nebi’im (“The Prophets”)
The Prophets. The Prophets are divided into two sections a). The Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and b). the Latter Prophets=the “Twelve” (the Minor Prophets, Hosea through Malachi). Jesus claimed that the Prophets also spoke about Him (Luke 24:26-27).

3. “K”: Ketubim (“The Writings” or “The Psalms”)
The Writings or “the Psalms”. Jesus called the third section of the Hebrew Bible “the Psalms” in Luke 24:44. The third section is technically known as “the Writings” or as “the Psalms” because the Psalms stand at the beginning of third section. This third section includes Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1&2 Chronicles. Jesus claimed that the Writings/the Psalms spoke about Him (Luke 24:44). Only now, for example, are Hebrew scholars observing how Jesus’ crucifixion is foreshadowed in Psalm 22, His resurrection foreshadowed in Psalm 23, and His ascension foreshadowed in Psalm 24.

Jesus’ Bible is different from our Old Testament in terms of how it was divided up. But it is also the identical because it contains the exact same books. The Hebrew Bible is a three-sectioned Testament looking forward, preparing the reader for a future figure who had royal, priestly, and prophetic responsibilities, a figure who will successfully lead God’s people back to the Edenic Land. Each of the three sections foreshadows Jesus in many ways.

The New Testament looks backward and claims that Jesus did fulfill the Tanakh. In fact, in the back of my Greek New Testament, 28th Revised Nestle-Aland Edition, the list of quotes and citations from the Hebrew Scripture runs 42 pages long. So, Jewish Scripture (the Tanakh) looks forward to Jesus and the New Testament looks backward at the Hebrew Bible as it explains how Jesus fulfilled the longing for a prophet, priest, and king. The Scriptures unfold a seamless story, looking forward to and looking backward at its central figure, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Tim Cole