The Old Testament is first of the two divisions of Holy Scripture. It is the writings of the old covenant or agreement and contains law, prophecy, history, poetry, stories, sayings, prayers, letters and symbolical visions to record of God's revelations .
The Orthodox Church also numbers among the genuine books of the Old Testament the so-called apocryphal books, meaning literally the secret or hidden writings. Other Christians put these books in a secondary place or reject completely their being of divine inspiration.
The first part of the Old Testament is called the Pentateuch which means the five books. It is also called the Torah, which means the Law. These books are also called the Books of Moses. They include:
Although scholars believe that the Law was not written by the personal hand of Moses, and that the books show evidence of being the result of a number of oral and written traditions and time periods, the Church connects the Law with Moses, the great man of God to whom "the Lord used to speak ... face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11).
The next set of books cover the history of Israel from the settlement in the promised land of Canaan to the first centuries before Christ. They include:
- Joshua (Jesus Navi)
- I Kingdoms (I Samuel)
- II Kingdoms (II Samuel)
- III Kingdoms (I Kings)
- IV Kingdoms (II Kings)
- I Paraleipomenon (I Chronicles)
- II Paraleipomenon (II Chronicles)
- I Esdras
- II Esdras
- Tobit (Tobias)
- I Maccabees
- II Maccabees
- III Maccabees (English Bible )
In the canon of the Orthodox Church, which is generally that of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, 1 and 2 Samuel are called 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Kings are called 3 and 4 Kings. Also, the so-called apocryphal books, listed above after Esther, are considered by the Orthodox as genuine parts of the Bible. The Old Testament apocrypha is a body of writings considered by the non-Orthodox to be of close association with the Bible, but not actually part of its official canonical contents.
The historical books of the Bible were written well after the events described in them actually took place.
The Wisdom books include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, as well as the Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus, and the Wisdom of Solomon from the so-called apocrypha.
- Song of Solomon (Song of Songs or Canticle of Canticles)
- Wisdom of Sirach Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus
- Wisdom of Solomon
Although not technically a wisdom book, The Prayer of Manasseh from the so-called apocrypha, is a penitential prayer of the King of Judah, which for the Orthodox is part of the Bible. (It is included in the Great Compline service of the Orthodox Church.)
Sixteen books in the Old Testament are called by the names of prophets, although not necessarily written by their hands. A prophet is one who speaks the word of God by direct divine inspiration, not just one who foretells the future.
Four of the prophetic books are those of the so-called major prophets:
The books of the twelve so-called minor prophets:
Some Orthodox Churches include: