Written by: Marc A. Krell
The Hebrew Bible emerged out of an oral tradition developed by the ancient Israelite community in an effort to narrate their history, explain the origins of the cosmos, and define their place in it as members of the larger human community. The process of transcribing this oral tradition into writing began during the period of the Davidic Monarchy in 1000 B.C.E. and lasted approximately 800 years.
|Books of the Torah|
In contrast to other nations of the ancient near east whose national origins were directly intertwined with their creation myths, the Israelite scribes connected their historical emergence as a nation to the creation myths through a series of ancestral narratives depicting the birth of the world, a family, and a nation called Israel. The Hebrew scriptures consist of twenty-four books and is divided into three sections that are referred to with the acronym TaNaKh, an abbreviation for Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim.
The Torah (or Pentateuch) refers to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, associated with its central figure Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Although these books are theologically united together as the "Law of Moses" received from God at Mt. Sinai, they are historically understood as a series of narratives grouped together under the other meaning of Torah, "instruction." They lack a continuous theme or a single author and were edited over a period of 500 years and canonized during the 6th century B.C.E.
|Books of the Nevi’im (Prophets)|