Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter B - BIBLE, JEWISH

Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics

The Latter Prophets, with only a few short narratives, mainly represent the words "spoken from God to the prophet." The Major Prophets, so designated by their length, are Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Minor Prophets, also known as the Book of the Twelve, include such shorter texts as Joel, Micah, and Hosea. The books are ordered roughly by chronology. Dating is often distinguished as pre-exilic (eighth century, such as Amos and Micah), exilic (sixth century, such as Ezekiel and Jeremiah), and post-exilic (fourth to fifth centuries, such as Haggai), and are determined by their internal references to historical events, ruling powers, and major concerns. Many books have been adjusted by later editors. The prophets explain what God is doing in the life of Israel and why.


The third major section of the Hebrew Bible is called the Writings. These books are drawn mainly from the post-exilic and reconstruction period (fourth to fifth centuries). Ezra and Nehemiah recount the stories of Judah's return from Babylon after the exile and the reconstruction of the temple and the holy city of Jerusalem. The people became known as "Jews" at that time. The longest book in the Bible, the Psalms, is found in this section and represents the song book (Psalter). These psalms, numbering 150 in all and written over 1,000 years, include a diverse collection of community or individual laments (appeals for help), thanksgivings, praise, wisdom (teaching), and royal psalms. The Book of Proverbs is a collection of the poetic wise sayings (wisdom literature), supposedly written by King Solomon (10th century B.C.E.), but more likely composed from the eighth to the fifth centuries and collected and edited by the intellectual elite (government officials and teachers) in the exilic and post-exilic period. They give advice on such things as proper etiquette, appropriate speech, and choosing a mate, but all advice is undergirded by "fear of the law." The Song of Solomon is a love poem. Ruth, Esther, and Daniel tell stories of faithful individuals.


The collection of the books of the Bible came together gradually, mainly during the exile, but some books were not yet in their final form by the first century C.E. The books were written and preserved by priests, royal officials, prophets, and teachers (sages). The legendary Letter of Aristeas (which is not included in the Bible) describes how the Bible was miraculously translated by 70 scholars into Greek, producing the Septuagint (meaning "seventy," hence the Roman numeral designation LXX). In wide use by the first century C.E., the Septuagint contained about 16 more books or additions than the Hebrew Bible; these 16 books are known collectively as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books by Christians. Because the early Christian church claimed the Greek Septuagint as their Bible, the Jews decided that only words written originally in Hebrew (or Aramaic) up to the time of Ezra were to be included in their Bible. The oldest existing manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.