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The Complete Old Testament

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The Old Testament is a collection of thirty-nine books about the history and religion of the people of Israel. The authors of these books are unknown, and each book possesses a unique tone, style, and message. Individually, they include stories, laws, and sayings that are intended to function as models of religious and ethical conduct. Together—through hundreds of characters and detailed events—they represent a unified narrative about God and his attempt to relate to humankind by relating to a specific group of people.


The Old Testament contains four main sections: the Pentateuch, the Former Prophets (or Historical Books), the Writings, and the Latter Prophets. This study guide covers books from the first three sections.

The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch comprises the first five books of the Old Testament. It depicts a series of beginnings—the beginning of the world, of humankind, and of God’s promise to the Israelites.

Genesis, the first book, opens with God’s creation of the world. The perfect world falls into evil when humans disobey God, and the human population divides into separate nations and languages. After many generations, God speaks to a man named Abraham. God makes a promise, or covenant, with Abraham to make his descendants into a great nation and to give them a great land. Abraham shows strong faith in God, and God seals his promise with a number of signs and tests. This special covenant with God passes on to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and to his grandson, Jacob.
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