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The Old Testament

The Bible comprise of Old Testament and New Testament. The word, ‘Testament’ comes fro the Latin ‘testamentum’, translating the Greek ‘diatheke’, the word chosen by Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word, ‘berith’, which strictly speaking means ‘Covenant’ or the covenant between human beings and God’. The Jewish Bible, which include the Hebrew scripture, the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, forming the covenant between God and the Jewish people that is the foundation and Bible of Judaism while for the Christians it constitute the Old Testament. The New Testament comprising the Gospels, Acts, Pauline and other Epistles, and the Book of Revelation, together viewed by Christians as forming the record of the new dispensation belonging to the Church. The authenticity, accuracy and originality of presently available Torah, Psalm, Gospel and other books as revealed scriptures  is doubtful, which is also evident from the long history and complex process of compilation, transmission, revisions, translations and canonization.

“The Old Testament, containing thirty-nine books, (Appendix III) and the New Testament, contains twenty-seven books. There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The sixty-six books of Bible which include 39 books  of Old Testaments and 27 books of New Testaments were chosen, after a bit of haggling, by the Catholic Council of Carthage in 397 C.E; almost four hundred years after the time of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). The Bible of Protestants consists of total 66 books and the Bible of Catholic has 73 books. The literature of the Bible has played a special role in the history and culture of the Western & Christian world.

Torah:

Torah is often restricted to signify the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the ‘Law’ or the ‘Pentateuch’. These are the books traditionally ascribed to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), the recipient of the original revelation from God on Mount Sinai. Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant canons all agree on their order as: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The written Torah, in the restricted sense of the Pentateuch, is preserved in all Jewish synagogues on handwritten parchment scrolls that reside inside the ark of the Law. They are removed and returned to their place with special reverence. Readings from the Torah (Pentateuch) form an important part of Jewish liturgical services. The term Torah is also used to designate the entire Hebrew Bible. Since for some Jews the laws and customs passed down through oral traditions are part and parcel of God’s revelation to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and constitute the “Oral Torah,” Torah is also understood to include both the Oral Law and the Written Law. Rabbinic commentaries on and interpretations of both Oral and Written Law have been viewed by some as extensions of sacred oral tradition, thus broadening still further the meaning of Torah to designate the entire body of Jewish laws.

Torah comprise of those commandments and instructions raveled to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) starting with his appointment of Messengers-ship till his death, spread over forty years. Allah says: “We gave Moses the Holy Book (Torah) and the criterion of right and wrong so that you might be rightly guided”( Qur’an;2:53). It include the Ten Commandments given by God on the stone tablets, while Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) got the remaining commandments written, twelve copies were prepared and handed over to each of the twelve tribes. One copy was given in the protective custody to the Levite, which is called Torah. This was intact in the form of Book till the first destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C). The Levite’s copy of Torah along with stone tablets was kept in the box of covenant. It was so much ignored that during repairs of Temple the Hilki’ah, the chief priest found it and presented to king. It is due to this apathy that few copies of Torah lying in the Temple were lost for ever, during destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. After a captivity of many years, this restoration was begun (536 B.C.), Ezra  (Prophet Uzair, peace be upon him) with the help of other notables arranged the entire history of Children of Israel which is now available in the form of first seventeen books of Old Testament.

In the broadest sense Torah (Taurat) is claimed to be the substance of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people: God’s revealed teaching or guidance for mankind. The actual Torah revealed to Moses is scattered in the books, which can be identified to begin with the phrases, where ever the writer writes; “the God said to Moses”  or” Moses said, the Lord your Lord says” and ends with other events. Wherever the author gets in to his explanations and exegesis, it becomes difficult for normal reader to distinguish the Torah from the exegesis. However the experts of ‘revealed scriptures’ can distinguish the divine revelations with some accuracy. Qur’an considers these scattered phrases as Torah and verifies them. If these scattered phrases are compiled and compared with Qur’an, it may be found that apart from some differences in parts,  there is no difference in their basic teachings.

Allah says:

And, indeed, We bestowed aforetime [Our] guidance on Moses, and [thus] made the children of Israel heirs to the divine writ [revealed to him] as a [means of] guidance and a reminder for those who were endowed with insight [Qur’an;40:53-54]

“And, verily, (the essence of) this (revelation, i.e. Qur’an) is indeed found in the ancient books of divine wisdom (as well) (Qur’an;26:196)

And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those [earlier prophets], confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah; and We vouchsafed unto him the Gospel, wherein there was guidance and light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God-conscious.[Qur’an;5:46]

“ Believe in My revelations, which are confirming your scriptures; do not be the first one to deny My revelations, and do not sell them for a petty price, fear Me and Me alone”(Qur’an;2:41).

Hence it becomes evident that the original source of both the books (Bible and Qur’an) is the same: “We have sent thee inspiration as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him; We sent inspiration to Abraham Ishmael Isaac Jacob and the Tribes to Jesus Job Jonah Aaron and Solomon and to David We gave the Psalms.”(Qura’n;4:163).

Psalms:

The book of Psalms in the Bible, is widely known for the sacred song or poems. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek (the Septuagint), in the original Hebrew text the book had no name, it was titled Psalterion, referring to a stringed instrument that would accompany such songs. The collection contains much devotional poetry of a high order. Its 150 psalms, ranging in subject from songs of joyous faith and thanksgiving to songs of bitter protest and lamentation, rank among the immortal poems of all time. They have had a profound influence on the liturgies of Judaism and Christianity. Their dating and authorship are highly problematic. The distinction of King and Prophet David (peace be upon him) was the Zabur (Psalms), some of which are still extant. Though their present form is different from the original and they do undoubtedly also include Psalms not written by David.

Talmud:

Apart from Hebrew’s Bible, Talmud (in Hebrew: Study, or Learning) is the intellectual work, it comprise the scholarly interpretations, systematic amplification and analysis of passages of the Mishna (Oldest authoritative collection of Jewish oral law, supplementing the written laws in the Hebrew Scriptures), the Gemara (commentary on Mishna), and other Oral Law, including the Tosefta (supplements to the Mishna, compiled around 300 C.E). The Talmud is, first and foremost, a legal compilation, although it deals with the matters of almost all areas of human interest. Two types of Talmuds exist, which have been produced by two different groups of Jewish scholars: the Babylonian Talmud (600 C.E) and the Palestinian Talmud (400 C.E). The Babylonian Talmud is more extensive and thus more highly esteemed. Both Talmuds formulate their own hermeneutics to convey their theological system by defining the Torah and by demonstrating its perfection and comprehensive character. The Talmud remains a text of central importance, particularly in Orthodox Judaism. Intensive modern Talmudic scholarship is pursued in Israel and the U.S. The religious study of the Torah in search of the God who makes Himself known in that work is called ‘Talmud Torah’. It focuses on learning God’s message for contemporary times through inquiry into the books of Hebrew scripture or those that record the original oral Torah of Sinai, the Mishna, Midrash (large collection of writings that examine the Hebrew Bible in the light of oral tradition), and Talmuds. Talmud Torah is also the name given to an elementary school under Jewish auspices that places special emphasis on religious education.

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