Our History In Context
At the time of Christ and the apostles in the early first century, their Bible was what we call the Old Testament. It was through these scriptures that Christ taught and fulfilled prophecies that pertained to him. Yet Christians today pretty much ignore the Bible of Christ’s time claiming, “It’s only for the Jews.” This is a monumental error on our part, largely borne out of ignorance of our Biblical ancestry. [See the Feature article, Moving Forward].
So to this end, we will present some of the basics regarding the Old Testament, which are relevant for Christians too. Ezra, a Levite priest and Nehemiah put together the original configuration of the Israelite Bible or Old Testament in the latter part of the 5th century BCE after the House of Judah’s return from Babylonian captivity. According to the ancient Jewish Book of Jubilee’s, by 150 BCE, the accepted canon was three divisions with seven parts and 22 books. This was acknowledged in the writings of Josephus, a noted first century Jewish historian. It was also acknowledged by Christ in Luke 24:44. Keep in mind again, there was no "New Testament" at that time in the first century.
In Biblical literature the number 22 equates to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The number 22 also is the number of generations from Adam to Jacob, who we know as Israel. The Israelite Bible having 22 books, with seven parts and three divisions is no accident.
The original 22 books of the Old Testament canon combined with the original 27 books of the New Testament canon add up to a total of 49 books. In scripture, the number seven represents totality, wholeness and perfection. Seven times seven is 49. Thus, the Biblical record, including the Old Testament, would be considered whole or complete with these 49 books. The Roman church revisionist, Jerome, in the fifth century CE, reconfigured the number of books so that they now total 66. In Biblical literature, the number six is the number of man. And 666 is the number of the Antichrist.
The original order of books has been changed too, causing the intentional sequential flow and symbolism from one book to the next, as well as the parallel nature between the Old and New Testaments, to be lost. This shuffled deck of books lacks the intended design order of the original. The original book order of both testaments can be found in Appendix One, pp. 277-278, of The Hijacked Elephant., a complimentary download at the bottom of the Home page. Please note: in the appendix, Paul's epistles follow the traditional KJV order. As a whole in relation to the other divisions of the New Testament, they are in their correct place. However, the order in which Paul wrote them is different. See below.
The tripartite division or three divisions are:
The Writings, sometimes referred to as The Psalms as the book of Psalms was the first book of this division.
The seven parts are:
The first division:
The Law, part one.
The second division:
The Former Prophets, part two;
The [Latter] Major Prophets, part three;
The [Latter] Minor Prophets, part four. Major and minor are designations determined by the length of the books.
The third division:
The Poetic Books, part five;
The Megillot or Festival Books, part six;
The Restoration Books, part seven.2
The 22 books are:
The Law, part one includes as books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The Former Prophets, part two includes: Joshua-Judges [one book originally], and Samuel-Kings [also originally one book].
The Major Prophets, part three includes: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The Minor Prophets, part four includes: The Twelve, counted as a single book beginning with Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
The Poetic Books, part five includes: Psalms, Proverbs and Job.
The Megillot Books, part six includes: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther.
The Restoration Books, part seven includes: Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles as the last book in the inspired order of the Old Testament.
The three divisions of the Old Testament canon were put in order by rank. The Law was the first rank. These were the commands of God given to all Israel. The second rank belonged to the prophets, who represented God to Israel and were of higher rank than kings. For an example, see 2 Sam. 12 as Nathan the prophet is sent by God to chastise David over his killing of Uriah. The Writings division is the third rank and they have a royal theme running through them.
Not only did Ezra put together these books as canon, he changed the font, if you will, of the Hebrew letters in these 22 books. He changed from the traditional Phoenician style common in the day of Moses to the accepted modern fifth century BCE style of square script including the little pen strokes that provide vowels sounds and differentiate one Hebrew letter from another. Christ mentioned these when he said, “ … till heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled.” [Mat. 5:18].
Ezra made this change for a very important reason. There were other scrolls in use, mainly by the Samaritans, who used the Phoenician style for their religious writings. Setting the canon in order, and using the new script font, he immediately set the new canon apart from everything else that existed at the time. Once done, Ezra put together the Grand Assembly. These were 120 Levite priests, not those of Judah or Jews, [Heb. 7:14], the supreme ruling body who were responsible for reproducing canon scrolls for use in the synagogues. Each new scroll’s words were counted to be sure that they matched the original canon put together by Ezra to the exact word. This group eventually evolved over the centuries to become the Sanhedrin in the time of Christ.
To fully grasp the complexity, detail and nuance contained within the scripture canonized by Ezra would take more than a lifetime if one were to start from scratch. To dismiss the Old Testament as merely a collection of fables as atheists do is to speak in utter and profound ignorance. But, empty wagons rattle the loudest. Yet to dismiss the Old Testament, the Bible Scriptures at the time of Christ, as being irrelevant for Christians is just as ignorant. As Paul explained to the believers in Rome, "For whatever things written in the Scriptures long ago were written to teach us. The Scriptures provide us with hope and encouragement while we wait patiently for the promises of God to be fulfilled." [Rom. 15:4]. The entire New Testament is based within the context of the Old Testament. The two are completely woven together in the plan of God. [See the Feature articles, The Tale Of Two Covenants and The Relevance Of The Holy Days In The Plan Of God In The Last Days].
The common New Testament used by Christians also is out of whack. [Again, see the Feature article, Moving Forward]. According to the principle of eldership and rank in use in the first century, the four gospels and Acts should be followed, in their ordained order by James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John and Jude, not the Book of Romans. Jude was a brother of our Lord and James. "And when the “pillar” apostles are mentioned together, it is James (the Lord’s brother, and leader of the Jerusalem church) who precedes Peter and John (Galatians 2:9)." [The Biblical Keys To Canonization, Restoring The Original Bible, Earnest Martin, chapter 2]. Thus, after the the Gospels and the Book of Acts, the seven epistles are in order of the rank of the apostles. This is another reason why Paul's book of Romans does not belong first in place after the Gospels and Acts. It is a reflection of the principle of eldership and rank in the first century, and throughout the books of the Biblical record. And it is another reason why Paul said he was least among the apostles. He was last to be called to an apostleship. [1 Cor 15:3-9].
And this is the primary reason why when Paul went out to preach the gospel, he did as Christ did, by starting in the synagogues of those of the House of Judah, the Jews. [See the Feature article, The Good News Colour Revolution]. Remember, too, Paul was a rabbinical student under the chief rabbi in Jerusalem at the time in the first century, Gamaliel. He would be very aware of the importance of following the established rules of eldership and rank. The Jews remained in the old covenant relationship with God after the House of Israel was divorced from God in the 8th century BCE. And while the old covenant was no longer in force after Christ's death and resurrection in the first century [Zec. 11:10-14], the Jews would be considered to have seniority over the House of Israel. Christ's lineage was through David, king of Israel, born of Judah. [Mat. 1:1].
In accordance with the principles of eldership, Paul said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be first spoken to you," those of Judah [Acts 13:46]. But the Jews rejected the gospel, and therefore, the apostles turned to the now redeemed nations of the House of Israel, next in order of rank. [See Heb. 4:2; 1 Cor. 1:23]. Thanks to Jerome, it is incorrect to say that when the Jews had rejected the gospel Paul turned to the gentiles. They have no standing whatsoever over the House of Israel. [Eze. 34:30; Isa. 63:7, 8]. Christ only was sent to redeem his people, the lost sheep of the House of Israel in the first century, the beginning of the Christian age. [Mat. 15:24].
Paul's epistles should follow these seven books. They were written over a fifteen year period, beginning in 52 BCE and ending in 67 BCE, according to the consensus of Pauline scholars. In our best estimation of chronological order, they are:
1 Thessalonians 52 BCE
2 Thessalonians 52-53 BCE
Galatians, 53-55 BCE
1 Corinthians 55-57 BCE
2 Corinthians 56-57 BCE
Romans 57-58 BCE
Ephesians 61-62 BCE
Philippians 61-62 BCE
Colossians 61-62 BCE
Philemon 62 BCE
Hebrews 62-67 BCE
1 Timothy 63-65 BCE
Titus 64-67 BCE
2 Timothy 66-67 BCE
Paul's eleven doctrinal epistles are followed by his three pastoral epistles, and then the prophetic Book of Revelation penned by the apostle John. This order of the New Testament books, canonized by John, follows the original pattern established by Ezra and Nehemiah with the Old Testament. Thus, the two are woven together to provide us with the big picture from Genesis to Revelation of God's plan for us, for all the major characters in Genesis are present in the book of Revelation.
1 No thanks to Jerome we have modern day Bibles that are misleading. They are a false representation of the original inspired order of the books, which in turn sets us wandering down the wrong path. Jerome hijacked the story from Genesis to Revelation. This goes to show how corruption of the truth has pervaded Christianity. We have more than 5500 manuscripts, or parts thereof, today including the premier three, the Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and the Ephraem, all using the inspired order. The original order is as follows for the New Testament: the Gospels, Acts, the universal epistles [James, Peter, John, Jude], Paul's epistles to the seven churches, Hebrews, the pastoral epistles and the book of Revelation.
Jerome's shenanigans shifted the focus of the Bible away from Jerusalem and the House of Israel to Rome and the gentiles. This is why the Book of Romans follows Acts in the Latin Vulgate. However, in the inspired order, the book of James, the apostle in Jerusalem, comes immediately after the Book of Acts. In verse one of James he says, "James, a servant of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes [the 12 sons of Israel], which are in the dispersion [scattered abroad], greetings!" Jerome intentionally took the focus away from our true heritage. "Our English Bibles follow the order given in the Latin Vulgate. This order, therefore, depends on the arbitrary judgment of one man Jerome (A.D. 382-429). All theories based on this order rest on human authority, and are thus without any true foundation." [Comparison Bible, Bullinger, Appendix 95, p. 139]. Again, for details, see the Feature article, Moving Forward.
2 The annual holy Sabbath days are similar in format. There are seven high holy Sabbath days in the year. And there are three times of the year in which these seven annual Sabbath days are observed. For details, again, see the Feature article, The Relevance Of The Holy Days In The Plan Of God In The Last Days.
For an excellent and detailed history of the original order and why the inspired version of the Bible is important, read Restoring The Original Bible, see Original Bible.
Italics and [ ] are the authors.
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