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Sacred scriptures of Judaism and, with the New Testament, of Christianity. Written almost entirely in the Hebrew language between 1200 and 100 BC, the Old Testament (also called the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh) is an account of God's dealings with the Hebrews as his chosen people. In the Hebrew Bible, the first six books tell how the Israelites became a people and settled in the Promised Land, the following seven books describe the development of Israel's monarchy and the messages of the prophets, and the last 11 books contain poetry, theology, and some additional historical works. Christians divided some of the original Hebrew books into two or more parts, specifically, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles (two parts each), Ezra-Nehemiah (two separate books), and the Minor Prophets (12 separate books). The content of the Old Testament varies according to religious tradition, the Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant canons all differing from each other as to which books they include. See alsoApocrypha, Bible.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Old Testament, visit Britannica.com.