What is the By Bible ? Charles G. Mortamer THE Bible is not a book but a library; for that is what its title implies, " to biblia," the books, or in full " the sacred books." This library has two main divisions which we are accustomed to call the Old and New Testainents.
In the New Testament there are frequent references to the Jewish sacred books, that is, the Old Testament. They are called " the 3criptures " or the holy Scriptures (Rom. 1, 2) or ihe sacred writings (1I Tim. 3, 15). In St. Luke 24, 44 they are given th full title of " the law, the prophets and the psalms," but this is abbreviated sometimes into " the law," as, for instance, by St. John 12, 34.
In Rabbinical writings he Jewish Bible is called "The Law, the prophets and the Writings," 24 books in all; the Reading or the Sacred Lectionary. Hence, Our Lord Himself and the New Testainept writers appeal to the authority of the Old Testament; it was, in fact, Our Lord's exposition of the Old Testament that first excited the attention of his countrymen : " He teaches with authority and not as the Scribes "—meaning that the Scribes supported text on text : but Our Lord plainly declared, this and this is the meaning of the Scripture. As a boy, Our Lord gave His first Bible lessor, in the Temple ; here is evidence enough as to the position we should give to the Old Testament. It is the Wore] of God.
The contrast, however, between the two Testaments is as striking both in their range and language as in their religious conceptions. The books of the Old Testament. are drawn from a national literature extending over centuries; they are written in Hebrew, the language of only a small branch of the Semitic race. The books of the New Testament are drawn from those who were the friends and Apostles of Christ or who immediately followed in their steps; they are written in a flexible Greek dialect that was at that date intelligible to the whole civilised world.
The Old Testament reveals the need of Redemption and contains the Covenant of the Law; it sets forth the preparatory discipline of th Chosen People; but the New Testament unfolds the Mystery of Divine Love, the Covenant of Grace and the final Revelation in the Divine Person of the Son. But in reviewing both Testaments let us cling to the profound and ever-memorable word of Christ : " I came not to destroy but to fulfil."
The Revelation is progressive ; but it is a unity. Now how are we to understand this word " Testament " I It is the Hebrew word herith, a covenant which St. Jerome translated by the Latin word" pact= "—a pact or agreement. A man's " last will and i testament " is his " compact," and it is in that sense that Testament is used. as in the old Latin versions of the Old Testament which St. Jerome left uncorrected in that respect, keeping the word " testament " in this sense and the sense we must still understand.
St. Luke 22, 20 gives us the clue in Christ's own word : " This is the New Covenant in my blood."
The old covenants given to the patriarchs and to Moses are contrasted with the New Covenant ; which had indeed been predicted by the prophet. (Jer. 31, 31.) Next week: Structure and Contents of the Old Testament.