Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Old Testament in General: Division into Law, Prophets, and Writings

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

8. The distribution with regard to the matter, into Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, was insinuated by Christ, and before Him was approved by Josephus. The division of the Hebrews into תורה/Torah/Law, נביאים/Prophets, and כתובים/ Hagiographa. The כתובים/Hagiographa do not quite agree with the Psalms required by Christ.



With regard to matter, these books have been various distributed by the Hebrews, and by the Christians, ancient and more recent. Indeed, in the Holy Scripture itself a twofold distribution occurs, one into Moses and the Prophets, Luke 16:29, 31; 24:27, or into the Law and the Prophets, the interpreters of the Law, Matthew 22:40; but the other fuller and more explicit into Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, Luke 24:44, in which all things περὶ αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένα, written concerning Himself (Christ), and so all the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the Savior Himself divides into νόμον Μωσέως, καὶ Προφήταις, καὶ Ψαλμοῖς, the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Which division Josephus[1] in contra Apionem clearly delivered by tradition; and Saint Cyprian,[2] or whoever is the author of the Expositionis Symboli, imitates it as the simplest. It also agrees with the most ancient distinction of the Hebrews, which appears to owe its origin to the first authors of the Masorah,[3] the Men of the Great Synagogue, into תורה/Torah/Law, נביאים/Prophets, and כתובים, holy Writings, which are called Hagiographa by us. Concerning which, thus Elias Levita in his Præfatione in Libro Masoreth,לא היו הכר ספרים מחברים יחר והם חברים ועשו כהם ג חלקים תורה נביאים וכתובים, The twenty-four Books were not gathered all together; but they (the Men of the Great Synagogue) conjoined them, and made of them three parts, the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. Although the כתובים/ Hagiographa do not appear altogether to agree with the Psalms invoked by Christ.




[1] Flavius Josephus (37-93) was a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, a Jewish general, and an eyewitness to the final siege of Jerusalem. Josephus’ works are invaluable to the student of Jewish antiquities and of the history of the fall of Jerusalem.


[2] Cyprian (died 258) served as Bishop of Carthage. He is noted for his strict standard of re-admittance into the Church for those who had “lapsed” under persecution.


[3] The Masorah is a collection of ancient scribal notes and comments on the Hebrew text.


Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "The Authorship and Canon of the Old Testament"


Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "The Canon of the Old Testament"



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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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