The Old Testament has three major divisions: the Pentateuch which is the first and central collection of books and which set out the covenant made between God and the people of Israel (also known as the Torah), Prophetic literature and finally Wisdom literature (mainly poetic in form), all of which formed and elaborated upon the fundamental laws, religious beliefs and traditions of Israel society. In effect, the Old Testament gives us the laws, beliefs and traditions of Israel society, over time:
“The Old Testament is the result of faithful interpretation of
past traditions; interpretation is never mere reportage. It was
formed by a process whereby a new generation took up older
traditions and reshaped them according to the horizons and
needs of the contemporary community in its new circumstance.
The Prophetic writings were written to remind the society of Israel that God was to be obeyed and that they were to live their lives in a righteous and just manner. Throughout the time of the writing of the Old Testament, Israel had waxed and waned in its adherence to the law. In the time of the Prophets extending from the entry of the Hebrew tribes into the promised Land of Canaan through to the collapse of the Persian Empire and the rise of Greece and the beginning of the New Testament in the earthly appearance of Christ, much of Israel society was undergoing change. These changes were heralded by territorial clashes, social norm aberrations and intermittent societal influences from other cultic groups. To fully understand the changes to its social structure and religious beliefs at this time and to see the importance of the Prophetic literature in reacquainting Israel to expected social norms and religious beliefs inherent in their faith, we must first return to the original covenant made between the people of Israel and God. The covenant made by Moses with God in Exodus 20:1-17 and Abraham with God in 17:4 and reiterated in Deuteronomy...