Old Testament


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From Middle English [Term?], from Latin Vetus Testāmentum. Equivalent to retronym, by comparison with the New Testament.

Proper nounEdit

Old Testament

  1. (religion, chiefly Christianity, sometimes offensive) The first major part of the Christian Bible, covering events before the coming of Christ, corresponding roughly to the Jewish Tanakh. Usually subdivided into the categories of law, history, poetry (or wisdom books), and prophecy.
    The Old Testament says that eating shellfish is a sin.
    Coordinate term: New Testament

Usage notesEdit

  • Old Testament is the most common English term used by Christians to refer to the first major part of the Christian Bible. Old means “ancient”, “having great(er) age” here, not “superseded” or “obsolete”.
  • In Biblical scholarship the term Hebrew Bible is preferred nowadays.
  • The use of this term is considered offensive by most Jews, based on the misconception that Old suggests that the Tanach has been superseded by Christian scriptures.
  • The corresponding adjective is vetero-testamentary.


See alsoEdit