Learn something new every day More Info... by email
The Torah and the Tanakh, also spelled Tanach, are two extremely important texts in the Jewish faith. To be more precise, the Torah is a portion of the Tanakh. The Tanakh, also called the Mikra, is the canon of the Hebrew Bible, consisting of three traditional subdivisions: the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. The word Tanakh is an acronym of the initials of its three subdivisions, while Mikra is Hebrew for "reading."
Each subdivision of the Tanakh consists of several books. The body of texts is similar to the Christian Old testament, though not all of the books in the Old testament are included in the Hebrew Biblical canon, and Jewish tradition divides the books differently. Jewish tradition also does not employ the chapters and verse numbers used in the Christian Bible. However, modern editions of the Tanakh typically include the traditional Christian divisions for ease of reference. Christian chapters and verse numbers were introduced into the Jewish Biblical canon in the late medieval period in Spain, and there is a modern trend to minimize their presence in the text, often by relegating them to the margins or footnotes.
The Torah, meaning "teaching," consists of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, traditionally believed to be authored by Moses. The Torah is considered the most important holy scripture of Judaism. The five books are called Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy in English. Their Hebrew titles, taken from the first word of each book, are Bereshith, Shemot, Vayikra, Bamidbar, and Devarim. The Torah begins with the story of the creation of the world and of humanity, and ends with the arrival of the Jewish people in the Promised Land, or Canaan.
The Nevi'im, or "prophets", consists of eight books: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve Prophets. The Nevi'im is traditionally subdivided into the Nevi'im Rishonim, or "Former Prophets," consisting of the first four books, and the Nevi'im Aharonim, or "Latter Prophets." The Nevi'im Rishonim consists mainly of a narrative concerning Jewish history from the time of Moses' death to the subjugation of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians, while the Nevi'im Aharonim largely consists of prophesies.
The Ketuvim, or "writings," consists of 11 books: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles. The first three books of the Ketuvim are sometimes referred to as the poetic books. While the entire Tanakh is marked with cantillation notes that guide the liturgical chanting of the text, the system of marks used in Psalms, Proverbs, and Job differs from that used in the rest of the Tanakh. Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther are collectiely known as the Five Scrolls, and are traditionally read over the course of the year on important Jewish holidays.
This site was very helpful for a research project that I happen to be undertaking.
"The body of texts is similar to the Christian Old testament, though not all of the books in the Old testament are included in the Hebrew Biblical canon, and Jewish tradition divides the books differently."
"However, modern editions of the Tanakh typically include the traditional Christian divisions for ease of reference."
Um. This makes it sound like Christianity came first or something. What's with that?
Basically Tanach is what is called the "written Torah". (there is also "oral Torah" which was to be passed down from teacher to student, father to son, but at one point had to be written down for fear of it being forgotten)
This is the true Scripture. No new testament. Torah, Neviim, Kesuvim.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!