The Old Testament covers the time period from the creation of the world to about 500 years before the start of the New Testament. It includes the writings of inspired ancient prophets, and is often divided into three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. This article includes historical and theological insights from Latter-day Saint and secular scholars, primarily drawn from From the Desk interviews.
The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament (also called the Song of Songs) has a controversial history. Its sensual themes have been interpreted as both scriptural pornography and inspired allegory by Latter-day Saint leaders. In this interview, BYU’s Dana Pike talks more about the book’s reception within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint.
The Dead Sea Scrolls sparked a newfound interest in the Bible when they were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s. The fragments include significant portions of the Old Testament, but not New Testament texts. Similarly, claims about their unique connection to Latter-day Saint beliefs and practices fail to consider that relevant scrolls include only a few vaguely defined passages. In this interview, BYU’s Dana M. Pike explains more.
Robert Alter recently completed a translation of the Hebrew Bible. The Old Testament work is widely respected by scholars, including some who think it’s the most accurate Bible translation in English. Alter’s attention to the literary form of Hebrew helps bridge the gap between contemporary readers and ancient writers. In this interview, he talks about his multi-decade translation of the Hebrew Bible.
Jesus Christ stressed the importance of Isaiah’s writings when He appeared in the Americas after His resurrection. As recorded in 3 Nephi, the Savior said: “A commandment I give unto you, that ye ought to search these things . . . for great are the words of Isaiah.” In this interview, Ann Madsen explains how Isaiah has helped her become a better disciple, and discusses his teachings about Jehovah and the temple.
The Old Testament reveals not only God, but also the historical and literature cultures of His people. The Bible’s books range from the story of Genesis to the writings of Isaiah to the controversial Song of Solomon. Robert D. Miller II provides a brief introduction to the Bible for those interested in learning more about its origin and context.
Women of the Old Testament make up more than 120 of the 170 named female figures in the standard works (Emma Smith is one of only two mentioned in the Doctrine & Covenants). How many of their stories do we know? How many names can we name? Why does it matter? BYU’s Camille Fronk Olson says that the lessons of biblical women matter now as much as ever.
Everyone knows the story of Jonah and the whale from the Old Testament, but no one knows it quite like Rabbi Steven Bob. He is the author of Jonah and the Meaning of Our Lives.
The Old Testament is one of the world’s most influential books. While related works such as the Dead Sea Scrolls get plenty of press, the Hebrew Bible doesn’t usually receive the same level of attention. Old Testament theologian Ellen F. Davis discusses her background and the relevance of the Bible today.