Handy Terms for Discussing Christian and Jewish Writings - dummies

Handy Terms for Discussing Christian and Jewish Writings

Part of Lost Books of the Bible For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Christian and Jewish religious writings encompass an amazing amount of work. To keep things straight when you’re talking about or studying these writings, make sure you understand these helpful terms and what they mean:

  • Apocrypha: A Greek term that means “hidden,” this is the name Protestants give to the group of books that Catholics include in their Old Testament but Protestants do not. Jews (that is, the early Rabbinic Leaders of modern Judaism) also don’t include these books in their Hebrew Bible.

  • Canon: A Greek term that means “measuring stick” or “ruler,” it came to be used in Christianity and Judaism to refer to a specific list of religious writings officially approved for study and worship.

  • Gnosticism: A religious and philosophical movement that emerged in the late-first and second century CE, it focuses on the origins of spiritual beings, Gods, and other near-divine beings that control human affairs. Some Gnostics became Christians, and some Jews were influenced by Gnosticism as well.

  • Hebrew Bible: Although it’s the same thing as the Christian Old Testament, Hebrew Bible is a more respectful term that reminds Christians that, for Jews, the Hebrew Bible isn’t merely an “Old” Testament that’s replaced by a “New” one. In Jewish tradition, many Jews prefer to use the acronym “TaNaK” or “TaNaQ”, which is built from the first word of the Hebrew names for the three sections of their Bible: Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), and Qtuvim (Writings).

  • Non-canonical writings: Most of the writings discussed in Lost Books of the Bible For Dummies are non-canonical because they aren’t part of the list of canonical books in either the Jewish or Christian traditions. However, different Christian religions disagree about the canon of their Old Testament.

  • Scriptures: Any religious writing valued by a religious tradition. But scripture is a wider category than canon in that scriptures can be outside a canon.