Differences and Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments: The Bible was written thousands of years ago, but it has remained one of the most important texts or documented writing in human history. This is primarily due to its religious relevance as a guiding manual for Christians all over the world. Also, due to conversion missions by catholic-endorsed states, there are more Christians in the world than any other religion. According to the Christian religion, the Bible is not only a sacred narrative of man’s relationship with God since the creation of the earth, it is also a compilation of God’s words and his guiding decrees for holy living.
It is divided into main parts; the old and new testaments. These two parts consist of several books and sub-chapters. It is this way because the Bible has not always been a single text. They were separate messages and historical accounts penned down on scrolls long before the merging of almost all of the books to form the single text that it is today—the Bible.
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Table of Content
History of the Testaments
The Old Testament existed for several decades, even centuries, before the new testament. The first few books of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, etc, consists mostly of stories passed down from generation to generation about subjects like the creation of the world, the first humans on earth, etc. These narrations formed part of what is known as the mosaic laws to the Jewish people. The books immediately following are records of the Kings and Judges of Isreal, their reign, and their journey with the God of their fathers.
Furthermore, the Old Testament is also the only reference for the history of Israel and Judah, the timeliest texts date back to the 12th century BC. On the other hand, the first texts of the new testament were authored by various writers as independent books and then merged into a single text.
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Relationship Between the Old and New Testament
A testament, in this case, is a covenant. This suggests then, that the Old Testament addresses an old covenant and the New Testament is about a new covenant.
The relationship between the Old and the New Covenants is mainly the fact that both covenants are the initiative of God to the advantage of mankind.
Also, the Bible as a whole explores the relationship between man and his creator, and God’s plan for man’s salvation.
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Major Differences Between the Old and New Testaments
Even though the main parts of the Bible are very related and drive the main purpose of the entire text, there are still existing differences in the testaments.
1. Covenant of Law vs Covenant of Grace: One of the main distinctions between the old and new covenants is the difference in the thematic message. In the old testament, there is a hard focus on the law which indicates God’s precepts for living. It establishes that such a holy standard is the only acceptable standard of living.
Also, are retributions and punishments for any disobedience. However, the reality of the situation is that the holy standard is almost unattainable. History shows us that there are men that tried and failed to live up to the holy standard because the law seeks to change man’s actions, not his heart.
On the other hand, there’s the new testament that established the salvaging presence of grace. Although the new covenant did not displace the law and God’s standard of living for us, it made it possible for a man to find justification through faith in God’s son; Jesus Christ.
2. The Timeframe of both content and documentation: The Old Testament encompasses thirty-nine texts of the Bible and was penned over nearly a thousand years. The old covenant wraps around a huge chunk of a record that starts with the creation of the earth and runs through generations of mankind.
By contrast, the New Testament was written over fewer years. All 27 books give accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, the birth of the Church as we know it, and a brief foretelling of the end of the world. The new testament roughly covers a period spanning 50 years, with its first book documented around 50 AD.
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3. Difference in the Language used: The Old Testament in its original texts was written mostly in Hebrew. With more than five thousand words across several books, the tone in the Old Testament is largely autocratic because it contains accounts by Lings, Judges, and the first Prophets.
Meanwhile, the new testament contains four thousand, eight hundred words in Greek and Latin. It has a less arbitrary tone and contains direct quotations from God’s son; Jesus Christ.
4. Difference in the Subject-Matter: One of the disparities between the Old and New Testaments is how this plan of man’s redemption is conveyed and how it eventually plays out. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is the central figure and is representative of the entire human race.
This is primarily because God established that covenant between Isreal and the world by extension. This plays out in the fact these receptors of the covenant (Isreal), would go on to become the lineage that produces the savior of the world; Jesus Christ. It is almost like the Israelites are the forebearers of God’s blessings on earth.
The ultimate plan for the world’s salvation comes to play in the new testament. Here, the subject matter moves from Isreal to all the nations of the earth.
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5. Differences in Content: The amounts and arrangement of books of the Old Testament differ in various churches. There are texts of poetry, celebration, knowledge adages, and seers/prophets.
The New Testament may contain extra texts such as the books of Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus Seirach, and Baruch, etc, and also some other sections of the Bible. The New Testament comprises the gospels; four accounts of Jesus’ life and death, tales of the Apostles’ ministries, epistles which are twenty-one early letters written by several writers, and an Apocalyptic Vision. These books emphasize the being of Christ, his schoolings, and also a book of revelation that foresees the demise of the earth as we know it.
6. Difference in Authorship: In an ideal sense, God is the true author of the Bible and the Christian faith because he inspired the writing of the Bible. However, in the normal sense of authorship and physical writing, there is a major difference in the set of authors that the old and new testaments.
Apart from some books like the songs of Solomon, the writers of the old testament were mostly not witnesses of the account themselves. This is unlike the new testament, which was mostly written by the disciples of Jesus Christ. The books of the new testament were written (in texts) by determinable persons who also witnessed the testimonies they wrote of.
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On a final note, while the differences between the two main parts of the Bible are very significant, they are not contradicting each other. The common thread of the journey of God and his people runs through the entire text. If anything, they (the testaments) show strong evidence of God’s love for his people and his plans for them.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.