It is the counterpart to the New Testament, the Christian Bible’s second section. The Old Testament
canon varies between Christian Churches; Protestants accept only the books found in the canon of the Hebrew Bible, dividing them into 39 books, while theCatholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches accept somewhat larger collections of writings.
The Old Testament consists of many distinct books written, compiled, and edited by various authors over a period of centuries. It is not entirely clear at what point the parameters of the Hebrew Bible, the basis for the Christian Old Testament, were fixed. Some scholars have opined that the canon of the Hebrew Bible was established already by about the 3rd century BC. The development of the various forms of the Christian Old Testament, at any rate, continued for centuries.
The books of the Old Testament can be broadly divided into several sections: 1) the first five books or Pentateuch (Torah); 2) the history books telling the history of the Israelites, from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon; 3) the poetic and “Wisdom” books dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world; 4) and the books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God.