Biblical Archaeology Review 12:5, September/October 1986

Queries & Comments

What to Call It Is Not So Easy

To the Editor:

The letter titled “Old Testament and Tanakh” written by Dov Ben-Khayyim and appearing in Queries & Comments, BAR 12:03, raises a valid objection, not only for the Jewish people, but for Christians with a reverence for the Bible text.

What has always amazed me is that the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” continue to persist in almost all Bible translations, even though there is no Biblical or theological basis for them whatsoever. Apparently they were adopted from the several times the Greek word diatheke was mistranslated by the King James translators as “testament” instead of “covenant.”

BAR suggests “Hebrew Bible” as a better designation for the “Old Testament.” However, since the Greek equivalent of the word “Bible” does not appear in the Bible as an overall designation of the Holy Scriptures, you might consider the designation “Hebrew Scriptures” for the “Old Testament” and “Christian Greek Scriptures” for the “New Testament.” (The term “Christian” being used in the latter designation to differentiate these books from the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.) These designations have been used for a number of years by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in the New World translation of the Holy Scriptures.

Not only are these designations Biblically correct, but they should not offend readers of any religious persuasion. You cannot easily find that combination these days!

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