July 2019 Letter
The Books of the Old Testament were written by a great number of prophets over hundreds of years. Some may wonder: How have these books been compiled over the years to complement the form of Book we have now? From the Bible itself, we can discern the stages in which the Old Testament went through, until it reached the form that combines these books.
The Books of the Law of Moses are considered the nucleus of the Old Testament books, and around this nucleus all other sacred Old Testament writings have gathered. The Torah scrolls until the building of the temple were held next to the Ark of the Covenant: “So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying: Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;” (Deut 31: 24-26).
When Joshua took over the leadership of the people after the death of Moses and entered them into the Promised Land, he commanded them to worship the Lord who brought them out of the land of Egypt. Joshua wrote to them: “Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord” (Josh 24: 26).
Then came the time of the Judges, the last being Samuel the prophet, who set Saul as king according to the will of the people: “Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house” (1 Sam 10: 25). It is clear that Joshua and Samuel added new writings to the Book that they received from their ancestors and that they also kept them in the holy place before the Lord.
But in the days of religious disintegration following the split of the kingdom, the Jews forgot their holy books and neglected them. But in the days of Josiah the righteous, the great priest Helkiah discovered the Book of Law in the house of the Lord, and this led to great repentance and return to God (2 Sam 22: 8-20).
The other books came gradually after, and most of them were initially written in the form of separate documentaries or diaries and then collected in their own volumes. As seen in: “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?” (1 Kin 11: 41).
In the days of Jeremiah the prophet we hear that the Lord commanded him to write all that he had spoken unto him, saying: “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day” (Jer 36: 2).
The first book of the Maccabees records that king Antiochus Epiphanius made an attempt to exterminate all the existing copies of the law: “The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire” (1 Mac 1: 56). Judah the Maccabee rose up and gathered all the scattered scriptures to preserve them: “In the same way Judas also collected all the books that had been lost on account of the war that had come upon us, and they are in our possession “(2 Mac 2: 14). It seems that this movement led to the reunification of the Hebrew Scriptures and its preservation in one group. Thus, we see that the Hebrew Bible was complete about a century before the coming of Christ
The blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, and the fast of our fathers the apostles be with us all.