Why is,the Old Testament in the Bible?


Why are you asking that, you might wonder. Well, I am a very active Catholic that is also pursuing a degree, and I regularly debate with athiests. One of the things that they bring up that is becoming increasingly hard to explain away are Old Testament verses that nobody really knows. Specifically, from the books of Leviticus and Exodus, but also a few from other books.

  For example, "He that striketh his bondman or bondwoman with a rod, and they die under his hands, shall be guilty of the crime. But if the party remain alive a day or two, he shall not be subject to the punishment, because it is his money" (Exodus 21:20-21). i. e. As long as the owner keeps his beaten slave alive for a day, he is not guilty of murder because slaves are not on the same level as humans. And, another where a woman who births a female is impure for twice the amount of time as a male. 

   Perhaps these silly verses have nice explanations, but why do they exist in the first place? Why cant we dump these outdated precepts and questionable stories (Genesis is not literal, according to the Chuch) and move to the New Testament, where slaves are at least human? I apologize in advance for any formating errors, I have written this on my phone.


The OT sets the stage for the NT.

If Genesis is not literal, then we should close the doors and go home. Without Adam & Eve’s original sin, there is no need for Christ to come.

Good luck with your studies.


Do you believe that the Old Testament is inspired Scripture, Daniel?

I’m a bit perplexed by some of your reasoning. There’s questionable stories in Genesis, you allege, because Genesis is not to be taken literally? Let’s make the proper distinctions. The fact that a particular text is an example of a specific genre—and that this genre implies its own, unique hermeneutic of interpretation which shouldn’t be confused with another—is not at all the same thing as saying that a text is questionable. The genre of the first 11 chapters of Genesis is a very old academic question, and interpreting those chapters is incredibly difficult without establishing the genre, which is not at all a wooden literalism that records events like a modern lab report. That is far too vulgar an approach to a nuanced and difficult subject. But on the other hand, neither are those chapters simply junk. Read this for more information.

Your text from Exodus is dealt with here: forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=11232313&postcount=8. This very good explanation of the context of these verses indirectly makes a very good case for the importance of understanding the cultures that produced the Bible. Without such an understanding, certain passages will be quite unintelligible to the modern reader. But that is a fault of theirs.

I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon many young atheists rush to embrace. Skeptics are far too fond of writing things off because they don’t understand them, and they confuse their own educational defects with inadequacies in the object they are critiquing.

Many alleged problems in the Bible make perfect sense, if only one is willing to find the answers. But too many people lack the humility to do that, and they mistake wisdom with judging things by their surface appearances.

I would also encourage you to consult with a trusted priest on whether or not these “debates” of yours are really doing you more damage than they are good. Many people who are indeed very shaky in their faith tend to think they are in fact solid and sturdy, and simple objections are enough to throw them off into endless doubt and worry. Don’t overestimate yourself. There’s nothing cowardly about knowing your own limitations, and that in fact is the way we grow.


I see the Old Testament and New Testament as two separate “contracts” with humanity. The I came up with my own take on the common question of why the God of the Old Testament seems to different than the God of the New Testament. Some early Christian mostly Gnostic sects actually claimed they were not the same.
As for my theory I see the Old Testament as God’s creating, and dealings with humanity, forgiving ones who repent but ultimately God is establishing his Kingdom on earth. God chose the Israelites for his covenant. We see a jealous God because his chosen people constantly went against his laws. However at the end of the Old Testament a promise is made that a new covenant will be made.
The New Testament is God coming as Jesus in flesh to proclaim God’s truth, that the point wasn’t getting out through prophets thus Jesus came to atone for the sins of mankind once and for all and makes this covenant not only with Jews but also with Gentiles, and all of mankind to the end of the earth. It isn’t that God changed his mind, like some say happened, but more so it was his ultimate plan the entire time. I could have made this much longer but I felt like summing it up as much as I could. Hope it may have helped a little.


The most simplistic terms I have ever heard this described as is this: The Old Testament shows us man is sinful and the answer to that sin is the cross and resurrection of Jesus for forgiveness of sins and everlasting life as told in the New Testament.


:rolleyes: So the CCC is incorrect?


"To be ignorant of Scripture
is to be ignorant of **
**." **
- St. Jerome**

[INDENT][size=]. . . :coffeeread: . . .[/size]


Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.


In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it [FONT=“Arial Black”]not as human word, "but as what it really is, the Word of God."

In the
sacred books
the Father who is in heaven
comes lovingly :heart: to meet his children,
and talks with them.
[INDENT][INDENT]:bible1: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand …” Psalms 139:17-18b[/INDENT]

[INDENT]:bible1: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8[/INDENT]

[INDENT]:bible1: “So shall **my word **be that goeth forth out of **my **mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which **I **please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto **I **sent it.” Isaiah 55:11[/INDENT]

[INDENT]:bible1: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but **my words **shall not] pass away.” Matthew 24:35[/INDENT][/INDENT]
"And the

was made flesh,
and dwelt among us,
and we saw **his glory; **
the **glory **as it were of the
only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth."
John 1:14

[INDENT][INDENT]:bible1: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the **Spirit **which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the **Holy Ghost **teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:12-14[/INDENT][/INDENT]
[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
*. . . thank You Blessed Lord+
. . . thank You Gracious Heavenly Father+
. . . thank You Sweet Spirit of our Holy God+
. . . thank you Holy Mother Mary+
. . . thank you Holy Mother Church+


We need the whole Old Testament, because although we had slavery, we still need to know that it happened. It is part of our history, and we can’t erase it though we would like to.

The Old Testament gives us the necessary background to understand the New Testament.

We need to know about the creation of the world, that we were created in the Divine image. We need to know about Abraham’s sacrifice, about Isaac, Jacob, the 12 tribes of Israel, about Joseph, Moses, the 10 commandments and how the people, over and over again kept falling into idolatry and other sins and needed correction. We need to know about Job and his faith.

We need to know about the 150 psalms of David. We need to know what it means that Jesus is from the line of David. We need to know about David and Goliath. We need to know about Samson, about Daniel. We need to know all of it, not just the pleasant parts.


:thumbsup: Oh how the New builds upon the OLD!!!


All it says is that Genesis uses figurative language. It doesn’t say how much or how little. :shrug:


I haven’t read it; but I’m sure Trent Horn’s Hard Sayings would be of great help to you. While the whole Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of God, some Scriptures of God’s relationship to humankind are written from humankind’s point of view.
Some things in The Holy Bible are extremely difficult to understand without help from
those called to help us understand them, as you know. I’d rather not cite any that
gave me pause and leave this as a general observation.


I think your questions are very good. You have asked a blanket question: why is the Old Testament in the Bible. But then you have asked very intricate questions regarding specific laws in Judaism, which were given by God Himself, but which seem to make no sense to us today and seem to have no relativity to our lives.

First, I think that to understand these laws we need to look into Judaism, which requires a good Torah commentary, or various good websites which come from a scholarly Jewish base.

For instance, one site that I really like is chabad.org/ - and it happens to have a very good answer to your specific inquiry regarding the length of impurity in women after childbirth: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/510244/jewish/Ritual-purity-after-birth-of-males-and-females.htm

Many of the laws which were given actually prefigure Christ and his future ministry. One that especially comes to my mind is the law of the Red Heifer in the purification of uncleanness which comes after touching a dead body. (Numbers chapter 19) This prefigures Christ so beautifully: but one must ponder this and think upon it. Thus the beauty of obeying God’s word when he said in Psalm number one: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.”

And if you really want to be blessed, read a good commentary on the intricate festival of the Day of Atonement, ponder it, and see how beautifully it portrays Jesus. And then we have the Passover. How absurd it sounds to kill a lamb and spread its blood over your doorpost. But how beautiful and meaningful is this ceremony which prefigures Christ.


The Old Testament is the story of God’s chosen people - us! It tells of how God first created us, how he made us his own, how we continually turn away from him and how he always calls us back. Without it the New Testament has no context. We would have no concept of the Son of David, the keys of the kingdom, the chair of Peter, the new covenant, the Passover Lamb, and on and on. These things would make absolutely no sense without the Old Testament as background.


Hope this is helpful.


It sounds like you’re having a difficult time differentiating between the Moral Law (which Christians keep today) and the Ceremonial Law (which applied only to ancient Israel to set them apart from the other tribes in the area). This entertaining video could help some:

So why keep these references to the Ceremonial Law if we no longer need to keep them? Because without them, we have no grounding for why we need Christ. Christ Himself said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished."

Now, the “Law” that Jesus refers to is the “Law of Moses” - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. The “Prophets” refers to Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. If Jesus himself says that these are Scripture, who are we to argue?

The only other bits of the Old Testament are the Writings (where hardly anyone will find anything objectionable) and, depending on how you Scripture, the Maccabes, which are more of a historical account than anything.

In short, to delete the Old Testament would be silly.

  • *A gentle correction . . . *

*]Point #1: The original post of this thread states . . . “(Genesis is not literal, according to the Church)” … This statement is not a doctrinal teaching of the Church . . . and this unbelief is clearly not in harmony with the below portion of the Catechism of The Catholic Church. Down through the ages many individual Catholics have expressed conflicting opinions, however, the below is the Magesterial teaching re interpretation of Scripture . . . :bible1: . . .
*]Point #2: The Catechism clearly states Sacred :bible1: Scripture can be believed on two (2) levels . . . it is not an either/or situation . . . but a both/and type of understanding that is revealed . . . with the second level of knowledge being divided up into three sublevels of perceiving revelations of truth . . . and the literary genre doesn’t affect the truth of the revelation in any way. [/LIST]

[INDENT]**. . . :coffeeread: . . .**The senses of Scripture

115 **
According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the
literal** and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

**116 **
The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the [size=]literal[/size]."83

**117 **
The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

[INDENT]1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84

  1. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction."85

  2. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86

118 **
A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the
four** senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87

**119 **
"It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, …[/INDENT][/INDENT]

[LIST]*]Point #3: **GOD is the Author of Sacred :bible1: Scripture . . . and it contains infallible truth (truth without error) . . . [/LIST]. . . :coffeeread: . . .**
[INDENT]II. Inspiration and Truth of Sacred Scripture

**105 **
GOD is the Author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."69

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the :bible1: Old and the :bible1: New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have GOD as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."70

The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as [size=]affirmed by the Holy Spirit[/size], we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which GOD, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred :bible1: Scriptures."72[/INDENT][RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . thank You Gracious LORD+


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