You Asked for It: The Torah vs. The Bible

July 24, 2018
By Rev. Jared Lathem, Pastor of The Gathering

“What’s the difference between the Torah and the Bible?”

The Torah can have a range of meanings, but it is most widely understood as the law of God that was revealed to Moses. It is recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures, also known as the Pentateuch. The definition of the word “Pentateuch” is “the first five books of the Jewish and Christian scriptures.” Therefore, the Torah, or Pentateuch, is actually a part of the Christian Bible. The five books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  Tradition holds that Moses, the Israelite leader, wrote the five books.

Although the concept of “Torah” can include all of traditional Jewish teaching, it most often refers to a part of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible contains the Torah, books of the Prophets (Nevi’im), and the Writings (Ketuvim).  The Hebrew Bible is the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

Traditionally, the Torah is believed to have been given, in its entirety, to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jews also believe he was given the Oral Torah, or the other works of rabbinic literature. Another belief is that Moses wrote the Torah while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. When read closely, one can find some historical inaccuracies and duplications which imply the Torah was compiled over time, ranging from the period of King David (1000 BC) to the time of the Babylonian exile (600 BC).

While Jews and Christians share a common history and common scriptures, we obviously differ on an important point, and that is the divinity of the Jewish Jesus of Nazareth. For Jews, Jesus was a false messiah. Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to come.