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Don Stewart :: What Was the Earliest Writing That Was Put into the Old Testament Canon?

Don Stewart

When did the Old Testament canon actually start? There is no certain answer to this question. There are three possible writings that were the beginning of the Old Testament Canon. They include: the Book of Genesis, the Book of Job, or the Ten Commandments.

Genesis

The earliest collection of the words of God is not certain. Moses may have had the entire Book of Genesis in some written form when he placed it with his own writings (Exodus- Deuteronomy). This would make Genesis the first part of Scripture that became written down.

Job

Some Bible students believe that the Book of Job was written before Genesis. Some of the events in the Book of Job give the impression the story occurred before the giving of the Mosaic Law. If this is the case, then Job could have been written before the Book of Genesis.

While the Book of Job may have covered events that occurred before the giving of the Law it does not mean that the final form of the Book was composed at that time.

The Ten Commandments

It is also possible that the first written form of Scripture came from God Himself - the Ten Commandments. When the Ten Commandments were written it is possible that Moses had not compiled, or written the Book of Genesis. This would have been likely seeing that the Ten Commandments were given immediately after the children of Israel left Egypt.

The Ten Commandments Were Probably Written First

If this were the case, then the Ten Commandments would have been the start of the canon of Scripture. They could have been written before Genesis or Job. The Bible says the finger of God wrote the Ten Commandments.

And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18).

The Ten Commandments were placed in the Ark of the Covenant. Moses wrote.

Then I came back down the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made, as the LORD commanded me, and they are there now (Deuteronomy 10:5).

Summary

While we are not told exactly which was the earliest writing that became part of the Old Testament canon there are three candidates - the Book of Genesis, the Book of Job, and the Ten Commandments. Any of these three could have been the first writings that became part of Scripture.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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