Abrahamic Traditions

I was wondering about the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So I read the Wikipedia pages and here’s a summary of my understanding. Please leave a comment if you spot any inaccuracies. Note that some sentences in here are copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia.



The 4 main Jewish sacred texts are:

  • Tanakh (Hebrew Bible): It has 3 parts, the Torah written by Moses in 1300 BCE, Nevi’im (prophets) and Ketuvim (writings) written at several hundred BCE. According to the Talmud, these were codified by the Great Assembly in 450 BCE, but there is no scholarly consensus.
  • Mishnah (Oral Torah): written down 200 CE
  • Midrash (exegesis of Torah texts and homiletic stories regarding the Tanakh): written down 200 CE
  • Talmud (elucidation of the Mishnah): 500 CE


  • Old Testament (basically the Tanakh + some stuff)*
  • New Testament: In general, among Christian denominations, the New Testament canon is an agreed-upon list of 27 books. These are the Canonical Gospels (4), Apostolic History (1), Pauline Epistles (14), General Epistles (7) and Apocalypse (1). These were mostly written in the first century and finished by the year 150 CE.


  • The Quran was written by Muhammad and compiled in 650 CE.

The Tanakh (Torah, in particular) and Bible (Gospels) are both considered by Islam as divine revelations given to prophets, but the Quran is the most pure form. The Quran recounts stories of many of the people and events found in the Tanakh and Bible.

  • Hadith are collections of the reports claiming to quote what the prophet Muhammad said verbatim on any matter Hadith are second only to the Quran in developing Islamic jurisprudence, and regarded as important tools for understanding the Quran and commentaries (tafsir) on it.


Note 1: Tanakh vs Old Testament

The Tanakh is divided into 24 books which are considered protocanonical (canonical in both Jewish and Christian traditions) and are found in the Old Testament, divided into 39 books. Protestant and Catholic Bibles are based on the Masoretic Texts, the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism, while Eastern Orthodox uses the Septuagint, the primary Greek translation.

Torah -> 5 books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

Nevi’im -> Historical books, major prophets and 12 minor prophets

Ketuvim -> Wisdom Books

Some books, largely written in the intertestamental period, are not in the Tanakh. These are known as the deuterocanon (“second canon”) by Catholics, the deuterocanon or anagignoskomena (“worthy of reading”) by Orthodox, and the Biblical apocrypha (“hidden things”) by Protestants These are works recognized by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches as being part of scripture (and thus deuterocanonical rather than apocryphal), but Protestants do not recognize them as divinely inspired. Hence, they are included in the Old Testament by Catholics and Orthodox but not by Protestants.

Thus, the Protestant Old Testament has 39 books, the Catholic Old Testament has 46, and the Eastern Orthodox Old Testament has 51.

Note 2: Tanakh

Hebrew is an Abjad, a kind of writing system in which vowels are not written down. It also has nonconcatenative morphology. This means that word roots are sets of consonants, and words are formed by filling out the vowels, rather than adding prefixes and suffixes like in Indo-European languages like English. Arabic, which like Hebrew is also a Semitic language, follows this pattern. e.g. كتاب kitāb “book”, كتب kutub “books”, كاتب kātib “writer”, كتّاب kuttāb “writers”, كتب kataba “he wrote”, يكتب yaktubu “he writes”, etc.

So, the Hebrew word Tanakh, תַּנַ”ךְ, is literally an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim. Whaaaat….!

Abrahamic Traditions

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