What's The Difference Between The Bible And The Torah?

Let's get this out of the way: The Torah is not just the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. In most instances, the Torah is in fact the first five books of the Old Testament — Genesis through Deuteronomy, or the story of the creation of the world through the story of Moses leading his people into Canaan (via Britannica).

These five books — also called the Law, or, in Christianity, the Pentateuch — are traditionally held to have been written by Moses. In actuality, historians now believe that there are likely multiple writers behind these books, since they contain narratives and viewpoints that appear to contradict each other, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

If the Torah is just five books, what about the rest of the Christian Bible? Is that not used in Judaism at all? The New Testament, which tells the story of Jesus Christ and the history of the early Christian church, is not part of traditional Jewish study. But the Old Testament is, in a collection of several major writings collectively known as the Tanakh.

The Tanakh: the Hebrew Bible

The Tanakh is the Jewish collection of canonical texts, beginning with the Torah, followed by Neviʾim (Prophets), and ending with Ketuvim (Writings), according to Bible Odyssey. The books are in a slightly different order in the Tanakh than in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, for instance, the book of Ruth is placed between Judges and 1 Samuel, because Ruth is David's great-grandmother. This would be among the prophets, but in the Tanakh, Ruth is instead placed in the Ketuvim, among the writings, giving Ruth a more prominent place in the Jewish canon than in the Christian one. The Christian Old Testament ends with the prophet Malachi, who was an appropriate figure for early Christianity's apocalyptic focus. The Tanakh, meanwhile, ends with Chronicles, with a Jewish emphasis on a return to their homeland.

The Torah is only part of the larger text, but the Tanakh, too, is only one part of a bigger tradition. Other Jewish writings are widely honored as well, particularly the Talmud, the Mishnah, and rabbinical commentaries (via Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Still, the Torah is the primary emphasis of the faith, and the "law" from which everything else follows.