The Old Testament in the Heart of the Catholic Church
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Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy || Joshua Judges >> Ruth << 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings || 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah || Tobit* Judith* Esther 1 Maccabees* 2 Maccabees* Job


Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Songs Wisdom* Sirach* || Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch* Ezekiel Daniel || Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

The Old Testament books with a star * are not any more or less important than the others. The star indicates that the Catholic Church definitively professes and knows these books to be part of the sacred writings, the inspired Word of God [cf. CCC 120], but that they are specifically rejected by the Jewish people, and called ''apocryphal'' (of doubtful inspiration) by Protestants.

Read Ruth 1:1. Most scholars say that the book of Ruth

a.   has no real connection to life in the time of the judges.
b.   is a story whose setting is the time of the judges.
c.   is an account of Ruth, one of the judges of the LORD.


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Many scholars think that the historical details in the book of Ruth about Jewish village life in the time of the judges is

a.   consistent with what is known.
b.   not consistent with what is known.
c.   partly consistent with what is known.

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Ruth is much like a short story. A nice Jewish girl, Naomi, loses her husband and children in the foreign land of Moab. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, promises not to abandon her, or her God. Read the most famous passage in Ruth, Ruth 1:15-18. Impoverished and cursing God, Naomi sends Ruth to pick up remnants of wheat from a field after harvesting. Ruth meets and falls in love with the rich owner of the field, Boaz. Naomi negotiates with Boaz for Ruth's hand, and Boaz and Ruth are married. A child is born to Ruth, but somehow the local women give the credit to Naomi. A genealogy links the child to David. Now read the short book of Ruth, Ruth 1-4. <<

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Read Gen 12:1-8. God calls Abram

a.   from his country, his kindred, and his father's house.
b.   in the context of his times, his family, and his country.
c.   while allowing him to choose whom to take with him.

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Abram was called by God

a.   beyond the reality he knew.
b.   in place of the reality he knew.
c.   to reject the reality he knew.

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The Catechism teaches [CCC 59] that God called Abraham

a.   because of his anger at humanity's sins.
b.   to create a nation more powerful than the rest.
c.   to gather together scattered humanity.

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Read Gen 17: 1-14. In [CCC 59], the Holy Father and the bishops teach that God makes a covenant with Abram, and makes him Abraham, that is,

a.   ''the father of a multitude of nations.''
b.   ''the father of the one and only nation.''
c.   ''the glory and victory of the nations.''

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Read Gen 12:3 and note that in Abraham, all the nations of the earth

a.   shall be blessed.
b.   shall be doomed.
c.   shall be Jewish.

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In Gen 12:3 God promises that in Abraham's progeny (Abraham's descendant or descendants) all the nations of the earth will be blessed. In CCC 706, the Holy Father and bishops profess that ''This progeny will be Christ himself.''

Just as the Catholic Church sees the Word of God there when ''In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,'' [Gen 1:1] she sees God's promise to Abraham fulfilled in Jesus, whom the Church professes as the Christ, the Messiah of Israel, for in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. <<

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''Messiah'' is Hebrew for ''the anointed one.'' Read Ex 30:22-32. The oil of anointing

a.   made holy whoever or whatever was anointed.
b.   made rich whoever or whatever was anointed.
c.   was made freely available by God to everyone.

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Read 1 Sam 16:11-13. There were several ''messiahs'' (anointed ones of the Lord) in the Old Covenant. ''In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name.'' [CCC 436] Pre-eminent among these anointed ones of the Lord was

a.   Aaron.
b.   David.
c.   Samuel.

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In 1 Sam 16:11-13, David's anointing

a.   caused a great earthquake in the land.
b.   caused the Spirit of the Lord to be upon him.
c.   enabled him to defeat his brothers in battle.

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The anointed ones are anointed in and by

a.   the kingdom of David.
b.   the Law and the Prophets.
c.   the Spirit of the Lord.

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Read Is 61:1-3. Those who have the Spirit of the Lord come upon them are often said to be

a.   anointed.
b.   blessed.
c.   cursed.

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Read Jeremiah, Jer 23:5-6. This prophecy, along with Isa 11, fueled the hopes of the people of Israel for

a.   a messiah who would save Israel.
b.   a victorious general of the army.
c.   the return of King David.

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The messiah that the people of Israel gradually learned to hope for would be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord.

a.   Maybe.
b.   No.
c.   Yes.

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The ''Servant Songs'' are passages from the book of Isaiah in which ''The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all.'' [CCC 713] They proclaim that the Messiah's identity is linked with the triumph of the Cross, not with earthly glories, and that it is through the Cross of Jesus that the Spirit will be poured out to all men. Read Isa 42:1-9. In this Servant Song it is plain that the servant who is to come

a.   is the Messiah.
b.   will fail in his mission.
c.   will suffer and die.

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Recall that the Messiah is the one upon whom God puts his Spirit. That is what makes him the Messiah, the anointed one of God. <<

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Read Isa 49:1-6. The Messiah is to be a light

a.   to Israel alone.
b.   to the nations.
c.   to the nations alone.

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Read Isa 50:4-10. In this Servant Song the Catholic Church sees it foretold that the Messiah

a.   will be a king.
b.   will not suffer.
c.   will suffer.

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copyright (c) 2001 John Kelleher. All rights reserved.