Hebrew Bible vs Old Testament

When I first began dreaming up the idea for this website (back when I hadn’t realized both how much work or how fulfilling it would be!), I was faced with a very serious question: should the website be called “Hebrew Bible Scholar” or “Old Testament Scholar”?

Wanting to avoid potential controversy, I had thought that I would simply leave it up to fate: whichever name was available was the one that I would choose. However, as fate would have it, both names were available. I once again had to ask myself: Hebrew Bible or Old Testament?

Names are important. Although some people may view the terms “Old Testament” and “Hebrew Bible” interchangeably, the fact of the matter is that the term “Old Testament” has an unfortunate history associated with its name.

The name “Old Testament” points to a history of Christian supersessionism.

Supersessionism is a strain of thought found within much of Christian theology that believes that the “old” covenant God made with Israel has been superseded by the new covenant of/with Jesus Christ. Many people who identify with Christian supersessionism believe that the Jewish people have been cut off from God.

Though some people may say that name “Old Testament” has nothing to do with Christian supersessionism, the fact is that the word “testament” means “covenant.” When people say “Old Testament” they literally mean “Old Covenant,” and when they say “New Testament,” they mean “New Covenant.”

Of course, most Christians who use the term “Old Testament” do not think of themselves as supersessionists. In fact, many might even say that there can be a new covenant without it having to supersede the old, or that perhaps both covenants are actually part of one big covenant.

However, despite the goodwill of many Christians, the fact remains that one of the major consequences of Christian supersessionism has been the mistreatment of the Jewish people.

Because I created this site for Jews, Christians, and all those seeking to deepen their knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, I opted for the name “Hebrew Bible Scholar”. The term “Hebrew Bible” is both easily recognizable and respectful to all parties involved, even if it isn’t completely accurate.

Similarly, throughout the website, I will always refer to this set of sacred texts as the Hebrew Bible and not the Old Testament.

Names often convey meanings that we do not intend. Nomenclature should never be underestimated.