Have you ever read the Bible from start to finish? If you do, you’ll notice there’s a big gap in time between the Old and New Testaments. We end the Old Testament with the Jews having relative freedom under Persia and scriptures being written in Hebrew. When we flip the page to Matthew, now Jews are ruled by Romans, there’s a king named Herod, and the Scriptures are written in Greek. What happened?
If you’re an average reader, you probably say, “Huh, that’s weird,” and then just keep reading. But doing so would be like looking at an image with a section in the middle taken out. You can still interpret the image, but it’s better if you can fill in the gaps.
The purpose of this page is to provide you with resources that will (1) help you learn more about the time period between the Testaments, and (2) help you teach others about this time.
Suggestion #1, Watch a Video
I created this 26-minute video to help people learn about the time period between the Testaments and be better prepared to study the New Testament. It’s part of my free “Seeking Jesus” course. Here’s a list of study questions you can use to help you stay focused as you follow along with the video, and you can quiz yourself at the end (or play this Kahoot if you’re doing this with a class).
Suggestion #2, Read an Overview
This article by Josh Matson, published by BYU’s Religious Studies Center is a great overview of what happens between the Testaments.
The Institute Manual has a great section on the intertestamental period, as well as additional insights to prepare people for a study of the New Testament.
The article, “The Distinctive Testimonies of the Four Gospels,” will be useful to you as you learn about how the different emphases in the different Gospels can help draw us closer to Christ. I recommend it for gaining insight and background on the four Gospel accounts
Suggestion #3, Explore the Apocrypha
Parts of the Apocrypha describe some of the history between the Testaments. One significant reading is 1 Maccabees 1:1-2:29. It describes a pivotal moment in history, one that would have been very relevant to Jews at the time of Jesus (and is in fact still important to many Jewish people today). 2 Maccabees 6:18-31 is a powerful story of a martyr during the time of Antiochus IV. I love sharing these stories with students and thinking together about the decades prior to Christ’s birth.
Just like events over the past 150 years have influenced my life, the events surrounding the Maccabean Revolt influenced what Christ experienced as he grew up in Galilee. Studying this history will help us understand Jesus Christ.
Finished Studying? Reward Yourself
Watch the short music video, “The Maccabeats – Hasmonean – A Hamilton Hanukkah.” If you can get why this song is so clever, it’s a good indication that you understand the history surrounding Hellenism and the Maccabean revolt.