The Old Testament (abbreviated OT) is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh), a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.
The books that comprise the Old Testament canon, as well as their order and names, differ between Christian denominations. The Catholic canon comprises 46 books, and the canons of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches comprise up to 49 books and the most common Protestant canon comprises 39 books. The 39 books in common to all the Christian canons correspond to the 24 books of the Tanakh, with some differences of order, and there are some differences in text. The additional number reflects the splitting of several texts (Kings, Samuel and Chronicles, Ezra–Nehemiah and the minor prophets) into separate books in Christian bibles.
The books which are part of a Christian Old Testament but which are not part of the Hebrew canon are sometimes described as deuterocanonical. In general, Protestant Bibles do not include the deuterocanonical books in their canon, but some versions of Anglican and Lutheran bibles place such books in a separate section called Apocrypha. These extra books are ultimately derived from the earlier Greek Septuagint collection of the Hebrew scriptures and are also Jewish in origin. Some are also contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Old Testament consists of many distinct books by various authors produced over a period of centuries. Christians traditionally divide the Old Testament into four sections: (1) the first five books or Pentateuch (Torah); (2) the history books telling the history of the Israelites, from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon; (3) the poetic and “Wisdom books” dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world; and (4) the books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God.