The Old and New Testaments make up the Christian Bible, Christianity's set of holy scripture. The Bible details what Jews and Christians believe is their creator God's participation in human history.
The first two-thirds of the Christian Bible is called the Old Testament. It contains all the Jewish scriptures compiled until about 400 B.C., 400 years before the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ. The first five books — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy — comprise the Pentateuch, or Torah for Jews. These books tell the creation story, the story of the fall of humankind and how sin entered the world, and of God's first intervention in the history of man. It also tells the story of Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, their emergence as a people and their wanderings in the desert for 40 years, until they reached Canaan. The Jewish Law is also covered in these books.
Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, Kings I and II, Chronicles I and II, Ezra, and Nehemiah all cover Israel's early history and Kingdom Age. These books detail the nation's history as it formed from a band of nomads into a premiere world power. The books also detail the fall of Israel, its captivity in Babylon, and the return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
Esther, Ruth, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon are called "wisdom and devotional literature." They do not relate history so much as they illustrate the work of God among His people and how He relates to His people. The Psalms comprised the hymnbook of the Jews and of the early Christian Church. Proverbs is a collection of wise thoughts and sayings that still have merit.
Against the backdrop of the historical books speak the prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi. They spent much of the Kingdom Age prophesying to the kings and people of Israel. Their main focus was the idolatry that had crept into Israelite worship and the mistreatment of the poor, the widows, and the orphans. They prophesied doom for Israel if she did not mend her ways. But the prophets also spoke of the Day of the Lord, when He would send His Messiah and Savior of all the people, to restore the throne of David and the house of Israel. The Old Testament closes on this hope and, historically, a 400-year silence followed.
The New Testament arrived, like its predecessor, in bits and pieces. It is entirely concerned with the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the emerging first century Christian Church, exhortations on living a Christian life, and with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Christians believe Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and this is a vital point in understanding the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, according to Christianity. Christianity makes a unique assertion among world religions: that humans can know their creator God personally, and have a personal relationship with Him. No other world religion even hints this may be a possibility. The whole of the New Testament seeks to show this is possible, however, because the Jewish Messiah was sent for all people.
The four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — all deal exclusively with the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Matthew especially draws parallels between the Old Testament and Christ's life in his gospel.
Luke probably also wrote Acts, which covers the early church, then Paul comes to the fore with his epistles, or letters, to various churches where he had ministered. These letters are full of advice and wisdom on living a Christian life. The pastoral epistles written by Peter, John, James, and Jude follow, with Revelation closing the New Testament. Revelation has been discussed and quoted ever since its inclusion in the Bible, with its imagery and vivid descriptions of the end of the world.
In short, the Old Testament focuses on the history of the Jews, while the New Testament focuses on Jesus Christ and the birth of the Christian faith. The New Testament always shows how the God of the Old Testament completed His redemptive work in the person of Jesus Christ, who died to atone for the sins of all mankind. The Bible has permeated Western culture to its very core, is a foundation of literature and of spirituality.
While Jews believe the Messiah has not yet come, to Christians, the Old Testament is inextricably linked with the New. The New Testament verbalizes as a promise the Old Testament inference of a salvation free to all humans.