The Bible has been described as a collection of religious writings, and at it's simplest, that is what it is. But it is much more than that. These writings, written by fisherman, farmers, prophets, kings, and political leaders, are recognized by most people, as a record of man's search for God, man's experience with God, and God's revelation to man. Even though it was written over a span of 1500 years, in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), the Bible tells a unified story about man's salvation by God. Additionally, the Bible claims to be 'God breathed' or inspired by God Himself. This does not mean 'dictated', but that through each writer's literary style, hand and human involvement, God conveyed the intended message. In the Old Testament for example, the writer's claim to be speaking God's words (not their own) over 2,600 times! Additionally, the Bible tells us of many different ways God has disclosed himself by dreams, prophets, seers, mighty acts, and ultimately through His Son Jesus. The first act is the creation of the universe itself, which discloses God's power and wisdom, and this is where the Old Testament begins. God progressively revealed to people, who He was, what He has done, and what He will do. Our perspective today is somewhat different than when the first few books of the Bible were authored, but the Bible is as trustworthy today as it was then.
Before the time of Jesus, the books included in our Old Testament were recognized by the Hebrew people as authoritative words from God. Jesus certified most of the books in the Old Testament, by His reference to and use of them. There were many other Hebrew writings that were held in esteem at Jesus time, but these 39 alone were considered to be God's authoritative Word, and therefore deserving of our study.