Is the Old Testament a Jewish religous book and should it be discarded by Christians today? If not what does it add to Christians today?
The opening to the book of Hebrews sheds some light on this:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV
This affirms that long ago (well before the time of the New Testament), God was speaking to mankind. As Jesus pointed out in Luke 6:45, "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks," so spoken words reveal the heart of the speaker. In the same way, the spoken words of God reveal God's heart as well. So, the Old Testament reveals the heart of God in many ways.
Paul also mentions the benefit of the Old Testament, stating that hope can come through the Scriptures--and at the time he wrote Romans, there wasn't much Scripture outside of the Old Testament.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
Luke also notes that the people of Berea were considered noble for the very fact that they studied the Old Testament.
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 ESV
These people searched the Old Testament Scriptures and concluded that Paul's messages was, indeed, true and that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah. This verification is very important today, as the Old Testament continues to show that God had prepared the world for the coming of the Messiah, and that the Son of God became a Man named Jesus who was that Messiah.
Jesus Himself noted that the Old Testament Scriptures actually spoke and testified about Him:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me... John 5:39 ESV
Finally, the Old Testament was not written just for Jews. In the lineage of Jesus Himself, there is mention of a Hittite (Urriah), a Moabite (Ruth), and a woman of Jericho (Rahab). The promise to Abraham was that he would be a blessing to all people--not just his own descendants through Isaac.
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Genesis 12:3 ESV
Even in Egypt, the purpose of the plagues was to show the Egyptians that the God of Israel was the one true God.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them. Exodus 7:5 ESV
Also, Genesis is believed by many to have been a collection of writings from Adam, Noah, and others. If so, Adam and Noah were not "Jewish", but the ancestors of all people alive today.
So, the Old Testament can be considered a Jewish book, written by Jews (with the possible exception of Genesis) under the inspiration of God, to proclaim God's name to all mankind.
It should also be noted that the New Testament is written entirely by Jews as well. In fact, Christianity is inherently Jewish and was begun by all Jews. It could easily be described as Gentiles (as well as Jews) recognizing Jesus as the promised Jewish Messiah of the Old Testament.
Lastly, Paul's letter to Timothy emphasizes that all Scripture is of value. At the time of his writing, he certainly intended to include the Old Testament.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
Both the Old and New Testaments are the revelation of God, and, as such, are the primary means by which we can know God Himself.
You are asking two completely separate questions.
1. Is the Old Testament a Jewish book?
Insofar as the Torah was revealed first to the Jews, yes. As Romans 9 points out
Theirs [The Jews] is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised
But, is the promise made to Jews alone? Paul continues:
It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[b] 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.
Whether or not we are descended from Abraham (or even Isaac) here is irrelevant - Paul admits it is not the children by physical descent who are God's children. Whilest I am always a little bit leery of putting the church in the place of the Jews in all things, it is fair to say that we are heirs of the same promise.
2. Should it be discarded?
Jesus himself said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:17)
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Futhermore, Paul - the biggest opponent of "the law" if there ever was one - even he says (Galatians 3:17):
17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
He goes on to call the law a "pedagogica" - think of it as a nanny - that leads us to Christ. It is the thing that makes us aware of our sin
In Romans 7, he makes the same point:
Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”[b] 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
In all these things, the OT law still has a purpose - it makes us aware of our need for God.
Frankly, it also tells us who God is.
So, in short, no, we can't discard the OT - it's the foundation without which grace makes no sense.
The books of the old Testament were written by Jews for Jews, so yes, it's a Jewish book.
It's also the history of the chosen People of God to whom the redeemer Jesus Christ was promised, who fulfilled the law and the prophets and guided the People of God into the new testament as Christians. So it's our book too as Christianity is the continuation of Israel, the true People of God here on earth.
First the Old Testement isn't 'one' book its lots of books. Second many of the books that are in the current version the Old Testament are in the Jewish religious book the Torah. So it is technically 'a Jewish book' Third, The New Testament was in fact written by Jews. God had to command Peter to take the gospel to others because they were Non Jewish.
As for what it adds today it is very appropriate for depicting good and bad behavior in the gospel. Also there are many prophecies in the Old Testament that have not been fulfilled... Which means if for nothing else there are still things we can learn about the Second Coming from the Old Testament.
My opinion is this...
According to the bible, the Jews (Israel) are the wife of God the Father. We as Christians (non Jewish belivers) and also Jews who accept Jesus as the MESSIAH are the bride of Christ.
I love the OT and agree almost totally with the answers given above. Accept for my belief that all OT prophesies are not intended for Jews and Christians alike. While you could probably still apply some of it to your spiritual life, there are many prophecies that clearly don't apply.
The OT clearly foretells the happenings in Revelations and that I would say applies to both, but the rest about being carried or driven away to foreign lands because of their unfaithfulness and how God will bring them back and save them with His own hand, is not applicable to Christians. God will take Israel back as His estranged wife. We as the bride of Christ will be fetched by the Groom. Then the wedding celebration will take place. After that only God will come and save Israel.
In short, I do not believe that the OT is for Jews only, but not all of it applies to Christianity. I would say only end time prophecy applies to both.
The Old Testament is a Christian book. It's based on the Jewish bible with often the same books (Catholic Church uses variations in books compared to the Protestant groups, and it all overlaps with but isn't identical to the Jewish inclusions.)
However more importantly, the translations for Christian versions (aka Old Testament) include translations that would not be considered accurate in Judaism to the Hebrew Bible that Judaism uses.
The term Old Testament was invented by an early Christian (I'm not recalling his name), who's goal was to say that Judaism was defunct and their texts were "old" and "superceeded." It's part of the whole anti-Judaism theme that ran through parts of Christianity's implemntation over the years. So from a Jewish perspective it's considered very negative to refer to their texts as "OT."
Also in Judaism it's not considered testament. In Christianity there is that concept of giving testament to the truth. In Judaism it doesn't make sense to Judaism's themes & purpose.
This source points out passages in NT that quote from OT and do so incorrectly. http://www.islamawareness.net/Christianity/old.html It's not quite on point to answering the question. However, with this it becomes possible to see how OT could be different from Jewish bible too. I haven't looked at the rest of the site, but these passage issues are familar to me from other times & sources I've seen them in.
There is one way in that it can be distinguished from Jewish scripture in the sense that the order of the canon is different, which certainly leads to a different reading of the texts. But from the time of the epistles it is clear that these (new testament) writings were being treated as just as authoritative as their Old Testament counterparts 2 Peter 3:16