What a shock when Christians encounter a Jewish mode of reading these same books. As the Jewish scholar Moshe Goshen-Gottstein put it, where Christians see the Bible as a story about God, humanity and salvation, Jews read it as being about God, people and land. The story of Adam and Eve is a minor theme. There is no grand narrative in the Hebrew Bible, certainly not one that would culminate in the coming of Jesus, but more a collection of individual stories, sayings and teachings that together constitute a tissue of instructions on how to live a good life as a Jew.
The prophetic books do not come last so as to lead into the New Testament, but follow the Torah the books of Moses as commentary on it. The Bible is so variegated that it can support both these and, probably, many other ways of reading it, while mandating none.
The Christian and the Jewish readings of the Hebrew Bible are both driven by forces external to the actual text. For Christians, the writings of Paul, part of the New Testament, are one such major influence. He initiated the reading of the Hebrew Bible in terms of a universal human disaster, followed by a rescue mission focused in Jesus. This interpretation then became standard in the Church throughout the early centuries, and has remained so to this day. For Jews, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE—an event that forced a reorientation of the way the religion was observed—the rabbinic tradition increasingly saw the Bible as a closed corpus that could be used as a guide for living in the present, rather than as orientated to the future of the world.
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