Where did the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” come from?

Standing on Shoulders

The first recorded time this kind of designation was used was by Melito of Sardis in the late second century (recorded in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26.14; available online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.ix.xxvi.html [accessed on 5/29/09]). In his listing of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures, the first such list among the extant Christian writings, he called the group of writings the “Old Covenant” (Greek: palaia diatheke). The Greek word for “covenant” (diatheke) was translated by Jerome in the fifth century into the Latin Vulgate as testamentum. Since the Latin Vulgate was widely used throughout the Middle Ages, it greatly influenced later translations into vernacular languages. Thus, for example, one of the first English translations of the Bible, made by John Wyclif in the fourteenth century (1382), translated diatheke as “testament,” following the Latin testamentum. William Tyndale’s sixteenth-century English translation followed suit (1524), along with the Geneva Bible…

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