In the traditional Hebrew Bible layout there were three major groupings: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. It seems like a pretty easy connection to say that when Luke mentions “Moses and all the Prophets” that he is lumping all the books in the first two groupings together (emphasis mine):

Luke 24:27 (HCSB)

27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

What is less clear to me is what he might have in mind when he adds the “Psalms” a few verses later (emphasis mine):

Luke 24:44 (HCSB)

44 Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

I’ve heard it suggested1 that this was likely a reference to the entire third section, Writings, to include non-poetic books such as what most Christians today have categorized as historical (e.g. Chronicles) and even prophetic (e.g. Daniel) books.

What linguistic, contextual or historical evidence do we have that this is the case rather than being strictly a reference to what we generally title as the book of ‘Psalms’ today?

1 Dennis Johnson, Walking with Jesus through His Word, pg. 13.


1 Answer 1


Barnes' Notes on the New Testament concurs with Dennis Johnson's assertion of Psalms being synonymous with a third section, but also adds a contextual reason for possibly emphasizing Psalms in that section of Luke 24.

The Psalms. The word here used probably means what were comprehended under the name of Hagiographa, or holy writings. This consisted of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and the two books of Chronicles. This division of the Old Testament was in use long before the time of Christ, and was what he referred to here; and he meant to say that in each of these divisions of the Old Testament there were prophecies respecting himself. The particular subject before them was his resurrection from the dead. A most striking prediction of this is contained in Psalms 16:9-11. Compare it with Acts 2:24-32, 13:35-37. - Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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