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Timothy H. Lim Professor of Hebrew Bible & Second Temple Judaism University of Edinburgh
The end of the 19th and first half of the 20th century saw a notable consensus of opinion over the emergence of the canon of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. According to this broad agreement, the Old Testament canon developed in three stages: the Torah or Pentateuch was closed around 500 BCE, followed by the books of the Prophets (nevi’im) in the third or fourth century, and finally the Writings (kethuvim) at the council of Jamnia in 90 CE.1 In the past generation, however, this consensus was shattered as scholars
tore down the pillars that propped up what became known as “the three stage theory.” Questions were raised about the unwarranted christianization of Jamnia as “a council” and the way that the consensus characterized the development of the canon in a strictly sequential manner. The supposed schism of the Samaritans from the Jews who returned from exile was also queried as a reliable foundation for the dating of the closing of the Torah of the Judaeans. What emerged in the past generation was not so much another consensus,
Entstehung des alttestamenlichen Kanons (Gotha, 1891); and especially H. E. Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament (London: MacMillan and Co., 1892).
2 . 4 See my study in the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library series. There was renewed interest in the dating. formation and emergence of the Torah in the Persian and early Hellenistic period.2 Albert Sundberg and John Barton argued that the canon remained open well into the common era. Mass: Harvard University Press. 1986). What did the term “torah” signify by way of books of the Jewish canon and what role did the Persian imperial government have in the elevation of its status? Probably the most important source of the reconsideration of the origins of the canon stems from the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Longman and Todd Ltd. These well known 2 The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture: the Talmudic and Midrashic Evidence (Hamden: Archon Books. and The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Reconsidering the Origins of the Canon Impetus for reappraising the origins of the canon came from several quarters. the Pharisaic canon.3 They did not specify when it closed. 1964). I will summarise a theory that I have advanced. 1985). 3 The Old Testament of the Early Church (Cambridge. but it was the Pharisaic canon that eventually became the canon of Rabbinic Judaism.. CT: YUP.Maccabean period. 1976). In the following.4 I propose that one canon. became the canon of Rabbinic Judaism in the years following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. and Oracles of God: Perceptions of Ancient Prophecy in Israel after the Exile (London: Darton. because the majority of those who re-‐ founded post-‐70 Judaism were Pharisees. which prompted a reassesment of the collection known as the books of Moses. Each community had its own understanding of the collections that made up authoritative scriptures. Before the emergence of this one canon of Rabbinic Judaism there were several “canons”. The Formation of the Jewish Canon (New Haven. forthcoming 2013).
thus precluding an origin of the sect under Jonathan or Simon Maccabee. do not show any 5 See “Current Issues in Dead Sea Scrolls Research” in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls ed. In the past.5 Significantly. Josephus and Pliny.Jewish manuscripts were discovered in the Judaean Desert by the archaeological site of Khirbet Qumran about sixty-‐five years ago. Collins (Oxford: OUP. Khirbet Qumran. accounting for some two hundred or so original manuscripts. Timothy H. Beyond the Qumran Community. Notably John J. apocryphal works. who argues that sectarian communities of the scrolls were dispersed throughout Judaea and not concentrated at Qumran. Collins. with its extensive cemetery and water system. and other previously unknown compositions. 2010). The Qumran-‐ Essene hypothesis broadly remains the consensus. the concept of the “Qumran library” has been challenged. sectarian writings. Khirbet Qumran has been decentralized as the “motherhouse” of Essenism. sectarian settlement. Not all the scrolls should be characterized as “sectarian”. but a site that has material connections with other places in Judaea. The chronology of the communal phase has been re-‐dated by a generation to 100 BCE. 3 . They include all the books of the traditional Hebrew Bible (except Esther). Here was an opportunity to examine one Jewish community’s understanding of “canon”. the collection of nine hundred or so manuscripts was considered the “library” of a Jewish sectarian community that lived at Qumran who are moreover identified with the Essenes known from the classical sources of Philo. is no longer considered an isolated. The biblical scrolls. But scrolls scholarship was changing. The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Lim and John J. 2010). but in recent years it has changed in so many ways that one could rightly ask whether it is still one and the same theory.
evidence of a sectarian character. Finally. When Rabbis used the term “outside books” to describe heretical books. but they did not call them “inside books”. In fact. The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise a heterogeneous collection of texts. the biblical books that belong to the collection do not ipso facto mean that they are authoritative for the community. Should one even use terms like “biblical” and “canon” to describe the authoritative scriptures of the sectarian communities? Is it legitimate to label certain texts as “biblical” when the concept of canon in the sectarian scrolls is not fully developed?6 Implied Notion of Canon An examination of relevant passages from the scrolls and other important Jewish and Christian writings shows that there was indeed a notion of “canon” in the Second Temple period. therefore. even if ancient Jews did not have a term for it. When Jews used such titles as “the book of Moses” or “the books of the prophets”. 4 . they must have known which books belonged “inside”. It is within scrolls scholarship that the issues related to the canon have been most sharply raised. they called them kitvey ha-‐ qodesh or “holy scriptures”. ch. the debate in the Mishnah over the status of 6 Terminological issues are discussed in my “Authoritative Scriptures and the Scrolls” in Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are the biblical texts of Jews in the late Second Temple period. Instead. 12. the notion of “library” misleads if one understands by it a corpus that the sect had carefully collected. they imply a collection of writings.
The divine origin of scripture. the concept of canon varied from one community to the next as each group formulated its own notion of authoritative scriptures. depending on the discernment of each community. I have suggested that the rabbis thought of “holy scriptures” as sacred objects. There was a widely shared belief that scripture was prophetic and inspired. which have the ability to make mundane hands impure (see my “The Defilement of the Hands as a Principle Determining the Holiness of Scriptures” JTS 61. admits varying interpretations.Qohelet or Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs supposes that the Rabbis must have known which writings “defiled the hands”. The prophet regarded by some as “the true oracle” could be considered by others as “the false proclaimer”. but one reason may be found in the nature of prophecy. The validity of predictive prophecy is easily established. there were different kinds of prophetic writings. Prophetic writings are open to different interpretations. that is a prophecy I have not spoken (11Q19 61:2-‐4). 7 The principle of tum’at yadayim—that holiness defiles the hands—is counter-‐intuitive and perplexing. however.7 The Nature of Prophecy In the Second Temple period. like the Ark of the Covenant. Why they did so cannot now be known with certainty. The Temple Scroll provides a pragmatic fix: How shall we recognize that which the Lord has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the prophecy is not fulfilled and does not come to pass.2 : 501-‐15) 5 . Moreover.
for reproof. and some of them were used by scribes for rudimentary exercises of textual criticism. It is difficult to escape the impression that the role attributed by scholars to the supposed Temple library in the promulgation of the official canon is influenced. scholars sometimes assumed that there was a collection of scriptures at the Temple of Jerusalem that served as the official canon of Judaism. by the conciliar model. 2 Maccabees 2:13-‐15 does not describe the establishment of a library at Jerusalem in the time of Judas Maccabeus. for correction and for training in righteousness (3:16). The Deutero-‐Pauline letter of 2 Timothy famously described prophetic writings as follows: “all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching.” But what is “profitable” is open to interpretation. Despite what some scholars believe. He gave them back to the Judeans as part of the restoration of the Jewish heritage. The books that he collected were those that had “fallen to pieces” and damaged in the war of Antiochus. 6 . Temple Books rather than Official Canon In previous studies on the canon. However. warning and counsel. not all prophecy is predictive and in fact much of what passes for prophecy in the biblical texts is better described as admonition. consciously or not. Scriptural scrolls were indeed found at the Temple. Non-‐predictive prophecy admits different kinds of authority and consequently different kinds of authoritative texts. This Jewish leader gathered books in a general sense. but there is no evidence of an official canon prescribed from the centre.
These ancient sources should not be harmonised. 6:19-‐22. “the book of the torah of God” (Neh 8:8). since that would presuppose reading more than sixteen verses per minute for six hours straight! It is the biblical citations embedded in Neh 8-‐10 that provide a clue to the books in view. Leviticus (Ezra 3:4. The Judeans who gathered in the square before the Water Gate heard Ezra read from “the book of the Torah of Moses”. and Joshua (Neh 9:23-‐25. but the account of Neh 8 is highly stylised. however. 6:19-‐22. “the torah” (Neh 8:2). Matching the biblical quotations with the titles. 9:26-‐ 37). 13:1-‐2. Nehemiah uses six designations: “the book of the torah of Moses with which the Lord had commanded Israel” (Neh 8:1). Torah in the Persian and Hellenistic Period Tracing the formation of the canon is an involved task. Neh 10:32. 13:25). It is unlikely that Ezra read the whole of the Pentateuch from “first light until midday”. 13:15-‐22). 10:32. Deuteronomy (Ezra 3:4. The ancient sources attest to a diversity of conceptions of authoritative scriptures. Neh 9 cites passages from the first six books of the traditional canon: Genesis (Neh 9:6. Neh 8:14-‐17. Numbers (Neh 9:12-‐22). made complex by the diversity of the sources that stretch over a period of several centuries. “the torah that the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses” (Neh 8:14). is not so straightforward. Exodus (Neh 9:9-‐11. “the book of the torah of God” 7 . It is an idealised description that represents Ezra as a second Moses. 12-‐21). 7-‐8). cf.
the king of Egypt. and the project funded by the royal patronage of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-‐247 BCE).(Neh 8:18) and “the book of the torah of the Lord their God” (Neh 9:3). since the book of Joshua is also cited in Neh 9:23-‐25. the title is formulated without mention of Moses (“the book of the torah of the Lord their God”) and the subsequent review of Israelite history includes the conquest narratives as found in the book of Joshua (Neh 9:23-‐25). It could refer to the Pentateuch or to a larger collection of the first six books including the book of Joshua. The term “torah” is not always restricted to the Mosaic reference. although the term may also have a narrower or wider meaning in Hellenistic Jewish literature. known as “the Hexateuch” in scholarly parlance. The “Canon” in Second Century Egypt The Jewish community in second century BCE Alexandria conceived of the nomos (the Greek translation equivalent of torah) more or less as the Pentateuch. to laws and narratives. One solution is to recognise that the term “torah” is used loosely in Ezra-‐ Nehemiah. Jewish law was translated from Hebrew into Greek in the third century BCE at the request of the librarian in Alexandria. 8 . In Ezra-‐Nehemiah. “torah” refers to both the Pentateuch and the Hexateuch. and Josh 1:7-‐9 clearly distinguishes itself from the Mosaic torah. According to the anonymous Jewish author of The Letter of Aristeas. who was writing in the second century BCE. therefore. Significantly in Neh 9:3. the task was executed under the auspices of Eleazar the High Priest of Jerusalem. It is unlikely that all these titles refer to the Pentateuch.
but it is different from that of the Let. had devoted himself to the reading of “the Law (τὴν τοῦ νόµου) and the Prophets (τῶν προφητῶν) and the other books of our ancestors (τῶν ἄλλων 9 . The intended audience are probably the Greek speaking. The grandson arrived in Egypt in 132 BCE and probably spent the next fifteen years translating his grandfather’s book of wisdom from Hebrew to Greek. He explains that Jesus ben Sira. It is the grandson’s preface to his grandfather’s book of wisdom and it invites all those who love learning to read the sapiential writing and profit by it in living according to the law. Jewish scribes of Egypt. This legend of the origins of the Septuagint served as the charter myth of Alexandrian Jewry that was reacting to the editing and standardization of the Homeric epics.e.Arist. Also in the second century BCE Egypt. the Prologue of the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira reflects another conception of canon. the scribe par excellence. The strategy adopted by the author of the Let.Arist. was to recount the myth of the Greek rendering by having the Alexandrians reenact the “Sinai pattern” in order to validate the translation of the Jewish law as a new revelation. books]”) in speech and writing (“through the spoken and written word”). In the Prologue. These scribes are to help the laity (“those without them [i. the grandson commends his grandfather’s book of wisdom to other scribes. The Prologue has been at the centre of much scholarly debate: Does it refer to a closed tripartite canon or an open bipartite one? Does it imply a criticism against existing Greek translations of the biblical texts? The Prologue should be understood in the light of the scribal curriculum of Sir 39:1-‐3.
including those of the grandfather’s book of wisdom. Rather. It was originally intended for “the house of study” (beth midrash. but if the scriptural references in Sir 44-‐50 are anything to go by. then the scribal syllabus would have included all the books of the traditional canon except Ruth. That syllabus consists only of ancient Israelite literature of various genres. and does not include the books of other ancient peoples. as some have suggested. Whereas The Letter of Aristeas reflects the point of view of the diasporan Jewish community in Alexandria and defines its 10 . prophecies. How can one reconcile the two conceptions of authoritative scriptures in second century BCE Egypt? One way is to recognise that the Wisdom of Ben Sira is a transplant from a Judaean setting.πατρίων βιβλίων)”. The scribe must not just study the law. The Wisdom of Ben Sira does not attest to the closed canon. the prophets and the other books of our ancestor in the Prologue refer to the syllabus that the ideal scribe is to study in Sir 39:1-‐3. Esther and Daniel. it is required by the grammar: the law. parables and proverbs. the Song of Songs. The definiteness of the three categories is no evidence of the closed tripartite canon. Having acquired considerable proficiency in them. but also Israelite wisdom. The books classified by the grandson fall into a pattern of the law and the prophets plus an unspecified number of other ancestral books. discourse. he has himself written a book of wisdom that should be included in the scribal curriculum. It is not specified which books are implied in these genres. Sir 51:23 [Heb]) in Jerusalem and only subsequently brought to Egypt and translated.
Sectarian Authoritative Scriptures The sectarian community reflected in the scrolls did not have a developed concept of authoritative scriptures. Nonetheless. There was not a third division. The phrase “in Da[vid]” (found only in 4Q397) is not a reference to the psalms or the whole of the writings. I mean that there was no clear conception of a closed list. likewise assumed that the Jewish law was the Pentateuch. Some non-‐biblical scrolls too were regarded as authoritative. the sectarians had an implicit sense of authoritative scriptures in the form of the book of Moses. the books of the prophets. The prophetic books include several prophecies—Isaiah. an Alexandrian Jew. one can piece together from passing references in the scrolls to show that by the second half of the first century BCE. and one or more versions of the psalter. The book of Jubilees was considered an authoritative perush or legal explanation of the 11 . By this. and the psalms. it refers either to the deeds of David or to the king as an ideal figure. despite the attempts by some to read it out of a badly mutilated line in a scroll called 4QMMT. The book of Moses consists of the books of Genesis to Deuteronomy. nor a strict demarcation of those books that were eventually included in the traditional canon from other books that were also considered authoritative. There is virtual absence of any discussion of the status of authoritative books. Jeremiah and Ezekiel—as well as sub-‐ collections of Samuel-‐Kings.canon as the Pentateuch. Philo. the minor prophets.
exhorted to bind himself by a solemn oath to the Mosaic torah as it is specified in the book of Jubilees.Pentateuch in the Damascus Document (CD 16:1-‐3). Sectarian hermeneutics acknowledge the authority of the biblical texts. but it nonetheless commands authority. it represents a dual pattern of authority by which the traditional biblical texts serve as the source of the sectarian interpretation. such as those of the Hodayot or Thanksgiving Psalms. beginning with biblical books. and 4QInstruction. Other non-‐biblical writings appear to have had some authority in the sectarian community. Everything is to be found in the Torah of Moses. I would identify two characteristics of the sectarian concept of authoritative scriptures. 12 . Thus. there is a graded authority of non-‐biblical texts. In a pivotal passage of the Damascus Document that interprets Isa 24:17. also appears to have been authoritative. the books of Enoch. Second. the Temple Scroll. therefore. It is not part of the Torah of Moses. the book of Jubilees and the pesher and extending to other sectarian and non-‐sectarian works. The sectarian is. but also subvert it by wresting control of the meaning. The sectarian exegesis of biblical prophecy. Its authority stems from the claim that God not only revealed to the prophets of old. called “the pesher” (plural: pesharim). the pesherite comment is cited as authoritative (CD 4:12-‐19). First. both the interpretative method and the content of that exegesis are authoritative. but is in turn defined by it. At this point. Further work needs to be done to tease out the nature of their authority. but also continued to do so to the Teacher of Righteousness (1QpHab 7:4-‐5). and is secondary to it. but not everything is clear.
Once thought to be one and the same as the Qumran community. As for the canon of the Therapeutae. impecunious Therapeuts could each have had the equivalent of a private library in his small room. In its context (On the Contemplative Life 24-‐28). 13 . it is unlikely that individual. 2003). is consistent with what is found in the scrolls. By contrast. He also mentions that the Essenes had “prophetic apophtegms” and swore to preserve “the books of their sect”.1 (1998): 3-‐24. much attention has been focused on Philo’s description of the law. the psalms. are the Essenes and Therapeutae. By contrast. Josephus associates the Essenes’ “holy books” with “different sorts of purifications” which are likely to refer more generally to the Pentateuch rather than just Leviticus and Numbers. the Essenes are still broadly identified with the yahad and the community of the Damascus Document. however. the prophetic oracles. Jewish Women Philosophers of First-‐Century Alexandria: Philo’s ‘Therapeutae’ Reconsidered (Oxford: OUP. given the costs of book-‐ production in antiquity. and Joan Taylor. the Therapeutae have been reconfigured as part of the philosophical school of allegorical exegesis in first century Alexandria rather than as a daughter sect of the Essenes. it seems more likely that Philo was describing 8 See Joan Taylor and Philip Davies. 8 Philo describes the pedagogical role of the ancestral laws of the Essene community in keeping with his own understanding of the canon as the Pentateuch. Rather.Holy Books of the Essenes and Therapeutae Related to the sectarian communities of the scrolls. while not entirely clear. and the other books as a four-‐part canon. This description. “The So-‐Called Therapeutae of De Vita Contemplativa: Identity and Character” HTR 91. but distinguishable from them.
Canon in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke Several passages in the New Testament have been seized on by scholars as indicative of a closed canon. tri-‐ or quadri-‐partite collection. His description. is so vague that it could refer to a bi-‐. the clause “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” is most naturally understood as a reference to books belonging to the Torah and Prophets. however. he probably had in mind three or more divisions of the canon. is not intended to define the beginning and end of a list of books. however. Probably the best known of these is Matt 23:34-‐36 and its reference to the prophets. It has been argued by Roger Beckwith that the phrase. It selectively draws out biblical figures from Abel to Zechariah to exemplify the shedding of innocent blood. Luke says that Jesus interpreted “in all the scriptures” concerning himself to his disciples. 27. but it does not specify what else was included. When the Lukan Jesus says to his disciples that everything written about me “in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled”. These descriptors should be understood in the light of the parallel passage in vv. implies a closed canon with books arranged in the traditional order from Genesis to Chronicles. The Matthean passage. Luke 24:44 is evidence of at least a tripartite canon.the canon of the Therapeutae more generally. 14 . In v. Moreover. “from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah”. Instead. 25-‐27 of the same chapter. wise men and scribes. “beginning with” points to at least another division.
but they were not included in the second division of the prophets. as is proper. as well as pre-‐existent excerpts of biblical texts. The reference in Luke 24:44 to the law and the prophets. because David was regarded as the author of the psalms (Acts 1:16. including his own renderings of the Hebrew texts (from written texts and/or memory). He cites distinctively septuagintal texts in only 18% of the cases. Acts 3:22). It is likely that the psalms were considered prophetic in nature. but this is misleading. 15 . a textual classification of his verbatim citations based on content rather than language. Moreover. In fact. but the two are not same. There is no doubt that Paul knew septuagintal texts and used them alongside other translations. they were considered prophetic by nature. and the exclusion of the psalms from these collections. Verse 44 mentions “the psalms” and they are likely to have been included in the books implied in “all the scriptures”. means that by the end of the first century CE. The psalms are mentioned because Luke-‐Acts uniquely singles out their importance (Luke 20:42 and Acts 1:20). 4:25) and he was a prophet (Acts 2:30). However. the first two divisions of the canon had already become traditional and closed. Paul and the Pharisaic Canon It is often said that Paul’s Bible was the Septuagint. there is evidence that Luke-‐Acts considered all scripture prophetic (Luke 24:25. shows that in 45% of the cases Paul cites a textual tradition that is common to the MT and LXX.
Paul cites or alludes to various sources including the slogans of his opponents and a popular saying of Menander (1 Cor 15:33). but against Jews whom he believed abused the mercy of God by continuing to sin. and Ezra-‐ Nehemiah. The literary relationship between the genuine Pauline passages and purported source passages may be characterized as similarity of thought rather than dependence. a thought paralleled in the Jewish text. He used scriptural texts to bolster his pastoral and theological concerns. Esther. However. Ruth. he reserves the use of introductory formulas only for passages derived from books that were eventually included in the traditional canon. He provides a paraphrase without indicating that it was derived from a source. The apostle to the gentiles was a missionary with many pressing issues before him. In his writings. The study of citations as indicator of canon is limited by the concerns of Paul’s letters. he debated with other Jews by using scriptural scrolls that were available at the synagogue. But an examination of all the purported references in the list of the standard Greek New Testament—the Nestle-‐Aland appendix of “loci citati vel allegati”—shows that evidence for Paul’s use of books outside of the traditional Jewish canon is wanting. One possible exception is the use of Wis 15:1-‐5 in Rom 2:4. Paul cited or alluded to all the books of the traditional Jewish canon except for the Song of Songs. 16 . The view that his Bible was the Septuagint also implies that Paul counted as authoritative the books of the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. But in this passage Paul is not arguing against Wis 15 as such.
The biblical books listed in the baraita of Baba Bathra 14a-‐15b constituted the canon of the Pharisees. the observance of the law. Qohelet or Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs (3:5). Jewish identity and endogamy would have been highly inconvenient for Paul. shows that disputes continued well into the second century over the scriptural status of two books. His implied canon.9 Moreover. in Romans Paul describes the biblical texts as “holy scriptures” (γραφαί ἁγίαι. The theory of the majority canon. 1:2). because the majority of 9 It is unclear why Ezra-‐Nehemiah is not used in the letters. then. is consistent with the emerging Pharisaic canon that was determined but not yet defined. however. Interestingly. This is not surprising given that Paul was a Pharisee (Phil 3:2-‐6). a description unique in the NT and an exact translation of the Rabbinic expression for “holy scriptures” (kitvey ha-qodesh). however. 4 Ezra has in view a twenty-‐four book public canon that the worthy and unworthy read (14:45-‐48). the authoritative status of the Song of Songs. 17 . recognizes both the diversity of authoritative scriptures and the eventual emergence of the one canon as a consequence of historical events. and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Ruth and Esther were also debated in Rabbinic literature (bMeg 7a). but the book’s emphasis on the rebuilding of the Temple. Rabbinic texts also reflect disputes about the books of Ruth and Esther. Emergence of the Rabbinic Canon By the end of the first century CE Josephus and the author of the apocalypse of 4 Ezra reflect the same closed canon that differed only in the count of the books. A well-‐known passage in Mishnah Yadayim. Josephus claims that his twenty-‐two book canon was recognized by all Jews (Against Apion 1:38-‐42).
and Future: Essays in Honor of Gene M. J. Collins. and John J. Rather the authority was conferred on certain books from the bottom-‐up. Factors in the Formation of the Canon There were internal and external factors that contributed to the formation of the Jewish canon. pp. D. Petersen. it means that most Jews accepted the canon of twenty-‐ two/twenty-‐four books. 18 . 1995). there were different collections of authoriative scriptures. Present.10 The closing of the canon may be likened to the reaching of a consensus. and the End of Jewish Sectarianism” HUCA 55 (1984): 27-‐53.those who founded Rabbinic Judaism were Pharisees. Rather. The theory that a canon emerged through the identity of the majority does not imply that diversity coalesced into uniformity. The closure was not achieved by some conciliar fiat. Past. and K. Mays. “Before the Canon: Scriptures in Second Temple Judaism” in Old Testament. There was no council that pronounced on the status of the books. 10 Cf. It is unclear precisely when the Jewish canon closed. 225-‐241. Rabbis. and then there was the one canon of the majority as sectarianism disappeared. Richards (Nashville: Abingdon. Shaye Cohen. but a rough estimate of between 150 and 250 CE would not be far off the mark. The books that eventually became canonical were regarded as divinely inspired. “The Significance of Yavneh: Pharisees. but unofficially and as a result of a protracted process in which the traditional. H. They had long been accepted and used by various Jewish communities in study and worship. It does not imply the absence of dissenting voices. Tucker ed. L. L. authoritative books came to be recognized finally as the canon of twenty-‐ two/twenty four books.
closed canon in polemic discourse against the myriad of Greek histories. the Rabbinic discussion of “outside books” was a reaction in part to the rise of the Christian Gospels. Additionally. In the Persian period. It served the strategic purpose of the Persian government to support the laws of the people of the province of Yehud. And in the second and third centuries. In second century BCE Alexandria. the status of the Jewish Torah was most likely elevated by imperial authorization. both political and cultural. It recognises the diversity of collections of authoritative scriptures and the eventual emergence of the one Pharisaic canon that became not only the canon of Rabbinic Judaism but the accepted. At the end of the first century CE. Josephus articulated the concept of a single. traditional canon still in use today. it was also reacting to the standardization of the Homeric epics as “the Bible of the Greeks”. the Jewish community not only appealed to the myth of imperial patronage in the translation of the Pentateuch from Hebrew to Greek. there were external factors that must be recognized. 19 . Conclusions The theory of the majority canon explains the formation of the Jewish canon as a protracted and complex process on which several internal and external factors impacted.
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