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2002 Present and critically examine the evidence that the Old Testament canon was already closed by the time of Jesus. Discuss the influence that the Septuagint has had on the thinking, of the Christian church about the content of the Old Testament canon. Making reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint, write an essay on the state of the Old Testament text in the period between approximately 250 B.C. and A.D. 100. Discuss the influence that the Septuagint has had on the thinking, of the Christian church about the content of the Old Testament canon. Explain why most English versions of the Old Testament are based on the Masoretic Hebrew text. 2001 How far is it possible to trace the history of the formation of the Hebrew canon? (also 1998) Explain the origin and character of the Targums and their value for the study of the Old Testament. 'The Masoretic text is not identical with the canonical text, but is only a vehicle for its recovery.' Discuss (also 1998) How have the Dead Sea Scrolls contributed to textual criticism? What implications does textual criticism have for the way we view and use Scripture as the word of God? 2000 How would you answer the claim that because the Septuagint was the Bible of the apostles and Church Fathers, its Apocrypha should be retained in our canon? OR Describe and assess the view of the 'canonizing process' set forth by James Sanders. Describe some of the problems faced in recovering the original text of the Septuagint. Describe the state of the biblical text in the period represented by the Dead Sea Scrolls, and suggest what grounds there are, in the light of this, for retaining confidence in the Masoretic Text. 1999 Of what relevance is the notion of 'covenant' for explaining, the origin and development of the Old Testament canon? Assess the value of the Septuagint for Old Testament study. Would it be more correct to say that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls revolutionised the study of the Old Testament text, or merely enabled it to proceed along the same basic lines with greater confidence? (also 1997) 'And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine' (The Thirty-Nine Articles, Article VI). Outline and assess the arguments which may be adduced to support this position on the status of the Apocrypha. (also 1997) 1998 Explain the origin and character of the Septuagint and its value for the study of the Old Testament. How have the Dead Sea Scrolls contributed to textual criticism? 1997 Describe and evaluate the work of Roger Beckwith regarding the development and closure of the Hebrew canon. Assess the value of the Targums for Old Testament study.
This study paper has six sections: 1. The Transmission of the Old Testament text 2. Ancient Versions of the Old Testament 3. The Old Testament Canon: Its Extent and Closure 4. The Dead Sea Scrolls 5. The Apocrypha
Canonisation: from inner-biblical exegesis to BHQ
This is my summary of Wal's summary!!
1. THE TRANSMISSION OF THE OT TEXT
● ● ● The transmission of the OT text is something that has been done over an incredibly long period of time (approx. 1400 B.C. – 400 B.C. if the traditional view of Moses to Malachi is upheld). Done by hand copying, even beyond the period of the OT epoch right up until the time of printing in the fifteenth century.
Means the oldest OT books have been copied by hand for around 3000 years, and the most recent for about 2000 years. There are various ways of organising a study of how the OT text has been transmitted. Brotzmann does it in five historical eras. These are:
i) ii) iii) iv) v) i)
textual transmission prior to 300 B.C. textual transmission from 300 B.C. to A.D. 135 textual transmission from A.D. 135 to 1000 textual transmission from A.D. 1000 to 1450 textual transmission from A.D. 1450 to the present
textual transmission prior to 300 B.C.
Very little direct evidence of textual transmission from this period. But such an important period of transmission, several features of its inferred history should be mentioned. Texts in this period were first written and copied in the Phoenician script, later in the period replaced by the square Aramaic script. ■ ■ Important since groups of letters could be confused in both scripts – could lead to scribal errorbal error. The standard scroll size could accommodate the text of Isaiah, and is a likely explanation for the division of the Pentateuch into five books. Samuel, Kings and Chronicles could be written on one scroll as well, and it was not until their translation for the LXX that they were broken into two (Greek writing requires more space than Hebrew). Another feature is that texts were transmitted as individual scrolls, not as a part of a codex.
Text transmission of this period was dominated by largely consonantal text. Alleged use of continuous writing (writing without spaces between words). ■ Clearly if this was the standard practise, mistakes could easily have crept in during scribal transmission. (contested as that Qumran texts, both those in Phoenician and Aramaic script, used spacing. This means that the earliest books of the OT had to be revised to fit in with the new grammar.
Around 1350 B.C. there was a major revision of Hebrew grammar. ■
textual transmission from 300 B.C. to A.D. 135
we have clear manuscript evidence from this period. Pride of place among these are the Qumran texts, dated from between the third and first centuries B.C.. ■ ■ All of the OT books are represented by the Qumran texts (bar Esther). primary feature of them is that they give evidence of a multiplicity of text families or groups. Some parallel what becomes the Masoretic text. Others follow the LXX. Others another tradition altogether.
This period of textual transmission is pivotal to the entire history of Hebrew Scriptures.
Other Hebrew texts from the period date from around A.D. 135. Their main feature is agreement with what would become the Masoretic text. This means, however, that the multiplicity of texts from the Qumran period was replaced with a single text by the time of A.D. 135. When did this establishment of a single authoritative text happen? At the very least it happened prior to A.D. 135. A good guess is some time late in the first century.
textual transmission from A.D. 135 to 1000
Given that in the last period there was a move from a multiplicity of texts to a standard text, emphasis in this period is on the transmission of that standard text within Jewish scribal circles. The period can be broken into two parts
the period of transmission from A.D. 135-500 by Jewish rabbis, and the textual activity of the Masoretes from A.D. 500-1000.
135-500. Period of the Talmud
● ● Probable that the division of the text into verses and paragraphs took place at this time. In sum, most of the changes from this period were external changes, made in order to aid reading and assist understanding. This period deals with the Masoretic activity, carried out in various places because of certain historical factors affecting the Jewish people. (Jews emigrated to Babylon after Christianity grew in Palestine) Also Islamic conquest of Palestine in A.D. 635, which made possible a revival of Jewish textual work in Tiberias. this work would be reflected in the subsequent study and transmission of the Old Testament text.
500-1000. Masoretes (esp Tiberian Masoretes)
● ● ●
The contribution of the Tiberian Masoretes needs to be described in some detail. Inheriting the text of the talmudic rabbis, the Tiberian Masoretes developed an overall system to ensure the accurate understanding of the OT text and its correct transmission to subsequent generations. This system consisted of three elements. i) Vowels a set of symbols that graphically represented the vowel tradition that had previously been transmitted only orally. ii) Accents - help stress syllables and read the text iii) a system of specialised notes to accompany the OT text, traditionally grouped into three sections. The Masorah parva were written in the side margins of the text, and deal with word statistics and Qere-Khetiv readings. The Masorah magna were written at the top and bottom of the text and contain more detailed info than the Masorah parva. The Masorah finalis were written at the end of biblical books or sections of the OT, showing special information about the number of words in a book, the middle word of a book, the middle consonant of a book etc. ● ● The Masoretic system described above was transmitted with the text itself. Two Masoretes in particular should be noted. Ben Asher and ben Naphtali were the last of the Masoretes, and they represent two families of Tiberian Masoretes whose work differed slightly. This is important since it is the ben Asher text that is the nearest antecedent to the current printed editions of the OT text. The differences chiefly concerned the accent system, but there were also differences of spelling, word division, vocalisation etc.
textual transmission from A.D. 1000 to 1450
● Text transmitted in the form fixed by the Tiberian Masoretes, in vocalisation, accents, and textual notes. Texts before A.D. 1100. ● ● ● ● ● ● The Aleppo Codex (A) from A.D. 925. Most of the Pentateuch is lost, very close to the ben Asher tradition. The Leningrad Codex (L) from A.D. 1008. Still very close to the ben Asher tradition. The main differences between the two have to do with certain vowels. L contains all of the OT. The British Musem MS 4445 (B) contains most of the Torah, dates around A.D. 925. It is a fairly good represtentation of ben Asher, though not as close as A or L. The Cairo Codex (C) from A.D. 896. Closer to ben Naphtali than ben Asher, but is not pure form of it. Contains all the prophets. Sassoon 507 (S) and Sassoon 1053 (S1) - tenth century. S contains most of the Torah and is a mix of Asher and Naphtali. S1 contains most of the OT but is less carefully written that the others mentioned. The Petersburg Codex of the Prophets (P) dates from A.D. 916, and contains Babylonian signs but Tiberian Masorah.
Texts after A.D. 1100 The variations are only very small in this period, reflecting a faithful transmission of the texts described above.
● ● ● ●
textual transmission from A.D. 1450 to the present
Begins with invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century. 16th C- printed editions replaced manuscripts in most of Europe. Most significant development early on in this period was the printing of rabbinic bibles. Most significant development in latter part of this period was printing of critical editions in the twentieth century.
2. ANCIENT VERSIONS OF THE OT
OT transmitted in languages other than Hebrew as well. In the following, each of the different versions will be described in three stages: a history of how the OT text came to be done in that language, a description of the character of the text form, and a general evaluation of the usefulness of the particular version of the OT.
The Samaritan Pentateuch
● ● Contains only the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures (only accpeted these). The text preserved by the Samaritans used a script used in the very early transmission of the Hebrew text. A manuscript was discovered in Damascus in 1616. Soon, some judged this text to be better than the Masoretic text. By the 19th century, however, others were saying that the Samaritan Pentateuch had no value for recovering the original text of the OT. The twentieth century has seen a more positive evaluation of its usefulness, particularly with the discovery of the Qumran manuscripts, some of which are very similar to the Samaritan Pentateuch. ● The character of the Samaritan Pentateuch can be perceived by noting that there are some 6000 differences with the Masoretic text. In around 1900 of these, the LXX agrees with the Samaritan Pentateuch against the Masoretic text. The value of the Samaritan Pentateuch is related to the characteristics described above. Most hold it as inferior to the Masoretic text today. There are several reasons for this, eg. no manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch dating from before the tenth century A.D. This does not mean it has no use, however, and there are times when the Samaritan Pentateuch should be regarded as closer to the originals than the Masoretic text.
● Targums = Aramaic translations of certain books of parts of the OT. They tend to be more periphrastic than literal, because they were done at a time when Hebrew fell out of common use among Jewish people in Palestine. ● Several different Targums are known today, Targum Onquelos is the official Targum of the Pentateuch. ■ It is a rather literal translation of the Hebrew text, though there is some tendency to paraphrase in parts, as well as the removal of some anthropomorphisms and a tendency to idealise the patriarchs. This Targum was probably reduced to writing in Palestine in the second century A.D.
The value of the Targums for textual criticism is limited, mainly because of their origin as oral paraphrases. But have value in understanding Jewish homiletical procedures and trends than as precise instruments of textual transmission.
Greek Versions (see B Moar study paper on LXX for more)
● Pride of place among the non-Semitic versions of the OT must be given to the LXX. 4 reasons LXX was originally translated by Jews in the third to second centuries B.C. LXX is well attested by large numbers of manuscripts. Contains the entire OT. Reflects more important variants than all other textual witnesses combined. ● 2 C A.D., three Greek versions of the LXX were produced, each bearing a different relationship to the original Jewish LXX. The earliest of these was done by Aquila, a Jewish proselyte. Extremely literal. The second of the Greek versions of the LXX was produced by Theodotian - much freer than Aquila’s translation, and became very popular with the Christian church. The third Greek version was produced by Symmachus - popular version, in idiomatic Greek, though it tended to paraphrase. ● ● By the fourth century differences.
there were 4 versions (one by Jews, and three Greek ones), but many textual
Origen came on the scene, writing the Hexapla. This work had six columns that could be compared to each other. The organisation was as follows:
The Hebrew Origen’s time
Transliteration of the Hebrew in Greek letters
Origen’s own translation
Two other individuals should be noted for their contribution to the history of the LXX (Both fourth century). Lucian’s work is marked by a tendency to conflation (combining two variant readings into a single reading). Hesychius produced a version that is reflected in part in Codex Vaticanus. Recovering the original LXX is complicated, largely because there is no single uncial that exclusively reflects any of the three editions of the early fourth century A.D. (Origen’s, Lucian’s, and Hesychius’). Despite this, several comments may be made bout the general usefulness of the LXX in OT textual criticism. Textual criticism must be done between the LXX versions themselves to establish the original Greek text. Then it must be determined whether this was an accurate rendering of the Hebrew text. But the different stages of translation into Greek were done with varying levels of translational ability – sp it's a very difficult process. This means that in the end, the LXX has usefulness only slightly better than the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Targums. It should not be used for a wholesale rejection of the Masoretic text, though on occasion, critics will favour it as being closer to the original Hebrew than the Masoretic text.
Other Important Ancient Versions
● The Peshitta translation of the OT in Syriac (an Aramaic dialect). origins and early history are unknown, but revised in the light of other translations, particularly the LXX. This means that a Syriac agreement with the LXX over the Masoretic text does not necessarily mean that there are two separate witnesses. Rather it means one witness repeated in two places. ● The Old Latin a daughter translation ( a translation made from a translation, in this case the LXX). probably done some time in the second century A.D.. Means that it allows access to the LXX prior to the versions of Origen, Lucian, and Hesychius, and so its primary value is in helping determine the original LXX translation. ● The Vulgate fourth century translation by Jerome. Initially this was done with the Psalms on the basis of the LXX. Later it was done to the whole OT text on the basis of the available Hebrew text. At first, hostile reception, but by the seventh century it was accepted on an equal basis with the Old Latin. By the eighth and ninth centuries, it superseded the Old Latin, and in the sixteenth it was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church as its official Bible.
3. THE OT CANON: ITS EXTENT AND CLOSURE
Word applies to Biblical books as the list of books that are regarded as Holy Scripture. Shead gave the following definitions: Canon: a collection of writings which define or regulate the beliefs and conduct of a particular community Canonising: the process by which writings achieve canonical status. Canonicity: the state of belonging to a canon.
IMPORTANT QUESTION: What is the precise relationship between canonicity and authority? Is a book in the canon because it is authoritative, or is it authoritative because it is in the canon? We must answer that a book is in the canon because it is authoritative. In other words, the process of canonisation was a process of recognition, not of determination.
The Growth of the OT Canon
● There are two main views of how the canon grew. evolutionary model ■ ■ ■ the majority view in critical scholarship and building on the work of Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis and its related view of the development in Israelite religion. Primitive Israelite society preserved special words, stories, and teachings of religious men. As the society grew and developed, these became more complex. When this society became a monarchical nation, literary activity flourished. The exile gave particular emphasis to canon formation, as the holy writings were all that was left that had given the ex-nation its identity and traditions. The return to Israel under Ezra was another significant moment, with its emphasis on the re-commitment to the law. The first is that authority is not intrinsic to the books – it is invested in them through human decisions. The second is that the authority of the books increases as the canonisation process progresses.
This view carries two important assumptions. ■ ■ ●
Kline's view. ANE covenants provide the key to the OT notions of authority and canonicity. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ treaties required the writing of a document that was fully authoritative and binding. I ts authority issued from the King who issued it, and in form it contained both narrative and law. As circumstances changed, however, so the canon grew, to reflect the new situation. First, it means that a canon existed from the moment of the covenant being given at Sinai. Second, it means that though the canon grew, it did not increase in authority. Third, canon grew only when the community recognised among them an emissary of the Great King. Fourth, the authority of the canon comes from God not the community. Finally, human agency, though involved in the process, nevertheless consists only in recognising that which is already authoritative because of its divine origin. eg. Psalms & Wisdom writings- treaty document theory can't be extended to cover all the OT canon.
This approach has several implications.
several difficulties with this. ■
The Closure of the Canon
There are two main models to run with regarding how the OT canon was closed.
traditional three stage view (J C Ryle / Sundberg) Pentateuch was closed by the fifth century B.C., the prophets some time in the fifth to second centuries B.C., and the Writings some time after that. observations in support of this proposal: 1) the books in the Writings are later, written after the Prophets was closed, 2) was only at the time of the Council of Jamnia that the Jews closed their canon. Previously, they has a
collection of holy books, but not a closed canon. 3) given that the Council of Jamnia (after destruction of 2 nd temple) debated the appropriateness of certain OT books being in the canon, the Writings section of the canon could not possibly have been closed before this date. ● Problems 1) the NT points to an already closed canon (Jesus appeals to the ‘Scriptures’ without further explanation), 2) not all the Writings do predate the Prophets (Malachi is almost certainly after Job and many of the Psalms), 3) Jamnia was not a ‘council’ in the strict sense of the word (it made no official rulings or statements), and 4) the idea that there was a wide body of circulating literature prior to the closing of the canon is questionable (recent examinations of Philo and Josephus have shown, that they clearly understood the difference between canonical and no-canonical books). Two stage approach (Beckwith) ● ● On this view, the books collected by Nehemiah, and later by Judas, covered the Law, Prophets, and Writings, so that the OT canon was closed in the second century B.C. Why the division between the Prophets and the Writings? Probably because of who the different books were thought to have been authored by. Books written by prophets were put into the Prophets. Others were put into the Writings.
Data Concerning the OT Canon
● ● Jesus said that he had fulfilled everything written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Lk 24) indicating the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible. highly likely that the first two sections had, by this time, been ‘closed’. But what about the Writings? in Jesus’ day probably closed - Lk 11, Jesus refers to ‘the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah’.. This has been taken to mean that Jesus is referring from the first to the last martyrs of the OT, but this understanding only makes sense on a canonical view, not an historical one. The reason for questioning whether the Writings was closed by the time of Jesus is the discussions that took place at Jamnia concerning the books mentioned above. (should not overestimate the importance of this Council). ● ● ● Philo, the learned Jew of Alexandria whose life overlapped Christ’s for the last twenty years, seems to have known and accepted the Hebrew canon and does not regard the apocryphal books as authoritative. Josephus’ take on the OT books - says much more precisely which books were counted as specially authoritative: 5 books of Moses, thirteen by the prophets, and four containing hymns to God and precepts for life. earliest Christian lists come from the late 2nd C A.D. by Melito and Epiphanius.
4. THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
The Initial Find
● discovered in 1947 by two Bedouin shepherds, an a cave that would later become known as Qumran cave 1. Found 11 leather scrolls wrapped in linen. represented seven different manuscripts of six different works. two most important of these were two different manuscripts of the book of Isaiah, one of which was complete. only other biblical text to be found was one of Habakkuk, where the Biblical text was interspersed with a commentary on the same book. ● Initially great scepticism regarding the antiquity of the scrolls found in Qumran cave 2 but put to rest with the publication of Roland de Vaux’s work, including detailed analysis by trained archaeologists regarding the dating of the pottery and of the manuscripts. Now, more than 200 caves in the region have been explored. Of these, twenty-five have been found to contain pottery similar to cave 1, and eleven have been found to contain similar manuscript fragments.
Texts Found in Other Qumran Caves
The manuscripts found in these eleven caves fall into several categories: i) deuterocanonical or apocryphal books These include examples of Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, the Epistle of Jeremy, Jubilees, the Book of Enoch, the Testament of Levi, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. ii) sectarian documents ● These are texts composed by and for the supposedly Essene community that lived in and around Qumran in the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. The most important of these is called the Rule of the Community, which includes liturgies, doctrine, and regulations for community life. ● In total, the eleven caves provided fragments from around 600 works (~ one quarter are biblical manuscripts from every OT book except Esther). These biblical scrolls do not reflect a uniform text type, but rather a range of them. Recent study has identified five types of texts. These are:
i) ii) iii)
Scrolls that essentially reflect what later became known as the Masoretic text (called proto-Masoretic). Roughly 60% of the Qumran scrolls fall under this classification. Scrolls that are very close to what became known as the Samaritan Pentateuch (pre-Samaritan). Scrolls that reflect the Vorlage of the Septuagint. Non-aligned texts (texts that do not conform to any particular text type but which have affinities with all of them) Texts that reflect Qumran scribal practice.
Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Text Criticism
Take biblical scholars roughly 1000 years earlier than had previously been known through Hebrew manuscripts. Prior to their discovery, the earliest compete copies of OT books dated from around the tenth century A.D., and the earliest complete copy of the entire OT from the eleventh. Relationship between these documents and the relatively late Masoretic text. Whilst there are small differences, the overall agreement is striking. This means, however, that though they are much earlier than the Masoretic texts, we can have confidence in the fidelity that was used in the transmission of the Masoretic texts. Details of the preservation of OT texts. They not only show that the text was preserved carefully, they also show that in the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D., the texts were preserved in a variety of text types rather than only one. This has meant, however, that text critics now have a much broader range of data to work with as they try to work back to what might have been the original text for any passage.
5. THE APOCRYPHA
1. Definitions ● ● ● The term ‘apocrypha’ comes from the Greek, meaning the ‘hidden things’. Used to refer to the books of the LXX not occuring in the Hebrew canon. (in RC Bibles) By ‘Alexandrian Canon’ hypothesis is meant the idea that there was a broader canon of Scripture accepted by Greek-speaking diaspora Jews than was the case for Palestinian Jews. This hypothesis is very old, arguably with a form of it going back to Justin Martyt. It has been effectively refuted in the 20th century by Sundberg.
2. The Apocrypha in early Judaism
● Jewish writers in the period of the apocryphal writings all accepted a threefold canon whose authority was distinguished from that of other religious writings. Of Ben Sirach, Josephus, and Philo, only Josephus both provides us with a list and explicitly rejects as canonical the writings after ‘Artaxerxes’. presume that the same canon was accepted by all. only in the 2nd century that uncertainty emerged about the number and order of the Old Testament books. ■ ■ ■ ● Ben Sirach refers to the Law, the Prophets, ‘and the rest of the books’. Philo writes about ‘the Laws, the Oracles uttered by the Prophets, and Hymns and the other books that foster perfect knowledge and piety’. Josephus numbers five of Moses, thirteen of the Prophets, and ‘the remaining four’ which contain ‘hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life’.
Remember that Judaism was far from homogeneous during this period, so that different ‘Judaisms’ may have had different canons. eg. Qumran community almost certainly added to their canon sectarian books. ■ ■ did this on grounds similar to those underlying the addition of canonical books to the Christian canon – the spirit of prophecy was recognised to be at work once again. Note that although the Qumran writings cite canonical and apocryphal books without distinction, no commentaries on books outside the Hebrew biblical canon have as yet been found.
3. The ●
New Testament evidence
Apocryphal books are alluded to every now and then (such as Romans 1:17ff being influenced by Wisdom 13-14; the echoes of Ecclus 51L23-39 in Matthew 11:28-30; 1 Peter’s allusions to the theology of 1 Enoch). Further, Jude both alludes to and cites books which were well known at the time but part neither of the Hebrew canon nor the Apocrypha. Ellis, however, maintains that nowhere does the New Testament quote as Scripture anything outside the Hebrew canon. On the evidence of Luke 11:51, Jesus’ own canon seems to have been the Hebrew one? Sheady reckons the only troubling case is the citation of Enoch by Jude, because the language of prophecy is used. And yet Enoch is not even in contention for inclusion in the Apocrypha. Tertullian actually considered Enoch to be Holy Scripture, and held his opinion because of the value of Enoch for christology. NT authors were very pragmatic in the choice of Scriptures for citation. Mainly chose texts that proved that Jesus was the Christ. Meant cite very selectively, and from a small list of ‘favourite books’. (Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy, 60% of NT add Genesis and get 80% of Paul) In short, considerations of content determined that way New Testament writers cited the Old Testament. By contrast, a book was recognised as canonical, in both Judaism and primitive Christianity, on the basis of prophetic authorship rather than content.
● ● ●
4. The ● ●
status of the Apocrypha in the Christian Church
Ellis - state of the Christian canon in the first four centuries is widely misrepresented. Most say Christian church took 400 years to recognise the Jewish distinction between canon and apocrypha; that Jerome stood against the rest of the early church in his adoption of the Hebrew canon; and that his conclusions were finally adopted by the reformers as if for the first time.
Really, we have a distinctively Hebrew canon being listed book by book in the writings of Melito, and the same canon is sharply distinguished by the Eastern Fathers of the third and fourth centuries.
These two ranks of books, the canonical and the ecclesiastical, were held apart from a third rank of apocryphal books which were heretical, dangerous, and to be avoided. However, the distinction made by these scholars between canonical and ecclesiastical books was increasingly lost upon the populace, who concluded from the scholars’ practice of including both types of book in the one volume that there was no difference between them. This attitude was challenged and resisted by one man above all – Jerome. In the Western church it was quite different. The apocrypha was being firmly accepted as canonical scripture. ■ ■ ■ Based not on patristic authority, but rather on the consensus of contemporary usage in Africa. It was Augustine’s great stature that helped make these conciliar decisions so influential. Ellis argues that Augustine was careless in his language, ignorant of the Fathers’ express canonical statements, and reluctant to offend popular piety.
Jerome, though believing the original translation of the LXX to be inspired, became convinced by his study of Hebrew and Origen’s hexapla that it was in a very poor textual state. He started afresh from the Hebrew, and whatever views he had about the Hebrew canon to start with, by the time he had translated his first Old Testament book for the Vulgate, he had come to exclude books outside the Hebrew Bible as apocrypha. Although his attitude toward these books would have been addented to by Origen, and probably Augustine, he was strongly opposed, especially by the African church. He was determined to make the apocrypha-canon distinction as clear in the west as it was in the east.
Jerome probably forced the church into action over the definition of the Old Testament canon, and in the fourth century the two halves of the church went their separate ways, with the Greek church affirming on the basis of the testimony going back to Josephus that the 22 books of the Hebrew canon and thus of the apostles constituted the church’s Old Testament.
6. CANONISATION: INNER BIBLICAL EXEGESIS TO BHQ
The main question: What's the process in which the books were received by the OT community into its cannon? 1. Inner-Biblical ● ●
Exegesis (M Fishbane)
As OT grew, the traditum (what was received as authoritative) was expanded in the process of traditio (transmission). This is not a neutral, conservative process, for every act of traditio selected, revised, and reconstituted the overall traditum. i.e. What was received was interpreted and explained. In the post-biblical period this interpretation takes the form of commentaries, but before the closure of the canon the traditio was incorporated within the traditum and became part of the authoritative tradition received by the next generation. This process is called inner-biblical exegesis’.
Most obviously seen when old traditions are reinterpreted in the light of new events, as may be seen in Deuteronomy (interpreting Genesis-Numbers). process is sometimes called ‘rewriting’, and together with typological correspondence, is the rationale behind much Old Testament writing.
Typological correspondence the way in which sacred accounts of God’s acts in the past provided models for later accounts of his present and future activity. An example of this is the way the prophets speak about a new Exodus, new creation, new covenant etc. The process seems to embody a canonical principle as well. I.e. inspired writings are accepted as such as they are recognised to be valid contemporary expressions of God’s revelations of the past.
Rewriting is part of the same hermeneutic process of comtemporisation, and takes several forms. It can consist in the composition of new books, also seen within a book’s own manuscript traditions (e.g. the successive editions of Jeremiah), and there are also cases of older writings having commentaries and expositions written on them.
The end of the process is hard to pin down. no clear or extended answer to the question of what caused the hermeneutical processes which once were associated with canonical growth to lose this function. two observations: i) the language of closing the canon is recent, and ii) the time given is the death of Artaxerxes or the time of Ben Sira, but more significantly, it is the time when the exact succession of the prophets and prophetic inspiration ceased.
This judgement was not shared by the Qumran community or the 1 st century church, both of whom recognised ongoing prophetic activity, and both of whom treated as scriptural their own typological correspondences and rewritings of Old Testament passages.
2. Canonising ● ● ●
(Sanders) versus Canonisation (Childs)
The presence of inner-biblical exegesis is important throws light on the growth and limits of canon, also been made the main tool of canonical criticism as practised and expounded by James A Sanders (as opposed to Childs) Sanders sets forth a model of canonical criticism which centres around the process of canonising – the dynamic process of the growth of traditions. (PROCESS) Childs, by contrast, sets forth a model of canonical criticism which takes the canonical final form of Scripture as both the point of departure and the object of study. (RESULT) ■ He is therefore interested in canonisation – the static event of the closure of the growing tradition. An important common feature of these two approaches is that they understand the development of the Canon not as a separate final event, but as a process of a special kind which has been integrated into the development of Scripture.
3. Canons ●
Sanders, canon cannot be separated from the believing community, for it is this that grants a book its authority.
In the canonising period each new generation inherited a tradition which has been addressed to their ancestors, and they resignified or adapted it to their own times. This was a necessarily conservative process of the tradtition ● Much emphasis on process of growth: no diminution of inspiration as the process continues from prophet to disciple to redactor. Only successive words of God to successive believing communities. Because of Sanders’ emphasis on the process (as opposed to Child’s focus on the result), he will not limit himself to one definite canon. For there was not one canon until quite late in his view(A.D. 70). ● The tools of Sanders’ trade of canonical criticism are basically those of inner-biblical exegesis: comparative midrash. In other words, one examines the use of older texts so as to find out how they were received, and then employs redaction criticism. Canonical hermeneutics involve inferences, as to what were the principles of interpretation of those who amplified and passed on the tradition. i. The Bible is a monotheising literature ii. The Bible as canon betrays a broad theocentric hermeneutic iii. Much of the Bible celebrates the theologem God’s grace works in and through human sinfulness iv. God betrays a divine bias for the weak and dispossessed v. There is a fourfold hermeneutic process by which the Bible adapted and resignified international wisdom
4. Philip ●
R Davies: What are believing communities?
Davies argues that Sanders gains a theology at the expense of sociology. He stresses the vital role of scribes as the social group behind any canon, and thus canonisation is a function of the cultural transmission of knowledge.
5. Bringing ●
it back to textual criticism
Saebo argued that texts were transmitted creatively, so that textual history and tradition history are even more closely interwoven than we imagine. Both text and canon have gone through pluriformity to uniformity. Sanders argues that just as the canonical process is ever-changing and pluralistic, so we cannot ever say that one text is the text of Scripture. For this reason, modern editions of the Old Testament offer an edition of a single manuscript often with no attempt at conjectural emendation. These editions look very conservative, but the appearance belies what in many cases is a gulf far greater than that which lies between evangelicals and old fashioned liberal scholars.
6. Preliminary ● ●
assessment of Fishburne, Sanders, and Davies
We need to separate the valid and important observations of Sanders and Fishburne from their presuppositions about the nature of the canonising process. Two important ideas which they bring to their discipline are i) the assumption that believing communities responded to their experience of the divine by creatively reshaping their religious inheritance; and ii) the standard critical reconstruction of the chain of dependence and therefore the order of writing of various parts of the Old Testament. Our task, is to use the tools of inner-biblical exegesis on a canon whose growth we understand differently from Fishburne & co. Thus, for example, we will understand Dt 5L12-15 as an exegesis of Exod 20:8-11, which in turn draws from Gen 2:1-4. Most scholars would reverse the order of dependence across the text, but our assumption that Scripture was the product of God before it was the product of men allows us to give biblical theology a major place in canonical criticism. Even more significantly, inner-biblical exegesis provides us with the tools for doing biblical theology from bottom to top.
7. Assessing ●
Sanders and Davies by a hermeneutic of trust
The act of recognition of a writing as canonical is a human one. ‘recognition’ is carefully chosen so don't say people invented the canon. But cannot escape from the human contribution to the canon’s extent
Did the church make the Bible or vice versa? answer not entirely simple. God’s word is God’s word, irrespective of human opinion of it.
Epistemology - must trust that Spirit who wrote words also impressed them as such on their first hearers. added testimony of Jesus to scriptural status of the Old Testament canon is very valuable, and is often taken as a starting point by evangelical theologians. ■ ■ Worth asking what stops us from being Roman Catholic on the question of the authority of Scripture, given that humans had to recognise and accept a writing as canonical. In the end, both RC and Protestants acknowledge the human decisions behind the canon, Protestants tend to leave the canon conceptually open because of that human factor, whereas Catholics close it by virtue of taking The General Council’s rulings on the matter to be as Spirit-breathed as the Scriptures themselves.
8. Some ●
interpreted both by virtue of being translated into Greek and by virtue of having Vorlagen which have been annotated during the course of transmission. The implication of this is that these interpretive factors are not the inerrant Word of God, and need to be removed if we want to uncover that Word. ■ ■ When did editorial additions cease to be inspired? Presumably at the same time that the spirit of prophet ceased in Israel. Both versions of Jeremiah, then, are inspired. Such an understanding clearly involves a reworking of the notion of ‘original autograph’.
NT cites interpreted versions of the OT
● ● ●
OT textual criticism suffers the constant danger of misrepresentation of the whole by its focus on a small part, (mistakes and variations that characterise the transmitted Bible in its humanness). The near perfection of the preservation of the whole should never be forgotten, however, and is sufficient to stand as one more piece of evidence for the Bible’s divine nature. But there are some other issues that there's no time for detail of here. We have not inherited a uniform tradition. How much plurality should we embrace? Could we read the LXX as Scripture? Yes. Our English Bibles reflect both – the text of one and the order of the other. Could we read the Qumranic Psalms as Scripture? Probably not. At the level of canonising, what convinced ancient readers to accept as Scripture rewritten material and other forms of commentary produced by their contemporaries. Ellis suggests that a recognised inspired status of the traditioning circles best explains how the community, who are the recipients not the makers of books, could accept the rewritten material on a par and in continuity with the prophetic Vorlage. At the level of text and interpretation, we are faced with the difficult decision of judging when interpretation loses its authority. ● Could argue that in the narrowest of senses, only the original autograph is the very word of God, yet Christianity is a translation religion, and the rightness of calling a translation the word of God is confirmed by the apostles who cited the Old Testament from the LXX. Further, they felt free to use the text in fairly loose fashion. At one level this gives us great confidence to say that the Good News Bible is the Word of God, but could imagine a translation so loose it actually misrepresents the revelation it seeks to convey. Is the Word of God to be found in the form of words written in an autograph, or in the propositions to which those words gave expression? One way out is to conceive of the problem in terms of analogy or representation. The Bible is not God. It is a representation of God, an analogy of him and his character. A translation is an image of an image, and as long as it reproduces the image faithfully then there is no problem. But concept of faithfulness relates to the contents not form, (though prob related).
What is it that we are trying to do when we exegesis? ● Why do we exegete the Bible and read other texts? Expect the biblical text to carry significance at a greater number of levels This is true at marco and micro level, ■ ■ micro - so that we derive meaning from structure, the choice of a word, the tense used, the omission of a particle etc. macro level, when we interpret Scripture by Scripture.
What of the implications of textual variety for our preaching? ● Answer depends on what sort of variety exists. If a case where there is a single autograph from which our text seems to have strayed at a particular point, common sense dictates that we do not press the exegesis at that point. God has superintended the transmission of the text so that we have all we need for teaching, reproof,
correction, and training in righteousness. Errors of transmission are important, for they throw into relief the miraculous preservation of the whole, while helping to prevent a docetic view of Scripture. In a case where there seems to have been more than one autograph, with both arguably being equally ancient and authoritative, we have in the first instance a valuable aid to preaching. ■ ■ For the differences in the alternate version of the book help us to identify which elements of content and arrangement are significant, and why. An example of this is the way we know from the shape of LXX Jeremiah that the placement of the Babylon oracle in the MT is extremely important in expressing the purpose of the MT as a whole.
On a theological level, the existence of parallel texts is an illustration of the fact that progressive revelation can be seen both across and within books of the Old Testament. Having said this, however, the fact that different autographs circulated as canonical in different communities remains theologically challenging. If it is true to say that genuinely canonical texts were not made Scripture but recognised as such, then perhaps we should see this variety as an example of the ‘sundry times and diverse manners’ in which God spoke by his prophets in times past.
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