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Formation of the Canon: The Writings


Other writings from the Dead Sea Scrolls make little mention of Chronicles, Ezra, ... Luke, Philo, and the Dead Sea Scrolls indicates an expansion of the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Formation of the Canon: The Writings

Formation of the CanonThe Writings
  • Stephanie Barbish

Definition of the Canon
  • originally meant a rod or ruler (Greek work
  • now a criteria by which something measures up to
    the standard
  • Biblically, it is all the books considered
    authoritative and authentic.
  • The term belongs to Christian usage and first
    appears in the 4th century A.D.
  • Josephus said the scriptures are neither unduly
    numerous nor mutually contradictory but
    circumscribed and self-consistent.
  • This shows how the nature of the Canon was
    understood at this time.

Criteria for Canonocity
  • preference for earlier works (before Persian
  • Most groups preferred works from anonymous
  • They liked to think that these works came from
    wise men such as Moses, Solomon, or Ezra.
  • Teaching had to agree with the Torah.
  • contained the message of God to the Jews
  • Which books have helped the most during hard
  • usage some books were not well-known or

The Need for a Canon
  • The Babylonian captivity marked the beginning of
    increased love for and reverence of the
  • the fall of Jerusalem and of the Temple in 70
  • The diaspera caused a need for preservation of
    the sacred literature the Jews loved more than
  • They also needed to have the scriptures for use
    in a Synagogue far from Jerusalem.
  • rise of Christianity The use of scriptures by
    Christians demanded clarity as to what was
    canonical in Jewish faith.
  • apocalyptic writings many were coming to
    surface and criteria for inclusion needed to be

The Formation of the Writings
  • most open-ended of the three divisions
  • foreword of Ecclesiastus (190 B.C.E) the law,
    the prophets, and the rest of the books
  • Illustrated a division but no definition
  • findings at Qumran (dated from the last 2
    centuries B.C.E onward)
  • Damascus Document Manual of Discipline mention
    only the law and the prophets
  • implies that the Writings were not complete

Formation of the Writings (contd)
  • Other writings from the Dead Sea Scrolls make
    little mention of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah,
    but constant reference to Psalms.
  • shows that the Psalter was the most important
  • 1st Century C.E. Luke 2444 says, the law, the
    prophets, and the psalms
  • implies only Psalms
  • later found that Psalms was the main book of the

Formation of the Writings (contd)
  • Philo (a Jew in the 1st Century C.E.) law and
    words prophesied and psalms and other writings by
    which knowledge and piety may be increased and
  • showed the nature of the Writings
  • Law, Prophets, and Psalms were used in cultic
  • other writings were instructive and edifying
  • Evidence from Ecclesiastus, Luke, Philo, and the
    Dead Sea Scrolls indicates an expansion of the
    books rather than shrinking like the Law and
  • no one whole collection of the Old Testament
    until after the time of Christ

Synod of Jamnia (90-100 C.E.)
  • referred to in the Talmud (Jewish commentary of
    the books in the Hebrew Bible )
  • A group of rabbis met in Jamnia, which is near
    Joppa on the Mediterranean Coast.
  • may not have been a council but it is likely
  • resulted in the inclusion of Ecclesiastes, Ruth,
    Daniel, and Song of Songs
  • Ecclesiastus was debated then left out.
  • Debate over Esther and Ezekial was not settled
    until 2nd century C.E.
  • led to the formation of the Palestinian Canon
  • used in the Protestant Church today

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The Alexandrian Canon
  • rose out of the Alexandrian Jews of the
  • They had lived among people of other countries,
    having not gone back to Jerusalem after the
  • Their taste was therefore more eclectic.
  • They had lost the Hebrew language and needed a
    Greek translation.
  • The Septuagint, or the LXX, was created and
    included the Apocrypha.
  • gave rise to the Latin Vulgate (3rd Century
    C.E.), used in the Catholic Church today.

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Reasons for Inclusion
  • Psalms devotional and liturgical value
  • Job philosophical and narrative
  • profound theme Why does evil exist if God is
  • optimism trust in the goodness of the world
  • Proverbs wise says of an ethical type
  • Both Psalms and Proverbs had different sources
    from different centuries.
  • Ruth Its purpose was to oppose Nehemiahs
    forbiddance of marriage with foreigners.

Reasons for Inclusion
  • Song of Songs debated when taken literally
    but eventually took on an allegorical
  • Daniel, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Lamentations
  • Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles national importance
    and historical value

Works Cited
Bratton, Fred G. A History of the Bible. Bosto
n Beacon Press, 1959. Gillingham, Susan E.
One Bible, Many Voices Different
Approaches to Biblical Studies. Grand Rapids,
Michigan and Cambridge U.K William B
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998.
Pearce, Abigail. The Scriptures in the Making.
New York The Macmillan Company, 1927. Rackr
oyd, P. R. and C.F. Evans. The Cambridge History
of the Bible. Vol. 1. London Cambridge Un
iversity Press, 1970. Sanders, James A. Torah
and Canon. Philadelphia Fortress Press,
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