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What About the Apocrypha?

What about the Apocrypha?  I have been talking about how we got the books of the Bible – both Old Testament and New Testament – and how other books came to be left out.  But what are the books of the Apocrypha, where did they come from, and why do some communities of faith (but not others) accept them as authoritative?

When someone refers to “The” Apocrypha they are speaking of the “Old Testament Apocrypha,” a set collection of books written ...

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How We Got the Hebrew Bible

Here at last I can summarize what modern scholars say about the formation of the canon of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament).  It’s a fascinating topic, of relevance, of course, to Jews, Christians, and anyone else who thinks the history of our civilization matters!  This summary is taken from my book The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction  (If the terms I use here don’t make sense: read the preceding two posts!)

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Contemporary Views of the Formation of the ...

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How We Got the Hebrew Bible: The Older View

Now that I’ve given some terms and definitions (in yesterday’s post) I can start talking about how it is we got the books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: who chose the books to include, when they did so, and on the basis of what criteria.  Before laying out what scholars today tend to think, I need to provide some information about what *used* to be the standard view (this older view is still held by some, who are not abreast ...

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What is the Hebrew Bible?

In response to my previous two posts about how the Hebrew Bible came to be copied over the years, several readers have asked me a related (though also very different) question about how the books of the Hebrew Bible were chosen – why do we have these books and not some others?  Who decided what the canon of the Hebrew Bible would be?  When did they decide?  And what were their criteria? These are important questions, and even though not ...

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The Copying of the Hebrew Bible

Here I continue on with my comments on the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, and the question of whether they were changed over the years.  Again, this is taken from my discussion in The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction.

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The Masoretic Text

The text of the Hebrew Bible that is read today and that is at the basis of all modern translations is called the Masoretic Text.  It is called this because the Jewish scholars who devised ...

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Manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible

Just now I started to write a post dealing with what it is exactly that translators (such as those of the New Revised Standard Version) translated when they translated their texts.  I realized that to explain that I have to say something about the surviving Hebrew manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible – something I have not talked a *great* deal about on the blog in the past, and about the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament – about which ...
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Problems with Inclusive Language Bible Translation

From the marvels of the universe (yesterday’s post) to the use of inclusive language in Bible translations (today’s post) – easy!   All in one step.

The Psalm I quoted yesterday presents a problem to Bible translators who want to render the text to include both men and women.   Here is what Psalm 8 says in the (non-inclusive-language) King James, as quoted yesterday:

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What ...

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My Work for the New Revised Standard Version Committee

QUESTION:

If my memory serves me, you (as a graduate student?) were involved in the development of the NRSV Bible version in 1989. Could you describe your work please?

RESPONSE:

Yes, that’s right.  The New Revised Standard Version Committee was appointed by the U.S. National Council of Churches to produce a revision of the famous Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, which had come out in 1952.  Since the time when the RSV had been produced (mainly in the 1940s), many important ...

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Jesus, The Law, and the New Covenant

This past week I gave a lecture at the University of Michigan called “Jesus, the Law, and the New Covenant.”  The occasion was a symposium in honor of the life and work of Old Testament scholar George Mendenhall.  I never knew Mendenhall.  He was a highly prominent figure in the field of Hebrew Bible in the middle of the 20th century, known especially for his work on the significance of “covenant” for understanding both the Hebrew Bible and the history ...

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Knowing the “Original” Text — of the NT or of Isaiah. Weekly Readers’ Mailbag July 17, 2016

How can we absolutely know whether we have the original words of the New Testament?  And weren’t books of the Old Testament edited progressively over time, so that their texts were even more fluid than those of the New Testament?  These are the two questions I address in this week’s Readers’ mailbag.  If you have a question you would like me to address, let me know!

 

QUESTION

“So that there are some places where specialists cannot agree on what the text originally ...

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