Sorting by


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!) ************************************************************* Contemporary Views of the Formation of the Canon Today scholars tend to present a somewhat fuzzier picture of when and why the canon came to be formed, although there do seem to be some fixed points. It is widely held that the five books of the Torah were accepted by nearly all Jews as a set canon by the fifth century b.c.e., in the early postexilic period. One piece of evidence comes from the Bible itself, in a post-exilic book, Ezra. The scribe Ezra himself is described as being “skilled in the Torah of Moses that the LORD the God of [...]

2020-06-03T15:53:31-04:00January 3rd, 2017|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Public Forum|

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 on changes in scholarship over the past twenty or thirty years.)   That will be today’s post.  Again, this information comes from my textbook on the Bible.   ****************************************************************** The term “canon” comes from the Greek word for “reed” or “rod.” A canon was a straight edge that was used, for example, by a carpenter to make sure that an alignment was correct; but it could also be used as a measuring stick. Eventually the word “canon” came to be applied in other contexts, by analogy, to refer to a rule or standard by which something [...]

2020-04-03T02:42:22-04:00January 2nd, 2017|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|
Go to Top