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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 196912  
Subject: Re: Canonization Links - please review Date: 12/19/2001 7:50 PM
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Bonhoffer,

Are are some links on the canonization of scripture that i found. Would some folks please take a look and tell me if you like them, if they appear fair/accurate, etc.?

Sure. I'll number the major comments to make them easy to find.

1. Your first link contains the following statement.

Since the books of The Torah, The Prophets and The Writings were canonized Jewish Scripture during the time of Jesus, these are the texts that have been used in the Christian Bible and make up the Old Testament.

The historical record shows that this statement quite simply is not true. Rather, a Jewish rabbinical council assembled in Jamnia (pronounced "Yam-nee-ah") in 90 AD to search for ways to restore Jewish life and preserve Jewish traditions. Several changes had occurred within Judaism at the time. First, followers of the so-called "New Way" (that is, Christians) had appeared in the synagogues (and even in the porticos of the temple, according to Acts) preaching that Jesus was the Messiah in the years after his death and resurrection and winning many converts to their beliefs and their practices. Second, the destruction of the temple in 70 AD (20 years earlier) had shifted the focus of Jewish life from the temple (place of sacrifice) and the leadership of the Saducees to the synagogues (places of instruction and study) and the leadership of the pharisees (rabbis or teachers).

As part of its effort to reassert Jewish tradition, the rabbis who assembled in Jamnia sought to shift focus away from certain writings that the Christians frequently quoted and that seemed to be especially powerful in winning converts. For the first time in the history of Judaism, they assembled a "canon" -- that is, a list of books that they accepted as scripture. The rabbis did not reject the other writings that were in widespread use in the synagogues -- all of which were less than three hundred years old at the time -- outright, but rather said that they could not be sure of the scriptural stature of these most recent writings because the newer writings had not withstood the test of time. The result, though, was that the newer writings fell into disuse in the synagogues and had disappeared from Jewish life by the early fourth century when Jerome collected the manuscripts for translation into Latin.

Note that the rabbinical council of Jamnia occurred about 57 years after the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Thus, the representation that Judaism had adopted its canon at the time of Christ is absurd.

2. The organization of the books of the old testament in the first link is somewhat unusual. In most organizations, for example, the books of the prophets are limited to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets from the Protestant canon and Baruch from the Apocrypha. The other books listed as prophetic in this article are instead classed as historical books since they tell the history of the Jewihs people and only incidentally mention the earlier prophets.

3. The first sentence of the second link says, In the Bible there are sixty-six books. This is in fact true only of the Protestant Bible. All other branches of Christianty (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic, etc.) include the apocrypha in the old testament, producing a total of seventy-three books. The third link starts by implying a similar quarter-true and equally misleading assertion in the form of a question ("What are the sixty-six books of the bible?").

4. The third link also contains the following paragraph.

As for the Christian Old Testament, the Church has traditionally used the Alexandrian list of books, which include the 18 books of the Apocrypha. At the time of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, reformers looked to the traditional (and shorter, as it does not include the Apocrypha) Jewish list as authoritative.

The substance of this paragraph is true, but the reference to "18 books of the Apocrypha" is misleading since several elements of the apocrypha actually are additional segments of other books of the old testament. By way of example, the "Song of the Three Young Men," the story of Bel and the Dragon, and the story of Suzanna often appear as separate "books" in translations of the Apocrypha but in fact are part of the Book of Daniel.

5. The fourth link in your post seems to be the most accurate from a historical perspective, though it is not complete. I'm disappointed that it does not go beyond the Catholic and Protestant traditions, and it also does not mention the role of the Septuagent (literally, "Work of the Seventy") translation of the Jewish scriptures into Greek by a team of seventy Jewish scholars at Alexandria, Egypt, circa 100 BC. Since most of the early Christians spoke Greek, the early Church accepted this version as authoritative -- and it did include the Apocrypha, thus providing the Greek texts for Jerome's translation of those writings.

6. The fourth link in your list also asserted that "Biblical canonization is not over." I have difficulty with this statement, and I suspect that most other Christians also would have difficulty with it.

Norm.
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