Development of the Old Testament canon

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Law in Christianity

The Old Testament is the first section of the two-part Christian Biblical canon, which includes the books of the Hebrew Bible as well as several Deuterocanonical books. Its exact contents differ in the various Christian denominations. Martin Luther removed the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament of his translation of the Bible, placing them in the Apocrypha.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> As a result Catholics and Protestants use different canons which differ with respect to the texts which are included in the Old Testament.

The differences between the Hebrew Bible and the Protestant Old Testament are minor to Christians, pertaining only with the arrangement and number of the books. For example, while the Hebrew canon treats Kings as a unified text, the Protestant canon divides it into two books. Similarly, Ezra and Nehemiah are considered to be one book in the Hebrew Bible.

The differences between the Hebrew Bible and other versions of the Old Testament such as the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac, Latin, Greek, Ge'ez and other canons, are more substantial. Many of these canons include books and even sections of books that the others do not. For a full discussion of these differences, see Books of the Bible.

Following Jerome's Veritas Hebraica, the Protestant Old Testament consists of the same books as the Hebrew Bible, but the order and numbering of the books are different. Protestants number the Old Testament books at 39, while Judaism numbers the same books as 24. This is because Judaism considers Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles to form one book each, groups the 12 minor prophets into one book, and also considers Ezra and Nehemiah a single book. Also, the Bible for Judaism is specifically the Masoretic Text. Protestant translations of the Hebrew Bible often include other texts, such as the Septuagint.

McDonald and Sanders's The Canon Debate, 2002, Appendix A, lists the following primary sources for the Old Testament/Hebrew Canon.<ref>{{#if:| }}Ezra 9-10, {{#if:| }}Nehemiah 8-9, {{#if:| }}Sirach 49:8-10, Prologue to Sirach, {{#if:1|1 }}Maccabees 1:54-57, {{#if:2|2 }}Maccabees 2:13-15, Qumran 4QMMT, Letter of Aristeas 308-311, Philo's Contemplativa 3.25-28 and Mosis 2:37-40, {{#if:| }}Luke 11:49-51 and , Epiphanius' De Mensuribus et ponderibus 22, Josephus' Against Apion 1.37-43, 4 Ezra 14.22-48, Mishnah Yadayim 3.2-5 and 4.6, Babylonian Talmud Baba Batra 14b-15a, Justin's Dialogue 100.1ff and 1 Apology 28.1 and 67.3 and Cohort.Graec.13, Eusebius' Church History 4.26.12-14 and 5.8.1, Irenaeus' Heresy 2.27.2, 3.3.3, 3.11.8, 3.12.15, 3.14.1=15.1, 3.21.3-4, 3.17.4, Clement's Strom. 7.20 and Eusebius Church History 6.13.4-8 and 6.14.5-7, Origen's Ep. Afr. 13 and Eusebius Church History 6.25.3-14, Tertullian's Marcion 4.2.2,5 and Prax. 15 and Prescription 32,36, Eusebius' Church History 3.3.1-5, 3.25.1-7, 5.8.1, 6.14, 6.24-25, 7.25.22-27, Jerome's Prologus in Jeremiam, In libros Salomonis (Chromatio et Heliodoro), In Danielem prophetam, In Ezram, In librum Tobiae, In librum Judith, Commentaria in Isaiae prophetiam 3.6, Athanasius' Ep.fest.39, Cyril Catech.4.33-36, Rufinus Symb.38, Epiphanius Pond.22-23, Pan.8.6.1ff, Hilary of Poitiers Prologus in libros Psalmorum 15, Augustine's Doct.chr.2.13, 4th-5th century lists found in Bruce, Hahneman, Metzger, Sundberg; Cairo Geniza, glue texts to tie books together such as {{#if:| }}Deut 34:1-12, {{#if:2|2 }}Chron 36:22-23, {{#if:| }}Ezra 1:1-4, {{#if:| }}Mal 4:4-6.</ref>

Contents

The protocanonical and deuterocanonical books

The Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox include books excluded by Judaism and later by Martin Luther, called the deuterocanonical books, which Protestants exclude as Biblical apocrypha. The basis for these books is found in the early Koine Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible. This translation was widely used by the Early Christians and is the one most often quoted (300 of 350 quotations including many of Jesus' own words) in the New Testament when it quotes the Old Testament.

According to J. N. D. Kelly, "It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church… always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books."[]

The traditional explanation of the development of the Old Testament canon describes two sets of Old Testament books, the protocanonical and the deuterocanonical books. According to this theory, certain Church fathers accepted the inclusion of the apocryphal books based on their inclusion in the Septuagint (most notably Augustine), while others disputed their status (most notably Jerome). Michael Barber argues that this time-honored reconstruction is grossly inaccurate and that "the case against the apocrypha is overstated".[]

Jesus

Michael Barber asserts that, for Christians, any discussion about the Old Testament canon must start with the question: which books did Jesus and the New Testament recognize? Thus, he asserts that many deem it important to "ascertain whether or not Jesus quoted from the MT or the LXX". He characterizes the underlying assumption as presuming that there were two rival canons in use during Jesus’ day: a “Palestinian canon” used by Jews in Jerusalem, that contained only the “proto-canonical books” and an “Alexandrian canon” that, it is said, included the apocrypha, which was accepted by Jews in the diaspora. Jesus’ support of the LXX would therefore imply his recognition of the apocrypha. However, Barber argues that this line of reasoning is full of historical misconceptions. <ref name=Barber /> Barber asserts that there was no normative canon in Palestinian Judaism in Jesus' day and that the notion of a universally accepted “Palestinian canon” is a myth that runs counter to the historical evidence. Moreover, he asserts that the Jews in the diaspora were no more united on this issue than their Palestinian counterparts. <ref name=Barber/>

Barber points out that the most famous “Alexandrian Jew” of them all, Philo, never once cited from the apocrypha.<ref>The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, page 132, clarifies this claim: Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon are occasionally cited by Philo; page 140 states 97% (2260 instances) of quotations from the Torah.</ref> Finally, Barber emphasizes that, while it is abundantly clear that the apocrypha were eventually included in the Septuagint, there is very little known about the Septuagint that was used in Jesus’ day. Thus, he argues, even if it could be established that Jesus used the Septuagint, this would not necessarily prove that Jesus accepted the deuterocanonical books.<ref name=Barber/>

Finally, Barber argues that the whole question of which canon Jesus used is moot though because the citations found in the New Testament do not universally conform to the Masoretic Text or the Septuagint. <ref name=Barber/>

Craig A. Evans in McDonald & Sanders' 2002 The Canon Debate, chapter 11: The Scriptures of Jesus and His Earliest Followers", page 185, states: Template:Cquote

Septuagint

Early Christian missionaries used the Septuagint in their appeal to the Greek-speaking world and did not hesitate to draw upon documents later classified by Jewish rabbinical authorities as uncanonical.

The issue of canonicity had not yet become a critical issue when the New Testament literature was being written, and there are numerous references to sources which were later excluded from the Jewish canon and certain Christian canons. For example, Jude 14-16 quotes the Book of Enoch 1:9, and Hebrews 11:35 f. refers to 2 Maccabees 6-7.10 . Even after the deuterocanonical books were excluded from the Jewish canon, Christians continued to use the Septuagint, for there was no theory about the cessation of inspiration among Christians or Jewish Christians, unlike the Talmud (Soṭah 48b) which considers Malachi to be the last prophet of Judaism.

Bryennios List

Perhaps the earliest Christian canon is the Bryennios List which was found by Philotheos Bryennios in the Codex Hierosolymitanus. The list is written in Koine Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew and dated to around 100 by J.-P. Audet<ref>published by J.-P. Audet in JTS 1950, v1, pp. 135–154, cited in The Council of Jamnia and the Old Testament Canon, Robert C. Newman, 1983.</ref>. It consists of a 27-book Old Testament which comprises:

"Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Jesus Nave, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Judges, Ruth, 4 of Kings (Samuel and Kings), 2 of Chronicles, 2 of Esdras, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Minor prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel"

Marcion

Not all Christians approved of the use of Jewish scriptures. Marcion rejected the Jewish Bible and pressed for the acceptance of what was to become part of the New Testament as the Christian canon. In A.D. 140, he was expelled from the Christian community and formed a church of his own. For 100 years his followers were to challenge the tenets of other Christian groups. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 characterized Marcion as "perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known."

Everett Ferguson in chapter 18 of The Canon Debate quotes Tertullian's De praescriptione haereticorum 30: Template:Cquote Note 61 of page 308 adds: Template:Cquote

Other scholars propose that it was Melito of Sardis who originally coined the phrase Old Testament<ref>A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations page 316</ref>.

For most Christians, the Jewish Bible was "Holy Scripture" and was to be understood and interpreted in the light of Christian convictions<ref>Citation/core</ref>. See Biblical law in Christianity for the modern debate.

Eusebius on Melito and Origen

The first list of Old Testament books compiled by a Christian source is recorded by the fourth century historian Eusebius. Eusebius describes the collection of a second century bishop, Melito of Sardis.<ref>Template:Cite web: "Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also [ἣ καὶ Σοφία: i.e. the Book of Proverbs (see above, p. 200)], Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.”"</ref> Melito's list, dated to circa 170, the result of a trip to Palestine (probably the famous library at Caesarea Maritima) to determine both the order and number of books in the Hebrew Bible, instead seems to follow the order of the books presented in the LXX, yet he doesn't list the book of Esther or the apocrypha (except for possibly the Book of Wisdom).

Eusebius also records a 22-book canon of Origen of Alexandria.<ref>Template:Cite web: "When expounding the first Psalm, he gives a catalogue of the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament as follows: “It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two; corresponding with the number of their letters.” Farther on he says: “The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following: That which is called by us Genesis, but by the Hebrews, from the beginning of the book, Bresith, which means, ‘In the beginning’; Exodus, Welesmoth, that is, ‘These are the names’; Leviticus, Wikra, ‘And he called‘; Numbers, Ammesphekodeim; Deuteronomy, Eleaddebareim, ‘These are the words’; Jesus, the son of Nave, Josoue ben Noun; Judges and Ruth, among them in one book, Saphateim; the First and Second of Kings, among them one, Samouel, that is, ‘The called of God’; the Third and Fourth of Kings in one, Wammelch David, that is, ‘The kingdom of David’; of the Chronicles, the First and Second in one, Dabreïamein, that is, ‘Records of days’; Esdras, First and Second in one, Ezra, that is, ‘An assistant’; the book of Psalms, Spharthelleim; the Proverbs of Solomon, Meloth; Ecclesiastes, Koelth; the Song of Songs (not, as some suppose, Songs of Songs), Sir Hassirim; Isaiah, Jessia; Jeremiah, with Lamentations and the epistle in one, Jeremia; Daniel, Daniel; Ezekiel, Jezekiel; Job, Job; Esther, Esther. And besides these there are the Maccabees, which are entitled Sarbeth Sabanaiel.” He gives these in the above-mentioned work."</ref>

Constantine the Great

Template:Seealso In 331, Constantine I commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius (Apol. Const. 4) recorded Alexandrian scribes around 340 preparing Bibles for Constans. Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus are examples of these Bibles. Together with the Peshitta, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles.<ref>The Canon Debate, pages 414-415, for the entire paragraph</ref>

Jerome

Michael Barber asserts that, although Jerome was once suspicious of the apocrypha, he later viewed them as Scripture. Barber argues that this is clear from Jerome's epistles. As an example, Barber cites Jerome's letter to Eustochium, in which Jerome quotes Sirach 13:2. <ref name=Barber/>, elsewhere Jerome also refers to Baruch, the Story of Susannah and Wisdom as scripture.<ref>Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119.: "Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: "wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]" Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion [Num. 11:16]? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age [Daniel 13:55-59 aka Story of Susannah 55-59]"</ref><ref>Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159.:"I would cite the words of the psalmist: 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel 'I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] and those of Baruch, 'Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the Prophets."</ref><ref>Jerome, Letter 51, 6, 7, NPNF2, VI:87-8: "For in the book of Wisdom, which is inscribed with his name, Solomon says: "God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity."[Wisdom 2:23]...Instead of the three proofs from Holy Scripture which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, behold I have given you seven"</ref>

Jerome expressed some uneasiness about the authority of the Apocrypha. He was in general agreement with the Jewish position and separated the extra books found in the Septuagint, which he admitted could be edifying, from the Jewish canon.

In his prologues, Jerome argued for Veritas Hebraica, meaning the truth of the Hebrew text over the Septuagint and Old Latin translations. His Preface to The Books of Samuel and Kings<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> includes the following statement, commonly called the Helmeted Preface: Template:Cquote

At the request of two bishops,<ref> Template:Cite web</ref> however, he made translations of Tobit and Judith from Hebrew texts<ref>McDonald & Sanders, editors of The Canon Debate, 2002, chapter 5: The Septuagint: The Bible of Hellenistic Judaism by Albert C. Sundberg Jr., page 88: "Jerome had Hebrew texts of Sirach, Tobit, Judith (in Aramaic, or "Chaldee"), 1 Maccabees, and Jubilees, presumably from Jews, translating them into Latin."</ref>, which he made clear in his prologues he considered apocryphal. In addition to these, the Vulgate Old Testament included books outside of the 24, many from the Vetus Latina, which Jerome did not translate anew.

Augustine and the North African councils

Jerome's views did not prevail, and in A.D. 393 at the Synod of Hippo, the Septuagint was canonized, largely because of the influence of Augustine of Hippo.<ref>The Canon Debate, Sundberg, page 72, adds further detail: "However, it was not until the time of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 C.E.) that the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures came to be called by the Latin term septuaginta. [70 rather than 72] In his City of God 18.42, while repeating the story of Aristeas with typical embellishments, Augustine adds the remark, "It is their translation that it has now become traditional to call the Septuagint" ...[Latin omitted]... Augustine thus indicates that this name for the Greek translation of the scriptures was a recent development. But he offers no clue as to which of the possible antecedents led to this development: {{#if:| }}Exod 24:1-8, Josephus [Antiquities 12.57, 12.86], or an elision. ...this name Septuagint appears to have been a fourth- to fifth-century development."</ref> Later in 397, the Synod of Carthage confirmed the action taken at Hippo, once again, due to the significant influence exerted by Augustine. These councils were under the authority of Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed.<ref>Ferguson, Everett. "Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon," in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320; F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 230</ref><ref>cf. Augustine, De Civitate Dei 22.8</ref>

McDonald & Sanders's The Canon Debate, Appendix C-2, lists the following canon of Augustine, from De doctrina christiana 2.13, circa 395: Template:Cquote

Despite these formal pronouncements by the Synods, there remained those who were uncomfortable about the canonization of books not found in the Hebrew canon, and up to the time of the Protestant-Catholic schism, there continued to be scholars who made sharp distinctions between canonical and apocryphal writings.<ref>cite book</ref>

Reformation era

seealso

One of the tenets of the Protestant Reformation was that translations of scriptures should be based on the original texts (i.e. Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic and Koine Greek) rather than upon Jerome's translation into Latin.

Statements were included in the Protestant Bibles indicating that the Apocrypha was not to be placed on the same level as the other documents. Luther's translation (1534) placed the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments with this title:

"Apocrypha, that is, books which are not held equal to the Sacred Scriptures, but nevertheless are useful and good to read."

A year later Coverdale's Bible was published with the Apocrypha placed between the two Testaments under this description:

"Apocrypha, the books and treatises which among the fathers of old are not to be reckoned of like authority with other books of the Bible neither are they found in the canon of the Hebrew."

There were doctrinal reasons behind the Protestant refusal to accept the Apocrypha, for it was in these books that the Roman Catholic Church claimed scriptural authority for the doctrine of Purgatory, for prayers and Masses for the dead (II Macc. 12:43-45), and for the efficacy of good works in attaining salvation. (Tobit 12:9; Ecclesiasticus 8:33).

Martin Luther

Besides moving the Apocrypha to a lower level, Luther also did many other canon-related things. He argued unsuccessfully for the relocation of Esther from the Canon to the Apocrypha, since without the deuterocanonical sections, it never mentions God. As a result Catholics and Protestants continue to use different canons, which differ in respect to the Old Testament and in the concept of the Antilegomena of the New Testament.

There is some evidence that the first decision to omit these books entirely from the Bible was made by Protestant laity rather than clergy. Bibles dating from shortly after the Reformation have been found whose tables of contents included the entire Roman Catholic canon, but which did not actually contain the disputed books, leading some historians to think that the workers at the printing presses took it upon themselves to omit them. However, Anglican and Lutheran Bibles usually still contained these books until the 20th century, while Calvinist Bibles did not. Several reasons are proposed for the omission of these books from the canon. One is the support for Catholic doctrines such as Purgatory and Prayer for the dead found in 2 Maccabees. Luther himself said he was following Jerome's teaching about the Veritas Hebraica.

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain)<ref>cite book</ref> approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books. This is said to be the same list as produced at the Council of Florence in 1451, this list was defined as canonical in the profession of faith proposed for the Jacobite Orthodox Church. Because of its placement, the list was not considered binding for the Catholic Church, and in light of Martin Luther's demands, the Catholic Church examined the question of the Canon again at the Council of Trent, which reaffirmed the Canon of the Council of Florence. The Old Testament books that had been in doubt were termed deuterocanonical, not indicating a lesser degree of inspiration, but a later time of final approval. Beyond these books, some editions of the Latin Vulgate include Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Esdras (called 3 Esdras), 2 Esdras (called 4 Esdras), and the Epistle to the Laodiceans in an appendix, styled "Apogryphi".

In 1870, the Council of the Vatican reiterated the concepts set forth at Trent concerning the canon<ref>Session 3, Chapter 2, Item 6: "The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical."</ref>. Since that time, there have been no official statements issued concerning the canon by Jews, Catholics or Protestants, with the exception that on 2 June 1927, Pope Pius XI decreed that the Comma Johanneum of the New Testament was open to dispute and on 3 September 1943, Pope Pius XII decreed the Divino Afflante Spiritu which allowed translations based on other versions than just the Latin Vulgate, notably in English the New American Bible.

Church of England

Wikisourcepar The Church of England published its Thirty-Nine Articles in Latin in 1563 and in Elizabethan English in 1571<ref>cite web</ref>. Article 6 of the 1801 American revision is titled: "OF THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES FOR SALVATION": cquote

Wikisourcepar The original King James Bible of 1611 included King James Version Apocrypha which is frequently omitted in modern printings. These texts are: Additions to Daniel, Judith, Esdras, Additions to Esther, Susanna, 1-2 Maccabees , 4 Ezra, Prayer of Manassheh, Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch (including the Epistle of Jeremiah), Tobit, Bel.<ref>cite web</ref>

The English Civil War broke out in 1642 and lasted till 1649. The Long Parliament of 1644 decreed that only the Hebrew Canon would be read in the Church of England, and in 1647 the Westminster Confession of Faith<ref>cite web</ref> was issued which decreed a 39-book OT and 27-book NT, the others commonly labelled as Apocrypha were excluded<ref>WCF 1.3: "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings"</ref>. Today this decree is a Protestant distinctive, a consensus of Protestant churches, not limited to the Church of Scotland, Presbyterianism, and Calvinism, but shared with Baptist and Anabaptist confessions of faith also.<ref>cite book</ref>

With the restoration of the monarchy to Charles II of England (1660-1685), the Church of England was once again governed by the Thirty-Nine Articles, as printed in the Book of Common Prayer (1662), which explicitly excludes the Apocrypha from the inspired writings as unsuitable for forming doctrine, while eirenically conceding them value for education so permitting public reading and study.

According to The Apocrypha, Bridge of the Testaments: cquote

Synod of Jerusalem

The Synod of Jerusalem[1] in 1672 decreed the Greek Orthodox Canon which is the same as the one decided by the Council of Trent but adds Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Prayer of Manasseh. The Greek Orthodox generally consider the Septuagint to be divinely inspired.

Eastern Orthodox Canon

The Eastern Orthodox Church took separate action. From the earliest times, the Eastern Church, which used the LXX, was undecided about the Apocrypha: some Greek Fathers quoted from these books; others preferred to follow solely the books accepted by the Jews. The matter of the Apocrypha was raised in the Trullan Council at Constantinople in 692, but no binding conclusions were reached. Again in 1672, at the Council held in Jerusalem, the issue of the canon was considered and I Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men and I, II and III Maccabees were accorded canonical status. However, because the Jerusalem Council was a "Regional Council" and neither Ecumenical nor pan-Orthodox, its decrees were not obligatory unless accepted by all Orthodox Churches. Although there has been no official acceptance of the canon outlined at Jerusalem, all editions of the Bible published by the Greek Orthodox Church include the books selected in 1672.

References

reflist

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