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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Hagiographa

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Α῾γιόγραφα (Holy Writings), a term first found in Epiphanius (Panariun, p. 58), who used it, as well as γραφἓ ια, to denote the third division of the Scriptures, called by the Jews כְּתוּבַים, or the Writings, consisting of five books, (See MEGILLOTH), viz. the three poeins (אמת ), Job, Proverbs, and the Psalms, and the two books of Chronicles.

These divisions are found in the Talmud (Baba Bathra, fol. 1, ed. Amsterdam), where the sacred books are classified under the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (Ketubim). The last are thus enumerated (l. c.): Ruth, the book (sepher) of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (Koheleth), the Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, and the books (megilloth) of Esther, Ezra, and Chronicles. The Jewish writers, however, do not uniformly follow this arrangement, as they sometimes place the Psalms or the book of Job first among the hagiographa. Jerome gives the arrangement followed by the Jews in his time. He observes that they divided the Scriptures into five books of Moses, eight prophetical books (viz.

1. Joshua

2. Judges and Ruth

3. Samuel;

4. Kings;

5. Isaiah

6. Jeremiah

7. Ezekiel

8. The twelve prophets), and

9. Hagiographa, viz. 1. Job 2. David, five parts; 3. Solomon, three parts; 4. Koheleth; 5. Song of Solomon 6. Daniel, 7. Chronicles; 8. Esdras, two books [viz. Ezra and Nehemiah]; 9. Esther.

"Some however," he adds, "place Ruth and Lamentations among the Hagiographa rather than among the prophetical books.' "We find a different arrangement in Josephus, who reckons thirteen prophetical books, and four containing hymns and moral precepts (Apiont, 1, 8), from which it would appear that after the time of Josephus the Jews comprised many books among the prophets which had previously belonged to the Hagiographa. It has however, been considered as more probable that Josephus had no authority from manuscripts for his classification.

The earliest notice which we find of these divisions is that contained in the prologue to the book of Ecclesiasticus, written B.C. cir. 140, the author of which refers to the Law, the Prophets, and the other books; by which last were most probably meant the Hagiographa. Philo also speaks of the Laws, the Prophets, the Hymns, and the other books, but without classifying them. In the New Testament we find three corresponding divisions mentioned, viz. the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms; which last book has been supposed to have given its name to the third division, from the circumstance of its then being the first in the catalogue (Luke 24:44). Havernick, however (Handbuch, p. 78), supposes that Luke calls the Hagiographa by the name of Psalms, rather on account of the poetical character of several of its parts. The "book of the Prophets" is referred to in the New Testament as a distinct volume (Acts 7:42, where the passage indicated is Amos 5, 25, 26). It is, well known that the second class was divided by the Jews into the early Prophets, viz. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and the later Prophets, viz. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel (called the major prophets), and the book of the twelve (minor) prophets.

When this division of books was first introduced it is now impossible to ascertain. Probably it commenced after the return from the exile, with the first formation of the canon. Still more difficult is it to ascertain the principle on which the classification was formed. The rabbinical writers maintain that the authors of the Ketubim enjoyed only the lowest degree of inspiration, as they received no immediate communication from the deity, like that made to Moses, to whom God spoke face to face; and that they did not receive their knowledge through the medium of visions and dreams, as was the case with the prophets or the writers of the second class; but still that they felt the Divine Spirit resting on them and inspiring them with suggestions. This is the view maintained by Abarbanel (Praef in Proph. priores, fol. 20, 1), Kimchi (Praef. in Psalm.), Maimonides (More Nebochim, 2, 45, p. 317), and Elias Levita (Tisbi); which last writer defines the word כתום to mean a work written by divine inspiration. The placing of Ruth among the Hagiographa, and especially the separation of Lamentations from Jeremiah, seems, however, to be irreconcilable with this hypothesis; nor is it easy to assign a satisfactory reason why the historical: books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings should be placed among the Prophets, and the book of Chronicles among the Biographa. The reasons generally assigned for this, as well as for placing in the third class the books of Psalms, Daniel, and Job, are so fanciful and unsatisfactory as to have led Christian writers to form other and more definite classifications. It will suffice to mention the reason assigned by Rabbi Kinchi for excluding Daniel from the book of Prophets, viz. that he has not equaled the other prophets in his visions and dreams. Others assign the late date of the book of Daniel as the reason for the insertion of it, as well as of some historical books, in the Hagiographa, inasmuch as the collection of the prophets was closed at the date of the composition of this book (De Wette, §:255). Bertholdt, who is of this opinion (Einleitung, 1,70 sq.), thinks that the word Ketubim means "books newly introduced into the canon" (p. 81). Hengstenberg (Authentie des Daniel, etc., p, 25 sq.) follows the ancient opinions of the Rabbins, and maintains that the book of Daniel was placed in the Hagiographa in consequence of the lower degree of inspiration attached to it; but herein he is opposed by Havernick (Handbuch, p. 62). De Wette (§ 13) supposes that the first two divisions (the Law and the Prophets) were closed a little after the time of Nehemiah (compare 2 Maccabees 2:13-14), and that perhaps at the end of the Persian period the Jews commenced the formation of the Hagiographa, which long remained "changeable and open." The collection of the Psalms was not yet completed when the two first parts were formed. (See KETHUBIM).

It has been concluded from Matthew 23:35, and Luke 11:51, compared with Luke 24:14, that as the Psalms were the first, so were Chronicles the last book in the Hagiographa (Carpzov, Introd. 4, 25). If, when Jesus spoke of the righteous blood shed from the blood of Abel (Genesis 4:8) to that of Zechariah, he referred, as most commentators suppose, to Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:20-21), there appears a peculiar appositeness in the appeal to the first and the last books in the canon. The book of Chronicles still holds the last place in the Hebrew Bibles, which are all arranged according to the threefold division. The late date of Chronicles may in some measure account for its separation from the book of Kings; and this ground holds good whether we fix the era of the chronicler, with Zunz, at about B.C. 260, or, with Movers, we conceive him to have been a younger contemporary of Nehemiah, and to have written about B.C. 400 (Kritische Untersuchung ü ber de Biblische Chronik, Bonn, 1834). The circumstance of the existence of a few acknowledged later additions, such as 1 Chronicles 3:19-24, does not militate against this hypothesis, as these may have been supplied by the last editor. (See CHRONICLES, BOOKS OF). De Wette conceives that the genealogy in this passage comes down only to the third generation after Nehemiah. (See CANON OF SCRIPTURE).

The word Hagiographa is once used by Jerome in a peculiar sense. Speaking of Tobit, he asserts that the Jews. cutting off this book from the catalogue of the divine Scriptures, place it among those books which they call Hagiographa. Again, of Judith he says, "By the Jews it is read among the Hagiographa, whose authority is not sufficient to confirm debated points;" but, as in the latter instance, the greater number of MSS. read Apocrypha, which is doubtless the true reading, it is highly probable that the word Hagiographa, used in reference to the book of Tobit, has arisen from the mistake of a transcriber. The two words were in the Middle Ages frequently used as synonymous. (See DEUTERO-CANONICAL). "Hagiographa" has also been used by Christian writers as synonymous with Holy Scripture.

The Alexandrian translators have not been guided by the threefold division in their arrangement of the books of Scripture. The different MSS. of the Sept. also vary in this respect. In the Vatican Codex (which the printed editions chiefly follow) Tobit and Judith are placed between Nehemiah and Esther. Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus follow Canticles. Baruch and Lamentations follow Jeremiah, and the Old Testament concludes with the four books of Maccabees. Luther (who introduced into the Bible a peculiar arrangement, which in the Old Testament has been followed in the English Authorized Version) was the first who separated the canonical from the other books. Not only do the Alexandrian translators, the fathers, and Luther differ from the Jews in the order of succession of the sacred books, but among the Jews themselves the Talmudists and Masorites, and the German and Spanish MSS. follow each a different arrangement. (See BIBLE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hagiographa'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/hagiographa.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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