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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Meaning and Scope.
The Greek word κανών, meaning primarily a straight rod, and derivatively a norm or law, was first applied by the church fathers (not earlier than 360) to the collection of Holy Scriptures, and primarily to those of the so-called Old Testament (Credner, "Zur Gesch. des Canons," pp. 58-68). But although the older Jewish literature has no such designation for the Biblical books, and it is doubtful whether the word was ever included in the rabbinical vocabulary, it is quite certain that the idea expressed by the designation "canonical writings" (γραΦαὶ κανονικαί), both as including and as excluding certain books, is of Jewish origin. The designation "Apocrypha" affords a parallel instance: the word is Greek; the conception is Jewish (compare the words "Genuzim," "Genizah").
Origin of Idea.
The idea of canonicity can only have been suggested at a period when the national literature had progressed far enough to possess a large number of works from which a selection might be made. And the need for such selection was all the more urgent, since the Jewish mind occupied itself in producing exclusively writings of religious import, in which category, however, were also included various historical and didactic works. Which writings were included in the recognized collection, and in what manner such collection was made, are questions belonging to the history of the canon, and are discussed in this article: the origin and composition of the separate books come under the history of Biblical literature.
The oldest and most frequent designation for the whole collection of Biblical writings is , "Books." This word, which in Daniel 9:2 means all the sacred writings, occurs frequently in the Mishnah, as well as in traditional literature, without closer definition. The expression ("Holy Books") belongs to later authors. It is employed first by the medieval exegetes; for instance, Ibn Ezra, introduction to "Yesod Morah" and "M'ozne Lashon ha-Ḳodesh"; see also Neubauer, "Book of Tobit," 43b, Oxford, 1878; Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," 3d ed., 7:384; Margoliouth, "Cat. Hebr. and Samaritan MSS. Brit Mus.," Nos. 181, 193; and elsewhere infrequently, but never in Talmud or Midrash. This fact goes to show that the ancients regarded the whole mass of the national religious writings as equally holy. The Greek translation of the term is τὰ βιβλία, which (as maybe seen from the expressions καὶ τὰ λΟιπὰ τῶν βιβλίων and καὶ τῶν ἄλλων πατρίων βιβλίων) is used by the grandson of Sirach in the introduction to Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) to designate the whole of the Scriptures.
The canonical books, therefore, needed no special designation, since originally all were holy. A new term had to be coined for the new idea of non-holy books. The latter were accordingly called ("outside" or "extraneous books"); that is, books not included in the established collection (Mishnah Sanh. 10:1)—a distinction analogous to that afterward made, with reference to the oral law itself, between "Mishnah" and "Outside-Mishnah" ( and , or its Aramaic equivalent , "Baraita"). Possibly this designation was due to the fact that the Apocrypha, which in popular estimation ranked nevertheless with religious works, were not included in the libraries of the Temple and synagogues (for illustration of this see Books, and Blau, "Zur Einleitung in die Heilige Schrift," et seq.). Another designation, ("that which is read"), applied to the whole of Scripture, is founded upon the custom of reading the Holy Scriptures to the people on Sabbaths and holidays: it is a term frequently opposed to and , which designate oral teaching (Ned. 4:3; Ḳid. , end; Abot , end). A third designation is ("Holy Scriptures," Shab. 16:1; B. B. , end, and elsewhere), the Greek equivalents of which are ΓραΦαὶ ἄγιαι (Romans 1:2) and ιηρ1F70 γράμμαια (2 Timothy 3:15). This term indicates, not the writings belonging to the sanctuary, nor of Israel (Geiger, "Nachgelassene Schriften," 4:12), but holy writings in contradistinction to profane works ( and , Tosef., Yom-Ṭob,; ed. Zuckermandel, p. 207, 12), perhaps works inspired by the Holy Spirit. This interpretation is also favored by the expression πᾶα γραΘὴ Θηόπνηυστοç (2 Timothy 3:16; compare Eusebius, "Eclogæ Propheticæ," ed. Gaisford, p. 106).
A fourth designation for the entire Bible is ("Law") (Mek., Beshallaḥ, 9; ed. Friedmann, pp. 34b, 40b; Pesiḳ. R., ed. Friedmann, 9a, and elsewhere), also found in the New Testament under the form νόμΟς (John 10:34; II Esdras 19:21). This designation owes its origin to the opinion that the entire Holy Writ is the Word of God, and that the Prophets and the Hagiographa are included in the Torah (see below). It is also possible that, since "Torah" was the title of the first and principal part of the Biblical writings, it was transferred to the entire collection.
The fifth designation, (literally, "it is written"), frequently found personified (as, for instance, , etc. = "the 'Katub' saith"; compare Bacher, "Aelteste Terminologie der Jüdischen Schriftauslegung," p. 90), is, strictly speaking, an abbreviation, and should be supplemented with the name of the book in which "it is written." The Greek equivalent is γραΦή; π1FB6σα γραΦ1F74 (2 Timothy 3:16), a translation of , which, strange to say, is found in the works of Profiat Duran, though certainly it is very old. The sixth designation is διαΘήκη ("covenant"), from which the term πλλα1F77α διαΘήκη (Vetus Testamentum = Old Testament) in the Christian Church has been derived. Even in Ecclus. (Sirach) 24:23 the Pentateuch is called βίβλος διαΘήκης, and the term ("Book of the Covenant," Exodus 24:7; 2 Kings 23:2,21) is similarly translated in the Septuagint. Though "diathēkē," like "Torah," came to be applied to Holy Writ (first by Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:14; compare Matthew 26:28), the expression ("Book of the Covenant") is never found with this significance in Jewish tradition, except in an apparently polemic utterance of Simon ben Yoḥai (about 150), where a reference to the name "diathēkē" for the Torah occurs (Yer. Sanh. 20c; Lev. R. ). In all probability this designation, which, like the term "Old Testament," involves a Christian point of view, was used very rarely.
In post-Talmudic times other designations were employed; e.g., ("The Twenty-four Books") (see G. Margoliouth, "Cat. Hebr. and Samaritan MSS. Brit. Mus." 1:22b, 25a, 27a, 35a); ("the cycle," in the Masorah; in a codex of the year 1309; and in Ginsburg, "Introduction," p. 564); (Ginsburg, c. p. 748). Medieval authors called the Holy Writ also , which originally meant "verse" (Bacher, "Rev. Etudes Juives," 16:278). Another very common designation is , the initials of ("Law, Prophets, and Holy Writings"), an expression frequently occurring in Talmud and Midrash. A similar acrostic name is , an abbreviation of the words . In the Middle Ages these mnemonic terms were conveniently regarded as real words, and received translations; namely, "ear-tips" and "plumb-line" respectively.
In the Mishnah (compare Yad. 3:5) the canonicity of the Holy Books is expressed indirectly by the doctrine that those writings which are canonical "render the hands unclean." The term connoting this quality, , thus comes very near to the technical equivalent for the word "canonical." The nature of the underlying conceit is not altogether clear. It is most likely that it was meant to insure greater caution against the profanation of holy scrolls by careless handling or irreverent uses (Yad. 4:6; Zab. 5:12; Shab. 13a, 14a). It is an open question whether this capacity to render "the hands unclean" inhered in the scroll kept in the Temple. It appears that originally the scroll in the Temple rendered food unclean; while only outside the Temple were hands made unclean (Kelim 15:6; R. Aḳiba, Pes. 19a). At all events, the term was extended to all the writings included in the canon, and designated ultimately their canonical character or its effects as distinguished from non-canonical books (Yad. 3:2-5; 4:5,6; Tosef., Yad. 2:19; Blau, c. pp. 21, 69 et seq.; Friedmann, "Ha-Goren," 2:168, but incorrect).
Contents and Divisions.
The Jewish canon comprises twenty-four books, the five of the Pentateuch, eight books of the Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets), and eleven Hagiographa (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther,Daniel, Ezra, and Chronicles). Samuel and Kings form but a single book each, as is seen in Aquila's Greek translation. The "twelve" prophets were known to Ecclus. (Sirach) as one book (49:10), and the separation of Ezra from Nehemiah is not indicated in either the Talmud or the Masorah. A Bible codex written in Spain in 1448 divides Samuel, Kings, and Ezra into two books each (Ginsburg, c. p. 586). These books are classified and arranged into three subdivisions, "Torah," "Prophets," and "Hagiographa"; Greek, νόνος καὶ προΦῆται καὶ βιβΛία (Ecclus. [Sirach]). In Yalḳ. 2:702 they are styled as abstracts, "Law, Prophecy, and Wisdom," ; compare Yer. Mak. 31d, below, and Blau, c. p. 21, note. The division of the Prophets into ("Earlier Prophets") and ("Later Prophets) was introduced by the Masorah..
Earlier and Later Prophets.
By the former expression the Talmud understands the older Prophets, such as Isaiah, as distinguished from the later Prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (see Sifre, Deut. 27, 357; Yer. Ber. 8d, 23, etc.). In contradistinction to the last three, Samuel, David, and Solomon are sometimes called the old Prophets (Soṭah 48b, top). The entire Holy Writ is also designated by the term "Torah and Prophets" (R. H. 4:6; compare Meg. 4:5; Tosef., B. B. 8:14; Sifre, Deut. 218), and the same usage is found in the New Testament (Matthew 5:17, 7:12, 22:40; Luke 16:16,29,31). The abstract terms "Law and Prophecy." are found once in Pesiḳ., ed. Buber, 111a.
Another division is that into "Torah and Ḳabbalah" found in Ta'an. 2:1; Tosef., Niddah, 4:10; Sifre, Num. 112, 139; "Ḳabbalah" signifying tradition, which is regarded as having been carried on by the Prophets. The Aramaic equivalent for is , the Masoretic name for the Prophetical Books, and Hebraized into by Ben Asher ("Diḳduḳe ha-Te'amim," p. 2).
Still another division is "Torah" and "Miḳra." In Sifre, Deut. 317 "Miḳra" is used as a general term for the Prophets and the Hagiographa—a usage which may also underlie Gen. R. (ed. Wilna, 75b) and Cant. R. 16:6, below (see, however, Bacher, "Aelteste Terminologle," p. 118, note 7). The Midrash on "plena et defectiva" opposes "Torah" to "Miḳra" (Berliner, "Peleṭat Soferim," p. 36), as does also Ben Asher (Blau, "Masor. Untersuchungen," p. 50). The Masorah and Spanish authors use the word in the same sense (Bacher, c. pp. 118 et seq.; also in "Ḥuḳḳe ha-Torah," in Güdemann, "Gesch. der Cultur der Juden in Deutschland," p. 268), and it probably came to have this meaning because it is abbreviated from the expression "the remaining Miḳra."
The third division, "the Holy Writings," may have received its name in a similar way. Originally, the whole Bible was called "Holy Writings," but subsequently men perhaps spoke of the "Law and the Prophets," and the "other holy writings," and finally briefly of the "Holy Writings." Similarly, the current name "Ketubim" (Writings) is probably also an abbreviation of the fuller expression, "the other writings," or the "Holy Writings." This etymology is supported by the usage of Sirach's grandson, who calls the Hagiographa τά λοιπὰ, τῶν βιβλιωνand of Ben Asher a thousand years later, who speaks of "the Law, the Prophets, and the other books" (c. 44; emended text in Blau, "Zur Einleitung," p. 29, note 3). This is not the only instance of Asher's fidelity to older traditions. Characteristic evidence of the threefold division may be noted in the following citations:
"In the New-Year's prayers, ten passages of the Bible (from the Torah, Prophets, and Hagiographa) must be introduced at least three times" (Tosef., R. H. 4:6). "Ben Azzai connected the words of the Torah with those of the Prophets, and the latter with those of the Hagiographa" (Lev. R. 16:3). "This is the progressive method of studying: first, a primer (passages of the Pentateuch) is read; then the Book (, Torah), then the Prophets, and finally the Hagiographa. After completing the study of the entire Bible, one took up the Talmud, Halakah, and Haggadah" (Deut. R. 8:3). "To be considered conversant with the Bible one had to be able to read accurately the Torah, Prophets, and Hagiographa" (ḳid. 49a). "Just as the Torah is threefold, so Israel is threefold, consisting of priests, Levites, and Israelites " (Pesiḳ., ed. Buber, 105a). "Blessed be God, who gave the threefold teachings to the threefold nation, by three persons on the third day of the third month" (Shab. 88a). In answer to the question of the Sadducee, concerning the Biblical basis for the belief that God causes the dead to rise, the patriarch Gamaliel sought proof "in Torah, Prophets, and Holy Writings" (Sanh. 90b). "This doctrine is written in the Torah, repeated in the Prophets, and a third time in the Hagiographa" (Meg. 31a; compare Mak. 10b, 15). Hanina set up the rule that "kesef" (silver) means simply a "selah" in the Torah, a "litra" in the Prophets, and a "talent" in the Holy Writings (Bek. 50a; Yer. Ḳid. 59d; see also M. Ḳ. 21a; Ta'an. 30a; Sanh. 101a).
For passages of similar import from the Jerusalem Talmud and from the Midrash, see Blau, p. 22, note 5; p. 23, note 1.
Number of Books.
Tannaite literature makes no mention anywhere of the number of the Biblical books, and it does not seem to have been usual to pay attention to their number. This was felt to be of importance only when the Holy Writings were to be distinguished from others, or when their entire range was to be explained to non-Jews. The earliest two estimates (about 100 C.E.) differ. II Esdras 14:44-46 gives the number as 24; all variant readings of the passage (94, 204, 84, 974 books) agree in the unit figure, 4.
Epiphanius' division of the number 94 into 72 + 22 ("De Ponderibus et Mensuris Liber," in Lagarde, "Symmicta," 2:163) is artificial. Josephus expressly puts the number at 22, as does Origen (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." 6:25); while Jerome (Preface to Samuel and Kings) mentions 22, but nevertheless counts 24. Since both of these church fathers studied under Jewish teachers, it is probable that some authorities within the synagogue favored counting 22 books; and the hesitation between 22 and 24 can be explained by a Baraita (B. B. 13b), according to which each book of the latter two divisions (Prophets and Hagiographa) had to be written separately as one roll. Since Ruth with Judges or with Psalms (Jerome, and Baraita B. B. 14b) might form one roll, and Lamentations with Jeremiah another, the rolls would be counted as 22, while the books were actually 24. That there were 24 books will be apparent from the classical Baraita on thequestion (see § 5 of this article). But in more than ten passages of the Midrash 24 books are expressly mentioned; and the authorities adduced are exclusively amoraim. Simeon ben Laḳish (about 250) compares the books with the 24 ornaments of a bride (Isaiah 3:18-24); saying that just as the bride must be decorated with 24 ornaments, so the scholar must be adorned with the knowledge of all the 24 books (Ex. R. 41:5; Tan., Ki Tissa, , ed. Buber, p. 111; Cant. R. 4:11). R. Berechiah compares them with the 24 divisions of the priests and Levites and with the 24 nails driven into sandals (Num. R. 14:4, 15:22; Eccl. R. 12:11; Pesiḳ. R. a, ed. Friedmann); while, according to Phineas ben Jair (beginning of third century), the 24 books (Num. R. 14:18) correspond to the 24 sacrificial animals (Numbers 7). The fact that the 24 books of the written Law and the 80 of the oral tradition make up 104 (Num. R. 13:16) recalls the number of the books mentioned in II Esdras. Counting the Minor Prophets as 12, the number 35 is obtained (23 + 12), as in Num. R. 18:21 and Tan., Ḳoraḥ, ed. Stettin, 552.
For the understanding of the concept of a canon, the following passages, literally rendered, are especially important:
Ecclesiastes 12:12 teaches: "And further, my son, be admonished by these [understood as reading "against more than these, my son, be cautioned against confusion"; the Hebrew "mehemah" (more than these) being read "mehumah" (confusion)] that he who brings more than twenty-four books into his house brings confusion. Thus, the books of Ben Sira or Ben Tigla may be read, but not to the degree of 'weariness of the flesh'" (Eccl. R. on the passage).
"And further, by these, my son, be admonished," saith God; 'Twenty-four books have I written for you; take heed to add none thereto.' Wherefore? Because of making many books there is no end. He who reads one verse not written in the twenty-four books is as though he had read in the 'outside books'; he will find no salvation there. Behold herein the punishment assigned to him who adds one book to the twenty-four. How do we know that he who reads them wearies himself in vain? Because it says, 'much study is a weariness of the flesh' (Ecclesiastes 12:12), from which follows, that the body of such a one shall not arise from the dust, as is said in the Mishnah (Sanh. 10:1), 'They who read in the outside books have no share in the future life'" (Num. R. 14:4; ed. Wilna, p. 117a; compare also Pesiḳ. R. a and Yer. Sanh. a).
The chief difference between these two passages is that in the first only the "weariness of the flesh," that is, the deep study (but not the reading) of other than the Holy Writings, which were learned by heart, is forbidden; while in the second passage the mere reading is also forbidden. The older point of view is undoubtedly the milder, as the history of the book of Ecclus. (Sirach) teaches. The Babylonian teachers represented the more liberal view (compare Sanh. 100a and Yer. Sanh. a, 18).
The "Twenty-four" Books.
There is probably an allusion to twenty-four books in Yer. Sanh. d, 4 and Gen. R. , beginning. The Babylonian Talmud (Ta'an. 8a) mentions 24; Targ. to the Song of Solomon 5:10 does the same. Dosa ben Eliezer, in a very old Masoretic note; Ben Asher ("Diḳduḳe," pp. 5 [line 12], 56); Nissim of Kairwan (Steinschneider "Festschrift," Hebrew section, p. 20, below); and many medieval writers and codices count twenty-four books. The number 24 was also known in ancient times in non-Jewish circles (Strack, in Herzog, "Real-Encyc. für Protestantische Theologie und Kirche," 3 757).
The classical passage for the sequence of the books is the Baraita in B. B. 14b. With the exclusion of interjected remarks chronicled there, it runs as follows:
"The sequence of the Prophets is Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, the 12 [minor] prophets; that of the Hagiographa is Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Chronicles. Who wrote the books? Moses wrote his book, the section of Balaam and Job; Joshua wrote his book, and the last eight verses of the Torah; Samuel wrote his book, Judges, and Ruth; David wrote the Psalms, by the hand of the ten Ancients; namely, through Adam (Psalm 139:16, perhaps also ), through Melchizedek, Psalms 110: through Abraham, Psalms 89 ( explained to = Abraham); through Moses, Ps. xc.-c.; through Heman, Psalms 88; through Jeduthun, Psalms 62; perhaps; through Asaph, Ps. , -; and through the three sons of Korah, Psalms 42 , , , , [The question whether Solomon should be included among the Psalmists is discussed in Tosafot 15a.] Jeremiah wrote his book, the Book of Kings, and Lamentations; King Hezekiah, and his council that survived him, wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes; the men of the Great Synagogues wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and Esther Ezra wrote his book and the genealogy of Chronicles down to himself."
From the fact that in this account of the authors Moses is mentioned as the author of the Torah, it may be inferred that in the collection from which the Baraita is cited the sequence also of the five books of the Torah was probably given. But it is also possible that the Pentateuch, from its liturgical use in the synagogue, was so familiar as to be regarded almost as a single book, of the separate parts of which no enumeration was necessary.
The most striking sequence in this passage is that of the Prophets, given as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, a sequence commented on in the Talmud. There it is explained that this is because the Book of Kings ends with destruction, Jeremiah begins and closes with destruction, Ezekiel begins with destruction and ends with consolation, while all of Isaiah consists of consolation. Thus, destruction appropriately follows upon destruction, and consolation upon consolation. The artificiality of this interpretation needs no explanation; but it must be remarked that such sequence is not chronological. The clearest explanation is that of Strack, who claims that the Baraita evidently arranged the prophetical books according to their size, a principle apparently followed also in the arrangement of the Mishnah treatises. According to their length, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve Prophets stand to one another in the ratio of 41, 36, 32, and 30. The same principle is apparent in the sequence of the older Hagiographa, where the insertion of Job between the Psalms and Proverbs (the works of father, David, and son, Solomon) is particularly noticeable. Since the Baraita regarded Moses as the author of Job, this book might quite appropriately have been placed at the head of the Hagiographa, as was indeed recommended by the Talmud. Now, according to their lengths, the Psalms (with Ruth), Job, and Proverbs stand to one another in the ratio of 39, 15, and 13; and Job, therefore, follows Psalms. The sequence of the three Solomonic books, wherein the placing ofEcclesiastes before the Song of Solomon is especially remarkable, illustrates the same principle of arrangement, the largest being placed first.
The Earlier Prophets.
The author of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) has the chronological order of the modern Bible: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve (Minor) Prophets (see Ecclus. [Sirach] 48:22; 49:6,8). Since the Baraita does not enumerate the books according to the succession of their origin and their age (even within the divisions of Prophets and Hagiographa), it must have considered only the order of Biblical writings so far as they belonged to the same section and were therefore to be written in one roll. Since (as is apparent from B. B. 13) the question which books were permitted to be included in one roll, or whether each book had to be written separately in one roll, was much discussed in the second century, the above-mentioned Baraita, which was also current in Palestine (see Yer. Talmud, Soṭah , end), may well be assigned to the second century; and there is no justification for considering it of older date. But this much is surely ascertainable from this Baraita, that the first half of the prophetical canon (Joshua-Kings) had a fixed sequence dating from preceding times, and concerning which there was no doubt. That is to say, these four books follow one another and, continuing the story of the Pentateuch, form a consecutive narrative of Jewish history. This is seen from II Macc. 2:13, where, in mentioning the books "concerning the Kings and Prophets," the prophetical canon is divided into two parts. In post-Talmudic times, also, there is no variation in relation to the sequence of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; while the order of the Greater Prophets is irregular, the only uniformity preserved being in placing the Minor Prophets invariably at the end. Most of the manuscripts (including the St. Petersburg codices, which, dating from the years 916 and 1009, are the oldest known), and the oldest five editions, have the generally adopted chronological order, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; three manuscripts agree with the Talmud, while two have the following peculiar order, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel (Ginsburg, c. p. 6).
Ginsburg (c. p. 7) has collected, in the following table, eight varying sequences of the Hagiographa:
|Talmud and six MSS.||Two MSS. Paris and London||Add. 15252||'Adat Debarim and three MSS.||Ar. Or. 16||Or. 2626-28.||Or. 2201||Five early editions.|
|4||Proverbs||Proverbs||Proverbs||Proverbs||Job||Job||Ruth||Song of Sol.|
|5||Ecclesiastes||Song of Sol.||Song of Sol.||Ruth||Proverbs||Daniel||Song of Sol.||Ruth|
|6||Song of Sol.||Ecclesiastes||Ecclesiastes||Song of Sol.||Song of Sol.||Ruth||Ecclesiastes||Lamentations|
|7||Lamentations||Lamentations||Lamentations||Ecclesiastes||Ecclesiastes||Song of Sol.||Lamentations||Ecclesiastes|
A closer examination of the table reveals that actually three arrangements only are given; for Nos. , , , and differ only in regard to the position assigned to the Five Rolls, and represent the Talmudic arrangement; the five early editions also follow this sequence, but have the Five Rolls in the order followed in the liturgy, and put after the Psalms, instead of Job, Proverbs; Nos. and vary only in regard to Ruth. No. , however, is entirely unique, apparently arranging the books according to their size, if Ezra and Nehemiah be considered as two books.
The Five Rolls.
The Five Rolls, however, form a class by themselves, and follow the order, in which they are employed on successive festivals, in the liturgy. Leaving out of account this last-mentioned sequence, two types remain: the Talmudic and the Masoretic. The most striking point of difference is the position assigned to the books of Chronicles, which are placed in the Talmud at the end, but in the Masoretic text at the beginning. The Talmudic sequence is chronological; the Masoretic considers the size of the books. In regard to the Five Rolls (; of which Ginsburg [c. p. 4] gives a table showing five lists of varying order), it should be noted that, in reality, they show only two sequences: one following the chronology of the authors; the other, the liturgical custom of the synagogue ("Jew. Quart. Rev." 12:223). These variations in the order of the last Prophets and of the Hagiographa—particularly the latter—are significant for the history of the canon; for they show that these writings acquired canonical importance at a later period than the first Prophets and the Law. Owing to theearlier canonization of these latter, their sequence was so firmly established as never to give rise to question.
The most radical criticism agrees that the Torah is the first and oldest part of the canon. The narrative of Nehemiah 8-, which describes an actual canonization, is of prime importance for the history of the collection of the Holy Writings. It is thus generally agreed that in the middle of the fifth century B.C. the first part of the canon was extant. There is no foundation for the belief that, according to Nehemiah 8-, the Pentateuch was not fully completed until that date. The opinions of the synagogue will be discussed later; here only external testimony concerning the canonization will be considered. Perhaps the last three verses of the Book of Malachi, the last prophet, are to be considered as a kind of canonization. The warning concerning the teachings of Moses, and the unusually solemn words of comfort, make it seem probable that herein is intended a peroration not only to the speeches of the last prophets, but also to the whole twofold canon, the Law and the Prophets. These verses could not have come from Malachi; but they may very probably have been added by another anonymous prophet, or by some appropriate authority, in order to let the words of the Holy Scriptures conclude with a Divine reminder of the Torah, and with a promise of great comfort. Another example of what may be called "canonical ending" for the entire Holy Writ may be seen (N. Krochmal, "Moreh Nebuke ha-Zeman," , No. 11) in the last three verses of the Book of Ecclesiastes. This declamation against the makers of books sounds like a canonical closing; and it was really considered such by the oldest Jewish exegetes (see above, § 4). The admonition to keep the Commandments, and the threat of divine punishment, may be compared to the reminder of the Torah and the idea of punishment in Malachi.
Evidences of the Canon.
While there are no other evidences in Holy Writ itself of a collection of the Holy Writings, there are some outside of it, which, in part, may now be mentioned in chronological order. The author of the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) was a contemporary of the high priest Simon—either the first or the second of that name—who lived at the beginning or at the end of the third century B.C. He knew the Law and Prophets in their present form and sequence; for he glorifies (ch. -) the great men of antiquity in the order in which they successively follow in Holy Writ. He not only knew the name ("The Twelve Prophets"), but cites Malachi 3:23, and is acquainted with by far the greatest part of the Hagiographa, as is certain from the Hebrew original of his writings recently discovered.
Evidences of Sirach.
He knew the Psalms, which he ascribes to David (Ecclus. [Sirach] 47:8,9), and the Proverbs: "There were those who found out musical harmonies, and set forth proverbs [A. V., "poetical compositions"] in writing" (44:5). An allusion to Proverbs and probably to the Song of Solomon is contained in his words on King Solomon: "The countries marveled at thee for thy songs, and proverbs, and parables [or "dark sayings"], and interpretations" (47:17); the last three words being taken from Proverbs 1:6, while the Song of Solomon is alluded to in "songs." He would have had no authority to speak of "songs" at all from 1 Kings 5:12; he must have known them. While he had no knowledge of Ecclesiastes, his didactic style proves that he used Job, as is also indicated by the words (44:4, and afterward, ). Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Daniel are not included in his canon (see Halévy, "Etude sur la Partie du Texte Hébreux de l'Ecclésiastique," pp. 67 et seq., Paris, 1897); he considers Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah as Holy Scripture (49:12 = Ezra 3:2; 49:13 = Nehemiah 3 and; compare Nehemiah 6:12); he mentions distinctly "the laws and prophets" (39:1); in the following sentences there are allusions to other writings; and verse 6 of the same chapter leads to the supposition that in his time only wisdom-writings and prayers were being written.
The grandson of Sirach (132 B.C.), who translated his ancestor's wisdom from Hebrew into Greek, tells in his preface no more about the canon than is apparent from the book itself; but he tells it more clearly. He mentions three times the Torah, Prophets, and "other writings;" he knew no "terminus technicus" for the canon's third part, as one was not coined until two hundred years later. In the original these passages are respectively as follows: δία τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν κατ' αὐτοὺς ἠκολουθηκότων δεδομένων . . . εἴς τε τὴν τοῦ νΌμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων βιβλίων . . . U+F41 νόμος καὶ αἰ προφητεῖαι καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν βιβλίων.
In the Second Book of Maccabees (124 B.C.; Niese, "Kritik der Beiden Makkabäerbücher"), written only a few years later than the Greek Sirach, the following is stated: "The same things also were reported in the records, namely, the memoirs of Neemias: and how he, founding a library, gathered together the books concerning the kings, and the prophets, and those of David, and the epistles of the kings concerning holy gifts. And in like manner also Judas gathered together all those books that had been scattered by reason of the war we had, and they are with us. If now possibly ye have need thereof, send such as will bring them unto you" (II Macc. 2:13-15). The Torah is not mentioned; its general circulation rendered its "collection" unnecessary. The second part of the canon is unmistakably intended by "books concerning the kings" (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and by "prophets" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets). Since the Hagiographa had not yet received a definite name, they are mentioned as "those of David" (the Psalms), as the first and most important book—a custom followed in the New Testament even at a time when there was no doubt concerning the existence of collected Hagiographa. The expression, "the books of the kings concerning holy gifts," seems to refer to the royal letters mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah, and if this be so, then the Hagiographa do find mention; viz., Psalms and Chronicles, their first and last books.
It should also be noted that Nehemiah and not Ezra is named: a circumstance which indicates the age of these statements; since the son of Sirach likewise glorified Nehemiah and made no mention of Ezra, whereas even the oldest rabbinical authorities consider Ezra as a writer far superior to Nehemiah, the aristocrat.
Philo, in his extant works, makes no mention of Ezekiel, Daniel, or the Five Rolls. Since, however, even Sirach mentions Ezekiel, Philo's silence about him is undoubtedly accidental; consequently, his failure to name the other books can not be taken as a proof that they were not in his canon. Moreover, the Laws, Prophets, Psalms, and other books are referred to by title in his "De Vita Contemplativa," § 3. It is true, Lucius ("Die Therapeuten," Strasburg, 1880) doubts the genuineness of this work; but Leopold Cohn, an authority on Philo ("Einleitung und Chronologie der Schriften Philo's," p. 37, Leipsic, 1899; "Philologus," , suppl. volume, p. 421), maintains that there is no reason to do so. Consequently, Siegfried's opinion ("Philo," p. 61, Jena, 1875) that Philo's canon was essentially the same as that of to-day, is probably correct (H. E. Ryle, "Philo and Holy Scripture," London, 1895).
The New Testament shows that its canon was none other than that which exists to-day. None of the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha is ever quoted by name, while Daniel is expressly cited in Matthew 24:15. Matthew 13:35 (= Luke 11:51) proves that Chronicles was the last canonical book. The statement, "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias," contains a reference to 2 Chronicles 24:20. The three chief divisions are enumerated in Luke 24:44—"Law," "Prophets," and "Psalms"—as they are in Philo. Usually, however, only the Law and the Prophets are mentioned (Matthew 5:17; Luke 16:16); but by them the three divisions are intended just as the Talmudic teachers include the Hagiographa under Prophets (see § 3). This usage is to be attributed, on the one hand, to the lack of a current technical term for the Hagiographa, and on the other to the opinion that the collected books of the Holy Writings were written by the Prophets. In view of these facts, the silence of the writers of the New Testament concerning Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Ezra has no bearing on the question whether these writings were or were not included in the canon (see Strack, c. p. 750).
Josephus (c. 38-95) enumerates 22 books, which he divides as follows: 5 books of Moses; 13 histories, containing the history of Israel from Moses' death down to Artaxerxes I., written by the Prophets; and 4 remaining books consisting of hymns and admonitions. "It is true our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time: and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one hath been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them" ("Contra Ap." 1:8). It is evident that Josephus, instead of counting Ruth and Lamentations as separate books, combined them with Judges and Jeremiah, respectively. As historical books he considered all that narrated anything historical, and thus included Job. He considered Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes non-historical. No other arrangement would have been possible for Josephus; for it is known from Talmudic and Midrashic literature that in his time, when the Tannaites flourished most, all the now familiar books were considered canonical. For various interpretations of Josephus' narrative, see Strack, c. p. 752.
The evidence of the church fathers, such as Melito of Sardis (about 170; in Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." 4:26) and Origen (died 253; in Eusebius, c. 6:25), both of whom count 22 books, but mention 24, is unimportant; since they invoke the authority of their Jewish teachers, whose canon is known from the tannaite literature. Of still less weight is the evidence of Jerome (died 420), who also had Jewish instruction, and simply repeats what was current opinion among the Amoraim ("Prologus Galeatus" and preface to Daniel).
The Prophetical Canon.
In addition to the written evidence mentioned above, the circumstance that the Samaritans (who considered themselves Jews) accepted only the Pentateuch and part of Joshua is of great importance in determining the historical development of the canon. It brings out the momentous fact that a recognized canon of the Prophets did not exist in the middle of the fifth century B.C.; while, on the other hand, it is certain from Sirach (see § 6 of this article) that the prophetical canon was completed by 200 B.C. at the very latest. Since Sirach considered prophecy as long since silenced, and had no recollection of any authoritative close of this canon, the view that the list of the Prophets was completed at least one hundred years before his time is very plausible. Consequently, the prophetical canon must have been closed, at the very latest, at the beginning of the era of the Seleucids (312). Zunz ("G. V." ed. , p. 14) says with reason: "The holy books, containing the Law and the Prophets, must have been collected a few generations after Nehemiah. Their age extends back far beyond that epoch. The decided predilection shown toward this part of the Biblical books, still visible in later times and in all religious institutions, must be explained by the fact that it had long been honored as the only surviving monument of the Jewish state at a time when the latter no longer existed, and other national writings, whether of earlier or later time, were attracting attention" (compare also ib. p. 33). Ryle ("Canon of the Old Testament," p. 123) assumes that the prophetical canon was completed during the high priesthood of Simon II. (219-199 B.C.). He adduces in proof the prophetical books themselves, which, according to him, contain many additions of a late date, showing that previous to this period they had not been canonized; K. Marti (commentary on Isaiah, in "Kurzgefasstes Handbuch") even arguesthat in Hillel's time the canon was not yet closed. However, the fact that Daniel is not included in the Prophets is of importance, and demonstrates that the prophetical canon must have been closed before 165 B.C.; for the best of criticism is agreed that Daniel belongs to the Maccabean era; it would have been included in the Prophets had at that time the canon still been open.
Determination of the Hagiographa.
While Sirach (see § 6) knew and made use of most of the books of the Hagiographa, his chapters contain no allusion whatever to Ecclesiastes, Esther, or Daniel. It does not follow from this that he did not know these books, but that he simply did not consider them Holy Writings; moreover, it is certain that in 200 B.C. the canon of the Hagiographa did not exist in its present form. A second foundation for this theory would be the date of the Book of Daniel, which in its present form, and with its allusion to Antiochus Epiphanes, was not known before 165. A third argument is deduced from the fact that while the translator of Sirach in 132 knew no technical name for the Hagiographæ, he nevertheless speaks plainly of a third part of Holy Writ. Accordingly, there is no sound reason to doubt the statement in II Macc. 2:14 (see § 6 of this article) that Judas Maccabee collected the books scattered during the wars.
No doubt, the Syrians in their persecutions had diligently searched for scrolls of the Torah, and (since they knew no difference between the various Hebrew writings) for other Biblical books (I Macc. 3:48). Under the circumstances, it is quite comprehensible that the warlike Maccabean and his pious followers took special care to collect the Holy Books. On the other hand, under the rule of the princes who followed Simon, most of whom sided with the Sadducees, circumstances were unfavorable for determining a canon for the third portion of Scripture by agreement as to which books should be included and which excluded. It was impossible to determine the canon in the post-Maccabean period, because then the various schools of tradition began to flourish. So important a matter as the canon would not have been easily settled, as the controversies of 65 and 90 C. E. show (see § 11), and indeed there are no traces of a discussion of the subject. In view of all these circumstances, one is warranted in assuming as most probable that not long after the Maccabean wars of freedom the Jewish community had reached an agreement as to the books of the third canon.
Everything points to the correctness of the opinion of Zunz (c. p. 34) "that long before the destruction of the Temple, and not long after Sirach was translated, the Holy Writings comprised the present cycle." Ryle (c. pp. 184 et seq.), also, believes that the Hagiographa were completed before the death of John Hyrcanus (106 B.C.). To be sure, he distinguishes two periods: that from 160-105 B.C. for the admission, and that from 90-110 C.E. for the final ratification of the complete canon. But this distinction makes no difference as to the principal matter in issue.
Principle of Canonization.
Jewish tradition adopts the view that every word of Holy Writ was inspired by the Divine Spirit. This Spirit is believed, in every case, to have rested upon a prophet; and, consequently, every Biblical book was said to have been written by a prophet. The chronicler attributes the authorship of the Book of Samuel, which he designates as "the acts of David" (1 Chronicles 29:29) to Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. The oldest Baraita (see above, § 3; B. B. 14b), dealing with the sequence and authors of the Biblical writings, assumes the author of every book to have been a prophet, and finds him either in the titles or the sequence of the books themselves. Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Ezra, and the Prophets wrote their own books; Moses wrote Job, the hero of which was his contemporary; Joshua wrote the last eight verses of the Pentateuch ("so Moses, the servant of the Lord, died," etc.); Samuel wrote Judges and Ruth; Jeremiah the Books of Kings, which preceded his own book, and Ezra the Chronicles (see Blau, c. p. 33). There is thus an unbroken chain of prophets from Moses to Malachi; the chain of tradition in Abot 1:1 mentions prophets but no priests: "Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied for Israel. None of them took from or added anything to the Law, except the reading of the roll of Esther" (Baraita Meg. 14a; compare "Seder 'Olam," , ).
Not only the Patriarchs, but David and Solomon also were considered prophets. Thus the Psalms, written by David; Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon ("Seder 'Olam,"; compare Cant. R. 1:35; Lam. R. 11:1; and B. B. 15a); Ruth, by Samuel; Lamentations, by Jeremiah; Daniel, by Daniel and Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah, by Ezra (who is identified with Malachi, Meg. 15a), are all of prophetic origin. Esther alone apparently is without a prophetic author. For this reason, "Seder 'Olam" (end of ch. ) considers that Mordecai was a prophet who, contemporary with Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, prophesied at the time of Darius; while Daniel (who in Esther R. 4:5 is identified with Hatach), according to his own book, lived as early as the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Josephus—who believes that prophecy ceased in the time of Artaxerxes I.—considers as divine only the books written by prophets (see the passage, "Contra Ap." 1:8, quoted above; compare Grätz, "Monatsschrift," 35:281 et seq.). Thus only works regarded as having been inspired by the Holy Spirit were included in the canon. Neither the Talmud nor Midrash knew the difference between prophecy and the Holy Spirit, as drawn in the Middle Ages. Take the following examples:
Esther was a prophetess; for it is said (Esther 9:29): "Esther wrote" ("Seder 'Olam," c.). Chajes ("Torat Nebiïm," last page, Zolkiev, 1836) has rightly inferred from this passage that, according to tradition, every written word was of prophetic origin. Rabbi Levi says. "Formerly, if man did anything of importance, a prophet came and wrote it down; but now . . . " (Lev. R. 34:8). David prays in Psalm 19:15 (A. V. 14): "Let the words of my mouth be acceptable": that is, "may they be transcribed for later generations, and may the latter not read them as Homer is read, but let them meditate upon them and be rewarded for doing so, as they are for studying Nega'im and Ohalot (Midrash Tehillim, 1:8, ed. Buber, p. 5a). Of Psalms 42:5 it is said (Lam. R. Introduction, p. 24): "There were 600,000 or even 1,200,000 prophets. Every prophecy which was of importancefor its own time or later generations was published; but, on the other hand, those prophecies having significance for their own, but not for future times, were not published" (Cant. R. 6:11). "God said to Moses, 'copy the Torah, Prophets, and Hagiographa, that you may have them in writing; Halakot, Midrash, Haggadot, and Talmud, however, are to be preserved only verbally" (Ex. R. 47:154a). R. Isaac considered that "all that the prophets foretell in every generation, they learned on Mt. Sinai" (ib. 28:100a). "The entire Holy Writ is really the word of God, so that the authors are to be considered merely as media." "When Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi died, the Holy Spirit left Israel" (Tosef., Soṭah, 13:2; Yer. Soṭah, end; Sanh. 11a).
Therefore, whatever is in the Holy Writ must have been written, at the very latest, during the time of these last three prophets, frequently mentioned in Talmud and Midrash. The Great Synagogue had many prophets among its members, and therefore had the right to have the Esther scroll written down (Shab. 104a; Meg. 2a; Yoma 80a; Tem. 15b).
Ben Sira and Other Apocrypha.
It was due to the principle referred to in the preceding section that the Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), which was used as a school-book many centuries after the completion of the canon (hence called Hαιδαγωγóς, whence the Jewish "Alphabets" of Ben Sira), either found no place in the canon, or was excluded from it. Since, in his work, the author names himself and the high priest Simon, the post-prophetic origin of the work was evident:
In the Tosefta it is stated (Yad. 2:13, ed. Zuckermandel, p. 683): "Neither the books of Ben Sira nor any of the books written thereafter [that is, in post-prophetic times] render the hands unclean,' [that is, are canonical]. The Mishnah (Sanh. i) adduces this dictum in the name of R. Akiba: "He who reads the outside books () shall have no share in the life to come." To this the Palestinian Talmud adds: "for example, the books of Ben Sira and Ben La'ana." But the reading of Homer and all other books written thereafter shall be accounted as the reading of a letter. On what ground? They may be read, but not to weariness" (Sanh. 28a). This passage is usually considered incomprehensible. In the first place, its severity against Ben Sira is not intelligible; secondly, it is not clear why the books of Homer should be preferred to Ecclesiasticus (Sirach); thirdly, in one of the Baraitot (Sanh. 100a) it is said that the books of heretics are meant (), and only Joseph, a Babylonian amora of the beginning of the fourth century, states: "The book of Ben Sira also is not to be read." This prohibition is indeed contradicted by historical facts; for since Sirach's wisdom is frequently cited by the Talmudists (compare the latest compilation of citations in Cowley and Neubauer, "The Original Hebrew of a Portion of Ecclesiasticus," Oxford, 1897), the reading of his work can not have been forbidden. Moreover, as the context clearly shows, passages of Ben Sira are twice cited as though they were part of the Hagiographa ('Er. 65a, by Rab from Sirach 7:10, and B. K. 92b by Rabba bar Mari; see also "Jew. Quart. Rev." 10:241). Even if it be supposed that these two cases arose from a confusion due to lack of memory, the two Talmudic teachers thinking the verses quoted by them to be from a Biblical book, withal it clearly follows that Sirach was read, and so high an authority as Akiba could not possibly have declared that whoever read in Ben Sira would destroy his future salvation. As a result of these difficulties it has been decided to amend the passages of the Jerusalem Talmud in question (Joel, "Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte," 1:71 et seq.; Grätz, "Monatsschrift," 35:287). It would seem that all these difficulties might be obviated by keeping clearly in mind the fact that the Talmudic teachers distinguished two kinds of reading: (1) reading in public and aloud, or zealous study, and (2) private reading. The Midrash on Ecclesiastes 12:12 (see above, § 4) forbids adding another book such as that of Ben Sira or Ben Tigla to the twenty-four books; but says they may be read, expressing this opinion in the same way as does the Talmudic passage under discussion. The whole passage therefore bears out the following construction: Akiba maintains that not only he who denies the divine origin of the Torah forfeits his share in the future life, but also he who reads the outside books as though they were Holy Writings; that is, who treats them as such either by reading them aloud or by interpreting them before the community. This or a similar penalty is not threatened in the case of apocryphal works in general, but only in connection with a well-known and highly prized book; consequently Akiba's statement must have been directed exclusively against Ben Sira's collection of proverbs, concerning which, Epiphanius also states (c. in Lagarde, "Symmicta," 2:157) that it does not belong to the Holy Writings. The Talmud adds: "but the and other works written in post-prophetic times may be read [that is, read privately]; for, according to Ecclesiastes xii, 2, they may be read, but not to the extent and in the manner of wearying the flesh."
From these passages it is evident that no attempt was made to stamp out the Apocrypha; on the contrary, an influence was certainly exerted which was not altogether unfavorable to them (see above, § 4). In conclusion, be it remarked that Maimonides ("Hilkot 'Ab. Zarah," 2:2) holds Akiba's expression, "outside books," to refer to idolatrous, non-Jewish, extra-canonical writings, and that in the fourth century, in the passage in Sanh. 100a, a reason was sought for forbidding the reading of Sirach. Accordingly, the prohibition against reading non-canonical works generally can not have been old.
Controversies About Separate Books.
There were controversies concerning the admission into the canon of the Book of Ezekiel, Solomon's three books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon), and Esther. But no controversy arose concerning the Apocrypha: all were agreed that they were non-canonical. The opposition to Ezekiel was only temporary; owing to its contradictions of the Pentateuch, many wished to hide it away (that is, to prevent its use); but "Hananiah ben Hezekiah ben Garon spent three hundred jars of oil to release it." Others wished to prohibit its use because a child in school, having read the first chapter, made a picture of the "ḥashmal" (A. V., "color of amber") which then emitted flames; nevertheless, Hananiah championed it (Ḥag. 13a; Shab. 13b; Men. 45a). The opposition to Proverbs, because they contained contradictions, was very slight. For the same reason, it was contended that Ecclesiastes ought not to be read (Shab. 30b). Apparently the opponents belonged to the strict school of the Shammaites (Bacher, "Ag. Tan." 1:21). Others wished to prohibit the reading of Ecclesiastes on the ground that it expressed heretical ideas (Lev. R. , beginning, and elsewhere).
A longer struggle raged around the question whether Ecclesiastes "rendered the hands unclean" that touched it, necessitating their washing. The passages bearing on these controversies (see also above under § 2) read as follows:
"All books, except that of the Temple-court, defile the hands" (Kelim 15:6). [By this expression all Biblical books are meant, as is clear from the Tosefta (ib. 2:5,8, p. 584). "The hands are defiled not only by the book of the Temple-court (, read ) that was taken thence, but also by the prophets, by the separate books of the Pentateuch, and by another book (=Hagiographa; see Blau, c. p. 21) that is put there."] "The heave-offering is defiled by the book." (Mishnah Zabim 5:12; Shab. 14a, Rashi: "all the sacred writings.") "The holy writings defile the hands"; "the thongs of the phylacteries defile the hands"; "the upper and lower edges of the book, as well as those at the end, defile them." "Even though a book be so blurred that only 85 letters (as many as in Numbers 10:35,36) remain, it will defile." "All holy writings ( ) defile"; so also the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes, as R. Judah said: "The Song defiles; Ecclesiastes is in dispute." R. Simon said: "Ecclesiastes belonged to the few cases in which the Shammaites were lenient in their decision and the Hillelites severe." R. Simon b. Azzai said: "I have a statement, from the seventy-two elders and dating from the daywhen R. Eliezer ben Azariah became head of the school, that the Song and Ecclesiastes defile." R. Akiba replied: "God forbid! No Jew has ever contended that the Song defiled; for the whole world is not worth so much as the day when the Song was given to Israel. Thus while all the Hagiographa () are holy, the Song is most holy; if there was any dispute, it was only concerning Ecclesiastes." R. Johanan b. Joshua, son of R. Akiba's father-in-law, said: "The controversy was as Ben Azzai states, and so it was decided." The Aramaic passages in Ezra and Daniel defile, but if the Aramaic be written in Hebrew, or the Hebrew in Aramaic, or ancient Hebrew characters, it would not be so. "A book defiles only if it is written in Assyrian (modern Hebrew characters) on animal skin, and with ink" (compare Blau, c. pp. 69 et seq.). The Sadducees said: "We complain of you, Pharisees, for you say,' The Holy Writings, but not the books of Homer (), defile.'" Then said R. Johanan ben Zakkai: "Have we only this against the Pharisees that they say the bones of an ass do not defile, but those of the high priest Johanan do?" The Sadducees replied that they believed bones were declared impure lest wicked people should make use of the bones of their parents (Niddah 55a: "that people might not make saddlery out of their parents' skins"). Johanan answered, that according to them, there was also impurity in the Holy Writings, but that the books of Homer, which were not honored, did not defile (Tosef., Yad. 2:19: "in order that no covering for an animal might be made out of the books").
The chief passages to the same effect in the Mishnah Yadayim are 3:2-5; 4:5,6. The Tosefta Yadayim takes the same general view, but makes the important addition that the Evangels (Gospels) and the books of heretics () or Ben Sira and all books written "thereafter" (post-prophetic times) did not defile (2:13,683; compare 129, 2, and Shab. 116a). It should also be noted that, according to R. Simon ben Menasya, while "The Song defiles, since it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, Ecclesiastes does not, because it was produced solely by the wisdom of Solomon" (2:14; compare 'Eduy. 2:7, and Mishnah 5:3; Meg. 7a). The following passage, however, as will be apparent from its contents, dates from a later period:
"Formerly the Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, because they contained only proverbs, and did not belong to the Hagiographa, were hidden ( = declared non-canonical), until the men of the Great Synagogue explained them" (Ab. R. N., A, i, B, i, pp. 2, 3, ed. Schechter; compare Midr. on Proverbs 25:1). R. Akiba said: 'He who, for the sake of entertainment, sings the Song as though it were a profane song, will have no share in the future world" (Tosef., Sanh. 12:10, p. 433; Sanh. 101a).
Canticles and Ecclesiastes.
These passages show that the struggle concerning Ezekiel and Solomon's three books had arisen even before the destruction of the Temple, and that the contention concerning the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes had attained such considerable magnitude that Akiba was compelled (about 100) to threaten the forfeiture of future life, in order to save Canticles. Since, immediately before the destruction of the Temple, the Sadducees and Pharisees were disputing concerning the defilement of hands by the Holy Writings, the law which declared that the latter did render hands unclean can not have been anterior to this time. In fact, it can not have been made much earlier than one hundred years after the Temple's destruction.
Grätz ("Kohelet," p. 149) argues that there was about 65 C. E. an assembly of the Hillelite and Shammaite schools in Jerusalem, and that in the year 90, on the day that Gamaliel II. was dismissed, the teachers of the Law decided which books were to be honored as canonical.
The Tannaites of the second century attempted to show that the Esther scroll might be written down; and they based their decision upon Exodus 17:14 (Mek., Beshallaḥ, 6; Meg. 7a; Yer. Meg. a). This eagerness proves that there was at least some question as to its admissibility. The inquiry whether Esther was revealed, and was therefore to be reckoned as Scripture, was by no means discouraged (Yoma 29a). Many sages, Akiba among others, tried to prove from separate sentences (as, for instance, "Haman spoke in his heart") that it was dictated by the Holy Spirit (Meg. 7a). According to the eminent rabbi Samuel (after 200), Esther "does not defile." Simeon (150) states that only Ecclesiastes is doubtful; while Ruth, the Song of Solomon, and Esther "defile the hands." It is evident from many sources (compare Sanh. 100a; Yer. Ber. 14:15; Meg. 19b) that the canonicity of this book was not certain. The controversies in the Church are merely echoes of the voices raised (but suppressed) in the synagogue against the canonical respect paid to various writings.
Inspiration and Its Degrees.
It is almost impossible to-day to form an adequate conception of the love and admiration felt by the Talmudists for the Torah. Of the many passages illustrating this the following are, in many respects, characteristic:
"The Torah is one of the seven things that existed before the Creation. According to Simeon ben Laḳish, it is 2,000 years older (Pes. 54a; Gen. R. 8:2; Cant. R. 5:11). Even Abraham obeyed all its laws (Mishnah Kid., end), and when Moses ascended to heaven, he found God with the Torah in His hand and reading the passage about the Red Heifer, Numbers 19:1-10 (Pesiḳ. R. 68b). It was given to Israel unconditionally (Mek. 60b) by Moses, who made one copy each for every tribe and corrected them all from the copy of Levi (Pesiḳ. 197a). He gave it closed up, according to others, in a roll (Giṭ. 68a). He wrote the last eight verses also; for not a single letter emanates from any one else. According to a more liberal opinion, however, Joshua was supposed to have written these verses (B. B. 15a). Before him who denies its divine origin the doors of hell shall never close, and he shall be condemned to stay therein eternally" (Akiba'in "Seder'Olam," , end; Tosef., Sanh. 13:5; compare Sifre, Num. 112, 116; ib., Deut, 102; Sanh. 99a; Yer. Sanh. 27d and elsewhere). "The Law will endure forever" (Mek.19a). "Any prophet who attempts to annul one of its laws will be punished by death" (Tosef., Sanh. 14:13). "Though all mankind should combine, they could not abolish one yod (the smallest letter) of it (compare Matthew 5:18). When Solomon took unto himself many wives, the yod of ('he shall multiply'; Deuteronomy 17:17) cast itself down before God, and denounced the king (according to others, this was done by Deuteronomy). Then spake God: 'Solomon and hundreds like him shall be destroyed, but not one of your letters shall ever be annihilated'" (Cant. R. 5:11; Gen. R.; Num. R.; Tan., Ḳoraḥ, No. xii; for the accusing letters, compare Pes. 109a). "The whole world is but a thirty-two-hundredth part of the Torah" ('Er. 23b). "When a copy of the Law was burned, people rent their clothes as though one of their dearest relatives had died, and such rents were never to be sewed up (Yer. M. Ḳ. 83b, and elsewhere); but a copy written by a heretic () might be burned, and one written by a non-Jew had to be buried" (Giṭ. 45b). "Before the Torah the people had to stand up in the synagogue; and while it lay unrolled on the reader's desk, speaking (even about Halakah) and leaving the synagogue were forbidden" (Ket. 33b; Pesiḳ. 118a). At least one copy had to be in every town (B. B. 43a; Tosef., ib. 11:23). Scholars would even take one with them when on a journey (Mishnah Yeb., end). Even if a copy were inherited, it was considered proper to write oneself another copy; and if possible this had to be a beautiful copy (Sanh. 21b; Nazir, 2b). Before birth each one is taught the Torah; but when he sees the light of day an angel touches his mouth, and makes him forget it all (Niddah, 30b).
In those days the knowledge of the Bible was astounding: many scholars were able to write it entire from memory (Yer. Meg. 74d). Instruction in it was gratuitous (Ned. 37, and elsewhere). Even to its last letters the Torah comes from Moses, through whom God gave it to Israel, for only the Decalogue was revealed from the mouth of God Himself, in ten utterances (Sifre, Deut. 305, 357; Mek. 46a). Moses is therefore called the "great writer of Israel," "the great sage, father of the wise men and of the prophets" (Soṭah 13a; Sifre 1:134, 2:306). In countries other than Palestine, the Word of God was revealed only in a clean place or near a river (Mek. 106a, note 14).
Relation of Torah to Prophets, etc.
Just as all prophecy came from Moses, so all Holy Writings began in the Torah; for there is nothing in the Prophets or the Hagiographa that is not at least suggested in the Torah (Num. R. 10:6). Hence the question: "Is there anything that was not suggested in the Torah?" The answer is given: "Like the latter, the Prophets and the Hagiographa came from God Himself." In Sifre, Deut. 306, to an utterance of Jeremiah is applied: "Lord of the Universe! Thou wrotest [it]"; and of every book it is said either that God wrote it, or that He caused it to be written. For Talmudic scholars the twenty-four books form one book, known to the Patriarchs, and even to the primeval generations; and accordingly every favorite verse is attributed to some Biblical hero: "Solomon said"; "David declared"; "Daniel stated"; "Moses, too, affirmed it" (Tosef., Yoma, 2:1).
Nevertheless, a distinction was made between the Torah, on the one hand, and the Prophets and the Hagiographa, on the other; for, while the study of the latter books would bring the same reward as would that of the Torah (Lam. R. 1:13, 3:10), the Prophets and the Hagiographa were not of equal importance with the Torah. Thus, the transgression of a commandment in the Prophets or the Hagiographa was not punishable by scourging (Yer. Yeb. 4:19a; Pesiḳ. R. 61b). Any inference drawn from the Prophets or the Hagiographa had to be authenticated in the Torah (Yer. Ḳid. 66a). Simeon b. Laḳish said outright, "What need have I of the Psalms? It is stated in the Torah" (Pesiḳ. R. 21b; compare 22a, below; 146a, 10; 174a, below). The Prophets and the Hagiographa are only transmitted (Naz. 53a; M. Ḳ. 5a), so that no legal (Torah) deductions are to be drawn from the prophecies ( , B. Ḳ. 2b, etc.).
As the first and actual revelation of God, the Torah stood far above the Prophets and the Hagiographa; while in the future the latter will cease to be, the existence of the Torah will be an unending one. Tradition thus distinguished, as to rank, between Moses and the other prophets; but it knew nothing of a difference between the prophetical gift and the Holy Spirit (), as defined by Maimonides: such distinction rests upon verbal expressions for "prophets" and "Holy Writings." In the treatise Soferim, and elsewhere, the Hagiographa are called ("holiness") in distinction from the Prophets, which are styled ("revelation"). The older terminology, however, applied , also, to the Hagiographa; and there is no mention of any alleged difference in degree of inspiration between the two.
- Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vorträge, Berlin, 1832;
- N. Krochmal, Moreh Nebuke ha-Zeman, , ,;
- J. Fürst, Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Ueberlieferungen im Talmud und Midrasch, Leipsic, 1868;
- Grätz, Kohelet, ib. 1871, Appendix;
- idem, Monatsschrift, 1886, pp. 281-298;
- A. Geiger, Nachgelassene Schriften, , Berlin, 1876;
- S. Davidson, The Canon of the Bible, Its Formation, History, and Fluctuations, 3d ed., London, 1880;
- T. Schiffer, Das Buch Kohelet, Leipsic, 1882;
- G. Marx, Traditio Rabbinorum, Veterrima de Librorum V. T. Ordine atque Origine, ib. 1884;
- G. Wildeboer, Het Ontstaan van den Kanon des Ouden Verbonds, 2d ed., Gröningen, 1891;
- F. Buhl, Kanon und Text des Alten Testaments, Leipsic, 1891;
- R. W. Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, London, 1892;
- L. Blau, Zur Einleitung in die Heilige Schrift, Strasburg, 1894;
- H. E. Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament, London, 1895;
- M. Friedmann, Ha-Goren, ed. Horodetsky, 2:66-74, Berdychev, 1900. On "Defiling the Hands," etc.;
- K. Budde, Der Kanon des Alten Testaments, Giessen, 1900;
- the various introductions to the Bible by Eichhorn (4th ed., Göttingen, 1823-25), De Wette-Schrader (8th ed., Berlin, 1869), Bleek-Wellhausen, König, and others;
- H. L. Strack, Kanon, des Alten Testaments, in Realencyklopädie für Protest antische Theologie und Kirche, 3d ed., , Leipsic, 1901, which gives also the earlier literature.
The word "canon," borrowed probably from the Phenicians (κανών, κάνη, from = "rod," "carpenter's rule"; compare , Ezek. 3), but which is found in Homer ("Iliad," 8:193, 13:407, 23:761), seems to have been used among the rhetoricians of Alexandria to denote a collection of literary models or standard works, and a list of such classics (Quintilian, "Inst. Or." 10:1,54, where "ordo" and "numerus" are translations of κανόω; compare, Jerome, "Ep. , ad Paulinum" and "Prologus Galeatus in II Regg."). In this sense it is used also by Aristeas (c. 35 C.E.) ("Ep. ad Philocratem," , ed. Wendland). In Gnostic circles the authority of the sayings of Jesus was characterized by this term (Ptolemy [c. 200 C.E.], "Ep. ad Florum," in Epiphanius, "Hæres." 33:37). As the name of a catalogue of sacred books, the term is used by Athanasius ("Ep. Festalis," 39:1,168) in 367 C.E., in the spurious canon 60 of the Council of Laodicea (after 364), and in the possibly genuine "Iambi ad Seleucum" by Amphilochius (d. 395). Books that were regarded as sacred (γράΦαι ἄγιαι) and God-inspired(Θεόπνευσται) and had been generally adopted for public reading (δυδημοςιευμeeήναι), in distinction from esoteric or heretical writings withdrawn from public use (άπόκρυΦαι), were designated "canonical" (κανονικαι).
In Palestine such sacred writings were declared by the Pharisees to be objects "making the hands unclean" (, Yad. 3:2,5; 4:5,6), apparently necessitating a ritual ablution after contact with them. While protesting against this innovation, the Sadducees (ib. 4:6) seem to have been agreed in recognizing a body of sacred Scriptures () and in cherishing these above certain other books. The introduction of this custom would naturally tend to fix the limits of the canon. Only contact with books that were actually used or regarded as fit for use in the synagogue would demand such a washing of the hands. It was their employment in the cult that rendered them sacred.
What was, or might be, read in public worship () constituted the canon. Therefore the question could arise whether the Aramaic targumsmade the hands unclean. The new ritual, by accentuating the sanctity of the books publicly read, necessarily abridged the liberty of introducing new works, and raised doubts concerning the fitness of some that had been used. The finally established canon must be looked upon as the result of a critical process reducing the number of books approved for public reading.
Inclusion and Exclusion of Apocrypha.
Among the works eliminated by this process were, undoubtedly, on the one hand, many of the writings that maintained their place in the Alexandrian canon, having been brought to Egypt and translated from the original Hebrew or Aramaic, such as Baruch, Ecclus (Sirach), I Maccabees, Tobit and Judith; and, on the other hand, books like Jubilees, Psalms of Solomon, Assumption of Moses, and the Apocalypses of Enoch, Noah, Baruch, Ezra, and others. In some cases the critical tendency may have led only to the removal of what was rightly deemed to be later accretions, such as the additions to Daniel and Esther, while in regard to disputed writings, such as Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezekiel (and probably Daniel), the more liberal policy finally prevailed.
While this criticism still continued in the second century of the common era, its main results appear to have been reached as early as the end of the first. Josephus ("Contra Ap." 1:8), about the year 100, counted twenty-two sacred books. The Greek Bible he used had evidently been brought down to the number required in Pharisaic circles. It is not known with certainty what books were included. It is probable, however, that Lamentations and Baruch formed one book with Jeremiah, and that Ruth was an appendix to Judges. Esther still seems to have had its additions. Among Josephus' thirteen prophets none was included that he regarded as later than Artaxerxes Longimanus. It may perhaps be doubted whether he could have described Canticles as a work laying down principles of conduct (ύποθήκας τοῆ βεριέχουσιν). This would better suit Ben Sira. But the consideration of supposed greater age and Solomonic authorship may have decided in favor of Canticles. That the number may be the same and yet the constituent books to some extent differ, is evident from the fact that Melito in Palestinian synagogues found a canon containing twenty-two books in which Esther was lacking and Ruth separate (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." 4:26), while Origen reports the twenty-two books with their Hebrew titles as including Esther and with Ruth joined to Judges as Baruch and Lamentations to Jeremiah (ib. 6:25). Again, in Athanasius, c., Esther is wanting among the twenty-two canonical books, whereas in Canon 60 of the Laodicean Council, dependent on Athanasius, Esther occurs, as also among the twenty-two canonical books enumerated by Jerome in his "Prologus Galeatus." It is scarcely by accident that this number coincides with that of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The same tendency that led poets to write alphabetic psalms prompted scribes to arrange the canon so as to make the total twenty-two.
Twenty-two or Twenty-four Books.
According to the Apocalypse of Ezra 14:44,45 (c. 95 B.C.), this prophet wrote ninety-four sacred books: first twenty-four for the worthy and the unworthy to read, and then seventy to be withheld and to be given only to the wise. This legend shows that twenty-four books were looked upon by this author as intended for public reading. Although the books are not enumerated, there is no reason to doubt that this canon was substantially identical with that of Josephus. The difference may be simply due to the fact that, in some circles, Ruth and Lamentations were copied on separate rolls for convenience in public reading on Shabuot and on the Ninth of Ab. This may have involved the rejection of Baruch, and the removal of the threnody on Josiah from Lamentations. If an additional reason for counting twenty-four books were needed, the twenty-four priestly families (1 Chronicles 24), or the twenty-four celestial representatives of Israel (Revelation 4:4), would readily supply it (if not the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet). This number, given in the Baraita preserved in B. B. 14b, coexisted with the other (Jerome, c.), and ultimately prevailed.
It is manifest that to Pseudo-Ezra the seventy books were more important than the twenty-four. They had been hidden, preserved as treasures, until they should be made known to the wise. This idea had already been used by Daniel to explain the late appearance of his prophecies (Daniel 12:4,9). These apocalypses were too precious to be read to "the unworthy." Possibly this conceit was designed to serve a double purpose: accounting for their recent discovery, and also making a virtue of their rejection from use in the synagogue. With pride and affection their friends called them (ἀπόκρυφα); to those who rightly saw in this literature a danger to the supremacy of the Law, the term came to mean the removal of a book from synagogue use, as in the case of rolls that had been worn out, or of rolls not thought to render the hands unclean (see, however, Apocalyptic Literature).
If some critics continued to urge the exclusion of this or that book from the canon of twenty-two or twenty-four rolls (see below), there are not lacking, on the other hand, signs of a readiness to include one or another of the "ḥiẓonim" (outside books). Thus Sirach is occasionally quoted (B. Ḳ. 92b) as a representative of the Hagiographa; and Baruch was still read on Yom Kippur in some synagogues in Origen's time (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." 6:25). Outside of Pharisaic circles the earlier and less rigid conception of the canon maintained itself, as is evident from the extent of the Greek Bible used by Christian apologists for controversial purposes, and a number of works quoted or used as authorities by New Testament writers, not found even in this Bible, such as "Jeremiah the Prophet" (Matthew 27:9), "The Wisdom of God" (Luke 11:49), Enoch (Jude 14-16), Assumption of Moses (Jude 9), the Apocalypse of Elijah (Ephesians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 2:9), the Martyrdom of Isaiah (Hebrews 11:37).
In B. B. 14b the canon is divided into three parts; viz., (1) the Law, comprising the five books ascribed to Moses; (2) the Prophets, including Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets; and (3) the Writings,Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Chronicles. The passage indicates what was regarded, on the basis of a tradition preserved in the school of Hoshaya b. Ḥama (c. 230 C.E.), as the proper manner of arranging the component parts of the canon when larger volumes were prepared.
This tripartition no doubt implied an estimate of relative value. The Law, being the first to acquire authority, remained at all times the highest authority. All non-Mosaic books were called ("tradition"), whether Prophets or Hagiographa, and considered in the light of a commentary on the Law, as it were, another expression of the oral law (compare Zunz, "G. V." 1832, p. 44). This is suggested also by the use of the term νόμος for the entire canon (II Esdras 14:21, 4:23; 1 Corinthians 14:21; John 10:34, 12:34, 15:25), by the absence of the Torah in the description of the library of religious books in II Macc. 2:13, and by the fact that the Samaritans limited their canon to the Torah. The veneration for the Law long antedated the completion of the Pentateuch, naturally increasing with the growth of this work. The so-called Covenant Code, Exodus 20:23-23:33, must have enjoyed wide recognition in the eighth and seventh centuries, probably because emanating from some sanctuary whose priesthood traced its descent to Moses, since the Deuteronomic code apparently was intended at the outset to take its place. This law-book was enjoined on the people by Josiah in 621 B.C. (2 Kings 22:8-).
Development of the Pentateuchal Law.
It is an exaggeration to say that Judaism became a book religion, or that the canon was born, in that year. While its humanitarian spirit commended this law to many, and some found in its ordinances a source of knowledge concerning the will of Yhwh (Jeremiah 8:8), written oracles and royal decrees had existed before; and prophets like Jeremiah were not misled by its Mosaic guise (c.). During the Chaldean and Persian periods it naturally grew in importance as the common law of the people. Yet it did not suppress the Jahvistic and Elohistic records with their earlier codes and narratives reflecting quite different religious conceptions. These, with the annals of the kings, were subjected to a Deuteronomistic redaction. As theocracy developed, the attention centered upon the cult. Regulations touching sacrifices and other rites, etiological legends, cosmogonic myths, and genealogical traditions were added. These priestly additions are now generally regarded as a separate work compiled in Babylonia, brought to Palestine by Ezra, and promulgated at the great assembly described in Nehemiah 8- in 444 B.C. It is more natural, however, to suppose that they gradually grew up at the sanctuary in priestly circles reenforced from time to time by returned exiles. Recent investigations tend to show that the Artaḥshashta under whom Nehemiah lived was Artaxerxes II. Mnemon (404-358), that his governorship extended from 385 to 373, and that Ezra came after him, probably in the seventh year of Artaxerxes III. Ochus (352). The story of Ezra is evidently overlaid with a later tradition. Yet it is possible that his zeal for the law of Moses led this "scribe" to write in one book all the material recognized as Mosaic—leaving out Joshua-Kings—and to inculcate obedience to this law. When Manasse at length secured from Alexander the permission to build a temple to Yhwh on Gerizim, which Ochus and Darius had good reasons for refusing, in view of the effect upon Jerusalem of rebuilt walls and a well-regulated cult (Josephus, "Ant." 2:7, § 8), he had precisely the same interest as his relatives in Jerusalem to possess the law of Yhwh in its completest form containing the most explicit directions as regards the cult. At the time when the necessary Aramaic Targum took the form of a version on the Alexandrian model, the same motive was again operative. According to some critics, additions were made to the Law as late as the second century. Then "there arose a certain reluctance to write down the further developments of the law."
Zechariah 1:4-6 shows that the pre-exilic prophets were held in high honor as early as 519. But their words naturally came to be read in the light of contemporaneous prophecy, which was exhortation to observance of religious ceremonies enjoined by the Law. Such exhortations could not have as great authority as the Law itself. Daniel 9:2 shows that the author was acquainted with works ascribed to Jeremiah in which an exile of seventy years was predicted; the sections Jeremiah 25:1-13, , , and Jeremiah 27- were probably known to him. Daniel took his place with the other prophets, as is evident from the Greek versions, and from Matthew 24:15 and Josephus, "Contra Ap." 1:8; Job (Ecclus. [Sirach] 49:9), Ezra, and Mordecai were still counted as prophets by Josephus. (c.). In the reaction against the "Genuzim" (Apocrypha), probably occasioned by their use by Essenes and Christians, Daniel had maintained a place among the books that made the hands unclean, and as a prophet. The critical movement, however, had not spent its force at the end of the first century; a hundred years later Daniel was no longer accorded a place among the Prophets (B. B. 14b). On the other hand, the effort to remove Ezekiel had proved unsuccessful. The limitation of the prophetic canon to eight books was consequently later than the redaction of the canon as a whole to twenty-two or twenty-four books. How many books were counted as prophets by the grandson of Sirach, who wrote his preface after 132 B.C., by the author of II Macc. 2:13 et seq., or by the New Testament writers, can not be determined. Josephus numbered thirteen. That Sirach had before him a volume of twelve prophets is not certain. The presence of 49:10 in the Hebrew text does not prove that he wrote this verse. Between 180 and 132 the manuscript may have been retouched, as is suggested by the descriptions of Phinehas and Simon. No conclusions can, therefore, be drawn from this passage as to the date of Jonah or of Zechariah 9-, or the title "Malachi."
Sirach's grandson speaks of "other books" in addition to the Law and the Prophets. II Macc. 2:13 mentions the Psalter (τà τοῆ Δαυίδ) and "letters of kings concerning temple gifts." Philo, if he is theauthor of "De Vita Contemplativa," refers to "hymns" as well as "laws" and "inspired words of the prophets" (2:475, ed. Mangey). Josephus adds to the thirteen Prophets four books containing "hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life" ("Contra Ap." 1:8). In Luke 24:44 "the Psalms" are mentioned as also furnishing predictions of the resurrection. These passages, while indicating a special class of books, containing hymns, moral precepts, and temple history, do not suggest either a completed prophetic canon or a definite number of additional works. The finally prevailing number and estimate of the "writings" can only have been the result of the critical process by which the extent of the canon and the number of the prophets were determined. The attempts to make such books as Ezekiel (Shab. 13b; Men. 45a, b; Ḥag. 13a), Proverbs (Shab. 30b), Canticles (Yad. 3:5; Meg. 7a), Ecclesiastes (Yad. c.; 'Eduy. 5:3; Shab. 30a, b), Esther (Meg. 7a; Sanh. 100a), and probably the books of Daniel, Job, and Ezra, share the fate of the Genuzim, were only temporary. The use of Canticles, Ecclesiastes, and Esther on certain feast days gave needed support to their canonicity. In the course of the second century of the common era a fixed group of hagiographa, to which relatively less importance was ascribed than to the Prophets, was constituted. The earliest testimony as to the contents of this group is B. B. 14b.
The order of the Prophets and the Hagiographa in this Baraita presents neither the original sequence nor the finally adopted arrangement. In earlier times the reader no doubt was quite free in the choice of his selections. As long as each book formed a separate roll the order could not have been regarded as of much consequence. This apparently was still the case in the year 100 (compare Luke 4:17; B. B. 13b). It was when larger volumes were produced that the question would arise as to the order in which their constituent parts should be copied. Practical considerations no doubt counteracted the more obvious chronological principle that seems to have been followed in Alexandria. A valuable intimation of this is found in the Baraita quoted. It declares that Isaiah was placed after Jeremiah and Ezekiel because "the Book of Kings ends in desolation, Jeremiah is all desolation, Ezekiel begins with desolation and ends with consolation, and Isaiah is all consolation." This is not to be set aside as a mere rabbinic fancy. For the principle of making the beginning of a book attractive and the end encouraging is even characteristic of editorial activity in the arrangement of the smaller collections out of which the larger volumes grew, and is based on a due regard for the effect upon the reader. The transfer of Isaiah to the first place may have been due to external considerations of size. The idea that the twelve Minor Prophets were written by "the men of the Great Synagogue" () was determining. Kuenen asserts that "the Great Synagogue" is only an unhistorical reflection of the assembly described in Nehemiah 8- Even if it could be proved that the name was used in the Persian period to denote a regularly constituted authority, the functions ascribed to it would still remain projections into the past of much later conditions. When it is said that "the men of Hezekiah" or "the men of the Great Synagogue" wrote certain books it is probably meant that by divine inspiration they produced authoritative texts from material already extant in oral or written form.
The Psalter furnished the natural starting-point for the differentiated group of Hagiographa. But when Ruth was detached from Judges, and Lamentations from Jeremiah, the former was recognized as an auspicious and suitable introduction to the Psalms, and the latter was assigned to its chronological position between the three Solomonic writings and Daniel (B. B. 15b). As the custom developed of arranging the five Megillot by themselves (Masorah and Spanish MSS.), and subsequently in the order of the feasts—viz., Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther (German and French MSS.), Chronicles was transferred from the end to take the place of Ruth (Masorah and Spanish MSS.).
That Chronicles concluded the collection in the time of Jesus can not be proved from Matthew 23:35 (Luke 11:51); for this passage drawn from "The Wisdom of God" contains no word of Jesus, and does not refer to Zechariah b. Jehoiada mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20, but to Zechariah, the son of Baruch, mentioned in Josephus ("B. J." 4:6, § 4). The connection of Chronicles with Ezra was original and ultimately prevailed; as did also the chronological order of the erstwhile prophetic books, Daniel, Esther, and Ezra.
Two tendencies are visible in the history of the canon: the one, critical, inclining to reduce the number of sacred books by applying rigid standards of doctrinal consistency; the other, conservative of an earlier and truer estimate, and on this account more liberal to new works of the same general character. Both have rendered great service. The former has issued in a recognition of divergent types of teaching and different degrees of credibility in the canon, and of the rights of private judgment to appraise its contents; while the latter has resulted in the preservation of many precious monuments of man's religious life, and the sense of historic continuity and collective growth.
- Introductions by Hottinger, 1649;
- Simon, 1678;
- Carpzov, 1714-21;
- Eichhorn, 1780-83;
- Michaelis, 1787;
- Bertholdt, 1812-19;
- Jahn, 1812;
- DeWette, 1817 (7th ed., 1852);
- Horne, 1818 (9th ed., 1846);
- Hävernick, 1839-46;
- Herbst, 1840-44;
- Keil, 1843 (3d ed., 1871);
- Bleek, 1860;
- Kuenen, 1861-65 (2d ed., 1885-93);
- Davidson, 1862;
- DeWette-Schrader, 1869;
- Kaulen, 1876 (3d ed., 1892);
- Bleek-Wellhausen, 1878;
- Strack, 1883 (5th ed., 1898);
- Cornely, 1885-87;
- Cornill, 1891 (3d ed., 1896);
- Driver, 1891 (6th ed., 1896);
- König, 1893;
- Green, 1898;
- Briggs, 1899;
- and to N. T. especially by Hilgenfeld, 1875;
- Holtzmann, 1892;
- Jülicher, 1894.
- Carlstadt, Libellus de Canonicis Scripturis, 1520;
- Elijah Levita, Masoret ha-Masoret, 1538;
- Buxtorf, Tiberias, 1618;
- Morin, Exercitationes de Hebraici Grœcique Textus Sinceritate, 1633;
- Cappel, Critica Sacra, 1650;
- Walton, Prolegomena, 1657;
- Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670;
- Hody, De Bibliorum Textibus Originalibus, 1705;
- Zunz, G. V. 1832;
- Frankel, Vorstudien zur Septuaginta, 1841;
- Geiger, Urschrift, 1857;
- Löw, Die Grosse Synode, 1858;
- Diestel, Das A. T. in der Christlichen Kirche, 1868;
- Fürst, Der Kanon des A. T. 1868;
- Grätz, Kohelet, 1871;
- I. S. Bloch, Studien zur Gesch. der Sammlung der Althebräischen Literatur, 1876;
- Kuenen, Over de Mannen der Grooten Synagoge, 1876;
- Theologisch Tijdschrift, 1877, pp. 237 et seq.;
- Weber, System der Altsynagogalen Palästinensischen Theologie, 1880;
- Marx, Traditio Rabbinorum Veterrima, 1884;
- Wildeboer, Het Ontstaan van den Kanon des Ouden Verbonds, 1889;
- idem, De vóor-Thalmudische Joodsche Kanon, in Theologische Studiën, 1897, p. 159; 1898, p. 194; 1899, p. 185;
- Buhl, Kanon und Text des AltenTestaments, 1890;
- Loisy, Histoire du Canon de l'Ancien Testament, 1890;
- Reuss, Gesch. der Heiligen Schriften des A. T. 2d ed., 1890;
- Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament, 1892;
- Philo and the Holy Scriptures, 1895;
- Duhm, Das Buch Jesaia, 1892;
- idem, Die Entstehung des A. T. 1899;
- W. R. Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, 2d ed., 1892;
- Magnier, Etude sur la Canonicité des Saintes Ecritures, 1892;
- Mullen, The Canon of the Old Testament, 1893;
- König, Essai sur la Formation du Canon de l'Ancien Testament, 1894;
- Van Kasteren, De Joodsche Canon, 1895;
- Beecher, The Alleged Triple Canon of the O. T. in Jour. Bib. Lit. 1896;
- Strack, Kanon, in Prot. Real-Ency. 3d ed.;
- Schmiedel, Kanon, in Ersch and Gruber, Allgemeine Encyklopädie;
- Krauss, The Great Synod, in Jew. Quart. Rev. 1898, p. 347;
- Rothstein, Text, Kanon und Uebersetzungen, in Theologische Rundschau, 1898, p. 547;
- idem, Kanon, Text und Sprache, ib. 1900, p. 459;
- Rahlfs, Alter und Heimat der Vatikanischen Handschrift in Göttingische Gelehrte Nachrichten, 1899, 1:72;
- Porter, Apocrypha, in Bible Dictionary, 1900;
- Schmidt, The Book of Jeremiah, in New World, 1900;
- idem, Jeremiah, in Enc. Bib.;
- and the articles on the canon in the various Bible dictionaries of Schenkel, Smith, Hastings, and Cheyne.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Bible Canon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​b/bible-canon.html. 1901.