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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Bible Canon


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Meaning and Scope.

The Greek word κ α ν ώ ν , 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" (γ ρ α Φ α ὶ κ α ν ο ν ι κ α ί ), 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.

Designations.
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-Ḳ odesh" see also Neubauer, "Book of Tobit," 43b, Oxford, 1878 Grä tz, "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 τ ὰ β ι β λ ί α , which (as may be seen from the expressions κ α ὶ τ ὰ λ Ο ι π ὰ τ ῶ ν β ι β λ ί ω ν and κ α ὶ τ ῶ ν ἄ λ λ ω ν π α τ ρ ί ω ν β ι β λ ί ω ν ) is used by the grandson of Sirach in the introduction to Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) to designate the whole of the Scriptures.

"Outside" Books.
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," i. 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 Ḳ id. i., end Abot v., end). A third designation is ("Holy Scriptures," Shab. 16:1 B. B. i., end, and elsewhere), the Greek equivalents of which are Γ ρ α Φ α ὶ ἄ γ ι α ι (Romans 1:2 ) and ι η ρ 1F70 γ ρ ά μ μ α ι α (2Timothy 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-Ṭ ob, iv. ed. Zuckermandel, p. 207,12), perhaps works inspired by the Holy Spirit. This interpretation is also favored by the expression π ᾶ α γ ρ α Θ ὴ Θ η ό π ν η υ σ τ ο ç (2Timothy 3:16 compare Eusebius, "Eclogæ Propheticæ ," ed. Gaisford, p. 106).

"Torah."
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 ν ό μ Ο ς (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.

Testament.
The fifth designation, (literally, "it is written"), frequently found personified (as, for instance, , etc. = "the ' Katub' saith" compare Bacher, "Aelteste Terminologie der Jü dischen 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 γ ρ α Φ ή π 1FB6σ α γ ρ α Φ 1F74 (2Timothy 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 δ ι α Θ ή κ η ("covenant"), from which the term π λ λ α 1F77α δ ι α Θ ή κ η (Vetus Testamentum = Old Testament) in the Christian Church has been derived. Even in Ecclus. (Sirach) 24:23 the Pentateuch is called β ί β λ ο ς δ ι α Θ ή κ η ς , and the term ("Book of the Covenant," Exodus 24:7 2Kings 23:2,21 ) is similarly translated in the Septuagint. Though "diathē kē ," like "Torah," came to be applied to Holy Writ (first by Paul, 2Corinthians 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 Yoḥ ai (about 150), where a reference to the name "diathē kē " for the Torah occurs (Yer. Sanh. 20c Lev. R. 19: all probability this designation, which, like the term "Old Testament," involves a Christian point of view, was used very rarely.

Other Expressions.
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, l.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. Aḳ iba, 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, l.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 (xlix: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, l.c. p. 586). These books are classified and arranged into three subdivisions, "Torah," "Prophets," and "Hagiographa" Greek, ν ό ν ο ς κ α ὶ π ρ ο Φ ῆ τ α ι κ α ὶ β ι β Λ ί α (Ecclus. [Sirach]). In Yalḳ . 2:702 they are styled as abstracts, "Law, Prophecy, and Wisdom," compare Yer. Mak. 31d, below, and Blau, l.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, Deuteronomy 27,357 Yer. Ber. 8d, 23, etc.). In contradistinction to the last three, Samuel, David, and Solomon are sometimes called the old Prophets (Soṭ ah 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, Deuteronomy 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 Ḳ abbalah" found in Ta' an. 2:1 Tosef., Niddah, 4:10 Sifre, Numbers 112,139 "Ḳ abbalah" 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 ("Diḳ duḳ e ha-Te' amim," p. 2).

Still another division is "Torah" and "Miḳ ra." In Sifre, Deuteronomy 317 "Miḳ ra" is used as a general term for the Prophets and the Hagiographa— a usage which may also underlie Gen. R. 16: 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 "Miḳ ra" (Berliner, "Peleṭ at 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, l.c. pp. 118 et seq. also in "Ḥ uḳ ḳ e ha-Torah," in Gü demann, "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 Miḳ ra."

The Hagiographa.
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 τ ά λ ο ι π ὰ , τ ῶ ν β ι β λ ι ω ν and of Ben Asher a thousand years later, who speaks of "the Law, the Prophets, and the other books" (l.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" (ḳ id. 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. Ḳ id. 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 22,24 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 the question (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 Laḳ ish (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, xi., 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. 9: 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., Ḳ oraḥ , 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. ix. a and Yer. Sanh. xxviii. 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. xxviii. a, 18).

The "Twenty-four" Books.
There is probably an allusion to twenty-four books in Yer. Sanh. xx. d, 4 and Gen. R. lxxx., beginning. The Babylonian Talmud (Ta' an. 8a) mentions 24 Targ. to the Song of Song of Song of Song of Solomon 5:10 does the same. Dosa ben Eliezer, in a very old Masoretic note Ben Asher ("Diḳ duḳ e," 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. fü r Protestantische Theologie und Kirche," ix. 3 757).

Sequence.
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 (Psalms 139:16 , perhaps also xcii.), through Melchizedek, Psalm 110 : through Abraham, Psalm 89 ( explained to = Abraham) through Moses, Psalm 90 -c. through Heman, Psalm 88 through Jeduthun, Psalm 62 perhaps lxxvii. through Asaph, Psalm 50 , lxxiii.-lxxxiii. and through the three sons of Korah, Psalm 42 xlix., lxxviii., lxxxiv., lxxxv., lxxxviii. [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.

Prophets.
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 of Ecclesiastes 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, Soṭ ah v., 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 2Maccabees 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 916,1009, 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, l.c. p. 6).

Ginsburg (l.c. p. 7) has collected, in the following table, eight varying sequences of the Hagiographa:

Varying Sequences of the Hagiographa .
I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII.
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.
1 Ruth Ruth Ruth Chronicles Chronicles Chronicles Psalms Psalms
2 Psalms Psalms Psalms Psalms Ruth Psalms Job Proverbs
3 Job Job Job Job Psalms Proverbs Proverbs Job
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
8 Daniel Esther Daniel Lamentations Lamentations Lamentations Esther Esther
9 Esther Daniel Esther Esther Esther Ecclesiastes Daniel Daniel
10 Ezra-Neh. Ezra-Neh. Ezra-Neh. Daniel Daniel Esther Ezra-Neh. Ezra-Neh.
11 Chronicles Chronicles Chronicles Ezra-Neh. Ezra-Neh. Ezra-Neh. Chronicles Chronicles

Hagiographa.
A closer examination of the table reveals that actually three arrangements only are given for Nos. i., ii., iii., and vii. 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. iv. and v. vary only in regard to Ruth. No. vi., 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 [l.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 the earlier canonization of these latter, their sequence was so firmly established as never to give rise to question.

Collection.
The most radical criticism agrees that the Torah is the first and oldest part of the canon. The narrative of Nehemiah 8 -x., 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 -x., 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," viii., 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. xliv.-xlix.) 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 Heb


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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Bible Canon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tje/b/bible-canon.html. 1901.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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