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The Canon of The Old Testament Books 1

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by SavedByGrace, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2020
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    How many Books are the in the Hebrew Old Testament, that was in use at the time when Jesus Christ lived on earth, as was used by Him and the Writers of the New Testament. In Bible versions like the King James, there are 39 Books in the Old Testament. This agrees with the Old Testament Books accepted and used by the Jews, from at least the 1st century A.D., which are 22 (or 24). There is no difference in the Books accepted, even though the number of Books are different. The only difference is how these Books have been grouped in the OT. The Books in the KJV, etc, are commonly known as the Protestant Canon.

    The Roman Catholic church has an additional 7 books, Tobias, Judith, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, First and Second Machabees; also certain additions to Esther and Daniel. While the so called “Orthodox” church lists 8 additional books, I Esdras, II Esdras, Tobit, Judith, I Maccabees, II Maccabees, III Maccabees, IV Maccabees. It is argued that these books of the Old Testament were found in the Bible that was used in the 1st century, and represent the true Bible of the Jews, and the one used by our Lord, and the NT Writers. Historical evidence does not support this view, as I shall present here.

    Philo of Alexandria (c 20 BC-AD 50)

    “The inclusion of the so-called Apocryphal Books in the LXX version is sometimes alleged to be a proof, that the Alexandrian Jews acknowledged a wider Canon of Scripture than their Palestinian countrymen. But this is not a legitimate inference. Our copies of the LXX are derived from Christian sources; and all that can certainly be proved from the association of additional books with those of the Hebrew Canon, is that these other books found favour with the Christian community. Doubtless, they would not thus have found favour with the Christians, if they had not also enjoyed high repute among the Jews, from whom they were obtained along with the undoubted books of the Hebrew Canon. The fact, however, that, neither in the writings of Philo, nor in those of Josephus—Jews who both make use of the LXX version—have we any evidence favouring the canonicity of the Apocryphal Books, is really conclusive against their having been regarded as Scripture by Greek-speaking Jews before the second century A.D…The writings of Philo, who died about 50 A.D., do not throw very much positive light upon the history of the Canon. To him, as to other Alexandrine Jews, the Law alone was in the highest sense the Canon of Scripture, and alone partook of divine inspiration in the most absolute degree. He quotes, however, extensively from other books of the Old Testament besides the Pentateuch ; and while it is probable that he shows acquaintance with Apocryphal writings, he is said never to appeal to them in support of his teaching in the way that he does to books included in the Hebrew Canon. The negative value of his testimony is therefore fairly conclusive against the canonicity of any book of the Apocrypha, or of any work not eventually included in the Hebrew Canon.” (H E Ryle; The Canon of the Old Testament, pp.146, 148-149)

    “More to the point is the evidence of Philo, the quintessential representative of Alexandrian Jewry. His numerous quotations from the scriptures provide important evidence about the history of the Greek text of the Old Testament and also about Alexandrian hermeneutical method. Although he does not expressly frame a clear definition of the limits of the Canon, it is evident that for him the Law is the supreme documentary authority. He quotes from all the books in the other two divisions of the Palestinian canon except Ezekiel, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Daniel... At all events it does not appear that Philo quotes any apocryphal book as holy scripture. (P Ackroyd and C Evans; The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 1, p.148)

    Josephus (A.D.37-100)

    “We have explicit testimony respecting the time of completing the canon from the Jewish historian Josephus, who was born at Jerusalem, a.d. 37, of priestly descent. In his treatise against Apion, an Alexandrian grammarian, hostile to the Jews, I., 8, he speaks in the following manner of the sacred books : " We have not tens of thousands of books, discordant and conflicting, but only twenty-two, containing the record of all time, which have been justly believed [to be divine]. And of these, five are the books of Moses, which embrace the laws and the tradition from the creation of man until his [Moses'] death. This period is a little short of three thousand years. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, the successor of Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets who succeeded Moses wrote what was done in thirteen books. The remaining four books embrace hymns to God and counsels for men for the conduct of life. From Artaxerxes until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact succession of the prophets ceased. But what faith we have placed in our own writings is evident by our conduct ; for though so long a time has now passed, no one has dared, either to add anything to them, or to take anything from them, or to alter anything in them. But it is instinctive in all Jews at once from their very birth to regard them as commands of God, and to abide by them, and, if need be, willingly to die for them." According to Josephus, therefore, the period in which the books esteemed sacred by the Jews were written, extended from the time of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes I. of Persia ; after which no additions of any sort were made to the canon. Artaxerxes Longimanus, the monarch here referred to, reigned forty years, from B.C. 465 to B.C. 425. In the seventh year of his reign Ezra came up to Jerusalem from the captivity (Ezra vii. 1, 8); and in the twentieth year of the same Nehemiah followed him (Neh. ii. 1, 5, 6).” (William Green; General Introduction to the Old Testament: Canon. pp.37-38. Emphasis mine)

    “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life” (William Whiston, The Complete Works of Josehpus, Against Apion Book I. Sec. 8)

    The Fifth Book of Maccabees (Late 1st Century A.D.) non-canonical

    “There was a man of Macedon named Ptolemy, endued with knowledge and understanding; whom, as he dwelt in Egypt, the Egyptians made king over the country of Egypt. Wherefore he, being possessed with a desire of seeking out various knowledge, collected all the books of wise men from every quarter. And being anxious to obtain the Twenty-four Books, he wrote to the high priest in Jerusalem, to send him seventy elders from among those who were most skilled in those books ; and he sent to the priest a letter, with a present… So the secretaries took down from every one of them the translation of the Twenty-four Books. And when the translations were finished, Eleazar brought them to the king; and compared them together in his presence : on which comparison, they were found to agree. Upon which the king was exceeding glad, and ordered a large sum of money to be divided amongst the party. But Eleazar himself he rewarded with a munificent recompense.” (Henry Cotton; The Five Books of Maccabees; Book V, Ch.II, 1-3, 8-10)
    #1 SavedByGrace, Mar 4, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
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