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Biblical Studies Biblical Canon
by
Lee Martin McDonald

Introduction

A biblical canon is the collection of books that comprise the sacred scriptures or Bibles of Jews and Christians. The study of canon formation, that is, the study of the origin, transmission, and recognition of the books that comprise the Bibles of Judaism and Christianity, has expanded considerably in recent years. Many books, articles, and essays have emerged that also raise new questions about the origin and canonization of the books that comprise the Jewish and Christian Bibles. These new studies are surfacing questions that were once thought settled in most religious communities, especially those regarding the criteria employed to select the biblical books and the consistency with which those criteria were applied in the canonization processes. Likewise, these recent studies are focusing more on the social contexts that led both Jews and Christians to establish their biblical canons as well as on the literature that was excluded from those collections. These matters are complex and solutions are dependent upon the expertise of several fields of related inquiry, namely historical criticism and interpretation of both the Old and New Testaments, as well as knowledge of the so-called Intertestamental literature or the late Second Temple writings (apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books) and early Christian apocryphal texts, including the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls and other recent discoveries of the Judaean Desert. Scholars of canon formation also depend heavily on those with expertise in the fields of textual criticism, early church history, rabbinic Judaism, and linguistics. The following lists of books reflect the breadth of the fields of inquiry necessary to make informed judgments on the emergence of the canons of the Old and New Testaments and they also are an important place for students and scholars of canon formation to begin their investigations of this important field of inquiry.

General Overviews

The following sources focus on the origin and development of both testaments and tend to be more of an overview than some of the more specific books that examine the canonization of one of the testaments. Generally speaking, the volumes fall into one of two categories, namely, those that espouse an early formation of the biblical canons (before the time of Jesus for the Old Testament and mostly accomplished by the end of the second century for the New Testament). Scholarship has been moving away from this traditional perspective toward a view that says there was no fixed Old Testament canon in the time of Jesus or before and the New Testament did not reach its final shape until the 4th and 5th centuries. Auwer and de Jonge 2003 provides an excellent collection of diverse positions on ancient biblical canons. Barton 1997a and Barton 1997b give a brief but valuable discussion of the most important issues related to canon formation that are often overlooked. Bruce 1988 presents the traditional perspective on both Old and New Testaments (the OT before the time of Jesus and the NT by the end of the 2nd century CE). Campenhausen 1972 presents the most informed arguments for ending the OT before the time of Jesus and the NT canon by the end of the 2nd century. McDonald 2007 states the case against the traditional arguments for both Testaments arguing that the OT was not complete or finished until the 2nd to the 5th century CE. McDonald and Sanders 2002 gathers thirty-one articles on the formation of both Testaments highlighting the debates among scholars on these matters. McDonald 2009 focuses on the significant role that the ancient manuscripts tell about the formation of the Bible and concludes with a statement about canon formation and inspiration.

  • Auwer, J.-M., and H. J. de Jonge, eds. The Biblical Canons. BETL CLXIII. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2003.

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    A collection of essays on the formation of the biblical canon. Among the thirty-eight contributors to the volume some of the most significant for canon studies are the chapters by Thomas Söding, Arie van der Kooij, Johan Lust, Eugene Ulrich, Johann Cook, John Barton, H. J. de Jonge, M. de Jonge, and J. Verheyden.

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  • Barton, John. Holy Writings, Sacred Text: The Canon in Early Christianity. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1997a.

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    Introduces the complex subject of canon formation. Especially helpful in its exploration of the meaning of canon, the most significant issue that divides scholars and regularly leads to different conclusions. Barton also distinguishes between the notion of scripture and canon and deals carefully with the origins of both Old and New Testament canon formation as well as how the early church interpreted this literature after its sacredness was determined.

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  • Barton, John. How the Bible Came to Be. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1997b.

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    This short digest of the canonical processes is useful and offers valuable information for the beginning student and nonspecialist. Although Barton’s view that all of the books of the Old and New Testaments were recognized as scripture by the end of the 2nd century CE is not defensible, the volume offers an excellent summary of the issues involved in canon formation.

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  • Bruce, F. F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

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    Argues for an early completion of both processes and also for considerable unity on the matter among all Jews of the 1st century CE. Claims a 2nd-century date for the essential completion of most of the New Testament canon. Contains many useful references to ancient literature, and gives a careful assessment of most of those sources, but assumes that the early church answered 2nd-century heresy by constructing a biblical canon. This is similar to Campenhausen and Metzger.

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  • Campenhausen, Hans von. The Formation of the Christian Bible. Translated by J. A. Baker. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972.

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    The classic text on canon formation of both testaments and while now dated in some areas, it describes and interprets valuable ancient sources related to the formation of the Bible. The author dates the NT canon largely to the end of the 2nd century CE and as a result of church responses to 2nd-century heresies (Marcionites, Gnostics, and Montanists).

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  • McDonald, Lee Martin. The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007.

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    Deals both with the Old and New Testament canon formation. Rejects the notion that the OT was completed by the time of Jesus, and also rejects notion that the NT canon was largely completed by the end of the 2nd century CE. Rather, the Old Testament canon emerges for the rabbinic Jews in the 2nd century CE and Christians by the 4th century, and the New Testament canon is largely completed by the middle to end of the 4th century CE.

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  • McDonald, Lee Martin. Forgotten Scriptures: The Selection and Rejection of Early Religious Writings. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2009.

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    Few textual critical works on Old or New Testament address the significant text critical issues related to canon formation. This volume addresses those issues asking what precisely is in the ancient biblical manuscripts and what those variants suggest.

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  • McDonald, Lee Martin, and James A. Sanders, eds. The Canon Debate. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002.

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    A collection of articles by thirty-one biblical scholars dealing with a variety of issues, including matters of text and transmission as well as the rabbinic and early church influences on canon formation. The breadth of the subjects discussed and the perspectives that generally, not completely, favor more flexibility in understanding the notion of fixed biblical canons in antiquity are the strength of this volume.

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Bibliographies

Readers are advised first to consult the bibliographies in the volumes listed in General Overviews, but other than those, three recent and lengthy bibliographies on canon formation are listed below. There are no separately published bibliographies on canon formation, but the following emphasize the various aspects of this discipline. McDonald 2006 is the most complete bibliography that covers all related aspects of canon formation. The Canon Debate (McDonald and Sanders 2002) includes another lengthy bibliography on the variety of issues related to the origin and development of the biblical canon. The bibliography in the final volume, Forgotten Scriptures (McDonald 2009), is more focused on the importance of the ancient manuscripts for a better understanding of the canonization of the Bible and also the significance of textual criticism that is often ignored in canon research.

Journals

There are no theological journals specifically devoted to the canonization of the Bible. Generally speaking, however, most journals that focus on Old or New Testament interpretation also welcome articles on issues related to canon formation. For instance, New Testament Studies (NTS), Harvard Theological Review (HTR), Scottish Journal of Theology (SJT), Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZNW), and other journals periodically publish articles on canon formation. There is growing interest in canon formation in the 2nd century, and the early church history journals as well as the more recent Henoch journal and others that generally focus on a study of the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha also publish related canon articles. In the Bibliographies section are a number of excellent journal articles on canon formation.

Primary Sources

The following are the most responsible and commonly cited texts of ancient literature that are available today and consequently important for all canon inquiry. Indeed, canon inquiry is not possible without careful translations of the texts in these volumes. The quality and care with which the texts are presented in English is not always uniform, but the critically important necessity of consulting this literature cannot be underestimated. The following translations of Jewish and Christian religious literature that generally did not obtain canonization (the exception is the Old Testament Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings) are among the most cited translations by biblical scholars. Charlesworth 1983 has become the standard source on ancient Jewish pseudepigraphal texts and contains excellent introductions. Danby 1933, likewise, has become the standard English translation of the Mishnah, as Elliott 1993 has become the standard translation of the New Testament or Christian Apocrypha. Martinez and Tigchelaar 1997 has become one the most useful collections of the Dead Sea Scrolls for students and scholars alike. Neusner 2002 offers a superb translation of the Tosefta and helpful notes that explain its context and origin. Pietersma and Wright and their many contributors have produced a very fine translation of the Septuagint with many useful notes to explain its most difficult texts (Pietersma and Wright 2007). Robinson’s most recent translation of the Nag Hammadi literature (Robinson 1990) has become the standard source in English on early gnostic texts. Schneemelcher 1991 is not only a carefully prepared translation of apocryphal Christian texts, the introductions and footnotes are also excellent and offer the reader the place to start research on these ancient texts.

  • Charlesworth, James H., ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 vols. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

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    These two volumes (Vol. 1, Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments; and Vol. 2, Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works). are the most recent translations of the Old Testament Pseudepigraphal literature and, although now somewhat dated in places and in need of some revision and expansion, still serve as the best and most reliable resource available for a critical introduction and translation of these ancient texts.

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  • Danby, Herbert, trans. and ed. The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933.

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    Danby’s work is the standard translation of the Mishnah and although dated is still a valuable and reliable translation.

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  • Elliott, J. K., ed. The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation based on M. R. James. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993.

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    This volume includes both introductions and fresh translations of ancient apocryphal Christian writings that were initially welcomed in some Christian churches but eventually rejected by the majority of churches. Elliott’s work has become one of the standard reference works on this literature for students and scholars alike.

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  • Martinez, Florentino Garcia, and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar. The Dead Sea Scrolls: Study Edition. 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1997.

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    This recent translation is one of the most important and commonly cited critical translations available. It offers opposite the English translation the original reconstructed Hebrew text along with a useful index of manuscript titles for the translation.

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  • Neusner, Jacob. The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew with a New Introduction. 2 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

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    A carefully prepared recent translation of the Tosefta with a well-informed introduction to this ancient sacred literature in the rabbinic tradition. An excellent and resourceful tool for students of rabbinic Judaism.

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  • Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds. A New English Translation of the Septuagint and Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under That Title: A New Translation of the Greek into Contemporary English—An Essential Resource for Biblical Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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    This is the most recent translation of the Septuagint into English and a significant advance on earlier translations that is informed by recent critical scholarship. Each book also has excellent brief introductions and careful footnotes for clarification of decisions made in translation.

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  • Robinson, James M., ed. The Nag Hammadi Library in English. 3d ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990.

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    This collection offers translations of the ancient Gnostic literature that was welcomed as sacred literature by several early Christian Gnostic communities. It contains important brief critical introductions to each book in the collection.

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  • Schneemelcher, Wilhelm, ed. New Testament Apocrypha. Translated by R. McL. Wilson. Rev. ed. 2 vols. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991.

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    This careful introduction and translation of the ancient apocryphal Christian writings is a classic in its second edition. It has need for further expansion and revision but still is a standard reference on this literature.

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Old Testament Canonization

The following works focus only on major issues related to the canonization of the Old Testament and are generally considered the standard texts in the field. They generally, but not completely, focus on arguments for dating the canonization of the Old Testament, but also important texts that suggest their positions. Barrera 1998 provides a modern discussion of many challenging questions related to canon formation. Beckwith 1985 gives the strongest case for the traditional perspective on canon formation. Childs 1979 has produced a coherent argument for an early formation of the Old Testament but fails to deal adequately with the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and early Christian formation. Cross 1998 offers a unique discussion claiming that the order and contents of the Hebrew Bible first emerged in Babylon, not the Land of Israel. Davies 1998 has cogently argued for the lack of a stabilized Hebrew Bible in and before the time of Jesus, and Jones 1995 gives the best arguments for an early stabilization of the Book of the Twelve (the Minor Prophets). Sanders 1987 has given the best argument for the development of a canon of Old Testament scriptures among the Jews and emphasizes the importance of adaptability in the selection process. Seitz 2009, like Childs 1979, argues for the early formation of the Hebrew Bible and also has difficulty accounting for the wider collection at Qumran and the emergence of the wider canon of early Christians. Swete 1989 (originally published 1914) is a classic that offers critically important data relevant to canon formation that is found nowhere else. The following books mostly argue for the traditional dates for canon formation but also include many helpful discussions of primary literature.

  • Barrera, Julio Trebolle. The Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible: An Introduction to the History of the Bible. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

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    A useful and comprehensive study of the origin, canonization, textual stability, and translation of the books of the Hebrew Bible. The scope is helpful in understanding the various factors that led to the recognition and acceptance of the Jewish religious literature that eventually became the Hebrew Bible of the Jews and the Old Testament of the Christians. Includes many relevant ancient references from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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  • Beckwith, Roger. The Old Testament of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985.

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    Argues for the early completion of the Old Testament canon (before Jesus). The work is weakest in explaining the early use of noncanonical writings in religiously authoritative contexts at the time when he claims that the biblical canon was closed. His presentation of the views of rabbinic Judaism is impressive, but often anachronistically imposed on New Testament times. Draws similar conclusions as Ellis and Childs.

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  • Childs, Brevard S. Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979.

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    Offers a carefully worded defense of an early traditional dating of the origin of the Old Testament canon before the time of Jesus and an argument for a canonical approach to biblical theology. He includes many important references to biblical and nonbiblical texts to support his position.

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  • Cross, Frank Moore. From Epic to Canon: History and Literature in Ancient Israel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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    Begins the story of Jewish scriptures from its epic traditions and proceeds to the fixation of the text of the Hebrew Bible and finally to its canonization. He claims that the emergence of threefold categories of the Jewish scriptures (Law, Prophets, and Writings) and the understanding of the books that constitute them came from Babylon. He adds that the order of the books in this collection varied long after the books were selected.

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  • Davies, Philip R. Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998.

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    Unlike most studies on this subject, Davies focuses on the social context of book writing and the preparation of sacred books, as well as how they impact the emergence of an Old Testament canon. Clearly written and well informed by the ancient Jewish traditions and sacred texts.

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  • Jones, Barry Alan. The Formation of the Book of the Twelve: A Study in Text and Canon. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995.

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    This is the most complete discussion of the origins of one of the oldest collections of Jewish sacred scriptures following the origin and circulation of the Torah books. The formation of the Minor Prophets (the Twelve) and stabilization of its order is well argued and carefully presented. This is the place to start when examining the formation of the twelve Minor Prophets into a single collection.

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  • Sanders, James A. From Sacred Story to Sacred Text. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987.

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    Focuses on the origins of the Hebrew Bible and critical issues related to canon formation. Argues that the origin of canon formation was centered in a story that gave the Jews their identity and hope. That hope was centered in the Exodus from Egypt but expanded to include the rest of the Torah (Pentateuch), Prophets, and Writings. He notes that the notion of canon emerges because a question of identity or authority has arisen.

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  • Seitz, Christopher R. The Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets: The Achievement of Association in Canon Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

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    Seitz argues for an early formation of the Old Testament canon and employs many carefully crafted arguments. The weakness here is that he does not account for the emergence of the many noncanonical writings that emerged after the time that he proposes for the closing of the Old Testament canon that were recognized as sacred literature by both Jews and Christians.

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  • Swete, Henry Barclay. An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Revised by R. R. Ottley with Appendix by H. St. J. Thackeray. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1989.

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    Originally published in 1914. Contains a wealth of valuable information and useful collection of ancient resources. Swete includes also a perceptive comparison between the canons of the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint and an expanded list of early catalogues of the books of the Old Testament as well as an informed discussion of the books that were excluded from the Hebrew Bible but found in the Septuagint.

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Old Testament Text Criticism

For years canon inquiry largely ignored the importance of advances of a text critical analysis of the Old Testament Scriptures. Text critical scholars have long acknowledged the considerable variants in the ancient biblical manuscripts and that these variants are often significantly different. This discipline seeks to answer the question of which text of the Bible is canon for the communities of faith. The manuscripts that have survived antiquity most likely were all viewed as sacred scripture in the communities that possessed and transmitted them. Since the variants in those manuscripts regularly affect the meaning of the biblical text, the results of this discipline on the church’s canon of scripture cannot be insignificant despite the fact that canon studies generally focus only on the books and not the text of scripture. The following books have a significant impact on current discussions of the relevance of textual studies for canon formation. Levy 2001 focuses more on the rabbinic attempts to establish the text of the Hebrew Bible while Schenker 2003 focuses attention on the earliest text of the Hebrew Bible scriptures. Tov 2001 offers the best discussion overall of the emergence of the text of the Hebrew Bible and Würthwein 1995 approaches the study from the Old Testament of the Christian church perspective. It is more introductory than Tov’s work but a valuable contribution from a Christian perspective.

  • Levy, B. Barry. Fixing God’s Torah: The Accuracy of the Hebrew Bible Text in Jewish Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    This well-written and well-documented work describes the rabbinic attempts to fix the biblical text. Levy cites the most important rabbinic texts that identify the problems of textual stabilization as well as the many attempts to produce a recognized and widely accepted text of the Hebrew Bible. Levy includes a wealth of primary literature that allows the reader to trace the important steps of stabilization with greater clarity than earlier possible.

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  • Schenker, Adrian, ed. The Earliest Text of the Hebrew Bible: The Relationship between the Masoretic Text and the Hebrew Base of the Septuagint Reconsidered. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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    This collection of essays reflects current research on the emergence of the Hebrew Bible and its textual history. Of special interest in this volume is Emanuel Tov’s discussion of the differences between the various textual traditions of the Hebrew Bible.

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  • Tov, Emanuel. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 2d rev. ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2001.

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    This is the most authoritative reference work on text criticism of the Hebrew scriptures. Readers will find significant discussion of the major witnesses to the text of the Hebrew scriptures and a useful understanding of the stabilization and transmission of the text of those scriptures in Second Temple times. For knowledge of these subjects, no one can ignore this volume. It is authoritative and superb.

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  • Würthwein, Ernst. The Text of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica. Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes, 2d ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

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    Considered a classic in the field of Old Testament textual criticism. This volume is quite useful for those interested in the text of the Christian Old Testament more than the text of the Hebrew Bible, although there is obviously considerable overlap in the discussion of these topics. This is a widely respected volume and generally considered trustworthy text by scholars of Old Testament textual criticism.

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The Septuagint

The Septuagint is the oldest translation of the Hebrew Bible scriptures, and its influence in both Jewish and Christian communities of faith has been highly significant. It was the Bible of Jews of the diaspora in the time of Jesus and for Jews living to the west of the Land of Israel in antiquity until the 8th or 9th centuries CE. It was also the first collection of scriptures for the Christians. It is cited in more than 94 percent of the New Testament’s citations of the Old Testament. It served as the most important text of scripture for all Christian communities until the 5th century. Most translations of the Old Testament for Christians until the time of Jerome were produced from the Greek translation of those scriptures. Its importance for understanding canon formation has been the object of considerable study in recent years, especially among those trying to establish the antecedent (or vorlage) Hebrew text used by the earliest translators. In several cases, the Septuagint is based on an earlier form of the Hebrew text than the more widely used Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible. Studies in this area are beginning to produce significant results that have considerable bearing on the text as well as the larger collection of books in the Christian Old Testament biblical canon. Hengel 2002 offers the best overview of the contents and role of the Septuagint in early Christianity, and Marcos 2001 and De Troyer 2003 deal carefully with the actual text and antecedents of the text of the Septuagint. Tov 1999 is by far the best on examining the earliest text of the Septuagint and its relation to the Hebrew Bible. Wasserstein and Wasserstein 2006 focuses more on the origin of the mythical legends about the Septuagint and its recognition by both Jews and Christians.

  • De Troyer, Kristin. Text-Critical Studies: Rewriting the Sacred Text: What the Old Greek Texts Tell Us about the Literary Growth of the Bible. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

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    This brief study goes to the heart of the basic issues related to the text of the Hebrew Bible including the so-called pre-Masoretic text and the Vorlage text that was used by the Greek translators of the Septuagint. These are informed and helpful discussions.

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  • Hengel, Martin. The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon. Old Testament Studies. Translated by Mark Biddle. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2002.

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    Discusses the origin and recognition of the scriptural status of the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. Hengel addresses questions about the Aristeas legend about its origin and its reception by Jews and Christians. Hengel also discusses the problem of which books were included in this collection and their inclusion in the canon of the early church. This volume is the place to start research on the impact and significance of the Septuagint for Christians.

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  • Marcos, Natalio Fernandez. The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Versions of the Bible. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson. Boston: Brill, 2001.

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    Provides an essential work on the origin, use, and transmission of the Greek Old Testament in early Judaism and early Christianity. Marcos’s discussions of the critical problems facing scholars today are balanced and well informed. He rightly points to the variety of translations throughout the Septuagint and their subsequent role in diaspora Judaism and early Christianity.

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  • Tov, Emanuel. The Greek and Hebrew Bible: Collected Essays on the Septuagint. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.

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    A collection of Tov’s essays addressing the early Rabbinic tradition related to the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures as well as important matters related to translation difficulties such as the competence of the translators of the Septuagint and the textual similarities with several Dead Sea Scroll documents. Shows the similarities and differences in the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Jewish Scriptures.

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  • Wasserstein, Abraham, and David J. Wasserstein. The Legend of the Septuagint: From Classical Antiquity to Today. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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    This description of the origin, development, and use of the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures both in the Jewish and Christian communities provides an important contribution to our knowledge of the Septuagint. Especially important for canon purposes is the authors’ conclusion that the Septuagint continued in use among the Jews as well as the Christians well past the time of the rabbinic traditions.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls and Canon Formation

The recent publications of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient books or texts discovered in the Judaean Desert at Qumran, Nahal Hever, Murabba‘at, and Masada, including their interpretation, raise a number of important issues to the front of canon discussions. The discovery of not only biblical books (all except Esther) at Qumran and the large number of books that we now call “noncanonical” or “apocryphal” and “pseudepigraphal” texts at Qumran raise many questions about how settled the canon of the Hebrew Bible was in the 1st centuries BCE and CE. Those who argue that the shape of the Hebrew Bible was already settled well before the time of Jesus have difficulty accounting for the emergence and influence of this literature. As a result of these Judaean Desert finds, scholars are rethinking many of the traditional views on canonization of the Hebrew scriptures and Christian Old Testament. In recent years, a considerable amount of attention has also been given to the so-called rewritten scriptures at Qumran and the “parabiblical” texts discovered there. As a result, it is difficult to write a history of the canon of the Jewish scriptures without also examining the presence, citation, and interpretation of sacred books in the ancient texts discovered in the Judaean Desert. The following are some of the standard texts on this subject and a useful place to begin research. Abegg, et al. 1999 brings not only a fresh translation of some of the most important texts found at Qumran but also valuable introductions to that literature. Crawford 2008 shows the breadth of the views of inspiration at Qumran by the Essenes’ acceptance of other texts as sacred writings. Falk 2007 demonstrates this breadth of inspired writings at Qumran, and Flint and VanderKam 1998 collects important and pivotal essays on the importance of the discovery of the scrolls and how they have impacted biblical studies. The essays in Herbert and Tov 2002 focus especially on the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for establishing the earliest text of the Hebrew Bible. Ulrich 1999 offers Ulrich’s well-known clarification of the meaning of canon and how the scrolls have influenced and changed earlier views on the canonization of the Jewish scriptures. Finally, VanderKam and Flint 2002 shows the significance of the scrolls for understanding the canonization process and argues for a later time for its completion.

  • Abegg, Martin Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich. The Dead Sea Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time in English. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999.

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    The authors have produced a careful translation of most of the best-known Dead Sea Scrolls, not all of them (for example Temple Scroll and others), along with helpful introductions. The title is unfortunate and anachronistic (there was no “Bible” at Qumran as they acknowledge), but the volume is carefully prepared and useful in most Dead Sea Scroll inquiry.

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  • Crawford, Sidnie White. Rewriting Scripture in Second Temple Times. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

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    Explains how the “rewritten” sacred texts such as those that we find at Qumran suggest not only an acceptance of the initial scriptures but also a belief that the Spirit was still active in the rewritten or revised texts. Crawford shows how the Jews not only told their story, but also retold it in authoritative ways again and again. She likewise explains how these texts were rewritten.

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  • Falk, Daniel K. The Parabiblical Texts: Strategies for Extending the Scriptures among the Dead Sea Scrolls. London: T&T Clark, 2007.

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    Falk examines the retelling of the biblical narratives in new ways and in new contexts. He discusses the scriptural status of these writings (at Qumran) and the problematic differences between scripture and interpretation.

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  • Flint, Peter W., and James C. VanderKam, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment. 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998.

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    This comprehensive collection of essays on the meaning and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls by leading scholars in that field has a number of useful essays that reflect the development of the biblical canon in antiquity. Generally speaking, they do not show at Qumran a stabilized biblical canon in the 1st centuries BCE and CE.

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  • Herbert, Edward D., and Emanuel Tov, eds. The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judaean Desert Discoveries. London: The British Library, 2002.

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    These essays focus on how the recent discoveries of sacred texts in the Judaean Desert shed considerable light on the notion of scripture and the canonical processes present in those communities in the 1st centuries BCE and CE. Of special importance for canon studies are the chapters by Armin Lange, George J. Brooke, and Emanuel Tov.

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  • Ulrich, Eugene. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

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    Among the careful contributions that Ulrich makes here, he also discusses the difficult problem of defining a biblical canon and concludes that it is a fixed collection of sacred scriptures. He chides those who are inconsistent in applying this standard in their discussions but is not clear on what to call formerly authoritative religious that ceased that function in Judaism and early Christianity.

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  • VanderKam, James, and Peter Flint. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002.

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    Among several important discussions in this volume, these scholars present arguments that relate to the status of canonical and noncanonical writings in the 1st centuries BCE and CE, and both agree that there was no settled canon of scriptures at Qumran among the Essenes at that time.

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New Testament Canonization

New Testament canon studies traditionally argue that the New Testament canon was largely formed by the end of the 2nd century CE and only a few finishing touches were made after this. The more recent position on the matter claims that the stabilization of the New Testament canon was much later, namely, the middle to end of the 4th century at the earliest with continuing challenges for centuries after that. Childs 1984 argues for the earlier date, but also raises important questions about the stabilizing of the text of the New Testament. Farkasfalvy and Farmer 1983, as well as Grant 1965, supports the earlier view, but offers useful early church resources that are important in canon formation. Gregory 1907 is a classic text on New Testament canon formation that offers still highly valuable discussions of important ancient resources for canon formation. Hahneman 1992 is unique in that it is the most complete discussion of the well-known Muratorian Fragment, challenging convincingly traditional interpretations of its late-2nd-century dating and Western provenance (Rome). Metzger 1987 offers the best defense of the traditional dating of the New Testament and brings to light many important but earlier ignored ancient texts with fresh translations. Patzia 1995 shows a model of how to argue the case for a traditional dating of the New Testament canonization. Zahn’s classic discussion of the origins of the New Testament canon (Zahn 1881–1929) is without question the most complete treatment of canon inquiry ever published and though considerably dated still has one of the most complete collections of relevant ancient references.

  • Childs, Brevard S. The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

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    Childs concludes that the canon of the New Testament was largely settled before the end of the 2nd century CE. He introduces an enormous collection of ancient texts to support his position and acknowledges the problem that textual critical analysis of the New Testament poses for all decisions about canonization. While his arguments for the early dating of a New Testament canon cannot be sustained, he supplies a careful study that should be a part of all New Testament canon discussions.

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  • Farkasfalvy, Denis M., and William R. Farmer. The Formation of the New Testament Canon: An Ecumenical Approach. New York: Paulist Press, 1983.

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    Brings together useful information on the biblical and early church fathers related to the emergence of the New Testament canon. The authors contend that the canon received its primary and initial stabilization by the end of the 2nd century and utilize many valuable ancient resources but do not show adequately how canon formation continued beyond the 2nd century as demonstrated in the surviving manuscripts of the New Testament.

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  • Grant, R. M. The Formation of the New Testament. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

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    Provides a discussion of New Testament canon formation that deserves a careful read. While following generally the traditional positions on New Testament canonization, Grant also rightly asks how a New Testament canon could emerge before there was widespread agreement on the identity of Jesus and the basic outlines of the church’s beliefs.

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  • Gregory, Caspar René. Canon and Text of the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907.

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    The author was not aware of the many later important discoveries of New Testament manuscripts, but his discussion of the sources that were available to him, including ancient translations, is both careful and valuable. Gregory shows awareness that the processes of canon formation are inextricably bound to a textual investigation of the ancient manuscripts and to the developments in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Students should not ignore this hefty volume. Reprinted in Northville, MI: Biblical Viewpoints Publications, 1997.

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  • Hahneman, Geoffrey Mark. The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.

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    Here is the most detailed discussion of the origin and provenance of the Muratorian Fragment (MF) available today. The MF has become the Achilles’ heel for New Testament canon formation and Hahneman’s work supports a late-4th-century date for the emergence of a New Testament canon, where he also locates the MF and its Eastern empire provenance. Currently all discussions of the MF must of necessity begin with this work.

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  • Metzger, B. M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

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    One of the best treatments on the origins of the New Testament canon formation that considers carefully all of the related ancient literature and text critical issues. Metzger argues with Campenhausen that the New Testament canon was largely settled by the end of the 2nd century CE as a result of churches’ reaction against the heresies of Marcionites, Gnostics, and Montanists. Contains numerous references to ancient sources and careful translations of primary texts (the Muratorian Fragment).

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  • Patzia, Arthur G. The Making of the New Testament: Origin, Collection, Text, and Canon. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

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    Patzia offers a brief but responsible piece of scholarship on the origin and canonization of the New Testament that is written for students and informed laypersons. He also includes helpful diagrams and a glossary.

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  • Zahn, Theodore. Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der alltkirchlichen Literature. 10 vols. Leipzig, Germany: S. Deichert, 1881–1929.

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    Dated but still valuable discussion of canon formation. Zahn assumes that an authoritative influence of early Christian writings is essentially the same as accepting them as scripture and the establishment of the NT canon. He believes that the basic contours of the New Testament canon were well established by the end of the 1st century CE. While this can no longer be argued, students of canon will be well served to examine this rich mine of ancient resources.

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New Testament Textual Criticism

While the discipline of textual criticism has not usually been a part of discussions on canon formation, more recently it has become an important part of current discussions of New Testament canon formation. Textual critics acknowledge that the surviving biblical manuscripts tell us both what literature informed early Christianity and what text of that literature was canon to the various communities that received these sacred texts as scripture. Knowledge of New Testament text-critical issues sheds considerable light on the development of the Christian biblical canon and clarifies the numerous textual variants in the New Testament manuscripts (some two hundred thousand to four hundred thousand noted by scholars). These variants tell us much about the stability or fluidity of the biblical text in the time the manuscripts were produced and which text of the New Testament books functioned as canon for the churches that received and transmitted these texts. The resources below offer considerable light on these and other important questions. Aland and Aland 1989 along with Metzger and Ehrman 2005 offer the two best introductions to textual criticism of the New Testament with many examples of where the text of the New Testament is unclear, and both offer significant lists of critical information for understanding the text of the New Testament. Parker’s more recent work (Parker 2008) cites several more examples in the areas he treats, especially in evaluating the primary and secondary biblical manuscripts. Ehrman 1993 demonstrates the variability of text of the New Testament in critical places and argues that the social and theological context impacted significantly the text of the New Testament toward orthodoxy. Epp 2005 questions the ability of text critics to establish the original text of the New Testament and shows how the ancient manuscripts clarify the social context of early Christianity. Gamble 1995 has produced the classic work on ancient book production and shows how relevant this is for canon formation, namely, how only the technology of the 4th century allowed Christians for the first time to bring together all of their inspired literature. van Haelst 1976 is the most important resource for identifying the ancient biblical manuscripts as well as their contents and contexts. It is the place to start! Hurtado 2006 is unique in that it describes the most relevant New Testament manuscripts along with their physical features. Souter 1954 is a classic work that continues to have considerable value for canon formation and is one of the first to combine perceptively both textual and canon inquiry.

  • Aland, Kurt, and Barbara Aland. The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. 2d ed. Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes. Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 1989.

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    This volume, along with Metzger and Ehrman 2005, is among the best for introducing students and scholars to the discipline of New Testament textual criticism. It has a valuable discussion of the transmission and translation of the New Testament along with a number of collections of data that are useful to students of canon criticism and the origins of the New Testament.

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  • Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    Although the title is perhaps pejorative, Ehrman rightly shows how the early Christians regularly made changes to the text of the New Testament literature and how the theology as well as the text of those writings were in a state of flux for several centuries. He presents careful evidence of how the variety of theological perspectives in early Christianity affected the transmission of the text of the scriptures in the ancient churches.

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  • Epp, Eldon Jay. Perspectives on New Testament Textual Criticism: Collected Essays, 1962–2004. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005.

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    For purposes of canon formation, several chapters in this collection of Epp’s essays are highly significant in showing where text critical scholars are today on the establishment of an “original” text of scripture. He also observes what books and texts are in the ancient surviving manuscripts and notes that they are often overlooked or ignored. Of special note are chapters 6, 7, 11, 12, 18, 20, and 22.

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  • Gamble, Harry Y. Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

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    Without question, this is one of the most significant books written on the origin of books in the ancient world and how the early Christians made use of them. Gamble’s description of the size of the codex and its capacity at various stages of early Christianity’s development is very important for understanding the formation of the Christian biblical canon. This is the standard text on these matters.

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  • van Haelst, Joseph. Catalogue Des Papyrus Litteraires Juifs et Chretiens. University De Paris IV, Paris-Sarbonne. Paris: Publications De La Sorbonne, 1976.

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    The primary source for examining the contents of the surviving ancient papyrus manuscripts. Provides both brief introductory matters for the papyrus manuscripts and their contents. The manuscripts are carefully listed and briefly discussed in their canonical order (book by book). Discusses the noncanonical or apocryphal books in the papyrus manuscripts. Cornelia Römer provides the update of this work at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/GrandLat/research/christianpapyri.htm.

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  • Hurtado, Larry W. The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.

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    This carefully written work addresses issues related to the actual contents of the early Christian scriptures and their significance for understanding the New Testament text. Appendix 1 is a descriptive summary of the surviving Christian manuscripts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Also provides a description of the physical features of the early Christian manuscripts and the relevance of that knowledge for understanding the context and development of early Christianity and its sacred scriptures.

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  • Metzger, Bruce M., and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    The standard work on New Testament textual criticism. This fourth edition has been sharpened by the contributions of Ehrman and the references to the use of computer technology and recent contributions to the discipline. While this volume is not specifically focused on canon formation, the information supplied here is essential for any informed discussion of the canonization of the New Testament scriptures.

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  • Parker, D. C. An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    A critically important introduction for students and scholars that deals with the manuscript evidence for the books of the New Testament. Parker carefully evaluates the major manuscripts for all books of the New Testament and offers invaluable textual information on some of the most important New Testament manuscripts. This volume compares well with Metzger and Ehrman 2005 and also Aland and Aland 1989.

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  • Souter, Alexander. The Text and Canon of the New Testament. Studies in Theology. 2d ed. Revised by C. S. C. Williams. London: Duckworth, 1954.

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    This small and dated volume has many important ancient canonical lists or catalogues that are not found elsewhere. While the data available to both Souter and Williams was considerably more limited than what is available today, both scholars make critical observations about temporary and local canon formation that is not as obvious in subsequent works. It is also one of the few earlier works on canon formation that points the reader to the significance of textual criticism for canon formation.

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Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Early Judaism and Early Christianity

The books now anachronistically classified as “apocrypha” or “pseudepigrapha” once were welcomed in various Jewish and/or Christian communities of faith as sacred literature. There is generally nothing “heretical” in the Jewish apocryphal or pseudepigraphal books, and they often informed the faith of the late Second Temple Jews as well as the early Christians. At times many of them were even called “Scripture” by Christians or introduced by the usual scriptural designations (“as it is written” or “as the scripture says” and such). As many church leaders know, the books that are called Old Testament Apocrypha by Protestant Christians are regularly called “Deutero-canonical Scriptures” by the Roman Catholics and appear in both Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. Christian apocrypha are sometimes considered a bit strange in terms of what was finally accepted as orthodox Christian teaching, but many of these books, if not all of them, were welcomed as sacred scripture in some of the early churches. It is important to examine those books that once had what is now called “temporary” or “local” canonization in the churches and were “decanonized” at a later date by the majority of churches. Canon studies must be familiar with this literature and ask why it was excluded by the majority of churches. Often these books supply important historical data that is useful in interpreting the canonical literature and clarifying issues in canon formation. Bovon 2009 is a master of this inquiry and shows how the Christian noncanonical texts informed the faith of many early Christian churches. Chazon, et al. 2005 does the same by focusing the function of Jewish noncanonical writings in early Judaism and the implications of that for understanding the Jewish biblical canon. Evans 2005 is an important contribution that lists and briefly introduces the most commonly known noncanonical writings of antiquity as well as writings that were never considered for canonization, but were influential in canon decisions, especially the rabbinic traditions. Meuer 1991, a collection of essays, throws light on the use of the Jewish apocryphal writings in early Christianity.

  • Bovon, François. New Testament and Christian Apocrypha. Collected Studies. Edited by Glenn E. Snyder. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.

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    Bovon describes the early noncanonical texts attributed to apostles and shows how several of the latter books functioned in early Christianity. The implications of this study for an understanding of canon formation are important and clearly show that many other religious texts informed the faith of ancient Christian communities.

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  • Chazon, Esther G., Devorah Dimant, and Ruth A. Clements, eds. Reworking the Bible: Apocryphal and Related Texts at Qumran. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005.

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    In recent years discussions of “reworking the Bible” have become common and focus on the use, interpretation, and modification of biblical texts in antiquity. This includes a discussion of the use and interpretation of the so-called noncanonical texts and their function at Qumran and in Judaism. Of particular interest for our purposes are the chapters by Shani Berrin and especially George J. Brooke.

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  • Evans, Craig A. Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies. A Guide to the Background Literature. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.

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    Evans supplies a significant listing and description of ancient noncanonical religious writings with a large collection of appendixes that add to our knowledge of the use of those ancient texts by Jews and/or Christians. Students of this literature will find much here that will add to their understanding of ancient noncanonical literature.

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  • Meuer, Siegfried, ed. The Apocrypha in Ecumenical Perspective. Translated by Paul Ellingsworth. New York: United Bible Societies, 1991.

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    The focus is on the use and function of apocryphal literature in early Christianity and in the formation of the Christian Bible. Of special importance for canon formation are the contributions of Peter Stuhlmacher, Franz Josef Stendebach, Wilhelm H. Neuser, and Hans Peter Rüger.

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Issues Related to Canon Formation

A number of studies emphasize one or more aspects of canon formation or matters closely related to it. The following studies are significantly relevant to such issues. Allert 2002 asks traditional evangelical scholarship to reconsider the importance of canon formation for the understanding of the inspiration of scripture and stresses the importance of a new inquiry of canon formation. Bartholomew, et al. 2006 offers an evangelical response to recent challenges in canon formation inquiry and argues for the traditional dating of both Old and New Testaments. Not much is new here, but it is an important defense of older views. Collins 2000 describes the ancient library at Alexandria and makes cogent arguments about some of the Aristeas legend of the Septuagint and also the placing of the Greek translation of the Jewish Law into the library. The articles in Finkelberg and Stroumsa 2003 work show the influence and relevance of the recognition of Homer’s work for canon formation. DiTommaso and Turcescu 2008 introduces several studies that show how ancient religious literature was welcomed in the Jewish and Christian communities. Helmer and Landmesser 2004 has several essays that focus on the bottom line philosophical and rational issues related to canon formation. Meade 1987 is an older treatment on pseudonymous writings that raises many questions about the formation of the canon, namely did the church canonize such writings? Wyrick 2004 focuses on the importance of authorship in establishing the canonical authority of ancient manuscripts. The parallels between the reception of Homer in antiquity and the canonization of the biblical literature are significant and compelling.

  • Allert, Craig D. Revelation, Truth, Canon and Interpretation: Studies in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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    In his Ph.D. thesis, Allert shows the important aspects of the famous Dialogue with Trypho and their implications for understanding the canonical processes leading to the birth of the New Testament. He raises critical questions also about the role of the Rule of Faith in the 2nd century and its relevance for understanding canon formation.

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  • Bartholomew, Craig G., Scott Hahn, Robin Parry, Christopher Seitz, and Al Wolters, eds. Canon and Biblical Interpretation. Vol. 7, Scripture and Hermeneutics Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.

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    A collection of evangelical scholars argues here for conservative positions on the origins and dating of the Old and New Testament canons. Generally, this is a well-articulated case for those positions by careful critical scholars. Those advocating other positions would do well to examine carefully the arguments presented here.

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  • Collins, Nina L. The Library in Alexandria and the Bible in Greek. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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    A careful study of the origins of the library at Alexandria and the translation of the Pentateuch around 282–281 BCE. Argues that Ptolemy II (Lagus) began the library and wanted to place a translation of the Jewish sacred scriptures in it. This study is informed by many ancient sources, including the legendary Letter of Aristeas, which receives a critical evaluation of its traditions and contributions to our knowledge of the early stages of the Septuagint, and also Philo.

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  • DiTommaso, Lorenzo, and Lucian Turcescu, eds. The Reception and Interpretation of the Bible in Late Antiquity. Proceedings of the Montreal Colloquium in Honor of Charles Kannengiesser, 11–13 October 2006. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004167155.i-608Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Addresses how sacred literature was welcomed and functioned mostly in early Christianity but also to a lesser extent in early Judaism. Of special interest here are the chapters by Robert L. Wilken, Jack N. Lightstone, Pierluigi Piovanelli, and Annette Yoshiko Reed. This collection includes significant and well-informed discussions of canon related issues.

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  • Finkelberg, Margalit, and Guy G. Stroumsa, eds. Homer, the Bible, and Beyond: Literary and Religious Canons in the Ancient World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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    The contributors to this volume focused on several recent critical questions related to canon formation. The most relevant for canon purposes are S. Chapman, M. Finkelberg, A. Vardi, Ch. Markschies, and D. Stern.

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  • Helmer, Christine, and Christof Landmesser, eds. One Scripture or Many? Canon from Biblical, Theological and Philosophical Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    While this collection of essays focuses primarily on issues related to the unity of biblical literature, several of the contributors make significant contributions to an understanding of canon formation. The most significant essays for canon formation purposes are those by Armin Lange, James Barr, and Christof Landmesser.

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  • Meade, David G. Pseudonymity and Canon: An Investigation into the Relationship of Authorship in Jewish and Earliest Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.

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    Deals with whether there is pseudonymous literature in the New Testament and how this relates to the acceptance of such literature in the New Testament, both of which are significant canonical issues. Also asks whether a book could be rightly included in the biblical canon but for the wrong reason. For example, the inclusion of a writing attributed to an apostle, for example, the book of Hebrews or the Pastoral Epistles attributed wrongly to Paul, but subsequently accepted into the Christian Bible.

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  • Wyrick, Jed. The Ascension of Authorship: Attribution and Canon Formation in Jewish, Hellenistic, and Christian Traditions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    Focuses on the role of authorship in the canonization processes raising many questions relevant for the classical interest in authorship and also the biblical writings. Wyrick’s discussion of the canonization of Homer (the Peisistratus legend especially) by the Greeks and several parallels with the origins of the Bible are both fascinating and important for understanding the canonization of the Bible in the Greco-Roman context.

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Translations and Canon Formation

The earliest translations of the biblical text tell important information about the canon process. Specifically, what books are in those translations and how faithful are the translations to the original language that they translate? Since all of the ancient translations functioned as canonical scripture to the churches that received and transmitted these translations, examining them in their historical context is important. Few ancient translations contain all of the books of the Old or New Testaments or only those books, and generally the earliest translations are of poor quality. A study of these translations, especially how they were produced, their quality, and the books that constituted their contents are important canonical issues. Louw 1991 introduces the practice of translating sacred texts and some of the important features often omitted in the process. Metzger 2001 is more relevant to canon formation and identifies not only the earliest translations of the New Testament writings, but also common features among them, namely, their contents and quality. Veltri 2006 is unusual in that the author describes with detailed analysis the temporary canonical status of books in antiquity, a feature common in the canonization process. Wegner 1999, although supporting traditional views of the dating of the Old and New Testaments, has many useful pieces of information of the text, translation, and canonization of the Christian Bible.

  • Louw, Johnnes P., ed. Meaningful Translation: Its Implications for the Reader. New York: United Bible Societies, 1991.

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    This volume presents a brief collection of essays focusing on the various problems encountered in translating biblical texts. Although it is a short volume in introductory material it is useful for those engaging in both Old and New Testament translation.

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  • Metzger, Bruce M. The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

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    A carefully written volume on the history of translations of the Bible, mostly for pastors and students, but also informative for biblical scholars. Lists the earliest translations of the Bible and the books that were contained in it. Metzger recognizes the importance of his study for canon formation. He shows that the earliest translations are generally of poor quality and include most of the same core books of the Bible but not all of them.

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  • Veltri, Giuseppe. Libraries, Translations, and ‘Canonic’ Texts: The Septuagint, Aquila and Ben Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2006.

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    Veltri discusses the important phenomenon of ancient religious texts that at one time functioned as sacred literature among Jews and Christians but eventually ceased functioning in that capacity. He uses the terms “decanonization” and “deconstruction” to describe this process in both communities of faith and discusses many relevant ancient resources to demonstrate his arguments.

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  • Wegner, Paul D. The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999.

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    This is a practical book written for students, but scholars will also gain much needed information on the origins and transmission of the Bible in this volume. Wegner deals with both testaments and writes from a conservative perspective gathering together useful information and ancient sources on the origins of the Bible.

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LAST MODIFIED: 09/13/2010

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393361-0017

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