People of the Book: Canon, Meaning, and Authority: Canon, Meaning and Authority

People of the book : Canon, meaning and authority, M. Halbertal : book review
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These are obviously vital questions for the people of God to determine.

The word canon is used to describe those books recognized as inspired of God. The word comes from the Greek kanwn and most likely from the Hebrew qaneh and Akkadian, qanu. Literally, it means a a straight rod or bar; b a measuring rule as a ruler used by masons and carpenters; then c a rule or standard for testing straightness.

People of the Book

Historically, the word was first used by the church of those doctrines that were accepted as the rule of faith and practice. The term came to be applied to the decisions of the Councils as rules by which to live. All these employ the word in the metaphorical sense of a rule, norm, or standard. Jews and conservative Christians alike have recognized the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament as inspired. Evangelical Protestants have recognized the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as inspired.

Roman Catholics have a total of eighty books because they recognize the Apocrypha as semicanonical. That God would provide and preserve a Canon of Scripture without addition or deletion is not only necessary, but it is logically credible. If we believe that God exists as an almighty God, then revelation and inspiration are clearly possible.

If we believe in such a God, it is also probable that He would, out of love and for His own purposes and designs, reveal Himself to men. The evidence shows that the Bible is unique and that God is its author. There are a number of important considerations that must be kept in mind when considering the issue of canonicity or how the books of the Bible came to be recognized and held to be a part of the Bible.

Canon, Jubilees 23 and Psalm 90

Ryrie summarizes these issues as follows:. It is essential to remember that the Bible is self-authenticating since its books were breathed out by God 2 Tim. In other words, the books were canonical the moment they were written. It was not necessary to wait until various councils could examine the books to determine if they were acceptable or not.

Their canonicity was inherent within them, since they came from God. People and councils only recognized and acknowledged what is true because of the intrinsic inspiration of the books as they were written. No Bible book became canonical by action of some church council. Decisions of men.

Nevertheless, men and councils did have to consider which books should be recognized as part of the canon, for there were some candidates that were not inspired. Some decisions and choices had to be made, and God guided groups of people to make correct choices not without guidelines and to collect the various writings into the canons of the Old and New Testaments.

Debates over canonicity. In the process of deciding and collecting, it would not be unexpected that some disputes would arise about some of the books. And such was the case. However, these debates in no way weaken the authenticity of the truly canonical books, nor do they give status to those which were not inspired by God.

Completion of canon. Since A. Therefore, we cannot expect any more books to be discovered or written that would open the canon again and add to its sixty-six books. Even if a letter of Paul were discovered, it would not be canonical. After all, Paul must have written many letters during his lifetime in addition to the ones that are in the New Testament; yet the church did not include them in the canon.

Not everything an apostle wrote was inspired, for it was not the writer who was inspired but his writings, and not necessarily all of them. The more recent books of the cults which are placed alongside the Bible are not inspired and have no claim to be part of the canon of Scripture. The Hebrew Bible of today is substantially the same as the original writings, with only physical changes like the addition of vowel pointings, reading aids in the margins, and a change to a more open form of the letters, etc.

This precisely fits what we know about the Jews and the Old Testament. They have always been a people of one book who have guarded it with extreme care and precision. From the time of Ezra and even before, there were priests Deut. To ensure this accuracy, later scribes known as the Masoretes developed a number of strict measures to ensure that every fresh copy was an exact reproduction of the original.

How the Biblical Canon Was Formed

They established tedious procedures to protect the text against being changed. For instance, a when obvious errors were noted in the text, perhaps because a tired scribe nodded, the text was still not changed. According to the note at Lev. At the end of each book are statistics as: the total number of verses in Deuteronomy is , the total in the entire Torah is 5,; the total number of words is 97, , and the total number of letters is , In this we see something of the painstaking procedures the Jews went through to assure the accurate transmission of the text.

Our English Bible is a translation of this Hebrew text which has been handed down to us. God made the Jews the custodians of the Old Testament record. Though their eyes may be blind to its truth Isa. The original copies of the Old Testament were written on leather or papyrus from the time of Moses c. Until the sensational discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in we did not possess copies of the Old Testament earlier than A. The reason for this is simply that the Jews had an almost superstitious veneration for the text which impelled them to bury copies that had become too old for use.

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Indeed, the Masoretes traditionalists who between A. D and added accents and vowel points and in general standardized the Hebrew text, devised complicated safeguards for the making of copies as described above … When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, they gave us a Hebrew text from the second to first century B. This was of the greatest importance, for it provided a much earlier check on the accuracy of the Masoretic text, which has now proved to be extremely accurate. Other early checks on the Hebrew text include the Septuagint translation middle of third century B.

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All of these give us the data for being assured of having an accurate text of the Old Testament. The Masoretic text of the Hebrew Old Testament contains twenty-four books, beginning with Genesis and ending with 2 Chronicles. Though this arrangement of the Old Testament is in only twenty-four books, the subject matter is identical with the thirty-nine book division of our Protestant English Bible.

Moshe Halbertal, ‘People of the Book: Canon, Meaning, and Authority’

While Scripture is at the center of many religions, among them Islam and Christianity, this book inquires into the function, development, and implications of the. Book. Canon, Meaning, and Authority People of the Book offers the best introduction available to Jewish hermeneutics, a book capable of.

The difference is in the order and division of the arrangement of the books. The Septuagint divided the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah each into two, which makes eight instead of four. The Twelve Minor Prophets were divided into twelve, instead of being counted as one book as in the twenty-four book division. This adds fifteen making a total of the thirty-nine books as in the Protestant English Bible.

Since the year , modern Hebrew Bibles divided the books into thirty-nine, but kept the three-fold division including the arrangement of the books Genesis through 2 Chronicles as in the ancient Hebrew Bible.

About This Item

This twenty-four book division in its three-fold division which became the thirty-nine book division is as follows:. This three-fold division was also attested to by Josephus A. Archer, Jr. The Council of Jamnia in A. There is evidence of the manner in which the Old Testament books were recognized as canonical. Laird Harris R. Following Moses, God raised up the institution of prophecy to continue revealing Himself to His people cf. The prophets to whom God spoke also recorded their revelation cf.

Similarly, succeeding prophets were received upon due authentication, and their written works were received with the same respect, being received therefore as the Word of God. As far as the witness contained in the books themselves is concerned, this reception was immediate. Compare the following references: a God was speaking through the human author—Ex.