Exploring the Origins of the Bible
The title of this post comes from the title of the book edited by Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov, published by Baker Academic in 2008. Craig A. Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada and Emanuel Tov is J.L. Magnes Professor of Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel and editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. The book comprises eight papers written by a number of scholars on biblical studies. Below is extract from one of the papers: Writings Ostensibly outside the Canon, written by J.H. Charlesworth (George L. Collord Prifessor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary and the director and editor of the Princeton Dead Sea Scrolls Project):
The canon of books in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, was not decided in the first century CE [Common Era = AD] or at Yavneh (Jamnia), as many experts assumed for centuries. The Hebrew and Aramaic scrolls of Scripture found in caves west of the Dead Sea prove that the canonical process moved along diverse and obscure tracts. The canon was not closed even, as some scholars claim, in the second century CE at Yavneh. Debates over some books continued in Judaism until the sixth century CE. Eventually Sirach [Ecclesiasticus], which had been regarded as a canonical book by some Jews, was considered “noncanonical”, and Esther was added to the canon.
The Hebrew Bible is trifurcated into Torah, Prophets, and Writings (Tanak). The Torah was closed first, most likely before the third century BCE [Before Common Era = BC] The books in the Prophets were defined sometime later, most likely before the defeat of Bar Kokhba (135/6 CE). The contents of the books of Samuel and Jeremiah remained unclear until at least 70 CE. Some books in the Writings were debated until the sixth century CE.
Exploring the Origins of the Bible, page 58-59