Old Testament Week 3

Week 3 Canon of the Bible

Main points from today’s lesson:

1. Hellenization brought by Alexander the Great influenced Jews who started to translate Hebrew religious books into Greek or started writing in Greek.

2. During Jesus’ times there was no official Jewish canon of the Scriptures.

3. Sadducees – priests and nobility considered only the Law (Pentateuch) canonical books.  Pharisees – religious leaders, followed oral tradition, included Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from 300 B.C.) in their canonical list.

4. Christian canon of the Bible: OT followed Septuagint, which Jesus quoted Himself. Conditions for NT canon: 1. Apostolic origins 2. Used in liturgy 3. In agreement with established and practiced doctrine of the Church

382 A.D. – Council of Rome lists 46 books of the OT and 27 books of the NT. St. Jerome is commissioned to prepare Latin translation of Septuagint, called Vulgate. Vulgate becomes the official Bible of the Church.

5. Jewish scholars in Jamnia – there is no evidence of the Council of Jamnia, but only the School of Jamnia, one of few existing Jewish rabbinical schools. This rabbinical school was discussing canonicity of the books (are they inspired and should they be included in Jewish Bible), but didn’t conclude on canon of the Scriptures. Protestant argument of the council of Jamnia and following the Jewish (Palestinian) canon, as opposed to Catholic (Alexandrian) is false. Jewish canon of the Bible wasn’t closed until about 5th century A.D.

Jews hesitate to include any books written in Greek. Protestants uphold this argument. Luther himself didn’t exactly removed the deuterocanonical books from the Bibles printed during and after Reformation, he moved them all to the end of the Bible and called them Apocrypha. Only about 100 years later Protestants started to print their Bibles without deuterocanonical books at the end.

6. Essenes – monastic Jewish sect in the times of Jesus, located close to the Dead Sea.

7. Dead Sea Scrolls (digitalized) – found in 1947. 600-800 scrolls in 11 caves. Importance: 1. Manuscripts that were found among them were about 1,000 years older than any known manuscripts so far. 2. Bible manuscripts were very faithful to the ones that we already had, which proves the authenticity and preservation of the Bible that we use. Among the scrolls there were some manuscripts written in Hebrew that we knew existed only in Greek, for example Tobit and Sirach. The theory that Bible books written in Greek can’t be inspired because there were no Hebrew originals has fallen. Jews and Protestants have to reconcile with this fact.


OT Week 3 – Lectio Divina and homework for Week 4


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