Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some Protestants’ Rejection of Deuterocanonical Books (Inter-Testament Apocrypha): Justifiable?, p.2

Question 1: Was there a fixed canon among the Jewish communities in the 1st – 4th century? If there was, was it widely known or recognized?

The complexity of the issue of the Hebrew Bible can be traced through two kinds of evidences. On one hand, we have evidences that point to the rejections of some of the canonical books in the current Hebrew canon among the ancient Jewish communities. On the other hand, there are evidences that contain the affirmations of deuterocanonical books by the early Jewish and Christian communities.

Notice that the evidences on both hands are dated well within the first five centuries AD. This period is in conjunction with the time when the Christian communities were formally establishing their set of distinctive Christian canon. Thus the selection of the books to be included in the Hebrew Bible by the Jewish community was not necessary very early. And the notion of such fluidity of the Hebrew canon has a major implication.

It explains why the early Christian communities able to adopt the deuterocanonical books as their OT without much fuss until Jerome came into the scene in the fourth century. That is the time when a particular Jewish community in a particular area closed the Hebrew Bible. And Jerome appeared at this particular time and place to study the Hebrew Bible. Hence his list of the OT books is identical to this community.

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