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The Old Testament
Israel's holy Bible
1.  Introduction 5.  Limitation of the Canon
2.  Terms Used 6.  Jewish Confirmation
3. History of the Canon  7. Theories of Inspiration
4. Inherent Canonicity 8. Bibliography
early Christians relied so heavily upon the Old Testament in their preaching and evangelism (particularly in it's pre-Christian Septuagint Greek translation) that the Jewish community in reaction produced at least one new Greek translation by the early second century, the Aquila version (Davis & Gehman 1944:624), and eventually even modified the order or grouping of the Old Testament books to better answer the assault of Christian apologists (Archer 1974:67). The importance attached to the Old Testament by these early Christians thus deserves a better understanding by us of the authority of its text.
firm stand of the Christian Church against Marcion's rejection of the Old Testament in 144 AD was itself an avowed retention of the Old Testament as belonging to the authoritative founding documents of Christianity. This is significant, as it was apparently not even considered necessary in the beginning to list the recognized books of the Old Testament in a synod or council until the Council of Laodicea in the East of the empire (363 AD) and the third Council of Carthage in the West of the Empire (397 AD) (Schaff 1910:523-4).

  Old Testament  
Hebrew Scriptures were first called the "Old Testament" by the Christian Church. The Hebrew Scriptures or TeNaKH (from Torah or Pentateuch, Nebiim or Prophets, and Khetubim or Writings) only became "Old" for those who accepted the New "diatheke" or Covenant in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8 & 9) as the fulfillment of the prophet Jeremiah's "new covenant" (Jer. 31:31).
Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria in the 4th century is first on record (in his Festal Letters) to describe the Scriptures as a "canon" or "canonical" (Richardson 1969:44). The word comes from the Greek 'kanon' which meant a "straight rod, straight edge, ruler" (Archer 1974:66). The term was used by Alexandrian writers to describe the classical Greek authors whose writings served as "models of excellence". The Greek word probably had its origin in the Phoenician word "kana" which is related to the Hebrew word "kaneh" meaning a stalk or reed (compare our words canna, and cane) and so a measuring-stick.
Thus in this word the Scriptures were seen as providing the norm for Christian faith and conduct, and as the touch-stone of all religious truth.

the providential development of paper and printing, by which we have easy access today to the Scriptures, the Old Testament was more a library than a book. It consisted of a large collection of manuscripts. The bringing together of this complete volume of the Old Testament took place over a period of more than a thousand years, stretching from the the prophets Moses to Malachi.
The question of the canonicity of the Old Testament is based on the integrity of these writings and in the history of the people whose heritage they reflect. According to the Bible's own record, before the people of Israel became a nation there was no Scripture. It was in the formation of this people as a nation, and is preeminently their greatest significance according to the New Testament, that to them were entrusted the "Oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2).
development of these Scriptures began as the Ten Commandments written on stone, and were kept in Israel's ark of the Covenant (Ex. 40:20). To this was added the Book of the Covenant (Ex. 24:7) consisting of the passage from Exodus 20:23 to 23:33 in the final editing of our book of Exodus. The work of Moses concludes with his completion of the Book of the Law, which probably included, apart from later editorial comment, the whole volume that we today call the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) (Deut. 31:24-27).
See: 40 Years With Jethro
concerning Genesis and Job
Joshua continued Moses' work on the Scriptures, according to an editor concerning the re-affirmation at Shechem of Israel's Covenant with God, that he "wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God" (Jos. 24:26). The prophet Samuel also added to these sacred writings of which the master-copy was "laid up before the Lord" in the Tent of God (I Sam. 10:25) and was probably one of it's early editors. Thus the Tent and later the Temple of God became the sacred archive of these holy records. It is understandable then that king Josiah's Temple renovation centuries later should bring to light the manuscripts of "The Law" (II Kings 22:8-20).
to Deuteronomy 17:18-20 Moses instructed that the ruler of the people should make copies of the Law from the standard or master copy in the keeping of the Levitical priests for the reading and teaching of "the words of this Law". Thus from an early date a guild of scribes would arise to faithfully compile and copy the growing canon of the Scriptures in the "fear of the Lord".
King Hezekiah's men are mentioned in Proverbs 25:1 as having "copied out" the sayings of Solomon. And the king himself seems to have added to the sacred Psalms in personal thanksgiving for the 15-years added to his life: "we will sing my songs the house of the Lord" (Isaiah 38:20), with the assistance of his guild of scribal compilers.
Israel's Babylonian captivity there is a particular emphasis upon the scribal role of Ezra (Ez.7:6,10-12,14,21,25) and on his actual possession of the "Law of the Lord" (Ez.7:14,25). Therefore, the Jewish tradition that ascribes to Ezra the final formulation of Israel's holy Scriptures through the "Great Synagogue" (Megilloth 17,18) is probably true.

Old Testament describes itself repeatedly as the "Word of the Lord". This concept of an inherent authority without requiring the approval of any human source, in an individual or council, is asserted consistently throughout these Scriptures.
There is a sense of recognition within the flow of Israel's history that the sacred words of Scripture carried within themselves the quality that gave them divine authority. The prophet Zechariah described the accumulation of holy Scripture from the time of Moses as "the Words which the Lord of armies had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets" (Zech.7:12). Jeremiah's prophetic writings are described by his contemporary Daniel as having divine authority (Dan.9:2). Even the noble Isaiah quotes the words of the humble country prophet Micah as the Word of the Lord (Is.2:2-4 from Mic.4:1-3).
New Testament consistently endorses this view of the quality of Old Testament inspiration. It treats the Hebrew canon as one whole with respect to it's divine authority (Matt.23:35), including the book of Psalms (Jn.10:34-35) and the book of Daniel (Matt.24:15). It is not merely the ethical value or spiritual influence of the Scriptures that are presented as bearing divine sanction but even the form of it's words –
 "For truly I [Jesus] say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
 not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished"
That we are not reading too much into this statement of grammatical inspiration is confirmed by Christ Himself in His use of the present-tense in His Old Testament quote as being proof of continued existence of the patriarchs after death (Matt.22:32). As also, the apostle Paul's use of the grammatical singular to prove Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament's prophecy of God's promise to Abraham (Gal.3:16).
Matthew 5:18.
in this regard, the New Testament's belief in the inspiration of even the original phonetics of the Old Testament: as in the messianic title "Branch" (NZR in Isaiah 11:1) to carry a necessarily-coded confirmation of "Nazareth" as the place of the Messiah (Matt.2:23) in a boyhood that was not to be disrupted.

the writers of the Old Testament, in addition to personal observation, revelation received, and selected oral tradition, also make reference to various records and books as among their sources, these writings were not preserved as part of the sacred canon (Josh.10:13; II Sam.1:18). The Old Testament makes reference to other records even of the recognised prophets who contributed to it that were not included in the canon (I Chron.29:29; II Chron.9:29).
  The Apocrypha  
the early Christian Church the Old Testament had become most widely known in its pre-Christian Greek translation. This was known as the Septuagint from the tradition that seventy top Jewish scholars went to Egypt at the request of king Ptolemy to translate the Hebrew Scripture into Greek, the lingua franca of the time. Yet this translation, as distributed, contained more books than the official Hebrew canon recognised by Israel. After the time of the Christ's apostles, these extra books, known as the Apocrypha, became accepted by some sections of the Christian Church as canonical, even though the New Testament canon made no reference to them.
have suggested that these extra books were part of a so-called Alexandrian canon for it was in that city that the Septuagint translation was produced. But, the famous Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (1st century), although quoting extensively from the Old Testament canon "never once quotes from any apocryphal books" (Archer 1974:73). In addition, the Jewish Aquila version of the Old Testament (early 2nd century), which supplanted the Septuagint, did not contain the Apocrypha. Jewish historian and scholar Josephus (1st century) totally rules out the apocryphal books both by his count of the canonical and his statement that from the time of Malachi no further canonical writings were composed, although records were kept –
"because the exact succession of the prophets ceased" and
"no one has dared to add anything to them, or take anything from them, or alter anything in them"
(Archer 1974:75).
church leaders who make mention of the canon, such as Bishop Melito of Sardis (170 AD), Tertullian, Origen, and Hilary of Poitiers confirm by their count of books the exclusion of the apocryphal writings from any place in the sacred canon (Archer 1074:73) as well as other religious writings that have claimed authoritative inspiration.

the destruction of Israel's Temple in 70 AD the spiritual centre of Israel's religion now focused more on the prayer ritual and synagogue use of the Scriptures. Rabbinic authority eventually re-grouped at Jamnia in Palestine. In the rabbinical discussions at Jamnia in AD 90 allegations against the place of Ezekiel, Esther, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs in the Hebrew canon were raised and completely refuted.
[Ezekiel was queried because of it's differences from the description and ritual of the destroyed Second Temple;
Esther was opposed because of it's apparent avoidance of the name of God;
The Song of Solomon was opposed because of it's seemingly sensuous symbolism;
Ecclesiastes for it's apparent pessimism, for Epicureanism and for seeming denial of the life to come;
Proverbs because of it's seeming self-contradictions as in 26:4-5 (Archer 1974:70).]
far as the Jewish community was concerned, the painstaking research of their scholars known as Masoretes, under provocation of the Kairite Jews' rejection of Rabbinic traditions, placed the final confirmation upon the canonical consonantal text and established an accepted vowel pointing for pronunciation (c.850 AD/CE).

was to be expected, some with "anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions" found it impossible to accept the Scripture's word about itself and in keeping with the so-called rationalistic and later evolutionistic mental climate of the time tried to find reason to view the Old Testament merely as an admirable Jewish achievement in a mythological clothing to great moral norms and investing God, as the source of morality, with an historical authority. Yet these same scholars who rejected the reliability of Old Testament statements unless archaeologically or otherwise corroborated, appeal to the same text of Scriptures for the evidence of their case.
Jewish three-fold division of the Hebrew canon is consequently viewed as it's stages of canonization – the process of it acquiring popular religious authority. Although this theory is presented with scholarly acumen and much labour it differs very little from the canonical criteria of the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages by which various traditions were incorporated as divine doctrine: "quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est".
scholars, such as Eichorn, have used age as the Old Testament mark of authenticity, yet books referred to in the Old Testament itself, as preceding it and so much older then large sections of the Old Testament, were not accepted as canonical. Others, such as Hitzig, used the Hebrew language as the norm of canonicity, but Hebrew apocryphal books such as Tobit, I Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus were not accepted by the Jews as canonical. Further tests of canonicity defined by others, such as religious use and public confidence, are simply variations on the same theme; that is, that canonicity is gained by or conferred on the documents, and is therefore not inherent or intrinsic to them.
so-called neo-orthodox view of the inspiration of the canonical manuscripts simply transfers the inspired quality from the 'object' to the 'eye of the beholder'. It subtly speaks of Scripture as being merely a witness to the living Word of God. By this view the practical canonicity of Scripture is an 'existential' encounter with God in this Scripture. It is simply an elaborate defensive tactic to avoid the assault of rationalistic 'higher criticism' over alleged scientific 'errors' in the text.
tactic of removing any objective basis of canonicity also removes the authority of Scripture for any who do not wish to hear it's sanctions. It turns one away from faith in a real God to a faith in Faith, and ultimately to a humanistic ideal which leaves true religious experience prey to every contrary wind of emotion or thought, or it leads to a neo-deism.
factors cited as relevant to the canonicity of the text, such as scribal authority, integrity of origination (that is, it's time of origin), the views of Jewish and of Church councils, and opinions reflected in Church versions of the canon, are simply corollaries to the intrinsic quality and inherent inspiration of this holy Scripture.
'faithful' through the ages have always affirmed the canonicity of the Scriptures. To them Christ had promised the "Spirit of Truth" whom "the world cannot receive" (Jn.14:17) who would lead them "into all truth" (Jn.16:13). Therfore –
the early Church found, under the Holy Spirit's leading,
Christ in all the Scriptures and the fulfillment of all in Him.
  Davis & Gehman 1944 The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
Richardson, Alan (editor) 1969 A Dictionary of Christian Theology. London: SCM.
Schaff, Philip 1910 History of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Archer, Gleason L. 1974 A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press.
Tenney, Merrill C. 1963 Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

see partial List of early fraudulent writings
otherwise called apocryphal or pseudoephigraphical

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