Hi edmc –
I just discovered your post buried on this thread – you raise a number of points that need to be addressed – I will try to give as much background
as space allows…
First your ‘late canonical ‘ list of the post R. Akiba Hebrew ‘old testament’ canon shows you are unaware of the state of thee canon during
the lifetime of R. Yehoshua bar Yosef and his disciples – i.e. your OT ‘canonical list’ merely reflects the LATE list of Jewish scrolls ‘which
defiled the hands’ that came into general acceptance by Jews only after AD 150, and is NOT the same list of ‘sacred’ books regarded as
‘defiling the hands’ that were used by the earliest 1st Century Jews or the earliest Christians or the the Dead Sea Scroll copyists - were still
copying all their contradictory texts with wild textual abandon until AD 68 when Rome put a stop to them.
Again, was a BIG dividing line between the canonical ‘sacred’ OT texts BEFORE Jamnia and what was considered sacred AFTER Jamnia (these texts also
differed between copies with hundreds of major and minor textual variants between them) in use in different places before Jerusalem was destroyed by
Rome in AD 70…
This is a very important point.
The peculiar Masoretic family of texts (proto-MT) that eventually became ‘standard ‘ was based on several that non Palestinian ‘foreign’
Rebbes from Babylonia (e.g. Hillel II) tried to foist on the tattered post AD 70 Judaism (without a Temple standing, Jews turned to their books –
and the Babylonian Rebbes held all the cards) - thus began the post AD 90 Debate as to what Books and What Version of those Books specifically was to
be regarded as sacred ‘canon’ by the Jews–
These debates lasted until after AD 150 (e.g. even such later canonical books as The Song of Songs and Esther were fiercely being debated ref:
canonicity as late as AD 130)
Josephus unfortunately is of little use to you in your argument to foist a post-Jamnia canonical list onto a pre-Jamnia milieu since Josephus did not
make his ‘canonicity claims’ of the ‘sacred writings of the Jews’ until after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 when most of the non-Masoretic
texts were burned along with the city of Jerusalem itself and the Rebbes at Jamnia had more or less weeded out anything that they themselves did not
hold as ‘defiling the hands’. Had Josephus wrote his history 50 years earlier, he would have come up with a much longer list of books.
Technically we have extant no actual canonical ‘list’ of sacred Jewish writings until the time of R. Akiba in the late 2nd century AD – all we
can do is look for citations in earlier writings to see what texts they used as authoritative texts in looking for the ‘divine will’ e.g.
expressed as prophecy --the same way, say, the author of Jude, uses ‘I Henoch’ as canonical ‘authoritative’ prophecy via e.g. the pesher
method as prophecy to be taken as the word of ‘god’ (Jude 1:14-16);
The Dead Sea Scroll Jews also used The Books of Henoch and the Testament of Moses/Jubilees the same way, citing both books as canonically
authoritative for the Qumran covenanters near Jerusaleem (see Pesher fragments 4Q 266: 8ii 2-3, 228a, 4Q 228b, 4Q 228c, 4Q 228d, 4Q 228 e, 4Q 228f 4 Q
228 g and 4Q180 as well as all the tiny fragments which were originally part of columns 10 and 16 of the CD
amascus Document which cites pesher type
passages from Henoch and Jubilees as authoritative ‘canonical scripture’ from which to derive both prophecy and to derive their strict halakhot
(=‘the way to live righteously’) - in other words they used I Henoch and Jubilees as scripture.
Don’t forget, we are NOT dealing with a single Judaism with a single list of sacred books between two covers in the 1st century AD
Just as when scholars speak of ‘Christianities’ in the plural in the 1st to the 5th centuries AD, we must also speak of ‘Judaeisms’ in the
centuries before and immediately after the time of R. Yehoshua bar Yosef and his disciples - that is to say, in the PLURAL. And plurality of religious
outlooks means plurality of texts and text types to support their pluralities.
Each one of these different ‘Judaeisms’ [before the Jewish War wiped most of them out in AD 70] had their own list of ‘sacred books’, all of
them holding the ‘Torah’ (in various versions depending on the group) as ‘defiling the hands’ i.e. canonical, but some also adding the
prophets and the psalms.
The only reason we know so much about the ‘fluidity of the texts’ before the Failed Jewish War of AD 70 is that the Dead Sea Scroll
copyist-priests buried a ‘time capsule’ of more than 800 sacred texts sealed up in caves, many in jars where they can be read today – in all
their contradictory textual glory. A nightmare for modern ‘believers’ (which is why they were not published for a long time) but a treasure trove
Here are some of the Judaisms around when ‘Jesus’ lived:
The Zadokkim (‘Sadduccees’, i.e. ‘sons of Zadok’ who ran the Jerusalem cult as priests who regarded the 5 books of the TORAH ONLY as canonical
‘defiling the hands’)- they rejected the Psalms and the Prophets and the Writings as ‘canonical’.
The Samaratim (Assyrian converted Jews who broke off from the Jerusalem establishment in the 5th century BCE and moved to the area near present day
Nablus, near Mount Gerazim, their holy Hill, who ALSO only regarded the Torah as ‘defiling the hands’ – i.e. they like the Zadukim did not
consider the prophets to be holy canonical scripture nor the writings like the Psalms or Job etc.)
The anti-Maccabbean 167 BCE splinter group of the priestly Sadducees (see 4 Q MMT) aka ‘the Sons of Light, Followers of the Way’ etc. at Qumran
(i.e the Dead Sea Scroll Covenanter-priests who claimed to be ‘the true sons of Zadok’ i.e The True Sadducees - who held overlapping Pharasaic- &
Essenoid beliefs in Angels, the Resurrection of the Dead, Daemons, and a belief in the canonicity of the Torah, the Prophets & 1 Henoch and the
Testament of Moses/Jubilees & The Testaments of the 12 and the Psalms (to which they had 5 extra ones of their own) as ‘defiling the hands’ –
all upon which they lavished sometimes elaborate Pesherim-commentaries);
The Zealotim (murderously armed Messianic militants, one of whom is mentioned as a disciple of ‘Iesous’ who went by the name of Shimeon ha
Kananiah (or Simon Zealotes, ‘Simon the Zealot’),
The ‘Ossim (Gk. Essenoi / Essenes) which existed in two versions one of them were married ‘in the camps of Israel’ scattered around the country,
and the other group ‘celibate virgin males who called themselves ‘Angels undefiled by the filfth of the Female’ who remained childless who
seemed to be related to (if not the same group) the Messianic Dead Sea Scroll priests; and of course the Pharasim (‘separated ones’) who taught
the Torah of Moses in the Synagogues who like the Dead Sea Scroll sect, believed in Angels and the Resurrection of the Dead and believed the
‘prophets and the psalms’ all ‘defiled the hands’ (unlike the Samaratim and the Zadukkim who only held as canonical the Torah in their OWN
different textual versions, by the way...)
We could also add the Greek Speaking Diaspora Jews as a separate differentiated ‘group’ (but these differed between each other according to what
city they lived in and should be classified as different Judaisem-sub-groups (e.g. Philo of Alexandria’s Diaspora Alexandrian Judaism was different
from the Judaiesm practiced in Corinth or Thessalonica etc.)
The Alexandrian Theapuetae (Chassidim) who seemed curiously ‘Essenoid / Dead Sea Scroll’ covenanter related – and may have been responsible for
the Chester Beatty fragments who regarded 1 Henoch as ‘sacred.’.
Each of these ‘Judaisms’ had their own pre-AD70 lists and versions to use as sacred canonical scriptures—and their different lists of Old
testament writings affected the later Christianities which evolved out of one group or another.
A quick example would be the Christianity practiced by the persons responsible for the Syriac Peshi tta B canon which was based on a Judaism that
excluded the book of Chronicles as canonical. A similar Peshi tta Christianity (Peshi tta A) retained Chronicles as a book ‘which defiled the
hands’ so, we can see that even within the same general area there were divisions of opinion among ‘Jews’ (especially prior to AD 70) as to what
exact books were IN and which books were OUT of the ‘list’.
Alexandrian Jews during the 100 years prior to R. Yehoshua bar Yosef the Galilean (as early as 150 BCE included in their Greek Old Testament – the
same one used by Philo of Alexandria - in addition to the Torah and the Psalms and the Prophets (in which Jeremiah was shorter by 13 chapters and
other books like I-II Samuel were based on a DIFFERENT Hebrew text from the one used by Jews & Protestants today,
i.e. the Masoretic Text) holy books such as ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’, ‘Tobit’, ‘Judith’, ‘1-4 Maccabbees’ and the ‘Wisdom of Jesus
ben Sirach’ (aka Ecclesiasticus) all of which they included in their Hebrew Bible as ‘canonical’ (i.e. as books that ‘defiled the
The Chester Beatty Papyrus from c. AD 20 from Alexandria contains 8 fragments which include not only later canonical texts which fairly closely
resemble the Greek Septuaginta LXX but ALSO was found in the text a piece of the Book of Henoch – which proves that the Alexandrian Jews and the
earliest Christians that moved there (or Messianically minded Jews that lived in Alexandria who were converted to one of the new 'Christian'
movements) held the Book of I Henoch to be 'canonical scripture' as well – and worthy of citation and commentary.
In fact the Alexandrian lists of ‘canonical books’ among the 1st century Jews is fairly similar to the canonical-type books used by the Dead Sea
Scroll copyists, some of whom copied Greek Texts of both the LXX Alexandrian type as well as other LXX Greek variation texts like the non Masoretic
matching Hebrew text family underlays (Vorlagen) used later by Theodotion, Symmachus and the text favoured by R. Aquila (a pupil of R. Akiba).
Is this all beginning to make sense to you yet? If not re-read my posts and let it sink in !!
edit on 22-4-2011 by Sigismundus because: Syriac 'Pesh it ta' had to be fixed to avoid the # !