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The Bible, in Order: but on whose orders? Some significant reorganizations of Scripture

Politesse

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This thread does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to all of the books of the Bible, their composition, or the many, many competing canons that have existed over the centuries. Rather, it is a beginner's introduction to the creation of the "Good Book" and a discussion of why the order in which the Scriptures are presented might be important. Because the Bible is such a frequent and indeed unavoidable symbol in our society, I hope both religious and non-religious readers might find this thread interesting. I have no particular goals in terms of an ensuing discussion, but welcome your thoughts on any portion of the post that strikes you as interesting. I plan to present this in three segments: The Pre-Monarchic HS, the post-monarchic HS, and the New Testament.
 

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Stage 1: The Pre-Monarchic HS

The Hebrew Scriptures began their life not as a cohesive book, but as a mythos; an entirely oral and not very organized narrative tradition not dissimilar to those sacred narrative traditions found in nearly every tribal society of the world. At the time when the first sections of the HS were being composed, the religion we now call Judaism did not exist in any meaningful sense, and most of its theological and ritual hallmarks had yet to be invented. But the Hebrews, like everyone, had an interest in their own history and the nature of the cosmos around them. We cannot know very much about how these works were composed or performed, but we can assume certain things from observation of other oral traditions throughout history. Storytelling is often a specialization for which an individual is trained under apprenticeship, and it would be accurate to assume three things about the text in its early stages:

1. It was oral, not written
2. As such, it probably changed a little bit every timed it was performed
3. But not as much as it would if it were performed today, in a literate society where oral storytelling is seen primarily as entertainment. Professional storytellers were skilled memorizers, easily outperforming any modern literate person at memory-related tasks, and any breaks from the received texts were probably conscious and intentional.​

We have nothing remotely approaching an autograph (original version) for the pre-Davidic Hebrew Scriptures. The earliest passages are scattered wildly throughout the currently existing books, and almost all have been considerably modified by later editors. In their original form, they probably were not told in any consistent order, but rather performed in conjunction with certain holidays or events, or when the storyteller felt that they were topical. Some examples of passages that many scholars consider to be very early are:

1. The "Song of Deborah" (Judges, Chapter 5; and Judges in general is a treasure trove of earlier songs and stories)
2. The "Song of the Sea" (Exodus, Chapter 15, credited to Moses and Miriam in the text though almost certainly not first performed by either character)
3. The Book of Job in its totality is thought to predate much of the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures.

The reasons why these are assumed to be older are partially linguistic (the words themselves stand out noticeably from the surrounding texts), partly formal (they have a noticeably different style and rhetoric than later compositions, indicative of primarily oral retelling), and partly historical (they seem to reflect a social reality noticeably different from the mostly urban and monarchic world in which the later books were written).

By the time of the early monarchic period, an ethnic division (later a political division as well) had driven apart the Hebrew world into two significant strains, the northern tribes and the southern tribes. You can often evidence for this in the double telling of the earlier stories; there are often multiple versions of the same event, sometimes with noticeably differing details. This is not surprising, if you assume that these stories came from different oral traditions, combined at a later date. Some good examples of these retellings would be:

The three creation stories at the head of the Book of Genesis.
The two noticeably different accounts of how Saul, the first Hebrew monarch, came into his title, both preserved in the Books of Samuel.

Experiencing these stories in the pre-state era was a very different experience than a modern book-reading. You would be dependent entirely on the authority of a living human being to be your source of information, so freedom of independent interpretation might be curtailed; on the other hand, the method of delivery might have been more conversational in nature depending on who was telling it.

If you want a better sense of how the Scriptures were originally encountered, I strongly recommend starting your quest not with Genesis, easily one of the most heavily modified and "literarized" books, but rather with the song collection now known as the Book of Psalms. Choose a few chapters in whatever order... and read them aloud to someone else. Pay attention to the liner notes at the bottom of the page, which explain jokes, puns, and poetic features that are difficult to preserve in translation. Imagine yourself huddled around a winter fire in an agricultural but non-urban village square, listening as someone who is very well known to you - the head of your extended clan for instance, or the local healer and ritual leader - recites poetry that you have heard performed every year for as long as you remember, since you were a child. The mythos of your tribe, that albeit in an indirect and inherently non-scholarly way, presents throughout any given year an all-encompassing story of how your people came to be and what you owe to the local god or gods (the Hebrews were not yet uniformly monotheistic at this time). After you have mastered the Psalms, try one of the shorter (and older) narratives such as the Book of Ruth, or the Book of Tobit. Though in these cases, several interfering editors have greatly reshaped the order in which these stories are told, and with what narratives. I will discuss who some of these editors were, and why they are important, in the next section.
 

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Good summary.

Would you please clarify whether you are using "Pre-Davidic" as a historical term because it is traditional, or because you believe the man actually existed?
 

Politesse

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Good summary.

Would you please clarify whether you are using "Pre-Davidic" as a historical term because it is traditional, or because you believe the man actually existed?

If there's doubt, let's call it historical. :D

It is certainly a historical fact that Judah was the seat of a monarchy, which in ensuing generations customarily named itself the House of David.
 

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It is certainly a historical fact that Judah was the seat of a monarchy, which in ensuing generations customarily named itself the House of David.
That is correct.
 

Politesse

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Stage 2: The Post-Monarchic HS

At some point in time, the Hebrew Scriptures are a disorganized oral tradition with no inherent structure or organization. By the time the Qumran assemblage was created (by the stashing of documents in hidden caves during the Jewish Revolt in 68-70 CE) a canon had clearly begun to form, with a collection of scrolls whose titles will be familiar to most modern readers and whose contents though not spot on are markedly similar to the texts now reverenced by the Jewish people today. What happened in between these two points? A ton of history, seemingly, but there is an inherent challenge here as our most significant source for that history are the scrolls themselves, and as we will see below, there are reasons to be suspicious of bias in how that history is presented. Yet we have only hints of what was happening in Judea and Israel via other historical sources. Archaeology has begun to fill in some of these gaps, but is usually better at answering questions of economy and lifestyle than, say, names and dates. So what can we deduce from the text? Some important questions must first be raised.

How were these documents organized? During the time that this canon was being codified, we are still well ahead of the time of the codex, ie, the "book" with which you are familiar. These were starting to circulate by the time of the revolt, but because the Qumran collection matches the content of the LXX (more on this document in a sec) the general feeling is that the books themselves were largely complete by the time anyone started publishing them as codices. In visualizing how these documents would have been encountered, you should still be thinking in terms of oral presentation; in local communities, a meeting house called a בית כנסת (synagogue) acted as a nexus for both community life and religious services for those too far away to attend rituals at the Jerusalem temple. As before, the documents would be encountered throughout the year, but instead of relying on the memory of a storyteller, communities are beginning to rely on the educated, literate landowning males of the community to read the scriptures to them from a scriptorium of scrolls kept by the meeting house. A small community probably did not possess a full copy of all the books now known as the HS, indeed archaeologically speaking such scriptoria have been nearly absent, one reason the Qumran collection caused such a stir. Prominent members of the community would read from these scrolls to an all-male audience, and local scholars known as Pharisees would interpret their meaning and answer questions. Due to the nature of the storage of these scriptoria, they cannot have been organized in sequential order as they are now. But, their contents were solidifying; by the Greco-Roman period, the scrolls being read were in something close to their modern contents, and some rules were forming about what might be read when. The Scriptures were and are organized into three basic categories:

I. The Torah
By far the most consistent part of the HS, this comprises of five books also known as the Pentateuch. Few significant deviations have been found for any of these texts, and they are frequently cited as source by the other two collections, so their contents almost certainly solidified first. When is not clear, though this must have occurred after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel as their texts have been incorporated synthetically into this "final draft", so sometime after 722 BCE, probably solidified not terribly long afterward. These books are Genesis (the origin myths of the twelve tribes) Exodus (An account of the departure from Egypt and the creation of a system of common law) Numbers (a more detailed book of law contextualized with account of the period of exile) Deuteronomy (The most detailed account of the Law), and Leviticus (A book explaining mostly ritual law, intended to be read by and for the priesthood in Jerusalem). "Torah" came to be used not just to refer to the books themselves but to the entire way of life - a distinctly Jewish way of life - presumably described within them.
II. The Prophets (Nevi'im)
These books describe the careers of about 17 notable prophets, all of whom lived during or after the period during which Judah was a monarchic state. Probably collected by the same group of interpreters who composed the bulk of the book of Deuteronomy, these are the richest source of historical detail but betray a heavily monarchic and priestly bias on that history. These prophets' careers both strongly influenced secular political life and responded to the events of their time, but we have only this collection to inform us of their perspectives, and at many points they are transparently being used as mouthpieces for much later ideas. There are a number of popular strategies for dividing these up - "Former" and "Latter" Prophets for Jewish scholars, "Major" and "Minor" prophets for Christians, but in both cases, these divisions are probably of medieval origin. It is likely that individual communities at the time when the canon was forming only held some of these scrolls and likely had their own strategies for organizing them. The books of the prophets included: Joshua, Judges, The Book of Samuel & The Book of Kings (both subdivided in two by modern arrangements but not in antiquity), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
III. The Writings (Ketuvim)
The most variable grouping; it consists of various texts not included in the above group and constituted something of a miscellaneous category. Unlike the other two sections, none of the Ketuvim works claim to have divine inspiration through a prophet, but rather derive from folk sources and courtly records. It is also one of the most diverse categories, containing both some of the earliest texts (such as Job, mentioned above) and some of the latest (such as Daniel, which is a post-Alexandrian work). You see significant differences between regional collections here as well, with some books (like Daniel, frequently) often missing altogether even from much later, post-Christian collections. Only in this section are female point-of-view characters found (Esther and Ruth respectively) or feminine depictions of God (in Psalms and Proverbs). The Ketuvim include at a maximum the books of Psalms and Proverbs (always found first in any ordered collection), Job, Kohelet (Christian: "Ecclesiastes"), Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, the Song of Songs (aka "Song of Solomon"), the Book of Ezra (containing also the book of Nehemiah as divided in modern editions) and the book of Chronicles (an essentially secular historical account also subdivided into two in modern times but not in antiquity).

Note that although modern Christians also use a three-group system for organization, they are not the same groups. The Torah is the Torah, but different canons have mixed and matched the other two categories in many different configurations.

There are a few things to note about this collection. It spans a considerable amount of time and geographic space, even by conservative estimates, and had hundreds of different authors. It was mostly written within the ancient kingdoms of Judea and Israel, but not exclusively. It is mostly written in Hebrew, though there are a few exceptions and borrow-words in the later books. Its order was almost certainly not recognizably the same as that which is now in use, and it is likely that certain regimes of organization have passed from historical memory. So for instance, there is a ritual cycle known as the Hamesh Megillot, or Five Scrolls, which dictates a five-book set to be read throughout the year on certain Jewish holidays, making a miniature quasi-canon of the books of Ecclesiastes, Esther, the Song of Songs, Ruth, and the Lamentations. As such, is is certain that at least these five were certain to be part of any canon by the time the modern Jewish holiday cycle had come into being (ie by the end of the 2nd century CE) and it may be that their association with each other and with the various holidays is much older, though interestingly Esther is missing from the Qumran collection.

So how did we come to our current understanding of their order? One more document is worth discussing: the Septuagint, or LXX. Composed over a period of about a century between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, this was by far the most widely distributed translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Koine Greek language. At the time, Koine was rapidly becoming the lingua franca of the entire Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, and within a few generations, the LXX seems to have superseded the Hebrew-language version as the medium through which most Diasporic Jews encountered the Scriptures. This is significant because the LXX was often published as a codex, like the Christian Bible was eventually to be, and a customary ordering system began to dominate. The attitude surrounding this text was heavily influential, because rather than a loose collection of texts, it was often referred to as a single work ("The Scriptures") and had been composed all at once with the explicit intention of creating an official Greek Canon. Its name means "The Seventy", a reference to the myth of its creation. This story, almost certainly apocryphal, states that seventy learned scholars worked independently to produce the translation. When they compared notes, they found that God had miraculously guided them to produce the exact same canon. This was a sign that the translation had both the endorsement of God and was safely reliable for Greek-speaking Jews to rely on. We really see the origins of the idea of a divinely inspired canon here. When the Hebrew Scriptures are referenced in the NT, the version being referenced is always the Septuagint, not any Hebrew version or collection.

In the next section, I will critically compare the LXX to the Christian canon, and discuss the social and political implications of the choices Christians made as they re-organized Jewish history to their own ends.
 

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steve_bank

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It sounds like a site I looked at on the order of the books. It used the term.

I wish people would post sites used to create a summary.
 

steve_bank

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In part the books are dated by things like language and word usage, references to architecture, and references to known history.

From the Oxford Comment ray there is an architecture reference in the NT that is out of date with the alleged time.

From a recent show it looks like the exodus story of Moses parting the sea and a battle is two stories conflated from different times.

The Jewish cannon was created around the second century by diaspora Jews.

The Christian cannon came out of Nicaea I believe.
 

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steve said:
From the Oxford Comment ray there is an architecture reference in the NT that is out of date with the alleged time.

Out of curiosity, which is it?
 

steve_bank

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It wasaround 10 yeras ago I read it motivated by forum debate. I do not rember the exact deatils. The commentray goes throuth the entire bible book by book and discusse discrepancies, autho4rship, historical context, traslation problems and interpretations.

Job was likely a reference to captivity and part of a larger teaching set.

There are translation and interpretation issues that can alter meaning. Paul's alleged direct reference to homosexuality was more likely a general reference to pagan libertine sex. Jews of the day were obsessed with ritual cleanliness and d thought sex diminished strength. There are no know meanings for some of Genesis. Instead of created the Erath it could man out of chaos came order or something like that.

The modern NSRV translation softened the misogyny and was criticized for it. An example of interpretation bias.


Academic vs relhious interpretaion.
 

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I'm just trying to imagine what it might be.

"And then Jesus stood beneath the pointed arch and began to preach."
"And Jesus said, 'Thou shalt not use the ADA lift for freight.'"
"Verily, the heathens all escaped the Lord's wrath, for there was a second means of egress."
 

steve_bank

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The Holy Babble provides endless entertainment. Trying to understand the interpretations is like trying to understand the reasoning and logic of a 5 year old kid.
 

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The Holy Babble provides endless entertainment. Trying to understand the interpretations is like trying to understand the reasoning and logic of a 5 year old kid.

Thank god we've got you around to keep standards of mature discourse at an adult level.
 

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Yes, but if it actually did make an anachronistic architectural reference, that would be interesting. The only architectural description I recall from the new testament was the structure of heaven in Revelations, and it was decidedly classical, correct for the alleged period.

Considering JC was a carpenter, there's remarkably little discussion of the built environment in the NT. It's like the man never went to work.
 

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I wonder why everyone assumes JC was a carpenter. It only ever says he was a carpenter's son. If he practiced what he preached he didn't have a job at all. He would be like the lilies of the field, not toiling nor spinning.

If he even existed at all. He could have just been another Paul Bunyan for all we can tell.
 

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Because, traditionally, trades were inherited.

You are correct in saying that the phrasing implies he wasn't a carpenter himself. Though it would be extremely likely he would have helped his father growing up and learned the skills regardless of whether he made his living from the trade himself.
 

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Stage 3: The New Testament

The Hebrew Scriptures underwent a series of further revisions as history rolled on, most significantly at the hands of Christians, whose view of them came to be so dominant as to replace Hebrew perspectives on the global stage.

Christianity began as a Jewish sect, and the Hebrew Scriptures remained "the Scriptures" for its first few generations. There are a number of reasons why this might be so, ranging from the ethnic background of its membership in the first generation to the importance of antiquity in establishing a religion as legitimate. From a classical perspective, "new" was not generally considered "better", and if the early Christians wanted to evade persecution under new Roman Empire, it was critically important that they demonstrate some connection that would make them the legitimate inheritors of Jewish tradition, not a new cult or offshoot that would run up against state laws against unsponsored voluntary associations. Judaism was on tense footing with their Greek and later Roman rulers due to their exclusive monotheism, but they at least had the antiquity of their rituals to fall back on, and this resulted in tenuous (if not eternal) acceptance. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves were Exhibit A for this argument for acceptability and tolerance. The Christians were obliged on an existential level to not just respect but actually claim the Hebrew Scriptures as their own, a project which has come to be called supercessionism.

This had two practical results:
1. The Hebrew Scriptures had to stay
2. But they also had to be interpreted in such a way as to make Christianity look like the natural inheritor of Jewish tradition.

Most Christian congregations had at a copy of at least the Torah and likely some of the other Scriptures during the persecution years, but our windows onto their textual practice are few and far between. We know that a theological education in Hebrew Scriptures was integral to Christian training at least for the wealthy, because we see quotations from the LXX playing a critical role in the writings of authors from this period, such as Origen, Irenaus, and the pseudo-Clement.

Meanwhile, the books which have come to be known as the New Testament were also entering circulation. These fell into four basic classes:

1. Gospels
A literary genre seemingly unique to Christianity itself, falling somewhere in between the "lives" (biographies) of antiquity and reflective theological works. They are quite diverse in form and argument, but united by the common topic of representing the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Acts
Usually copied the general format of the Gospels, but usually concerned the lives of the earliest Christian missionaries and martyrs.
3. Epistles
Letters written by the early apostles to one another and to distant congregations to whom they had a connection, conforming more or less to the normal standard of letter-writing in that era.
4. Apocalypse
tr: "That which is revealed"; a literary borrowing from the Persian world, in which an author recounts a "trip" or vision of the otherworld/afterlife, from which he is allowed to return bearing a message about the end of times.​

I have listed these in the order in which they usually appear in Christian canons, despite the many variations of organization that exist. By far the most influential Christian reorganization was that of St. Jerome, which became the "Latin Vulgate" and the mainstay of Roman style Christianity up to the present. It popularized (though did not invent) the use of "Old Testament" and "New Testament" as the basic textual division, and its basic ordering of the texts has often been echoed even in subsequent and even opposed canonical creations. Some observations about the most common variations of the Christian canon:

1. It is based on the LXX, and therefore contained several books that were present in the Greek Jewish canon, but not in Hebrew language versions. These include the books of Tobit, Judith, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch. This creates a noticeable difference between modern Jewish Bibles and Catholic-influenced Christian ones.

2. The categorical arrangement of the HS was broken, with all books placed into something approximating (ie. as well as contemporary scholarship knew enough to tell them) chronological ordering of the events they describe. So for instance, the book of Ruth, which is placed among the Ketuvim in the HS, is moved by Christians to a much earlier spot, between Judges and 1st Samuel. Rather than being seen as a parable of sorts and part of the cycle of holiday-only readings, therefore, the reader is instead given the impression that Ruth is a book of history bridging the gap between the end of the tribal era and the beginning stages of monarchic rule. This helps to characterize the entirety of the HS as having a linear trajectory of historical presentation that points, not so coincidentally, toward the start of the NT, as though the one were only picking up where the previous had left off. The Christian HS isn't a topically organized collection of Jewish stories; it's an argument about the inevitable trajectory of time and prophecy.

3. The books are used differently liturgically. Christian worship services always include a reading from the "old testament", but this is chosen without preference to type, one is likely to hear a reading from the Ketuvim at any time of year, rather than in connection with the Jewish holidays, or with the books of the prophets being given as much if not more weight than the Tanakh. Christian readings from Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers are pointedly rare, in stark contrast to the Jewish reading cycle which includes the entirety of the Tanakh during a standard year. Christian readings were also in Latin (and later, other vernacular languages) rather than in Hebrew as in a synagogue community.

4. Because of the re-ordering, the last line of the OT differs from that of the HS. In the HS, it is 11 Chronicles 36:23, which can be translated "Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up." In the Old Testament, it is Malachi 4:6 "He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse." Both are Messianic verses, but the one seems to imply that Cyrus of Persia was said Messiah, whereas the Malchi verse is referring to Elijah's second coming (a prophet, and the "he" referenced in the verse. If you're reading the Christian Bible in order, this is followed directly by the genealogy which connects Jesus to Elijah's tribe at the head of Matthew, a book which features a miraculous visit from Elijah himself to endorse Jesus during an event Christians called the Transfiguration (Mt 17). Malachi is also, as a whole book, openly critical of the Hebrew priestly hierarchy centered in Jerusalem and its perceived failings. So the rhetorical effect of the re-ordering is almost certainly not accidental.

5. The New Testament canon shrunk considerably over time, and by Jerome's era was tiny compared to either the HS or to its own earlier drafts. Two of the genres mentioned above have only two entries. Acts were once abundant, and treasured by individual communities since they usually described the founding of their congregation. The Orthodox canon was serving the empire, not tiny communities, and includes just one master work, the "Acts of the Apostles" which in practice concerns mostly the careers of St. Peter and St. Paul respectively. Even some very popular works, such as the "Acts of Paul and Thekla", did not make this cut. Also noticeable, no careers of female apostles or deacons are described in detail, despite having been quite popular during the pre-legalization years. Similarly, the Apocalypse genre is left with only one entry in most Christian canons, the Apocalypse or Revelation of John. It nearly got cut as well, but it had the prestige of having one of the twelve disciples (as was claimed) as its author, and many passages already had a well established place in the liturgy. Some Christian communities include an additional apocalyptic work, most importantly Shepherd of Hermas, which seems to have been considered canonical by most of the earliest Church Fathers. The Epistles are greatly reduced in number as well, and edited to heavily favor (again) Paul and Peter who were both strongly connected to the establishment of the Roman church and from whom the Holy See is said to derive its lineage and authority. The Gospels narrowly escaped being reduced to one abridged work, the most popular version of this was the 2nd century work called the Diatesseron, which harmonized the gospels around a mostly Lukan framework. Though extremely popular in its time and considered canon by the Syriac church for more than a century, the Diatesseron was eventually rejected by the orthodoxy in part due to the declining reputation of Tatian, it's author, who came to be labeled as a heretic by later generations. By that time, the popularity of the four-gospel canon was so enshrined in both theological circles and popular liturgy, there was no unseating them.

6. The Protestant Canon resulted in further variations. Martin Luther rejected the works present in LXX but not the Hebrew Bible, and initiated the practice of referring to those seven books as the "Apocrypha'; they were still reprinted in many Protestant Bibles over the ensuing centuries, but usually as an appendix clearly delineated from the rest. American Bibles and translations, which have the longest global reach in the world today, seldom include them at all, even in commentary.​

So there you go! "The Bible" can seem like it is "a book" when you refer to it that way, and compared to some other religious works in history, it could be truly observed that its actual content has changed surprisingly little over the years. Of the books that made the cut, the textual differences between one version of their text and the next are seldom extreme (unless you are enough of a literalist to be deeply alramed by a missing preposition!). But which books were included, and in what order, changed considerably over time and the order in which they were presented meant that the transition of the Bible first from an oral tradition to a scriptorium, and then again to a block-printed codex, was always a dynamic and highly charged political act.
 

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Carpenter is an artifact of translation. I heard it said a better approximation would be 'handyman'

Paul is translated as saying something about homosexual sex. From what I read it was more likely a general reference to pagan libertine sex.

As has been stated before, we have no idea what the cultural context was. What was literal and what was colloquial.


.
 

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Stage 3: The New Testament

The Hebrew Scriptures underwent a series of further revisions as history rolled on, most significantly at the hands of Christians, whose view of them came to be so dominant as to replace Hebrew perspectives on the global stage.

Christianity began as a Jewish sect, and the Hebrew Scriptures remained "the Scriptures" for its first few generations. There are a number of reasons why this might be so, ranging from the ethnic background of its membership in the first generation to the importance of antiquity in establishing a religion as legitimate. From a classical perspective, "new" was not generally considered "better", and if the early Christians wanted to evade persecution under new Roman Empire, it was critically important that they demonstrate some connection that would make them the legitimate inheritors of Jewish tradition, not a new cult or offshoot that would run up against state laws against unsponsored voluntary associations. Judaism was on tense footing with their Greek and later Roman rulers due to their exclusive monotheism, but they at least had the antiquity of their rituals to fall back on, and this resulted in tenuous (if not eternal) acceptance. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves were Exhibit A for this argument for acceptability and tolerance. The Christians were obliged on an existential level to not just respect but actually claim the Hebrew Scriptures as their own, a project which has come to be called supercessionism.

This had two practical results:
1. The Hebrew Scriptures had to stay
2. But they also had to be interpreted in such a way as to make Christianity look like the natural inheritor of Jewish tradition.

I'd wonder: Which are the true heritors of the Hebrew scriptures .. the Judaic real Mccoy? Judaism as according to the various groups, mainly the Priestly class - Maccabees , the Rabbinics, or the Essenes? Why wouldn't the Saints - the followers of Christ, who were themselves Jews, have any lesser inheritance to the Hebrew scriptures than any other group of Jews?
 

Politesse

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Stage 3: The New Testament

The Hebrew Scriptures underwent a series of further revisions as history rolled on, most significantly at the hands of Christians, whose view of them came to be so dominant as to replace Hebrew perspectives on the global stage.

Christianity began as a Jewish sect, and the Hebrew Scriptures remained "the Scriptures" for its first few generations. There are a number of reasons why this might be so, ranging from the ethnic background of its membership in the first generation to the importance of antiquity in establishing a religion as legitimate. From a classical perspective, "new" was not generally considered "better", and if the early Christians wanted to evade persecution under new Roman Empire, it was critically important that they demonstrate some connection that would make them the legitimate inheritors of Jewish tradition, not a new cult or offshoot that would run up against state laws against unsponsored voluntary associations. Judaism was on tense footing with their Greek and later Roman rulers due to their exclusive monotheism, but they at least had the antiquity of their rituals to fall back on, and this resulted in tenuous (if not eternal) acceptance. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves were Exhibit A for this argument for acceptability and tolerance. The Christians were obliged on an existential level to not just respect but actually claim the Hebrew Scriptures as their own, a project which has come to be called supercessionism.

This had two practical results:
1. The Hebrew Scriptures had to stay
2. But they also had to be interpreted in such a way as to make Christianity look like the natural inheritor of Jewish tradition.

I'd wonder: Which are the true heritors of the Hebrew scriptures .. the Judaic real Mccoy? Judaism as according to the various groups, mainly the Priestly class - Maccabees , the Rabbinics, or the Essenes? Why wouldn't the Saints - the followers of Christ, who were themselves Jews, have any lesser inheritance to the Hebrew scriptures than any other group of Jews?

An interesting question. It seems to me that all those mentioned are inheritors of the Hebrew Scriptures, to say nothing of Neoplatonism, the Persian faith, and many other traditions - clearly, these works are fundamentally interlinked with the social identity and character of all those traditions which trace their lineage back to the wandering desert tribes of Ur. Most of the world, by numbers.

But whether or not you are a "true" or "natural" inheritor seems more like a question of dueling stories. People are not generally convinced of the value of stories by their contents, but by their degree of social connection to the storyteller. It should be expected, in any religious schism, that people on either side of the divide will be apt to persuade themselves and others that theirs is the only legitimate evolution of the tradition.

I note that though the Scriptures themselves were kept, nearly all Christians had rejected Judaism qua Judaism, quite violently and vehemently, by the end of the first Christian century. They might wish to see themselves as valid inheritors of Abraham, but the average Christian in the wake of the destruction of the Jewish state, had no desire to be seen as Jews. They were, we might say now, post-Jews, not Jews. By their own account. Indeed the majority of Christians alive at that time are thought to have been Gnostics (whose scriptures I omitted for space and brevity's sake) and many believed that Jews were lost in service to a wicked false god known as the Demiurge, or corrupted godly emanations called the Archons. A difficult bridge to gap, though the modern movement of Messianic Judaism has tried to span it.
 

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In part the books are dated by things like language and word usage, references to architecture, and references to known history.

From the Oxford Comment ray there is an architecture reference in the NT that is out of date with the alleged time.
Many feel that the many references to the then-future destruction of the Temple are evidence that the Gospels themselves must post-date the historical destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, and furthermore see the writing of the gospels a kind of response to that event. You don't feel the need for a written Scriptural tradition if you have disciples running around who knew Jesus personally and are telling you he'll be back within your lifetimes. But after thousands of people have died, and the Temple that Jesus was meant to inherit has been torn down brick by brick, the refugee community may have realized that they were in for a longer haul than originally promised.

I'm a bit agnostic on this point. I don't think it is inconceivable, looking at the wider perspective of revitalization movements across history, for the prophet of a new faith to predict the violent physical dismantling of their source tradition, and if Jesus made such a prediction one can imagine it hit people a bit differently when it seemed to come true just forty years after his death.

From a recent show it looks like the exodus story of Moses parting the sea and a battle is two stories conflated from different times.
As noted in section II, nearly all of the HS is compiled from at least two sources, which often overlap but don't always agree. And then we have the documentary hypothesis...

The Jewish cannon was created around the second century by diaspora Jews.
This is not the case. The Masoretic Text, now considered more or less canonical , was formed sometime after the 7th century. But the books thereof were already "The Scriptures" by the time the Second Temple period began in earnest. The LXX, which we also discussed above, was in widespread distribution by the end of the 2nd c. BCE.

The Christian cannon came out of Nicaea I believe.
This is a myth or misconception popularized by the fiction writer Dan Brown, who claimed this in a series of adventure/puzzle novels called Robert Langdon Series. In truth, the formation of the various Christian canons (there are several) is a much more complicated story, in which the council of Nicaea was not much involved, though the publication of the Constantine Bible in its immediate aftermath probably helped to cement certain ideas in the Roman public mind.
 

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I wonder why everyone assumes JC was a carpenter. It only ever says he was a carpenter's son. If he practiced what he preached he didn't have a job at all. He would be like the lilies of the field, not toiling nor spinning.

If he even existed at all. He could have just been another Paul Bunyan for all we can tell.

Indeed it is quite clear in the narrative itself that he was not regularly employed during the time of his ministry; he is, if anything, quite dismissive of such tradesmen as he encounters in the story. The original communist really, but don't tell the Protestants, they'll blow a gasket!

That said, if your translation mentions a son, it's adding a word out of whole cloth. As far as I know, the only reference to Jesus' profession is Mark 6:3, in which the hill-folk of his home town call Jesus "the carpenter/craftsman" without any modifier. If anything, it's the other way around, that Joseph was assumed to be a carpenter because his adoptive son was, and trades are inherited.
 
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Carpenter is an artifact of translation. I heard it said a better approximation would be 'handyman'
The word is τέκτων, used just once in the NT (in Mark 6:3). τέκτων
does have the literal meaning of "craftsman" or "maker", though in the context of the ancient world, it generally referred to workers of wood, wool, and other organic products, rather than blacksmiths or metalworkers of any sort. We get our term "architect" in English from this root word; literally, an architect is a "master maker of things". τέχνη , from which we get "technology" and "technical", is a etymological close-cousin, meaning "the practical crafts".


Paul is translated as saying something about homosexual sex. From what I read it was more likely a general reference to pagan libertine sex.
The word is arsenokoitai (pl.), and as the letter in question is the only historical text to include the phrase, no one now living can say authoritatively what it means. Given that it seems to have been a neologism of Paul's, I would say that either of these interpretations is plausible. The reason it was originally translated as buggery is because of its root words: "Arsenos" is "a man" in Koine Greek, "koites" is laying with someone, with the implication of sexual intercourse. So, "laying-men". Personally I could easily imagine this as a reference to anal sex regardless of number or gender of participants, though I have not seen that interpretation pondered much in the scholarship. But anal sex played such an important role in establishing the divine hierarchies of the Greek and Egyptian religions that I can imagine it playing a role in Corinthian religious life as well.

As has been stated before, we have no idea what the cultural context was. What was literal and what was colloquial.
A modern distinction in any case. While many classic philosophers talked of literal vs metaphorical meaning, these did not have same connotations then that they do now.
 

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This thread does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to all of the books of the Bible, their composition, or the many, many competing canons that have existed over the centuries. Rather, it is a beginner's introduction to the creation of the "Good Book" and a discussion of why the order in which the Scriptures are presented might be important. Because the Bible is such a frequent and indeed unavoidable symbol in our society, I hope both religious and non-religious readers might find this thread interesting. I have no particular goals in terms of an ensuing discussion, but welcome your thoughts on any portion of the post that strikes you as interesting. I plan to present this in three segments: The Pre-Monarchic HS, the post-monarchic HS, and the New Testament.

No thank you, I have no more time to devote to the bible.

I've given it too much already.
 

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This thread does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to all of the books of the Bible, their composition, or the many, many competing canons that have existed over the centuries. Rather, it is a beginner's introduction to the creation of the "Good Book" and a discussion of why the order in which the Scriptures are presented might be important. Because the Bible is such a frequent and indeed unavoidable symbol in our society, I hope both religious and non-religious readers might find this thread interesting. I have no particular goals in terms of an ensuing discussion, but welcome your thoughts on any portion of the post that strikes you as interesting. I plan to present this in three segments: The Pre-Monarchic HS, the post-monarchic HS, and the New Testament.

No thank you, I have no more time to devote to the bible.

I've given it too much already.

Fair enough! This is the religious texts subforum, though. Have you ever tried reading some of the other classical texts? I do strongly believe that there is inherent value in studying such books as have survived the crucible of time,
be they "secular" or "religious" .
 

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This thread does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to all of the books of the Bible, their composition, or the many, many competing canons that have existed over the centuries. Rather, it is a beginner's introduction to the creation of the "Good Book" and a discussion of why the order in which the Scriptures are presented might be important. Because the Bible is such a frequent and indeed unavoidable symbol in our society, I hope both religious and non-religious readers might find this thread interesting. I have no particular goals in terms of an ensuing discussion, but welcome your thoughts on any portion of the post that strikes you as interesting. I plan to present this in three segments: The Pre-Monarchic HS, the post-monarchic HS, and the New Testament.

No thank you, I have no more time to devote to the bible.

I've given it too much already.

Fair enough! This is the religious texts subforum, though. Have you ever tried reading some of the other classical texts? I do strongly believe that there is inherent value in studying such books as have survived the crucible of time,
be they "secular" or "religious" .

I find that just because something is/was popular doesn't mean it posses inherent value. We all have creative intelligence. I do not relinquish mine to others in order to follow what has "survived". That's often nothing more than an indication of a level of authoritarianism one people exerted over another. Being well read is always a plus assuming one reads a variety of stuff. Which come to think of it describes the bible; it's just a collection of stuff other people want me to believe in.
 

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Israeli Zionists like Netanyahu claim they are the inheritors of the authentic tradition.

From what I read at the time of the gospels there was a distpte between Jerusalem Jews and Syrian Jews as to who were authentic. Not unlike the Islam Shia Sunni split.

I believe ancient Israel was split between north and south. They were contentious among themselves. Look at Christians and Muslims today in sectarian conflict and project back to ancient Hebrews.

The Pope says he and the RCC is the one and only inheritor of power tracing back to the first bishop of Rome. Protestants say no way. Among protestants there is at times strong debate over who is an authentic Christian.

I had a thread on it. An authentic Christian is one who says he or she is.
 

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From what I read at the time of the gospels there was a distpte between Jerusalem Jews and Syrian Jews as to who were authentic. Not unlike the Islam Shia Sunni split.

There is and likely always has been disputes between different groups in Judaism as well as within any other religion. From my observation, Jews have taken religious disputes to the level of a sport which all participants enjoy immensely. Disputes within other religions seem to be more antagonistic.
 

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This all seems to be off topic in a thread about why scriptures are in a particular order.

If we want to talk about how or whether different sects order their scriptures to project a certain message, that would be relevant.
 

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This all seems to be off topic in a thread about why scriptures are in a particular order.

If we want to talk about how or whether different sects order their scriptures to project a certain message, that would be relevant.

Well, the Talmud is its own story, to be sure!
 

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You can look it up. As I understand it the Jewish cannon was formally created after the fall of Israel to Rome by the diaspora.

Was it Nicaea where the Christian cannon was agreed on?

Plenty of info on the net on order of when the OT books were written versus the chronological order of the stories.

The short answer I believe is the order and selections in both traditions was decided by committee without benefit of any modern darting and literary analysis.

The gospels were thought to be the oldest accounts available.
 

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The Talmud is just way too big for the casual reader! I made it a point to read the holy books of most major religions. Then I got to the Talmud and I thought....hmmm, that's more applied theology than scripture...pass.
 
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