When did the Bible become the Bible? — Part #2 (The Old Testament)

The opening chapter of Genesis in an old German Bible. Courtesy of Max Pixel, https://www.maxpixel.net/Page-God-Book-Antique-Old-Paper-Bible-Font-Holy-3180262
The opening chapter of Genesis in an old German Bible. Courtesy of Max Pixel, https://www.maxpixel.net/Page-God-Book-Antique-Old-Paper-Bible-Font-Holy-3180262

[Part 1. New Testament] [Part 2. Old Testament]

A friend once asked me, “When did the Bible become the Bible?”

That is not a trivial question to answer, and I told him so at the time. There is not one single point in time at which you can say, “That’s when the Bible became the Bible” — and in fact, the answer looks very different for the Old Testament and for the New.

In our previous post, we examined how the New Testament took its eventual shape. In this post, we consider how the Old Testament came to be regarded as a body of divinely inspired writings in the form in which we have it today.

Contents

  1. Early formation of the Old Testament
  2. Later formation of the Old Testament
            Sections of Scripture deserving particular attention:—
                (a) The Books of Kings, and the Books of Chronicles
                (b) Psalms
  3. Intertestamental period
  4. Recognition of the Old Testament as divinely inspired by Christ and the apostles
  5. Development of the canon of Old Testament books
  6. The battle for the acceptance of the Old Testament as Christian Scripture

1. Early formation of the Old Testament

“The earlier parts of the Old Testament were probably transmitted initially in a combination of oral and written form. For example there seems to be clear evidence of telling and re-telling, and a certain amount of narrative development in the process.”

My friend’s question showed already an understanding that the Bible is a composite of many writings by many authors, and that it wasn’t simply ‘dropped’ on humanity in finished form — either (depending on your point of view) by the Divinity, or by some single human author claiming divine authority.

That is indeed true — and true individually of both the New Testament and the Old Testament.

The Old Testament is composed of many distinct and separate writings, written over a period of many centuries, as is surely apparent to anybody who has read it.

The earlier parts of the Old Testament were probably transmitted initially in a combination of oral and written form. For example there seems to be clear evidence of telling and re-telling, and a certain amount of narrative development in the process.

“Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me today.’ Therefore he named it Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, ‘The LORD watch between you and me…’”

Genesis 31:48-49

So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha,[1] but Jacob called it Galeed.[2] Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed, and Mizpah,[3] for he said, “The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight. […]”
Genesis 31:45-49[4]

However, there are also clear indications that the early parts of the Old Testament were formed also from written sources (which perhaps themselves started life as oral sources), many of which are now lost to us. For example, in Joshua 10:12-14 we read:

At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.[5]

The ‘Book of Jashar’ is a work now lost; there are many other such instances of references to lost works throughout the Old Testament.

Besides these indications of oral and written sources, there are also clear indications of editorial work on the earlier parts of the Old Testament, during later centuries. For example:

Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.
Genesis 19:36-38[6]

The phrase “to this day” obviously reflects a later observation — whether that was introduced into the oral tradition or to the written one.

“An interesting indication of later editorial work is in Genesis’ list of Edomite kings: ‘These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites’ (Genesis 36:31).”

Another interesting indication of later editorial work is in Genesis’ list of Edomite kings:

These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. […]
Genesis 36:31-34[7]

The remark, “before any king ruled over the Israelites,” indicates an editorial insertion from hundreds of years after the events described in this part of the book of Genesis. To give some picture of this, the events of Jacob’s life and his sons’ lives (which surround Genesis 36) date to around 1900 B.C. according to BibleHub. The editorial comment, if not the entire chapter, surely was added into the book of Genesis during the period of the monarchies of Israel and Judah: a period stretching from 1043 B.C. until 586 B.C. according to BibleHub.

What these references show us is the earlier part of the Old Testament went through a process of composition spanning hundreds of years, a process we may summarize diagrammatically as:

oral tradition + written sources → [‘early text’] → editorial work → [‘later text’] → editorial work → [‘later text’] (→ …?)

As Christians, the acknowledgement of such a gradual process of composition doesn’t trouble us. The fact of such a process is undeniable — it is, after all, there in the text. It simply means that we believe God chose to bring about the final text of the Bible through such a process, and that his guiding hand of inspiration was overseeing not only the process of writing, but also the subsequent processes of editing and reorganization.

2. Later formation of the Old Testament

“As God’s people bed down to ‘the new reality’ of living as an exiled people under the Persian Empire, the idea that God is to be found in his inspired, written word comes much more to the fore. We see this in such late examples as Daniel’s consultation of Jeremiah’s prophecy of a seventy-year exile, and the returned exiles’ public reading of the ‘Book of the Law.’”

The later parts of the Old Testament were being written even whilst (or after) parts of the editorial process of the earlier Old Testament were taking place.

A great deal of the Old Testament is taken up with events surrounding one of the great cataclysms of Jewish history: the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. And then with subsequent life for God’s people, first in exile in Babylon, and then under subsequent Persian rule (whether back in the promised land of Israel, or apart from it).

Reading these later parts of the Old Testament, several interesting observations arise:—

  1. The later history of God’s people in the Old Testament is much more ‘down to earth.’ The spectacular and miraculous occurrences of the earlier Old Testament — the Lord speaking out of a burning bush; staffs turning into snakes; seas parting; the sun standing still — have largely given way (with notable exceptions) to something much more normal.
  1. In spite of the infrequency of miracles compared to earlier times, divinely-inspired prophecy continues. The books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were all written during the late, ‘unspectacular’ period of Persian rule.

“During this period — particularly under Persian rule — the Jewish people finally began seriously to take hold of the idea of Scripture: that God was to be found, even related to, through his inspired, written word.”

  1. In the midst of this, as God’s people bed down to ‘the new reality’ of living as an exiled people under the Persian Empire, the idea that God is to be found in his inspired, written word comes much more to the fore. We see this in such late examples as Daniel’s consultation of Jeremiah’s prophecy of a seventy-year exile, and the returned exiles’ public reading of the ‘Book of the Law’ and subsequent prayer recounting the mighty deeds of the Lord as recorded in those books.
  1. Unsurprisingly, the composition of the books that were written during this period is generally much more easily dateable than the earlier books, and those books show far fewer indications of subsequent (much later) editorial work.

What these latter points tell us, is that during this period — particularly under Persian rule — the Jewish people finally began seriously to take hold of the idea of Scripture: that God was to be found, even related to, through his inspired, written word.

A couple of sections of Scripture deserve special attention at this juncture.

(a) The Books of Kings, and the Books of Chronicles

“The Books of Chronicles are still later in reaching their final form, perhaps not doing so until the 4th century B.C. This is shown by the Davidic genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3, the later part of which stretches well into the period after the Judean exiles returned to the land of Israel.”

The Books of the Kings, and the Books of Chronicles, cover an extremely long period of Israel’s history. With the exception of the reigns of Saul and (most of the reign of) David, 1 and 2 Kings cover the entire period of Israel and Judah’s monarchies, roughly 970 to 586 B.C.

However, the very ending of 2 Kings relates not only the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, but also the subsequent release of Judah’s King Jehoiachin from prison under the Babylonian king Evil-Merodach. This tells us that, although parts of it were written much earlier, the Books of Kings did not reach their final form until during the Babylonian exile (586 to 537 B.C.), possibly even a little later.

The Books of Chronicles are still later in reaching their final form, perhaps not doing so until the 4th century B.C. This is shown by the Davidic genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3, the later part of which stretches well into the period after the Judean exiles returned to the land of Israel.[8]

(b) Psalms

“The collection of the psalms together into a single work may only have taken place during the Babylonian exile. On the other hand, it is at least as likely that the final collection of the book of Psalms came about by the revision and collation of earlier, pre-exilic collections.”

Around half of the psalms in the Bible claim to be the work of King David, that is, composed around 1,000 B.C. In general there is no compelling reason to doubt this if one believes that David spoke under divine inspiration (Acts 2:29-31).

However, it is clear that the Book of Psalms did not reach its final form until the period of the Babylonian exile (586 to 537 B.C.). This is obvious from the presence of Psalm 137, which can only have been written during the Babylonian exile (and perhaps as an immediate, heart-wrenching response to it).

This may indicate that the collection of the psalms together into a single work (actually five books of Psalms in ancient times, see the ancient heading above Psalm 107) only took place during the Babylonian exile. On the other hand, it is at least as likely that the final collection of the book of Psalms came about by the revision and collation of earlier (pre-exilic) collections.

3. Intertestamental period

Many of the books of the Old Testament are the writings of Israel’s prophets. These are the people whom God called by name to speak his word into the life of the people of Israel. (In the Old Testament, prophecy doesn’t necessarily mean ‘telling the future,’ although this is certainly a significant part of Old Testament prophecy.)

“According to the later Jewish understanding, God stopped speaking during the Persian period. The period from the end of the writing of the Old Testament (putatively 445 B.C.) until the appearance of John the Baptist (c. 28 A.D.) is therefore known as the Intertestamental Period.”

Moreover, the narrative writings of the Old Testament, which on the face of it (and in fact) relate past events, are also regarded within Judaism as ‘prophetic.’ Hence the Jewish division of the Old Testament is into the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Ketuvim) — with the ‘Prophets’ including the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.[9]

However, whether it was through divinely inspired history or through the writing prophets (or even through the Old Testament’s wisdom literature, its Ketuvim), God was speaking to his people.

All that, according to the later Jewish understanding, stopped during the Persian period. God stopped speaking. (Let’s put this around 445 B.C., the approximate date ascribed to the writing of the last of the Old Testament’s prophetic books, Malachi.[10])

The period from the end of the writing of the Old Testament (putatively therefore 445 B.C.) until the appearance of John the Baptist (c. 28 A.D.[11]) is therefore known as the Intertestamental Period — the period between the Old and New Testaments, and is regarded by Protestants (who accept the Jewish view of the extent of the Old Testament writings) as the period when God went silent before the arrival of Jesus.

“Later Judaism rejected [the intertestamental] books as divinely inspired Scripture, apparently on the basis that they were either written after the Persian period (that is, after the age of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi), or not originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Protestants, along with the fourth-century theologian St. Jerome, follow this ruling of Judaism and reject the intertestamental books as divinely inspired Scripture. In Protestant Bibles of the sixteenth century these books were placed in a separate section by themselves called the Apocrypha, in order to distinguish them from the inspired word of God.”

None of this is to say that the Jewish people stopped writing for 400+ years, or that nothing happened during those centuries.

In fact, there were momentous events historically. On the world stage, the Greeks led by Alexander the Great toppled the mighty Persian Empire in the late 4th century B.C. Later, in the 1st century B.C. the Greek empire(s) would themselves succumb to the might of the Roman Empire.

In terms of the Jews’ own history, they had to come to terms with living under these successive empires, whether in the land of Israel itself or within the larger confines of these empires. There was often friction and even war between the Jews and these empires, notably in the 2nd century B.C. when the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to stamp out the Jewish faith by force, and was eventually defeated in a war against the Jewish guerrilla leader Mattathias and his sons.

In terms of Jewish writing from this period, we have a number of books of various genres: history (e.g., 1 and 2 Maccabees), inspiring moral tales (e.g., Tobit and Judith), and wisdom literature (e.g., the so-called Wisdom of Solomon and the book of Ecclesiasticus).

However, later Judaism rejected these books as divinely inspired Scripture, apparently on the basis that they were either written after the Persian period (that is, after the age of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi), or not originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Protestants, along with the fourth-century theologian St. Jerome, follow this ruling of Judaism and reject the intertestamental books as divinely inspired Scripture. In Protestant Bibles of the sixteenth century these books were placed in a separate section by themselves called the Apocrypha, in order to distinguish them from the inspired word of God.

Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, however, do regard these books as part of the inspired word of God (see here for details).

4. Recognition of the Old Testament as divinely inspired by Christ and the apostles

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Matthew 5:17-18

When we come to New Testament times, it is important to observe (and easy to overlook!) that Christ himself validated the Old Testament writings as the inspired word of God. Perhaps most famously and obviously, when he said:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Matthew 5:17-18[12]

So did the apostles who wrote the New Testament; as, for example, when the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written [quoting Habakkuk 2:4], “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17[13]

This acceptance and validation of the Old Testament by Christ and the apostles established the principle that Christianity and its Scriptures (i.e., the New Testament as we now call it) were not replacing Judaism and the Old Testament but fulfilling them. This principle would prove to be of vital importance to the direction of Christianity in the second century, as we shall see.

It’s worth noting that the New Testament (in quotations such as the above) shows us that by this time (1st century A.D.) the idea of the ancient Jewish writings as God’s inspired word was now fully developed within Judaism.

5. Development of the canon of Old Testament books

During the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. the Jewish books were translated en masse for the first time. The story goes that this was at the request of the Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who wanted a copy of the Jewish writings in Greek for his library at Alexandria. So he summoned seventy eminent Jewish scholars and had them translate the Jewish books. Thus was born the translation known as the Septuagint (= ‘Seventy’).

“The presence of the intertestamental books within the Greek Old Testament exerted pressure on Aramaic-speaking, Palestinian Judaism to accept them. This forced the need for Judaism to define, ‘Which are the books we regard as inspired by God?’ — the Old Testament canon.”

It was in the course of the Septuagint being produced that the intertestamental Jewish books we described earlier made their appearance in the collection. It would seem that the translators, whilst they were translating the ancient and highly regarded texts, also dropped translations of some recent Hebrew or Aramaic texts in there (e.g., Tobit) as well as some books already in Greek (e.g., 1 and 2 Maccabees).

Naturally the presence of the intertestamental books within the Greek Old Testament exerted pressure on Aramaic-speaking, Palestinian Judaism to accept them. This forced the need for Judaism to define, “Which are the books we regard as inspired by God?” — the Old Testament canon.

There used to be a theory (you can find it in such books as William Barclay’s The Making of the Bible[14]) that the leaders of rabbinic Judaism held a council in the town of Jamnia in A.D. 90, and there fixed the Jewish canon of inspired books. This theory is now largely rejected as possible but based on too slender evidence to be tenable.

How rabbinic Judaism arrived at a canon of 24 books — being the 39 books of the Protestant Old Testament, differently counted — is therefore far from clear.

What is clear enough is that by the latter part of the fourth century A.D. this canon of 24 books was well established. We have this from a statement of the Christian theologian St. Jerome (already mentioned) in which he says,

“There are also twenty-two books of the Old Testament; that is, five of Moses, eight of the prophets, nine of the Hagiographa, though some include Ruth and Kinoth (Lamentations) amongst the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be reckoned separately; we should thus have twenty-four books of the old law.”

St. Jerome

“And so there are also twenty-two books of the Old Testament; that is, five of Moses, eight of the prophets, nine of the Hagiographa,[15] though some include Ruth and Kinoth (Lamentations) amongst the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be reckoned separately; we should thus have twenty-four books of the old law. And these the Apocalypse of John[16] represents by the twenty-four elders, who adore the Lamb, and with downcast looks offer their crowns, while in their presence stand the four living creatures with eyes before and behind, that is, looking to the past and the future, and with unwearied voice crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who were, and are, and are to come.’[17][18]

During the fourth and (early) fifth centuries there was a pressing need to define the extent of the canon of Scripture in the Christian Church. (You can read more about this in Part #1, here.) Mainly this was about defining the extent of the New Testament; however, those who attempted this also defined the extent of the Christian Old Testament.

There were varying opinions among the orthodox as to what the extent of the Old Testament should be.

Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria and one of the towering figures of fourth-century Christianity, published a famous list of inspired books in A.D. 367 (you can read it here), in which he stuck mainly to the extent of the Jewish Old Testament — i.e., the twenty-four books, or the thirty-nine as Christians reckon them. His only divergence from this was his inclusion of the books of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah (from the Apocrypha) among the inspired writings of Jeremiah.

“In spite of the influence of Athanasius and Jerome, the Christian Church at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth eventually adopted the longer Old Testament canon favoured by Augustine, and ratified this in three North African Councils of the Church. This became the Old Testament of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Towards the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, the Western theologians St. Augustine and St. Jerome had a lively literary disagreement over the extent of the Old Testament — Jerome (who spoke Hebrew) favouring the twenty-four books of the Jewish Old Testament, and Augustine favouring a longer Old Testament which included the additional books found in the Septuagint and which are today in the Apocrypha.

In spite of the influence of Athanasius and Jerome, the Christian Church at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth eventually adopted the longer Old Testament canon favoured by Augustine, and ratified this in three North African Councils of the Church (more on this here). This became the Old Testament of the Roman Catholic Church.

The acceptance of the additional books in the Septuagint as divinely inspired Scripture was challenged by the Protestant Reformers in the sixteenth century, based on the doubts which had always existed about it in the Christian Church (for example, Jerome, but many others besides). They adopted the shorter canon of Old Testament books in line with the Jewish extent, and relegated the additional books to a separate section, the Apocrypha, in their Bibles in order to distinguish them from the inspired word of God (the Old and New Testaments). This is the situation amongst Protestant Christians today, except that most modern Protestant Bibles since the nineteenth century therefore omit the Apocrypha altogether.

6. The battle for the acceptance of the Old Testament as Christian Scripture

“It seems hard to get our minds around this today — accustomed as we are to our bound and printed Bibles with the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament all together, in a fixed and determined order we all agree on — but there was a time when even the status of the Old Testament as ‘Christian’ Scripture was up for grabs.”

We mentioned earlier that the clear acceptance and validation of the Old Testament by Christ and the apostles was to be of vital importance for the future direction of the orthodox Christian Church.

It seems hard to get our minds around this today — accustomed as we are to our bound and printed Bibles with the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament all together, in a fixed and determined order we all agree on[19] — but there was a time when even the status of the Old Testament as ‘Christian’ Scripture was up for grabs.

During the second century A.D., a number of rival versions of Christianity emerged, which we today refer to by the umbrella term ‘Gnostics’ (= ‘those who know’).

We know about these Gnostics groups principally through the writings of early Christian writers such as Irenaeus of Lyons in opposition to them — but also, in more modern times, by the discovery of numerous fragments of their own writings which confirm what the orthodox writers said about them.

The different Gnostic groups had a considerable variety of beliefs, but a few core theological elements are more or less common to them. They believed that:—

  • The physical world around us is inherently evil and therefore to be escaped;
  • The God revealed in the Old Testament is the one responsible for creating this evil world, and is therefore by deduction himself evil (or at best, incompetent);
  • Christ descended from the immortal realms into this world precisely to rescue us from the God of the Old Testament;
  • Since the physical world is inherently evil, Christ himself did not become a physical, flesh-and-blood human being, but only appeared to be human.[20]

“The heretic Marcion of Sinope entirely rejected the Old Testament, and insisted on a ‘New Testament’ consisting only of the Gospel of Luke and the letters of Paul. Everything else in the New Testament he regarded as ‘too Jewish.’ Even his Gospel of Luke was a version he’d taken the scissors to, expurgating it of any passages which implied the humanity of Jesus. It is thanks to Jesus and the apostles’ favourable and positive use of the Old Testament that we have the richness of the Old Testament in our Bibles today.”

Such a set of theological views about the God of the Old Testament has obvious implications for one’s treatment of the Old Testament text. If Christ came to rescue us from the God of the Old Testament, then surely the Old Testament itself is not divinely inspired Scripture (or rather, not inspired by the God we wish to worship).

Unsurprisingly, then, some of the Gnostics rejected the Old Testament altogether. For example the heretic Marcion of Sinope (not strictly a Gnostic, but sharing many beliefs with them) entirely rejected the Old Testament, and insisted on a ‘New Testament’ consisting only of the Gospel of Luke and the letters of Paul. Everything else in the New Testament he regarded as ‘too Jewish.’ Even his Gospel of Luke was a version he’d taken the scissors to, expurgating it of any passages which implied the humanity of Jesus.[21]

If Marcion had ended up having his way, Christianity would have sliced off the entire Old Testament from its Scriptures.

(It would also, if he had had his way, have accepted a Jesus who didn’t create the universe, who isn’t human, and who never bled and died for our sins!)

It is thanks to Jesus’ favourable and positive use of the Old Testament, and that of his apostles as well — and the recognition of this fact by the orthodox Christian Church — that we have the richness of the Old Testament in our Bibles today.

And it is thanks to orthodox theologians of the second century such as Irenaeus, who fought for the continued recognition by the Church of the Old Testament as part of the inspired and revealed word of God.

 

 

Note
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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


[1] A footnote to the English Standard Version (ESV) Anglicized translation here explains this name thus: “Aramaic the heap of witness”.

[2] An ESV footnote here explains this name thus: “Hebrew the heap of witness”.

[3] An ESV footnote here explains this name thus: “Mizpah means watchpost”.

[4] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+31%3A45-49&version=ESVUK

[5] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+10%3A12-14&version=ESVUK

[6] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+19%3A36-38&version=ESVUK

[7] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+36%3A31-34&version=ESVUK

[8] Note: Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:19) was the leader of the Jews who brought them back from the Babylonian exile (Ezra 2:1-2), 537 B.C.

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevi’im. It should be noted that the Jewish reckoning divides the Nevi’im into the ‘Former Prophets’ (= Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the ‘Latter Prophets’ (= Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets).

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Malachi#Period

[11] https://www.esv.org/resources/esv-global-study-bible/chart_40_00_nt_timeline/

[12] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A17-18&version=ESVUK

[13] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+1%3A16-17&version=ESVUK

[14] William Barclay, The Making of the Bible. Lutterworth Press, London, 1961: p.36

[15] By which he means approximately our ‘Wisdom Literature’: he lists the Hagiographa as Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; Daniel; 1 & 2 Chronicles (as one book); Ezra & Nehemiah (as one book); Esther.

[16] i.e., the book of Revelation

[17] Revelation 4:4-11

[18] Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II, Vol. VI: Jerome: Letters and Select Works. Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.vii.iii.iv.html. You can also find this passage, alongside its Latin original, at http://www.bible-researcher.com/jerome.html. Note: I have very slightly adapted this above quotation into more modern English.

[19] That is, in the historically Protestant, English-speaking world. Besides the differences already discussed in the extent of the Old Testament canon within different sections of Christianity, even the New Testament books appear in a different order to ours in different cultures around the world. See here.

[20] For the sake of simplicity I am presenting here a composite of the views of the heretic Marcion, and of Valentinian Gnosticism and its related forms.

[21] See Tertullian’s Against Marcion, Book 4, Chapter 2. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.v.iv.v.ii.html

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