Friday, March 25, 2016

Flavius Josephus and the Hebrew Canon



Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...

Another perspective on the subject.

Duncan said...

Numbers are problematic in the way they are used & I can see why an author might be suspicious.

1Co 15:5 and that he appeared to Ce'phas, then to the twelve.

Duncan said...

What is a little deceptive here is calling Josephus the earliest witness - while this may be true we do not posses the earliest witness for inspection - not even close.

Edgar Foster said...

Christensen writes that the 22 book canon was "clearly present" among Jewish and Christian groups "during the first four centuries of the common era." He seems to allow for the fact that the 22 book canon might have existed before Josephus wrote. At any rate, a witness can be different from the actual canon itself. He is saying that Josephus provides evidence or support for the 22 book canon. I truly don't see why that suggestion is deceptive.

He also appeals to 4 Esdras as a witness.

Edgar Foster said...

1 Cor 15:5 appears to be a technicus terminus or a fixed name for the group.

Duncan said...

Because the books are not itemized. To state "during the first four centuries" is also deceptive unless the evidence is forthcoming at the earlier stages.

The number 22 was used for many things just as the number 12. The letters of the alephbet as an example - Jews certainly not being free of numerology.

Doesn't esdras indicate 24 books (un-hidden) but again, un-itemized?

Duncan said...

technicus terminus - yes, but also applicable to DSS minor prophets & later word such as the 12 patriarchs.

Edgar Foster said...

About the twelve, I'm just expressing the point that he might have appeared to less than 12 apostles after Cephas, but Paul could be speaking about the group by its technical name. It could be a fixed referring-expression. But I agree that 12 has other significant meanings in ancient times.

The article is primarily dealing with Josephus. So I don't see how mentioning the first four centuries and arguinf for that point is deceptive, but I'm not going to press this issue. I just think that we mus consider the scope of an article and not expect more than it promises.

You're right about 4 Esdras. It suggests 24 books, but it's possible to reconcile these two variant numbers. Additionally, 22 or 24 books would rule out other works, now considered to be apocryphal or deuterocanonical.

"And when the forty days were ended, the Most High spoke to me, saying, 'Make public the twenty-four books that you wrote first, and let the worthy and the unworthy read them'" (2 Esdras 14:45)

Some MSS distinguish between the 24 books, and 7 which were not be be viewed as canonical. See 2 Esdras 14:46 (also known as 4 Esdras).

Edgar Foster said...

Even if Josephus doesn't itemize the books, his 22 book canon might be compared with the rabbincal canon and Philo (etc) as evidence for the current 24 book Jewish canon.

Duncan said...

The point as I see it is that 22 is a pattern set also in the psalms.

There is at least one other Psalm that uses this structure where the MT has 21 letters but the DSS show that it originally had 22.


So one must ask the question - why Jews of this period would chose 22. Did the books dictate the number or the number dictate the books?

You need to go a stage further with the twelve - why so labeled?

Rev 21:12 - 12 has a significant symbolism.

1 Kings 19:19. In so many ways.

Edgar Foster said...

Maybe that is why Josephus mentions 22, though others (but not all) count 24. But I happen to think he meant 22 literally. There is not an easy solution, but the rabbis eventually settled on 24 books.

12 is rooted in the Hebrew bible. 12 sons of Jacob, 12 tribes of Israel. See also Revelation 7:1-8; 12:1; 14:1-3.