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Earliest complete manuscript of
Hebrew Bible from 1008 AD
Earlier Greek manuscript from 4th c. AD
Formation of canonical text in
1st-2nd c. AD
Structure of the Hebrew Bible
Torah (Law, a.k.a. Pentateuch, from Gk.
he pentateuchos biblos [book of five
Nebi’im/Nevi’im (Prophets)
Ketubim/Kethuvim (Writings)
Structure of the Hebrew Bible
Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
Nebi’im: Joshua, Judges, Samuel (1+2), Kings
(1+2), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 12 Minor
Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah,
Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
Ketubim: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Scrolls
(Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations,
Ecclesiastes, Esther), Daniel, Ezra,
Nehemiah, Chronicles (1+2)
Jews in exile in Babylon from 587-39 BC.
Babylonians overthrown by Persians
in 539 BC. Jews restored to Judea
First efforts to collect Jewish scriptures in
period after 539 BC, as now Jews in Judea,
Babylon and Egypt (since 7th c.)
Contributors to the Torah
Yahwist (J, c. 950 BC): Uses “Yahweh” for
God. Major source for Genesis to
Numbers. Colourful, non-judgmental
Deuteronomist(s) (D, c. 650-550 BC): Major
source for Deuteronomy to Kings.
Emphases on piety and unified Israel
Elohist (E, c. 750 BC): Uses “Elohim” for God.
Morally aware. Possibly non-existent?
Contributors to the Torah
Subsequent writers combining these with work
of Priestly Source (P, c. 550 BC), who has
particular interest in priestly matters and
By late 4th c. Torah has special status in
Jewish eyes, enjoying precedence over
rest of Hebrew Bible
The Books of the Nebi’im (Prophets)
Covering the period leading up to, during and
after the Babylonian exile, but gradually
giving way to interpretation of written
word practiced by rabbis and other
Prophecy regarded as ending with Ezra
(c. 458 BC)
Books of Prophets prob. compiled by 180 BC,
certainly by 132 BC
The Books of the Ketubim (Writings)
Two canonical traditions in Judaism up to end
of 1st c. AD
Mid 3rd c. BC Jewish community of Alexandria
produces Septuagint (Greek version of
Hebrew Bible)
Debate over authority of various Writings in
1st or 2nd c. AD in wake of Roman
destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, in face
of diaspora, Christianity, apocalypticism
The Books of the Ketubim (Writings)
Disputed texts:
Song of Songs/Solomon: Romantic love
poems: allegorical?
Ecclesiastes: Unusually skeptical
Esther: Retained because of associations
with Purim
The Books of the Ketubim (Writings)
Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs
ascribed to Solomon. Probably did not
write them. They only attained final form
in 4th c. BC
No works perceived as later than Ezra (c. 458
BC) approved, but Daniel written
c. 165 BC
Christian Old Testament
New Testament authors, writing in 1st-2nd c.
AD, used Septuagint and other texts
Christian Old Testament debated for centuries
after recording of NT. In 1519 Martin
Luther denies Catholic concept of
Purgatory (based on 2 Maccabees 12: 46).
Declares disputed books non-canonical
“apocrypha.” Over next two centuries
various churches formalise canons of OT
God: Depiction? Characteristics? Relations
with humankind?
Major characters: Roles in the text? Are they
models? Interactions with God and
fellow humans?
Laws and teachings: Major foci?
Rationalisations? What is unstated?
History: What do readers learn about origins?
What is important? What defines one’s
Piety and holiness: What do these mean?
How are they to be expressed?