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The Canon Debate: On the Origins and Formation of the Bible Hardcover – November 1, 2002
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". . . the book considerably advances our knowledge of the process of canonization of Scripture." -- Theological Studies
". . . the volume contains a wealth of information on every important topic of canon debate. It should get good attention." -- Calvin Theological Journal
"Hendrickson is to be thanked for producing this attractive volume." -- International Review of Biblical Studies
"This collection of essays is a state-of-the-art articulation of issues related to the canon." -- Christian Century
"This is an important dossier on the canon of the Bible." -- Theoforum
About the Author
Lee Martin McDonald is principal of the college and professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is also the author of The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon.
James A. Sanders is professor of religion and president of the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center for Preservation and Research at Claremont Graduate University in California.
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Since Amazon have not provided the "look inside" feature of this book I have decided to provide something of that sort for you. While you can read any portion of the book itself you can at least see what awaits you in terms of topics covered. I bought this book about 2 years ago and I realize now I should have done this then, but hey, at least your getting it now. And perhaps this will be of help to someone. I have listd the contents of the book according to sections, articles and page numbers, exactly as they appear.
List of Contributors p. ix
Part One: Introduction
1. Introduction p. 3
Lee Martin McdDonald and James A. Sanders
Part Two: The Old First Testament Canon
2. The Notion and Definition of Canon p.21
3. The Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective p.36
Philip R. Davies
4. The Formation of the Hebrew Bible Canon: Isaiah as a Test Case p.53
5. The Septuagint: The Bible of Hellenistic Judaism p.68
Albert C. Sundberg Jr.
6. Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls p.91
James C. Vanderkam
7. Josephus and His Twenty-Two Book Canon p.110
8. Origins of a Tripartite Old Testament Canon p.128
Julio C. Trebolle Barrera
9. Jamnia Revisted p.146
Jack P. Lewis
10. The Rabbi's Bible: The Canon of the Hebrew Bible and the Early Rabbinic Guild p.163
Jack N. Lighstone
11. The Scriptures of Jesus and His Earliest Followers p.185
Craig A. Evans
12. The Old Testament Apocrypha in the Early Church and Today p.196
Daniel J. Harrington S.J.
13. The Pseudepigrapha in the Early Church p.211
14. The Codex and Canon Consciousness p.229
Robert A. Kraft
15. The Status of the Masoretic Text in Modern Text Editions of the Hebrew Bible: The Relevance of the Canon p.234
16. The Issue of Closure in the Canonical Process p.252
James A. Sanders
Part Three: The New/Second Testament Canon
17. The New Testament Canon: Recent Research and the Status Quaestionis p.267
Harry Y. Gamble
18. Factors Leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon: A Survey of Some Recent Studies p.295
19. Reflections on Jesus and the New Testament Canon p.321
William R. Farmer
20. Marcion Revisited p. 341
21. Gnosticism and the Christian Bible p.355
22. Evidence for an Early Christian Canon (Second and Third Century) p.372
23. The New Testament Canon of Eusebius p.386
Everett R. Kalin
24. The Muratorian Fragment and the Origins of the New Testament Canon p. 405
Geoffrey Mark Hahneman
25. Identifying Scripture and Canon in the Early Church: The Criteria Question p. 416
Lee Martin McDonald
26. The Problem of Pseudonymity in Biblical Literature and its Implications for Canon Formation p.440
Kent D. Clarke
27. The Greek New Testament as a Codex p.469
Daryl D. Schmidt
28. Issues in the Interrelation of New Testament Textual Criticism and Canon p.485
Eldon Jay Epp
29. The Canonical Structure of Gospel and Apostle p. 516
30. The Significance of a Canonical Perspective of the Church's Scripture p.528
Robert W. Wall
31. The Once and Future New Testament p.541
Robert W. Funk
32. Has the Canon a Continuing Function? p. 558
James D. G. Dunn
A. Primary Sources for the Study of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Canon p. 580
Lee Martin McDonald
B. Primary Sources for the Study of the New Testament Canon p.583
Lee Martin McDonald
C. Lists and Catalogues of Old Testament Collections p.585
Lee Martin McDonald
D. Lists and Catalogues of New Testament Collections p.591
Lee Martin McDonald
Select Bibliography p. 599
Index of Subjects p.625
Index of Modern Authors p.633
Index of Ancient and Medieval Sources p.643
1. Old Testament / Hebrew Bible p.643
2. Apocrypha of the Old Testament p.647
3. New Testament p.648
4. Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament p.652
5. Writings from the Judean Desert p.653
6. Rabinnic Literature and Targumim p. 653
7. Writings from Nag Hammadi p.655
8. Other Ancient and Medieval Writings p.655
Here are a number of books that almost made it into the canon or were highly revered at different times in Church history:
Second Enoch: The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Introduction by R.H. Charles) (Lost Books of the Bible 1)
The Shepherd of Hermas: Original intro by J. B. Lightfoot with new intro by D. J. Kinsella (Lost Books of the Bible Book 2)
The Didache (Lost Books of the Bible Book 3)
The Epistle of Barnabas: Kirsopp Lake Translation (Lost Books of Bible Book 4)
The Epistle of Barnabas: Charles H. Hoole Translation (Lost Books of the Bible Book 5)
Psalms of Solomon & Odes of Solomon: With Introductions by the Translators (Lost Books of the Bible Book 6)
The Apocryphal Third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: or 3 Corinthians (Lost Books of the Bible Book 7)
The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp (Annotated) (Lost Books of the Bible Book8)
Even the section titles hint at the unsettling of old conventions. Following the introduction, part two is labeled "The Old/First Testament Canon," and part three is "The New/Second Testament Canon." In the essays themselves, however, only James Sanders adopts these neologisms, and he only partially; even the Jewish contributors to the volume continue to use the conventional designations, "Old Testament" and "New Testament."
In the introduction McDonald and Sanders outline eight major questions in the debate, which can be collapsed into five: 1) What is the relationship between "scripture" and "canon"? 2) What is the scope of the respective OT and NT canons? 3) In view of the high profile of some non-canonical gospels in research on the life of Jesus, should the gospel canon be expanded? 4) Which form of the text is canonical, i.e., the most ancient form (as critically reconstructed), the final form (as known at the time of closure), or some other form? 5) What were the criteria for determining canonicity, and how should these criteria be evaluated by contemporary Jewish and Christian communities? These and related questions are central to the 15 essays on the OT canon and the 16 on the NT. The references that follow illustrate how lively and controversial the discussion remains.
Eugene Ulrich ("The Notion and Definition of Canon") claims that three elements are essential to the definition of canon. "First, the canon involves books, not the textual form of the books; secondly, it requires reflective judgment; and thirdly, it denotes a closed list" (34). But Eldon Jay Epp asks, "When two meaningful variants occur in an authoritative writing, which reading is canonical, or are both canonical? (512). That is, is the "reflective judgment" that yields canonical authority for a book different somehow from the reflective judgments that have given us variant forms of biblical texts? The status of the Septuagint in both Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity shows that Epp's question goes far beyond the issue of individual variant readings. Essays by Albert Sundberg ("The Septuagint: The Bible of Hellenistic Judaism"), Emmanuel Tov, ("The Status of the Masoretic Text in Modern Text Editions of the Hebrew Bible: The Relevance of Canon"), and Craig Evans ("The Scripture of Jesus and His Earliest Followers") all point to the indissoluble connection between text and canon.
With respect to the criterion of a "closed list," some contributors suggest that the canon is much more about process than product (James Sanders, "The Issue of Closure in the Canonical Process," Joseph Blenkinsopp, "The Formation of the Hebrew Bible Canon: Isaiah as a Test Case"). The relevant importance of closure separates those who view the decisive period of canon formation as the second century (Everett Ferguson, "Factors Leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon," Peter Balla, "Evidence for an Early Christian Canon [Second and Third Century]) from those who judge the fourth century as the crucial era (Albert Sundberg, "The Septuagint . . . ," Geoffrey Mark Hahne-man, "The Muratorian Fragment and the Origins of the New Testament Canon"). In sum, however much we may wish, with Ulrich, to "formulate and agree upon a precise definition of the canon of scripture for the sake of clarity, consistency, and constructive dialogue" (35), this is probably too much to hope for.
Nevertheless, this collection does offer much constructive dialogue and advances the debate about the canon in several particulars: 1) It subjects conventional arguments to fresh and vigorous re-examination (Steve Mason, "Josephus and His Twenty-Two Book Canon," John Barton, "Marcion Revisited"); 2) It underscores the vital relationship between textual criticism, codicology, and canon formation (Robert Kraft, "The Codex and Canon Consciousness," Daryl Schmidt, "The Greek New Testament as a Codex," Eldon Jay Epp, "Issues in the Interrelationship of New Testament Textual Criticism and Canon,"); 3) It provides up-to-date surveys of scholarship on a number of ancillary issues (James VanderKam, "Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls," Pheme Perkins, "Gnosticism and the Christian Bible," Kent Clarke, "The Problem of Pseudonymity in Biblical Literature and Its Implications for Canon Formation"). Best of all, it offers the mature scholarship of the most seasoned veterans of canon research. A good two-thirds of the contributors are either emeritus faculty or senior scholars; and they represent an international, interconfessional, and theologically varied field. They are not only willing to engage each other in dialogue but to respond to and carry forward their own earlier research and reflections (Jack Lewis, "Jamnia Revisited," James Dunn, "Has the Canon a Continuing Function?").
The end matter is almost worth the price of the book. Lee McDonald has assembled appendices in which are collected primary sources for canon study and lists of catalogs for both the OT and NT canons. In addition to the generous bibliography, there is a subject index, an index of modern authors, and an index of ancient and medieval sources.
Although not a reference work in the usual sense of the term, the range and depth of discussion of canonical concerns assure that this book will be used as a standard reference work for many years to come.
Robert F. Hull, Jr.