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Doug Chaplin

Wow, John, great post. There's a huge amount of useful info here, as well as some very stimulating thoughts. I've offered a few general comments over at my blog. (I've tried to put a trackback to yours but I find my blog software doesn't always work with Typepad urls - let's see) Keep up the good work!

Kevin P. Edgecomb

John, thank you for sending the pdf. It was a great read. We are on the same page in various ways, particularly the recognition of a past and current multiplicity of canons. It's refreshing to see!

I have a couple things you might want to fix in a later version. On page 4, you say, "Redacted versions are found in Books Seven and Eight of the Didascalia or Apostolic Constitutions." The Didascalia is not identical to the AC, but books 1-6 of AC comprise an edited version of the Didascalia (which itself is separated into chapters, not books), with book 7 being an edited version of the Didache, and book 8 being some Hippolytan stuff, a Clementine liturgy, and the prayers you mention, included in Charlesworth's OTP as "Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers," as I recall. I've also posted the only full English translation of the Didascalia here in case you want to link to it. Thanks for the other links, too. I'm glad you found the lectionaries, etc, useful. Perhaps this Ezra chart would be helpful too.

Another thing is the use of the unusual "OSIS Booknames" that you linked to for explanation of various Christian canons. The Armenian information is faulty, I'm almost certain. I'll check my own copy of Meurer's The Apocrypha in Ecumenical Perspective once I'm home, to be sure, but I recall no mention at all of the T12P for the Armenians, nor does the chart I built from Meurer and elsewhere record it.

Another thing I think you'd like to look into is the Jack Lighthouse article/chapter in The Canon Debate, "The Rabbis' Bible: The Canon of the Hebrew Bible." It brings up the important point of a multiplicity of canons in pre-rabbinic Jewish communities, with this multiplicity being preserved in the later varying regional Christian canons. Fascinating stuff!

Excellent work, John, that was a really great read! I'm going to read it again and also point folks over here.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

John, here's everything said by Rüger in Meurer, The Apocrypha in Ecumenical Perspective, pp 156-7, about the Armenian OT canon: [[quote]]
The extent of the Old Testament was decided in the Armenian Apostolic Church by the canonical list of Gregory of Tat'ew (1346-1410), which includes the following writings: [note 16: Cf. M.E. Stone, "Armenian Canon Lists IV--The list of Gregory of Tat'ew (14th Century)," in Harvard Theological Review, vol. 72, 237-244, quotation from 239-241.] Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-4 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, 1, 3, and 4 Ezra, Nehemiah, [[157]] Esther (including additions to Esther), Judith, Tobit, 1-3 Maccabees, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach, Job, Isaiah, the twelve prophets, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habbakuk [sic], Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Jeremiah, Baruch (together with the Letter of Jeremiah), Lamentations, Daniel (together with the additions to Daniel), and Ezekiel. Of these, 3 Maccabees and 3-4 Ezra are considered "extra-canonical." [note 17: I am indebted for this information to a letter from Manuel M. Jinbachian dated 26 February 1987.] Apart from these writings, the extend of the Armenian Bible corresponds exactly to that of the Vulgate.[[unquote]]

The two links on page 28 in your pdf ("Handy overviews of historic Christian lists are found here and here.") both link to the same place, too, I just noticed.

It looks like the "Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs" is included because of the list of Gregory of Tat'ew, in the Stone article noted above, note to line 53: "ktakn "the Testament": plural in M; this apparently refers to the
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. This work occurs, in certain MS Bibles, at the end of he Old Testament" and line 85: "But Sirach and Wisdom and Judith and Tobit and Maccabees and the Testaments are not in this reckoning, but are accepted into the order of inspired Scriptures" (p. 242), with Stone noting that "the inclusion of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is presumably due
to Armenian usage" (p. 243). Well, duh.

Anyhow, Rüger screwed up. While the whole point of The Apocryhpha in Ecumenical Perspective is actually to describe an/the approach toward the apocrypha by the United Bible Societies, and thus any tradition's current canon should rather be in view than a medieval one, however historically important, his slip on misrepresenting Stone and Gregory of Tat'ew is, so they say, regrettable.

I'll contact a knowledgable Armenian priest of my acquaintance for a definitive statement on the current Biblical canon in the Armenian Orthodox Church. I'll let you (and everyone else) know what I learn.


May I suggest that you may wish to look at Naomi Seidman's new book Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation in Chicago's Afterlives of the Bible series? Seidman (from the Graduate Theological Union) deals with many of the same issues with a somewhat different take.

Bob MacDonald

Thanks for the opportunity to engage. The issue of variety in the canons is liberating. I did comment personally on this first post on my second blog ( Does your blogger find such references? I wonder if I should bother separating my Psalms work from other blogging. John - I am grateful for your learning and your teaching. I am reading a wonderful grammar right now - Brettler Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern Israeli Hebrew - do you know this work? After a year of slogging through BDB and Lambdin, Brettler is a delight to read.

John Hobbins


I didn't realize you had commented on the earlier post about canon. I'll take a look. Thank you for your reflections and input.

Brettler is a joy to read, I agree. Everything he writes is clear and to the point. His grammar is straightforward; his higher-critical work, by definition not so much. Even when I disagree with him, I'm thankful for his clarity of thought.

Stephen L. Cook

John, Thanks so much for emailing the file and for doing this series of posts. I've started reading with this post, and have linked to it on my blog. ---SLC


By the way, Rambam's Moreh Nevukim (Dalat al Ha'irin) is not written in Arabic but Judeo-Arabic.

Roughly (and inaccurately) Judeo-Arabic bears the same relationship to Arabic as Yiddish does to German or Ladino does to Spanish.

I have a copy of Munk's 1866 Le Guide des Égarés which is the standard editio princeps, and one immediately notes that the text is in Aramaic script (like Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino) rather than Arabic script. I have only about the equivalent of less than a year's worth of modern Arabic (I once was a member of a USAID delegation to an Arabic speaking country) but I have considerably more Hebrew -- but I can still make out parts of the original text.



Qaraite Judaism actually was founded as soon as `Ezra the Scribe of Tanakh (biblical) fame canonized the Torah (Pentateuch) in the mid 5th century BC since Qaraism's approach begins and boils down to nothing more or less than interpretation of the Tanakh according to the text's plain meaning rather than employing Rabbinic exegetical methods that deviate from the plain meaning and search for "hidden" or "deeper" meanings.

Furthermore, none of the traditional Qaraite body of Halakha is really binding on anyone nor is it claimed by Qaraites to have divine origin as opposed to Rabbinic Halakha and each individual is left to his/her own devices to search the Scriptures well to figure out what each commandment or verse really means.

Some sources such as Hakham Mordokhai Ben-Yosef Sultanski’s Sefer Zekher Saddiqim (Chufut-Qale, 1838) have shown that Qaraite Jews had already existed before the "Qaraite" label was attached to them as the following brief historical overview demonstrates:

During the reign of Theodosios I, Qaraite Jews from Persia moved to Adrianople (the modern Edirne, Turkey) in the Byzantine Empire - eventually, gradually moving from there to Constantinople (the modern Istanbul, Turkey) and also to the Crimean peninsula, settling in the city of Sulkhat, called presently [in Qaraite Judæo-Tatar] Eski Kirim ("Old Crimea"), being that the Crimean peninsula had recently come under Byzantine control.

Because of the codification and subsequent enforcement of the Talmud from the 6th century CE onward, it came about that it was necessary for Qaraite Jews to distinguish themselves from those that yielded to the coercion of the Talmudic academies and, thus, the name Ba‘alei or Benai Miqra'/ Qara'im started to be used. The Qaraite community in Egypt had in its possession until the end of the 19th century a legal document dated 641 CE and stamped by the palm of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, the first Islamic governor of Egypt, in which he ordered the leaders of the Rabbanite community not to interfere in the way of life of the Qaraites nor with the way they celebrated their holidays.

During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Constantine V, Khazar Turks from the region of Bukhara invaded the Crimea. Qaraite Jewish writers in Byzantium and elsewhere deride the Khazars, call them enemies of Israel, and even equate the name Khazar with the Hebrew word Mamzer (see Ya`aqov Ben-Re'uven's [11th - 12th century CE] Sefer Ha'Osher as well as the commentaries of Yefet Ben-`Ali [10th century CE] and Yeshu`a Ben-Yehudah [11th century CE).

At the end of 11th century CE, The crusader Baldwin I, Count of Edessa and King of Jerusalem, with the aid of the Genoese, transfers 250 Qaraite Jewish families from Jerusalem to the Crimea, settling them in the fortress towns of Qalé [Chufut-Kalé] and Mangup.


Mitchell Powell

Dr. Hobbins,

I have heard you say somewhere that you are a vox clamante for the notion that the Septuagint and Vulgate translations are inspired alongside the Hebrew Bible. I don't know if this is the right forum to ask you about this, but would you accord similar status to the Targums?

John Hobbins

Hi Mitchell,

Yes, I believe that divine providence did not go on vacation once the autographs (however defined) were produced.

According to a classical formula, the word of God comes to us in three forms: (1) the word of God inscripturated; (2) the word of God incarnate; (3) the word of God preached. Translations are turnstiles that stand between (1) and (3); the ultimate criterion of (3) is (2) understood also as a living presence to this day.

On incarnation as a a fundamental category of biblical teaching about God, see Benjamin Sommer's book on the "The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel."

Mitchell Powell

Unfortunately, Sommer's book doesn't seem to have made its way into OhioLINK yet, but I'll read some of the scholarly reviews and put it on my list for future reading.

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