Development of the Hebrew Bible canon

Complete set of scrolls, constituting the Tanakh

No scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed.

- Development of the Hebrew Bible canon
Complete set of scrolls, constituting the Tanakh

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"Alle Weiſsheit ist bey Gott dem Herren..." (modern spelling: Alle Weisheit ist bei Gott dem Herrn) (Sirach, first chapter, German translation), anonymous artist 1654

Sirach

Jewish work, originally in Hebrew, of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 BC, written by the Judahite scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach, sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira.

Jewish work, originally in Hebrew, of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 BC, written by the Judahite scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach, sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira.

"Alle Weiſsheit ist bey Gott dem Herren..." (modern spelling: Alle Weisheit ist bei Gott dem Herrn) (Sirach, first chapter, German translation), anonymous artist 1654
Illustration for Sirach, c. undefined 1751
Illustration of the high priest Jesus Sirach in the Secret Book of Honour of the Fugger by Jörg Breu the Younger, 1545–1549
Hebrew translation of Sirach, 1814
Jesus Ben Sirach, 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, a Lutheran

Sirach is not part of the Jewish canon, once thought to have been established at the hypothetical Council of Jamnia, perhaps due to its late authorship, although it is not clear that the canon was completely closed at the time of Ben Sira.

Carpet page from the Leningrad Codex, the oldest complete manuscript of the Masoretic Text.

Masoretic Text

Authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) in Rabbinic Judaism.

Authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) in Rabbinic Judaism.

Carpet page from the Leningrad Codex, the oldest complete manuscript of the Masoretic Text.
The inter-relationship between various significant ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament (some identified by their sigla). "Mt" here denotes the Masoretic Text; "LXX", the original Septuagint.
A page from the Aleppo Codex, showing the extensive marginal annotations.

The Masoretic Text defines the Jewish canon and its precise letter-text, with its vocalization and accentuation known as the mas'sora.

Fragment of a Septuagint: A column of uncial book from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus c. 325–350 CE, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton's Greek edition and English translation

Septuagint

Earliest extant Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible.

Earliest extant Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible.

Fragment of a Septuagint: A column of uncial book from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus c. 325–350 CE, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton's Greek edition and English translation
Beginning of the Letter of Aristeas to Philocrates (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 11th century)
The inter-relationship between significant ancient Old Testament manuscripts (some identified by their siglum). LXX denotes the original Septuagint.

These copies of the Septuagint include books known as anagignoskomena in Greek and in English as deuterocanon (derived from the Greek words for "second canon"), books not included in the Jewish canon.

John Hyrcanus from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum.

Pharisees

The Pharisees (פְּרוּשִׁים) were a Jewish social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism.

The Pharisees (פְּרוּשִׁים) were a Jewish social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism.

John Hyrcanus from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum.
Pompey in the Temple of Jerusalem, by Jean Fouquet
Gustave Doré: Dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees
Jesus at the house of the Pharisean, by Jacopo Tintoretto, Escorial

In the same period, the council of sages known as the Sanhedrin may have codified and canonized the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), from which, following the return from Babylon, the Torah was read publicly on market-days.

The apocryphal letter of Sultan Mehmed II to the Pope (Notes et extraits pour servir à l'histoire des croisades au XVe siècle), published by Nicolas Jorga. Series 4: 1453–1476, Paris; Bucarest, 1915, pages 126–127

Apocrypha

Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin.

Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin.

The apocryphal letter of Sultan Mehmed II to the Pope (Notes et extraits pour servir à l'histoire des croisades au XVe siècle), published by Nicolas Jorga. Series 4: 1453–1476, Paris; Bucarest, 1915, pages 126–127
Copies of the Luther Bible include the deuterocanonical books as an intertestamental section between the Old Testament and New Testament; they are termed the "Apocrypha" in Christian Churches having their origins in the Reformation.
The contents page in a complete 80 book King James Bible, listing "The Books of the Old Testament", "The Books called Apocrypha", and "The Books of the New Testament".

The Jewish apocrypha, known in Hebrew as הספרים החיצונים (Sefarim Hachizonim: "the outer books"), are books written in large part by Jews, especially during the Second Temple period, not accepted as sacred manuscripts when the Hebrew Bible was canonized.

Model of Herod's Temple (the Second Temple after being rebuilt by Herod) at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, created in 1966 as part of the Holyland Model of Jerusalem; the model was inspired by the writings of Josephus.

Second Temple

The reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem between c. 516 BCE and 70 CE.

The reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem between c. 516 BCE and 70 CE.

Model of Herod's Temple (the Second Temple after being rebuilt by Herod) at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, created in 1966 as part of the Holyland Model of Jerusalem; the model was inspired by the writings of Josephus.
Rebuilding of the Temple (illustration by Gustave Doré from the 1866 La Sainte Bible)
Modern-day reconstruction of Jerusalem during the 10th century BCE, showing Solomon's Temple, which was on the site prior to the building of the Second Temple.
Herod's Temple as imagined in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem; east at the bottom.
View of the Temple Mount in 2013; east at the bottom
Herod's Temple from The Presentation in the Temple (1910)
The Royal Stoa in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem
The Foundation Stone under the Dome of the Rock, a possible historical location for the Holy of Holies
Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (1850 painting by David Roberts). Looking southwest
Present-day view of the Temple Mount looking southwest, with the golden Dome of the Rock visible center and the Al-Aqsa Mosque to the left beyond some trees. Parts of the Old City of Jerusalem can be seen surrounding the Mount.
Magdala Stone
Bar Kokhba tetradracm showing the Jerusalem Temple façade 132–135 CE
Arch of Titus showing spoils of Jerusalem Temple
Part of the south-western upper corner of Herod's temple colonnade with ancient "Trumpeting Place" Hebrew inscription.
The Warning Inscription found in 1871
A copy of the temple warning inscription found in 1871
Fragment of Second Temple Warning
The Trumpeting Place inscription, a stone ({{cvt|2.43|×|1|m}}) with Hebrew inscription "To the Trumpeting Place" excavated by Benjamin Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the Second Temple.

The origins of the authority of scripture, of the centrality of law and morality in religion, of the synagogue and of apocalyptic expectations for the future all developed in the Judaism of this period.

Council of Jamnia

The Council of Jamnia (presumably Yavneh in the Holy Land) was a council purportedly held late in the 1st century CE to finalize the canon of the Hebrew Bible.

An American family Bible dating to 1859 A.D.

Jack P. Lewis

American Bible scholar affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

American Bible scholar affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

An American family Bible dating to 1859 A.D.

In April 1964 Lewis published an article on the Council of Jamnia in which he largely discredited the prevalent assumption that the Council of Jamnia decided the Hebrew canon.

The interrelationship between various significant ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament, according to the Encyclopaedia Biblica (1903). Some manuscripts are identified by their siglum. LXX here denotes the original Septuagint.

Old Testament

First division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites.

First division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites.

The interrelationship between various significant ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament, according to the Encyclopaedia Biblica (1903). Some manuscripts are identified by their siglum. LXX here denotes the original Septuagint.

Jerome's work, called the Vulgate, was a direct translation from Hebrew, since he argued for the superiority of the Hebrew texts in correcting the Septuagint on both philological and theological grounds.

Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Cristofano Allori, 1613 (Royal Collection, London)

Book of Judith

Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Cristofano Allori, 1613 (Royal Collection, London)
Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Simon Vouet, (Alte Pinakothek, Munich)
Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes
Klimt's explicit 1901 version of Judith and the Head of Holofernes was shocking to viewers and is said to have targeted themes of female sexuality that had previously been more or less taboo.
Judith Returns to Bethulia, 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld
Painting by Trophime Bigot (c. 1579–1650, also known as Master of the Candlelight), depicting Judith and Holofernes. The Walters Art Museum.
Engraving by Girolamo Mocetto, 1500
Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Hans Baldung Grien, c. 1525, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.
Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi

The Book of Judith is a deuterocanonical book, included in the Septuagint and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible, but excluded from the Hebrew canon and assigned by Protestants to the apocrypha.