Biblewheel: Tit for Tat (Richard's challenge)?

From: Donald Nield (
Date: Sun Sep 14 2003 - 01:22:27 EDT

  • Next message: Don Winterstein: "Re: Strange Bedfellows, Atheism and Naturaistic Theism" wrote:

    > Don wrote:
    > > I already knew what Gordon has just written, and I should
    > > have made this clear in my message. But my intention was to respond to
    > Richard
    > > on his own ground. I know for example that 1 & 2 Kings is really one book,
    > and
    > > that it is forcing things to regard Ruth and Esther as history and
    > > Lamentations as part of the major prophets, instead of as part the Hebrew
    > > Writings. But what Richard is doing is making deductions from the the
    > modern
    > > form of the canon, so I have started from there myself.
    > > Don
    > >
    > Hi Don,
    > I too already knew what Gordon had just written. I've known it for many
    > years. I'm sure you would agree that such elementary knowledge is an obvious
    > prerequiste for intelligent discussion of this issue. I have articles
    > discussing it published on my site. The best for your review would probably
    > be "A Great Cloud of Witnesses" found here:
    > You are free to assert that I & 2 Kings are "really" one book, just as I am
    > free to call them two books. But History and the Christian Church seem to be
    > on my side, since both present us with two books, namely, I & 2 Kings. If
    > this weren't the case, you wouldn't be forced to assert otherwise, now would
    > you? It is hard to see how this kind of argument could impact the study of
    > the Bible Wheel at all, which involves the 2D representation of an object -
    > the traditional 66 book Christian Canon - that will exist unchanged
    > regardless of such disputes.
    > I would be interested in your reasons for denying Ruth and Esther the status
    > of History. They both appear to be explicitly Historical works. To refer to
    > their inclusion in the OT Historical section of the Christian Canon as
    > "forcing" seems itself to be a forced argument because there is no canonical
    > division known as "Hebrew Writings" in the Christian Canon (the topic under
    > discussion), which is where you contend they were forced from. It appears
    > that you take the modern Jewish structure of the Canon as a priori superior
    > to the ancient Christian Canon. You are free to do this, and there are some
    > arguments for such a position, but there are also arguments for the
    > Septuagintal order as represenative of an ancient Jewish tradition as old
    > as, or older than the modern tripartite structure. We have *explicit*
    > witnesses of the Septuagintal order from the 3rd and 4th centuries in Canon
    > lists and Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Is there anything like that
    > for the tripartite Jewish canon? The strongest argument is biblical, where
    > Jesus refers to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the latter being the
    > most prominent part of the Writings. But this is not definitive, and even if
    > it is a witness to the antiquity of the modern Jewish order, it does not
    > *exclude* the antiquity of the Septuagintal order which the Church has
    > *ALWAYS* followed (at least since the 4th century). As an aside, note the
    > reference to the Law and the Prophets. This phrase is used eleven times in
    > the NT to refer to the OT. Now look at Spoke 1 of the Wheel, which consists
    > of:
    > Genesis....First Book of the Law
    > Isaiah.......First Book of the Prophets
    > Romans...First Book of the NT Epistles.
    > Is this not a striking structure? I contend it is absolutely and
    > incontrovertibly OPTIMAL. I would be delighted to see someone offer a
    > suggestion of three books that would form a superior primary Spoke of the
    > Wheel. This, and ten thousand other extremely obvious wonders would be lost
    > if we followed the structure of the modern Jewish Tanach. But that is a mute
    > point anyway, since as far as I know, there never has been a Christian Bible
    > publish that follows such an order. (There may be one published for
    > evangelism amongst the Jews, but I have never seen one. In any case, it
    > would be the exception that proves the rule.)
    > And this leads naturally into your assertion that I am making deductions
    > from the "modern" form of the Canon. Can you name a single Christian Bible
    > that follows a different *order* of books? (Note that the Catholic follows
    > the same order of the protocanonical books, just with others interspersed,
    > which is a different issue.) I searched far and wide, and I finally found
    > *one* Christian Bible with a different order.
    > This is the great mystery. In nearly every interaction I have had with
    > professional scholars of the Old Testament, I encounter this same old
    > argument. They typically bring up an imagined "original order" that
    > supposedly invalidates the primary structure of the Bible that the Christian
    > Church has always known. Let me repeat. The *order* of the (proto) canonical
    > books found in *ALL* Christian Bibles on the planet (sans one that I know
    > of) follow the order seen in the so-called "modern" Canon. And not one
    > follows the order of the modern Jewish Tanach. This seems to be a *very*
    > small pebble over which one could be caused to stumble, especially in light
    > of the fact that even if there were two or three dominant competing orders,
    > it still would not in any way, shape, or form, detract from the intrinsic
    > beauty and supernatural wonder that leaps out of the Bible Wheel, which is,
    > in fact, based on the dominant text form of the Bible found on planet Earth
    > today (thanks largely to the Protestant missionaries).
    > In service of the Everlasting Word of God,
    > Richard Amiel McGough
    > Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

    In response to Richard:
    (Sorry for the delay. A message that I wrote yesterday vanished into
    What is important is not the "modern Jewish Tanach" -- it is the *original*
    Hebrew Tanach as evidenced in the oldest existing Hebrew manuscripts
    (essentially this means the Massoretic Text (MT)). In the MT, Kings is a single
    unit. It was not until the Septuagint was written that the book was split into
    two, probably because the Greek text took more space than the unpointed Hebrew
    text. Few scholars now argue for the historicity of Esther, and even fewer for
    the historicity of Ruth. The latter is a story about human (and in particular
    ethnic) relationships set in the time of the Judges, but most scholars date Ruth
    to the monarchy or the post-exilic period.
    If anyone (Christian of Jew) is going to do exegesis on the OT then it is the
    Hebrew text and the Hebrew canon which must have primacy. The books of the
    Hebrew canon form three groups -- the Torah (law), the Nebi'im (Prophets), and
    the Kethubim (Writings)-- hence the term TaNaCH. Kings is part of the (Former)
    Prophets and Ruth and Esther are parts of the Writings.
    It is true that Christians also view the OT in the light of Christ and his
    mission. But this has no bearing on whether Kings is to be regarded as one book
    or two.
    I conclude that Richard's biblewheel is based mainly on coincidence and is of
    little theological significance.
    I say "mainly on coincidence" because I think it likely that in the canon of the
    OT there are precisely 12 books of the Minor Prophets and 12 historical books
    because 12 is also the number of tribes of Israel, and that there are 5 wisdom
    books and 5 books grouped as the major prophets because there are also 5 books
    in the Law. (Note that Lamentations is part of the Kethubim -- not the Nebi'im,
    in the MT scriptures). Sure, the primary reason for inclusion in the canon would
    be a book's intrinsic merit, but when it came down to borderline cases
    considerations of numerical symmetry could have been a consideration. Esther,
    which does not mention God, made it into the canon. Judith, which says a lot
    about God, did not make it.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sun Sep 14 2003 - 01:25:00 EDT