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

Date: Sun Sep 14 2003 - 13:39:08 EDT

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    Good morning Don,

    You wrote:

    > (Sorry for the delay. A message that I wrote yesterday vanished into
    > cyberspace...!)

    That has happened to me more than once. I am now in the habit of saving
    everything on my local drive before sending it. It has saved me a lot of
    frustration and wasted time.

    > What is important is not the "modern Jewish Tanach" -- it is the
    > Hebrew Tanach as evidenced in the oldest existing Hebrew manuscripts
    > (essentially this means the Massoretic Text (MT)).

    I believe I answered this point in my last post. We have no evidence of a
    single "original order" - both the LXX and the tripartite structures are
    ancient. We have no historical method to determine which, if either, was the
    "original." Each could be a witness of an early tradition. There could be a
    third order we know nothing of that was the original. Current scholarship is
    actively debating a two-three fold early canon, (cf. Steve Mason's article
    in "The Canon Debate" a recent must read compendium of 32 articles on the
    formation of the Jewish and Christian canons). We simply don't have
    suffiencient evidence to come to a definitive conclusion on this matter.

    But suppose for the sake of argument that the tripartite structure were the
    "original order." This would still be a moot point because it has never been
    the order used by the Christian church since the time that the Christian
    Canon was essentially closed in the 4th century. This means to me that if
    any OT canonical order is to be considered "inspired" or "divinely ordained"
    it would have to be the one and only order that the Christian Church has
    ever known, that which is found in the Septuagint.

    >In the MT, Kings is a single
    > unit. It was not until the Septuagint was written that the book was split
    > two, probably because the Greek text took more space than the unpointed
    > text.

    When you say single unit, do you mean that there is no way to distinguish
    between I & II Kings as such in the MT manuscript? It sounds like you are
    saying it was one continuous text with no break between what we now
    recognize as I & II Kings. I find this surprising, and somewhat difficult to
    believe since I have many copies of the MT, both electronic and published,
    and they *all* distinguish between Malekhim Aleph and Malekhim Bet. Could
    you give me a source reference on this?

    But again, even if the two were originally one, it doesn't impact the thesis
    of the Bible Wheel at all, since that is based on the ancient structure of
    the Christian Canon.

    >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
    > ethnic) relationships set in the time of the Judges, but most scholars
    date Ruth
    > to the monarchy or the post-exilic period.

    Correct. But you are using the word "historicity" with modern meaning that
    asserts something like "Although the Book of Esther is presented as History,
    it is not in fact an actual record of true historical events, and so lacks
    historicity." My point is that Esther naturally falls in the *genre* of OT
    History. If Esther weren't obviously presented as History, then why would
    there be an argument against its historicity? So whether it is "true
    history" or an "historical parable" or simply "false history" it quite
    naturally fits in the OT History segment of the Christian Canon.

    > If anyone (Christian of Jew) is going to do exegesis on the OT then it is
    > Hebrew text and the Hebrew canon which must have primacy.

    I don't think this is correct. While I agree completely that we need to look
    to the Hebrew text, since that is the KNOWN source of the OT, we don't have
    to follow the Tanach's order since that contradicts the Chirstian revelation
    (if such is the proper description of the Christian Bible as a whole,
    including its canonical structure). Of course, I wouldn't have any problem
    with discussing the tripartite order and thinking about it and learning from
    it, I just can't see any way to justify the statement that it is the
    *primary* source that should supercede the Christian order.

    >The books of the
    > Hebrew canon form three groups -- the Torah (law), the Nebi'im (Prophets),
    > the Kethubim (Writings)-- hence the term TaNaCH. Kings is part of the
    > 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
    > or two.

    Amen to your point about the Light of Christ. But since *ALL* Bibles that I
    have ever seen, whether Jewish or Christian, make a distinction between I &
    II Kings, I would think you might want to consider conceding this point, or
    at least acknowledge that it is moot for the question at hand.

    > I conclude that Richard's biblewheel is based mainly on coincidence and is
    > 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
    > because 12 is also the number of tribes of Israel, and that there are 5
    > books and 5 books grouped as the major prophets because there are also 5
    > in the Law. (Note that Lamentations is part of the Kethubim -- not the
    > in the MT scriptures). Sure, the primary reason for inclusion in the canon
    > be a book's intrinsic merit, but when it came down to borderline cases
    > considerations of numerical symmetry could have been a consideration.
    > which does not mention God, made it into the canon. Judith, which says a
    > about God, did not make it.
    > Don

    This last paragraph deserves more attention than I have time to give right
    now, as it is Sunday morning and the time has come for me to worship our

    Excellent chatting with you Don. Thank you for your time and effort, which
    is greatly appreciated.

    In service of Christ, the King of History,

    Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

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