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

From: Donald Nield (
Date: Mon Sep 15 2003 - 21:57:45 EDT

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    > <snip>
    > > 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)).
    > 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.

    I do not think that any canonical order is "inspired" or "divinely ordained",
    and the fact that there is debate about a two- ot three-fold early canon is
    support for my view. It is the text that is inspired.

    > >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.
    > 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.

    Just about any comprehensive Bible dictionary or any scholarly commentary on
    Kings will make the point. I quote from the "Interpreters Dictionary of the
    Bible", Abingdon Press, 1962, the article on Kings:
    "These two books were originally one, but the LXX first introduced the division
    ... The division of the book appeared in the Hebrew text first, in a MS in AD
    1448 ... The final Masora appears only at the end of II Kings and consonantly
    regards both books as one."
    (The "final Masora" is the collection of scribal comments that were placed at
    the end of a book).
    Further evidence of the original unity is provided by the fact that when Kings
    was divided into two books the ancient documents do not agree on where the cut
    was made.
    The index of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia has a single entry for m'lkm. In the
    text there is a division between m'lk a and m'lk b but that is to be expected
    because divisions into chapters and verses are also indicated. I would like to
    ask Richard how many of the copies of the MT that he consulted lacked chapter

    I agree that the Bible Wheel is based on the Christian canon that was taken over
    from the LXX, but the point is that the LXX editors reorganised the Hebrew

    > >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.
    > 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.

    My point is that there is no consensus on the historicity, and the Biblewheel
    depends on one particular decision about the appropriate genre.

    > > 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.
    > 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.

    Richard is assuming that the canonical structure of the Protestant Christian
    Bible is part of divine revelation. That is OK provided that he accepts that
    there is no compulsion for other Christians to follow him on this point.

    > >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.
    > 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.

    It is true that all Christian Bibles make a distinction between I & II Kings.
    That is just what one would expect if the LXX was being followed. But how far
    back has Richard gone with his examination of Jewish codices?

    > > 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.
    > > 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
    > Lord.
    > Excellent chatting with you Don. Thank you for your time and effort, which
    > is greatly appreciated.
    > In service of Christ, the King of History,
    > Richard
    > Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

    I have read Richard's later messages, one on this thread and one on a new
    thread, A Cavalcade of Coincidence. When it comes down to what one can
    reasonably accept as coincidence it is a matter of individual opinion. Richard
    has expressed his opinion and I have expressed mine. I do not think there is
    anything more that I can usefully say, other than to thank Richard for the

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