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Exploring the Origins of the Bible

Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective

series: Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology

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"These essays not only serve the intended audiences by addressing the status quaestionis of their respective topics and offering thought-provoking discussions but also keep the canon debate alive by presenting new theories and insights into problematic and unresolved issues."--Margaret Christi Karwowski, OSF, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

For those who want to go deeper in their understanding of the canon of Scripture, leading international scholars provide cutting-edge perspectives on various facets of the biblical writings, how those writings became canonical Scripture, and why canon matters. Craig Evans begins by helping those new to the field understand the different versions of the Hebrew Bible (Masoretic Text, Septuagint, Targum, Vulgate, etc.) as well as the books of the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. Later essays also help beginners by explaining "canon" and the development of canons in various Jewish and Christian communities, the much-debated tripartite canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, and questions of authority. The book also includes insightful explorations and perspectives to challenge more advanced readers, including an essay on the complexities of biblical writing, a critical investigation of the usefulness of extracanonical Gospels for historical Jesus research, and an exploration of the relationship of Paul to the canonization process. The result is a thought-provoking book that concludes with discussion of an issue at the fore today--the theological implications of canon.


Emanuel Tov

James H. Charlesworth

Stephen G. Dempster

R. Glenn Wooden

Craig A. Evans

Stanley E. Porter

Lee Martin McDonald

Jonathan R. Wilson


"The eight essays in this volume form a very worthwhile set of considerations of the emerging canons of the Jewish and Christian Bibles. The complexity of the processes of canonization is refreshingly tackled on the basis of both internal and external evidence. Two essays cover some of the implications of the evidence of the Septuagint, two review especially the internal data of the Old Testament and Paul, two put in their places the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament Apocrypha, and two consider the theological bases of the authority that lies behind the text of Scripture. This two-by-two collection is a veritable ark full of expert analysis to enable any reader to navigate the flood of recent writing on canon. Some studies rescue old theories for a new generation; others provide polychromatic perspectives for a fresh start."--George J. Brooke, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester

The Authors

  1. Craig A. Evans

    Craig A. Evans

    Craig A. Evans (PhD, Claremont Graduate University) is John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He previously taught at Acadia Divinity College. He is a frequent contributor to scholarly...

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  2. Emanuel Tov

    Emanuel Tov

    Emanuel Tov (PhD, Hebrew University) is J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. He was awarded the Israel Prize 2009 for his research in the Bible.

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"Given the centrality of Scripture in the preaching task, it is important that preachers have a solid understanding of the canon of Scripture. In Exploring the Origins of the Bible, a team of scholars explores various issues related to the development and canonization of the biblical writings. This is a meaty but worthwhile volume."--PreachingNow

"[These essays] provide basic information for students and general readers who want to go deeper in understanding the issues involved in the study of the biblical canons. . . . This book well introduces the issues and some of the evidence in regard to canon formation. . . . The scholarly honesty of the presentations make a plea for a view of inspiration and authority consonant with the messy details of history."--Everett Ferguson, Review of Biblical Literature

"Exploring the Origins of the Bible is an introductory volume for a theological student to understand the various historical issues related to the compilation and growth of the canon. . . . This volume could prove a helpful text for introducing students to the complexities in understanding the historical process in which the text of Scripture came to the church today."--David G. Graves, Themelios

"Leading international scholars in the field of canon formation [address] the complicated origins, transmission, and history of the compilation of the Bible for an audience comprising students, nonspecialists, and specialists. . . . These essays not only serve the intended audiences by addressing the status quaestionis of their respective topics and offering thought-provoking discussions but also keep the canon debate alive by presenting new theories and insights into problematic and unresolved issues."--Margaret Christi Karwowski, OSF, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"A useful acquisition for theological reference libraries."--Michael W. Holmes, Religious Studies Review

"With growing interest in all things canon-related in biblical studies, Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov have edited a volume devoted to some fundamental issues related to the Bible's development and content. Evans . . . has added another meaningful work to his already impressive resume. . . Tov, . . . an icon of Old Testament criticism, likewise continues to make significant contributions to biblical studies discussions. . . . Among the strengths of the book is the diversity of perspectives that the authors bring. . . . Another strength of the book is the attention it gives to the importance of the Septuagint (LXX). . . . [This work] provides helpful insight into discussion revolving around the biblical canon. It introduces fresh information, challenges assumptions, and defends the importance of its subject matter, having implications for history, hermeneutics, textual criticism, and theology. . . . A must read for those doing serious biblical or theological study within the academy."--Lance Higginbotham, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"Th[is] volume provides students and nonspecialists with an informative orientation on the complex issues of canon formation."--Journal of Ancient Judaism

"In several instances, the essays in this volume . . . may serve as helpful overviews of current scholarship on the canon, aside from their own contributions. The concluding focus on theological ramifications and the basis of canonical authority sets this volume apart from many other works on the subject. . . . On the whole, this collection of essays provides an informative presentation of many of the issues surrounding discussions of canon formation. The essays are written so as to be easily accessible to the non-expert, yet they do not (generally) over-simplify this enormously complex subject. Finally, the breadth of topics covered in this volume is impressive and gives fairly equal attention to both the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the New Testament, while also addressing practical theological concerns, which surround and arise from scholarship on the origins of the Bible."--David P. Melvin, Hebrew Studies

"[This volume] will enrich a reader's understanding of the complexities of the Bible's origins, highlighting the significant human element. It will also be helpful in understanding why or why not the Apocrypha should be included in the Bible, an ongoing difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics."--Kenneth D. Litwak, Covenant Quarterly