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Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology)

ISBN: 9781441252333
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In this volume, leading international scholars provide cutting-edge perspectives on various facets of the biblical writings, how those writings became canonical Scripture, and why the 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 define “canon” and explain the development of canons in various Jewish and Christian communities, examine the much-debated tripartite canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, and discuss questions of authority. The book 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.

The Logos Bible Software edition of this volume is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of Scripture. Biblical passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the Word of God.

Key Features

  • Discusses the historical relevance of different translations and formations
  • Compares ideas from different religious schools of thought
  • Examines the roots of canon formation through a variety of perspectives


  • The Septuagint as a Source for the Literary Analysis of Hebrew Scripture
  • Writings Ostensibly outside the Canon
  • Torah, Torah, Torah: The Emergence of the Tripartite Canon
  • The Role of “the Septuagint” in the Formation of the Biblical Canons
  • The Apocryphal Jesus: Assessing the Possibilities and Problems
  • Paul and the Process of Canonization
  • Wherein Lies Authority? A Discussion of Books, Texts, and Translations
  • Canon and Theology: What Is at Stake?


Praise for the Print Edition

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.


[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 makes a plea for a view of inspiration and authority consonant with the messy details of history.

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.


A useful acquisition for theological reference libraries.

Religious Studies Review

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.

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.

Hebrew Studies

Product Details

  • Title: Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective
  • Editors: Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 272

About the Editors

Craig A. Evans is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College. He has received degrees from Claremont McKenna College, Western Baptist Seminary, and Claremont Graduate University. Evans is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals and is the author or editor of numerous publications.

Emanuel Tov is the J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project.

Resource Experts

Top Highlights

“If Chronicles is read with the endings of the Torah and the Prophets, perhaps there is a wish for someone in particular—the prophet like Moses—to go up, or the Davidic descendant to build the temple. This would jack up the eschatological temperature since Chronicles now concludes with a reference to Jeremiah’s seventy years, the decree of Cyrus, and the focus on the temple. These were all important concerns of the Maccabean period.” (Page 103)

“My own analysis of the internal evidence indicates that imposed upon the whole was a shape that stressed the ultimate authority of law, the future hope of eschatology, and the practical importance of human response in the present. The material was structured in such a way as to emphasize in particular the Torah as the central fact of life and the importance of developing a Torah mind through meditation on it day and night.” (Page 98)

“What makes the Samaritan Pentateuch interesting is that in approximately 1,900 places it agrees with the Greek version (the Septuagint) over against the Masoretic Text. In some places it agrees with New Testament quotations or allusions over against both the Greek and the Masoretic Text (e.g., Acts 7:4, 32).” (Page 17)

“Jeremiah’s enemies believed that it would be no great loss to eliminate him since the stream of revelation would not be impaired: ‘Torah will not perish from the priest, or advice from the wise, or a word from the prophet’ (Jer. 18:18).” (Page 92)

“The idea of revelation as a word from God to communicate with humanity was a fundamental presupposition of Israel’s existence. There were essentially three media of revelation: Torah, prophecy, and wisdom.” (Page 92)


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  1. Fernando R. Bartels M.
  2. Serge Descoeurs