Category Archives: Canon

Codex Hierosolymitanus Canon List

I recently picked up a copy of Huub van de Sandt’s and David Flusser’s The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity (volume 5 of Section III, Jewish Traditions in Early Christian Literature, in the series Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, published by Royal Van Gorcum and Fortress Press, 2002). Part of the Introduction (pp 16-21) provides details on the manuscript in which the only known (nearly) complete copy of the Greek Didache appears, Codex Hierosolymitanus. This codex also contains the sole complete Greek copy of 2 Clement. The codex, completed 11 June 1056 by “Leon, the scribe and sinner” contains the following works:
a.) Pseudo-Chrysostom’s Synopsis Veteris et Novi Testamenti: fol. 1r—38v
b.) Epistle of Barnabas: fol. 39r—51v
c.) First Epistle of Clement: fol. 51v—70r
d.) Second Epistle of Clement: fol. 70r—76r
e.) A list of the “names of (biblical) books used by the Hebrews,” with the titles transliterated from the Hebrew and the Greek titles both written in red ink: fol 76r
f.) Didache: fol. 76r—80v
g.) The letter by Maria Cassoboloi to Ignatius of Antioch: fol. 81r—82r
h.) The Twelve Letters of Ignatius of Antioch (the longer edition): fol. 82r—120r
i.) The colophon is followed by a short treatise on the genealogy of Jesus: fol. 120r—120v

Flusser and van de Sandt reasonably suggest that the central works (b through f, above), as they follow immediately upon one another, were copied from an earlier manuscript containing the same works, an early edition of what we now call The Apostolic Fathers collection, perhaps related to widespread antiquarian interest at this point in Byzantine history. Thus the space at the end of the Didache does not have anything to do with the scribe Leon leaving an assumed space for the completion of the book. Rather, his copy ended there, so he ended there, continuing with copying the next manuscript on the following full page. This is entirely plausible. It also makes item “e,” the list of Biblical books in use among the Hebrews, potentially more important than has formerly been realized, as it thereby certainly dates to an earlier period than the date of H. Indeed, in comparison with other such lists presented by Melito, Origen (pace Eusebius), and Epiphanius, they suggest that this list and the Epiphanian list are dependent upon a common source dated to the first half of the second century AD.

Here is the list, as presented p. 19, n. 31, with the transliteration of the Hebrew on the left, and the Greek title on the right, separated by a dot:
1. βρισιθ • γενεσις
2. ελσιμοθ • εξοδος
3. οδοικρα • λευιτικον
4. διιησου • ιησου υιου ναυη
5. ελεδεββαρι • δευτερονομιον
6. ουιδαβιρ • αριθμοι
7. δαρουθ • της ρουθ
8. διωβ • του ιωβ
9. δασοφτιμ • των κριτων
10. σφερτελιμ • ψαλτηριον
11. διεμμουηλ • βασιλειων α
12. διαδδουδεμουηλ • βασιλεων β
13. δαμαλαχημ • βασιλεων γ
14. αμαλαχημ • βασιλεων δ
15. δεβριιαμιν • παραλειπομενων α
16. δεριιαμιν • παραλειπομενων β
17. δαμαλεωθ • παροιμιων
18. δακοελεθ • εκκλησιαστης
19. σιρα σιριμ • ασμα ασματων
20. διερεμ • ιερεμιας
21. δααθαρσιαρ • δωδεκαπροφητον
22. δησαιου • ησαιου
23. διεεζεκιηλ • ιεζεκιηλ
24. δαδανιηλ • δανιηλ
25. δεσδρα • εσδρα α
26. δαδεσδρα • εσδρα β
27. δεσθης • εσθηρ

The somewhat garbled, but still recognizable Hebrew (the list is not Aramaic, contra alia, except for the name for the Twelve Prophets, תרי עשרא, as it is still traditionally so in Jewish circles) is prefixed with the Aramaic genitive particle d- , “of”, throughout nearly all the titles but for those of the five Pentateuchal books. One curious aspect of the list, unnoted by van de Sandt and Flusser, is the apparent elision of sibilants in the transliterations of numbers 11, 12, and 17, the two books of Samuel and Proverbs, respectively. For the latter (p. 19, n. 35) they suggest an original מתלות and the loss of a theta during transmission, whereas I would suggest an original משלות and the loss of a sigma, as is clearly the case in numbers 11 and 12, in regard to the name Samuel. I’m not sure what to make of the second of a pair of books bearing a second -d-; perhaps it represents שני or תני even though the placement there is odd. The order of the books is also extremely irregular, with several transpositions in comparison with the Epiphanian list: Numbers and Joshua are transposed, Ruth is moved from after Judges to before Job, Chronicles is moved from before Samuel to after Kings, and Jeremiah is moved from after the Twelve to before.

For comparison with the Codex H list, here is the transliterated Hebrew and Aramaic list from Epiphanius, De mensuris et ponderibus, lines 680—691, from the TLG text:

The H list and the list from Epiphanius are so similar that it is hard to deny relation either through dependence upon a common source, as suggested by van de Sandt and Flusser, or through chronological proximity in origin. If following van de Sandt and Flusser with the former option, a date for the original source in the first half of the second century AD is possible. If, however, the lists are similar because they date to approximately the same time, then a date in the second half of the fourth century is likely, as Epiphanius’ De mensuris et ponderibus is dated to 392. I think the latter is more likely than the former, primarily because the two lists are very similar, including the Aramaic d- prefixes, but are very different from the lists of Origen and Melito as preserved in Eusebius, and which we know to be late second century lists. A further indication, which I haven’t seen noted elsewhere, involved the vocalization involved in the transliterated Hebrew, which appears to postdate the beginning of segholization in Palestinian Hebrew and the shortening of vowels represented in the Masoretic Text, though this is by no means certain with the transliteration being so sloppy.

Still, it’s an interesting list, and one that should be added to discussions of the Biblical canon, whether one dates it to the second or fourth centuries.

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McDonald’s Biblical Canon

Consider this an explanation of the reason that I’ve yanked a 500+ page book out of my “Currently Reading” slot on the blog, after having read not even 100 pages. The book is Lee Martin McDonald’s The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority (Hendrickson, 2007). I’m just not enjoying this book. In fact I’m finding it hard to read. I blame the editor. Its argumentation is diffuse and meandering. The writing is peppered with infelicities of expression, quizzical solecisms, and astounding propositions.

An example of a quizzical solecism: “These stelae, from around 600 B.C.E. to roughly 300 B.C.E., are quite uniform in style, progressing from one-dimensional to two-dimensional and finally three-dimensional stelae” [pp 39-40]. Now, I suppose he means the artistic depictions on the stelae go from painted (?) to bas relief (?) to sculpture in round (?), but that’s not what he says. A one- or two-dimensional stele is a physical impossibility.

As an example of an astounding proposition:

Along with the Prophets, a body of literature, some of which was written well before 200 B.C.E. and some perhaps even later (e.g., Daniel), circulated widely among the Jews. These writings circulated in Palestine and were later translated from Hebrew into Greek

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On the Biblical Canon

What Books do you call Sacred Scripture?

Following the rule of the Catholic Church, we call Sacred Scripture all those which Cyril [Lucar] collected from the Synod of Laodicea, and enumerated, adding thereto those which he foolishly, and ignorantly, or rather maliciously called Apocrypha; to wit, “The Wisdom of Solomon,” “Judith,” “Tobit,” “The History of the Dragon,” “The History of Susanna,” “The Maccabees,” and “The Wisdom of Sirach.” For we judge these also to be with the other genuine Books of Divine Scripture genuine parts of Scripture. For ancient custom, or rather the Catholic Church, which hath delivered to us as genuine the Sacred Gospels and the other Books of Scripture, hath undoubtedly delivered these also as parts of Scripture, and the denial of these is the rejection of those. And if, perhaps, it seemeth that not always have all been by all reckoned with the others, yet nevertheless these also have been counted and reckoned with the rest of Scripture, as well by Synods, as by how many of the most ancient and eminent Theologians of the Catholic Church; all of which we also judge to be Canonical Books, and confess them to be Sacred Scripture.

From The Confession of Dositheus, available in full here

Patriarch Dositheus of Jerusalem wrote the Confession in 1672 as part of a local Synod of Jerusalem. It is a point by point response to the Confession attributed to Cyril Lucaris, erstwhile Patriarch of Constantinople, which appeared in Latin in Geneva in 1629, but which the Synod of Jerusalem, in comparing Cyril’s other writings, determined was a forgery. One of Pseudo-Cyril’s questions was on the canon. Here, Patriarch Dositheus gives a short but pithy answer. He does not apportion the “extra” books to a separate, second-class body of Scripture, whether “deuterocanonical” or “apocrypha” (which is even still a rather nasty word in Greek Orthodox circles, actually, used solely for blatantly heretical books), but maintains the ancient, conciliar, patristic definition and recognition of these books as Canonical.

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