In our last post we began to consider issues surrounding the subject of the "Old Testament Canon here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2022/09/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series_28.html. Theologian Wayne Grudem in his “Systematic Theology – 2nd Edition”, page 39, offers this crisp definition of the term “canon”, “The canon of Scripture is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible.” We noted three headings under which we can discuss this subject.
1. The Old Testament Canon (or, how we got
2. The Old Testament Canon’s Message.
3. The Old Testament Canon’s application,
In today's post we will look at the first point - how we got the Old Testament Canon. In so doing, we will observe how the issue of "canon" is related to the issue of "authority" (whether it be the church as final authority in creating the canon or the canonical books forming and shaping the church).
A. What is meant by “canon”?
Now, what I just described to you is a contemporary use of this term “canon”. If one goes back to the city of Alexandria Egypt before the days of Jesus, one will find the term “canon” used to describe an official listing of books. The term “canon” itself comes from a Greek word meaning “measuring rod”. When we apply this term to the Bible, we speak of the 39 books comprising the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament.
B. The first arrangement of the Old Testament Canon.
In Luke 24:44, Jesus would sometimes refer to that same collection of books by the three-fold descriptor “Law, The Prophets, and the Writings”. This speaks of the arrangement of the books or “canon” of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible, called by the Jews “TaNaK” for the three sections subdividing its contents, contains the following. (Note: the term "TaNaK" may have different spellings, due to it being a Hebrew acronym and English attempting to render it. Some variations include "TaNaCH").
C. The authority of the Old Testament Canon.
“Canonicity is determined by God. A book is not inspired because men made it canonical; it is canonical because God inspired it. It is not antiquity, authenticity, or religious community that makes a book canonical or authoritative. On the contrary, a book is valuable because it is canonical and not canonical because it is or was considered valuable. Inspiration determines canonization, and confusion at this point not only dulls the edge of authority but it mistakes the effect (a canonical book) for the cause and (inspiration of God). Canonicity is determined or established authoritatively by God; it is merely discovered by man.”
To get at what Geisler wrote, the issue of authority revolves around which came first? Did the Church create the Bible? Or did the Bible end up forming the church? This post argues for the latter point, namely that because of the canon of Scripture, which Christ recognized and which the Apostles preached, the Holy Spirit was so pleased to birth the church on the day of Pentecost in fulfillment of Christ's teachings and Old Testament expectation. It is this train of thinking which drives Geisler's remarks and echoes this post.
3. More revelation was written in the form of the Book of the Covenant.
The process of canonization: revelation, inspiration, recognition, then use.