Lee Martin McDonald

in The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199237777
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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This article examines the notion of canon in antiquity and its application to the writings that eventually received canonical recognition in the Jewish and Christian communities of faith. The investigation of the Hebrew Bible and the ‘First’ or ‘Old’ Testament of the Church are shown to be inextricably bound together. The lack of agreement in antiquity on the definition of a biblical canon, as well as the books that comprise it, and the inconsistency in the use of terms to describe it and its processes make any investigation of the origins and stabilization of the Bible more difficult, but some inferences and conclusions can be drawn. The article begins with a focus on the context of canon formation, and then proceeds to what can be discerned in the ancient sources.

Keywords: biblical canon; antiquity; Old Testament; Hebrew Bible; Judaism; Christianity

Article.  16306 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Christianity

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