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The Twenty-Four Books of the Hebrew Bible and Alexandrian Scribal Methods

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Chapter Summary

Several scholars have already drawn attention to the parallel between the canonisation processes that produced the biblical corpus and the collection, sorting, and cataloguing projects undertaken by the Alexandrian librarians. This chapter discusses that it is not coincidental that both the Homeric and biblical corpora are organised in twenty-four books, nor is it accidental that the two fixed sets of literary works were standardised within the same time period. The perfect number of twenty-four was adopted from the Alexandrian scribes responsible for transmitting the works of Homer in conjunction with other scribal and library practices. The number twenty-four may be applied to various counting systems and thus allows the admission of other books, the standardisation of the method of copying the biblical books into twenty-four scrolls precluded the acceptance of additional books into the Hebrew Bible. The adoption of a fixed number forestalled any future alterations to the biblical corpus.

Keywords:Alexandrian scribal methods; Hebrew Bible; Homeric corpus; twenty-four books

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