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The Old Testament Canon in the Early Church

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Chapter Summary

The term from which the English word 'canon' is derived, means 'a measuring stick'. This chapter examines the canon of the church in its relationship to the canon of Judaism. It also examines the rationale by which canonical and non-canonical writings could be similarly used but nevertheless distinguished. With its recognition of the books of the New Testament (NT) alongside those of the Old Testament (OT), the church departed decisively from the canon of Judaism. The two principal witnesses to the state of the OT canon in the second century are the Babylonian Talmud tractate Bava Batra and Melito, bishop of Sardis. Melito's canon represents the OT as it was received in certain Palestinian Jewish and/or Jewish-Christian circles in the second century. To determine the OT of the early church, the chapter gives priority to explicit canonical affirmations and interprets the usage of the writers in the light of them.

Keywords: Bava Batra; early church; Jewish-Christian circles; Judaism; Melito; Old Testament (OT) canon; Palestinian Jewish circles

10.1163/9789004275102_019
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