There was no consensus Jewish Biblical Canon during the time of Christ

We can only infer of the Jewish Biblical Canon from early Church Fathers centuries after Christ

The most striking evidence, however, is provided by the manuscripts of the Greek translation of the Bible and by the patristic lists of the canonical books. Although both of these sources are of Christian origin, many scholars argue that they reflect, at least to some degree, the biblical canons used by the Jews of the Greek Diaspora. Some of the canons attested in these sources are tripartite, but none of them is identical with the canon of either Josephus or the rabbis (e.g., one father has twelve books of history, five books of poetry, and five prophetic books, or 12–5–5). Many of the canons are not tripartite at all (e.g., one father describes a canon of four Pentateuchs: the five books of the laws, of poetry, of the writings, of the prophets, with the addition of Ezra and Esther at the end, for a total of twenty-two, configured 5–5–5–5–2), and some have no discernible pattern of arrangement. Another set of these canons (virtually all the manuscripts and some of the patristic lists) includes the “apocryphal” works, which neither Josephus nor the rabbis nor anyone else in the land of Israel, as far as is known, saw fit to include.12 If the Christian evidence reflects the practices of the Greek Diaspora, Josephus errs when he implies that all Jews everywhere had a tripartite canon of twenty-two books. All Jews agreed that the first five books of the canon were the Torah; most Jews agreed that these were followed by the historical books Joshua–Kings; after that the near unanimity breaks down completely. And of course some Jews, like the men of Qumran, may not have had a clear notion of canon at all.

…Different communities had different canons and viewed their canons differently. The Tanak of Josephus (in his Against Apion) and the rabbis is the shortest known biblical canon, while the Bibles of the Jews of Qumran, the apocalyptic seers (if indeed these two groups viewed their own literatures as part of the Bible), and the Jews of the Diaspora (if indeed the Christian canons derive from Jewish sources) were much longer.

canon- The Jewish Bible- Tanakh

The Five Books of Moses (Chumash) -Torah-Pentateuch

undisputed canonicity– however textual differences exist between the Hellenistic Judaism of Early Christians and the post-Christian Rabbinic  tradition

e.g. ?

On 134 occasions the Tetragrammaton, the name of God, has been replaced by “Adonai”.

Deuteronomy 32:8 “Angels Of Elohim” replaced with “children of Israel.”


eviʾim, (Hebrew), English The Prophets, the second division of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, the other two being the Torah (the Law) and the Ketuvim (the Writings, or the Hagiographa). In the Hebrew canon the Prophets are divided into (1) the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and (2) the Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve, or Minor, Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

This canon, though somewhat fluid up to the early 2nd century BC, was finally fixed by a council of rabbis at Jabneh (Jamnia), now in Israelc. AD 100.  ENCY.BRIT> [discredited see Kesuvim] 

Against Apion, the writing of Josephus in 95 CE, treated the text of the Hebrew Bible as a closed canon to which “… no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable…”;[9] Michael Barber, however, avers that Josephus’ canon is “not identical to that of the modern Hebrew Bible”.[10] For a long time, following this date, the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny.[11]

In the 20th century, many scholars seemed to believe that the limits of the Ketuvim as canonized scripture were determined by the Council of Jamnia (c. 90 CE). But the theory of the Council of Jamnia is largely discredited today WIKI

Books Contemporary to Early Christianity Omitted from the Modern Bible

Brief Descriptions of the Apocryphal

First Esdras. This book is someone’s attempt to revise the canonical book of Ezra, supplementing it with material from the last two chapters of 2 Chronicles and the last two chapters of Nehemiah, and with an entertaining tale about three young courtiers who debate the question, “What is the strongest thing in the world?” The debate is held before the king of Persia, and the winner is to get a prize. The first maintains that it is wine; the second that it is the king himself; the third argues with some irony and humor that women are stronger than either wine or kings, but that “truth” and “the God of truth” are by far strongest. This last young man turns out to be none other than Zerubbabel, who for his prize receives generous help from the king in rebuilding Jerusalem.

Second Esdras. Also called the Ezra Apocalypse. This is a typical Jewish apocalypse, probably first written in Greek about A.D. 100. Some hold that it was originally written in Hebrew. It appears to be a composite work, compiled of two or three sources. Around A.D. 120 it was edited by an unknown Christian, and then translated into Latin. The Christian editor added some introductory and closing chapters in which reference is made to Christ, but the original Jewish composition was not changed in any important respect. This book was not included in Septuagint manuscripts, and so the Greek text has been lost. The most important witness to the original text is the Latin version, which was included in medieval manuscripts of the Vulgate. The book consists mostly of dialogues between Ezra and angels sent to him to answer his urgent theological questions about the problem of evil, and in particular the failures and afflictions of Israel. All of this is presented as if written long before by Ezra and hidden away. The book was obviously written as an encouragement to the Jews, who had recently suffered the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). It also includes some symbolical prophecies concerning the Roman empire, in which Rome is figured as a three-headed eagle that oppresses the world and is finally destroyed by a roaring lion (a figure of the Messiah). There is a fantastic story of how the Hebrew Scriptures were all destroyed in the Babylonian exile and then perfectly restored by the miraculous inspiration of Ezra as he dictated all of the books to five scribes over a period of forty days. Along with the canonical books, Ezra dictates 70 secret books that are to be reserved for the wise. Second Esdras is presented as being one of these secret books. Martin Luther omitted First and Second Esdras from the Apocrypha of his German Bible in 1534, and both books were also rejected by the Roman Catholics at the Council of Trent in 1546. Nevertheless, they were included in the Apocrypha of the King James version.

Tobit. This is a didactic and romantic tale written in Aramaic probably around 200 B.C., and afterwards translated into Greek. Fragments of the Aramaic text were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The story is of a Jewish family taken to Nineveh during the Babylonian captivity. Tobit, the blind father, sends his son Tobias on a journey to collect a debt. On his way Tobias is led by an angel in disguise (Raphael) to the house of a virgin who had been married seven times, but whose husbands were all slain by a demon on their wedding night. Tobias marries the girl and drives away the demon by burning the heart of a certain fish in the bedroom, and with the help of Raphael. He returns home with the money and his bride, and then heals his father’s eyes with the fish’s gall. The story is sprinkled with pious observations and exhortations, and concludes with Tobias’ departure from Nineveh, which, after the natural death of Tobit, is destroyed in judgment.

Judith. Written in Hebrew about 150 B.C., and soon translated into Greek. The Hebrew text is lost. It is a story about a beautiful young widow named Judith (meaning “Jewess”) who saves her city from a military siege. She goes out to the enemy commander’s camp, allures him, gets him drunk, and then cuts off his head while he sleeps in his tent. She returns with his head and shows it to her people, exhorting the men to go forth and rout the enemy, which they do. Throughout this story she is presented as a woman who is very keen to observe the Law of Moses.

Additions to Esther. These consist of six long paragraphs inserted in the Septuagint version of Esther in several places, and are thought to be the work of an Egyptian Jew writing around 170 B.C. They are designed to provide the book with a more religious tone, and to make it clear that it was for the sake of their piety that the Jews were delivered from the evil designs of the Gentiles related in the canonical book. These additions were put at the end of the book by Jerome when he made his Latin translation because he accepted only the Hebrew text as canonical.

Wisdom of Solomon. Sometimes called simply Wisdom. This book is a collection of theological and devotional essays first written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew about 100 B.C., but presented in such a way that they seem to be discourses of king Solomon. The author compares Jewish religion with Greek philosophy, and shows faith to be the highest form of wisdom. The book is edifying and worthy of much respect. It has often been quoted by Christian writers in the past.

Ecclesiasticus, originally called The Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, or simply Sirach. Written first in Hebrew about 200 B.C. by a wisdom teacher named Joshua Ben Sirach, and translated into Greek by his grandson around 135 B.C. The book consists mainly of proverbs and other wise sayings about common life, strung together in short discourses or organized in topical sections. It also contains longer discourses about religious life and faith, which are well worth reading. It came to be called Ecclesiasticus (the “churchly” book) because in early times it was often read in church services, being the most highly regarded of the apocryphal books. This book should not be confused with the canonical book of Ecclesiastes.

Baruch. A composite book of five chapters, in which there are exhortations against association with idolatry, celebration of the Law as God’s “wisdom,” and encouragements and promises to faithful Jews, collected together and edited probably about 150 B.C. The material is presented as if by Baruch, the disciple of Jeremiah, during the time of the Babylonian exile.

Epistle of Jeremiah. Often printed as chapter 6 of Baruch, this short work purports to be a letter from Jeremiah to the Jews in exile in Babylon, but this is generally regarded as an imposture, or a mere literary device used by an author writing around 200 B.C. It is essentially a short tract against pagan idolatry, and makes much use of ridicule and sarcasm.

Song of the Three Holy Children (including The Prayer of Azariah). An embellishment of the ordeal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego recorded in the canonical book of Daniel, designed to be added after verse 23 of the third chapter. It consists of prayers and hymns of the sort which might have been offered to God by the three while in the furnace.

The Story of Susanna. A short story about how two lecherous old men tried to compel a beautiful and pious young wife, Susanna, to lie with them, and then publicly accused her of adultery when she refused. At a trial they give false testimony and she is condemned by the council of elders. But Daniel the prophet is divinely inspired to know the facts of the case, and he exposes the two men in a second trial, after which they are put to death. This story was inserted between chapters 12 and 14 in the Septuagint version of Daniel, and at the beginning of the book in Theodotion’s version.

Bel and the Dragon. This is a combination of two stories which were also attached to Daniel in the Septuagint, at the end of the book. The story of Bel concerns a Babylonian idol of that name, to which Daniel refused to give an offering. When he was challenged he told the Persian king that the vain idol had no need of offerings because it could not eat anything. The king then required the priests of Bel to prove otherwise or die. The priests tried to deceive the king by entering the temple of Bel at night through a secret entrance and eating the food-offerings themselves, but they were exposed by Daniel, who had spread ashes on the temple floor, revealing their footprints. The priests of Bel were then slain and their temple destroyed. In the story of the Dragon Daniel refuses to worship an actual living “dragon,” and accepts a challenge to slay the dragon without sword or staff. He feeds the dragon a concoction of pitch, fat, and hair, which causes it to burst open and die. Daniel’s enemies then cause him to be thrown into the lion’s den again, but the hungry lions are fed with abundant food brought from Israel by the prophet Habakkuk, who is transported to Babylon with the food by angels. Both of these stories were evidently written around 150-100 B.C.

The Prayer of Manasseh. This is a psalm of repentance, composed to suit the situation of Manasseh, the king of Judah who was carried captive to Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 33:11-13, where the psalm was probably intended for insertion in the Septuagint). This book was rejected by the Roman Catholics at the Council of Trent in 1546.

First Maccabees. This book was written in Hebrew about 100 B.C., and soon afterwards translated into Greek. The Hebrew text was seen by Jerome, but is now lost. It is a sober but stirring historical account of Jewish history from 175 B.C. to 135 B.C., during which time the Jews of Palestine fought for and gained national independence from their Greek overlords. It is highly regarded by historians as a source of accurate information.

Second Maccabees. This is not a sequel to First Maccabees, but a different account of many of the same events related in that book down to 161 B.C., combined with many fanciful and legendary additions. The writer’s interests are religious rather than historical, and he uses the history as a backdrop for advancing religious ideas current among the Jews of Alexandria during the first century B.C. It is generally thought to be later than First Maccabees, but earlier than A.D. 70. Some statements in this book support the Roman Catholic teachings on purgatory, prayers for the dead, and the intercessory work of glorified “saints.”

Bookfs of the Essenes ( Early Christian Foundations)-(wikis)

The Temple Scroll

The Temple Scroll demands an extraordinary level of purity in all who draw near the Temple because of the holiness radiating from it.[10] In drawing close to the Temple, to protect the holiness, greater degrees of cleanliness is mandated in the form of purity laws.[10] The purity laws are more stringent than those of Pentateuch, which was mainly concerned with keeping the wilderness camp of the sojourning Israelites pure.[10] The Temple Scroll does not appear to make provision for permanent habitation of the Temple city, but envisions temporary residents that come from other cities for festivals and religious rites.[11]

Columns 48 to 51 list sources of impurity and the steps needed to become clean again.[12]

Anyone who lies with his wife and has an ejaculation, for three days shall not enter anywhere in the city of the temple in which I shall install my name.[13]

Such statements go beyond the requirements of TorahMishnah or Talmud, and imply that sexual intercourse is not to be permitted at all inside the city where the new Temple will stand. A similar regulation is found in the Damascus Document (also found at Qumran) Dead Sea Scrolls Document Ref. No. CD-A]:

…it is holy. No man should sleep with his wife in the city of the temple, defiling the city of the temple with their impurity. (Damascus Document CD-A, Column 12 (XII) verses 1 & 2)[14][15]

The holiness extends out from the inner court of the Temple to encompass not only the other two temple courts, but takes in the entire city. These two latter passages also reveal a strong connection between the Temple Scroll and the Damascus Document.

The Damascus Document 

The Admonition

This part is divided into four subsections that each outline different parts of information that were especially relevant to the new covenant community.

Section I, I:1-IV:12a there is a strong description of the community and how they originated with their purpose and goals. Section II, IV:12b-VII:9 it outlines the views of people in and outside the community, and discusses that these people are straying from the real law. Meanwhile the people in this community are drawn together by the covenant, and strict laws they follow together. It is said that people who follow this law will attain salvation. Section III, VII:5-VIII:19 outlines the strong warnings given to the people who stray from the law, and gives vivid critiques of the Prince of Judah, and also three nets of Belial. Section IV, XIX:33-XX:34 has more warnings of not betraying the community, and making promises to be faithful.[7]

A. Admonition (1-8 + 19-20)

1. History (1.1 – 4.12a)
background to the community
2. Legal (4.12b – 7.9)
the significance of being outside and inside the community, some of the laws
3. Warnings (7.5 – 8.19)
includes the Three Nets of Belial
4. Supplement (19.33 – 20.34)
discusses apostasy, disobedience, further warnings and a promise to the faithful

The Laws The first 12 laws are from the Damascus Document found at Qumran, while the others are from Cairo Geniza. 1. Introduction the new laws, priests, and overseer. 2. Rules about priests and disqualification 3. Diagnosis of Skin disease 4. Impurity from menstruation and childbirth. 5. Levitical laws pertaining to harvest. 6. Gleanings from grapes and olives 7. Fruits of the fourth year. 8. Measures and Tithes 9. Impurity of Idolators metal, corpse impurity, and sprinkling. 10. Wife suspected of adultery 11. Integrity with commercial dealings and marriage 12. Overseer of the camp 13. 15.1-15a: Oath to return to the law of Moses be those joining the covenant 14. 15.15b-20: Exclusion from the community on the basis of a physical defect. 15. 16.1-20: Oath to enter the community, as well as laws concerning the taking of other oaths and vows. 16. 9.1: Death to the one responsible for the death of a Jew using gentile courts of justice. 17. 9.2-8: Laws about reproof and vengeance 18. 9.9-10.10a: Laws about oaths, lost articles and testimony and judges. 19. 10.10b-13 Purification in water. 20. 10.14-11.18 Regulations for keeping the Sabbath 21. 11.19-12.2a Laws for keeping the purity of the Temple. 22. 12.2b-6a Dealing with transgressors 23. 12.6b-11a Relations with gentiles 24. 12.11b-15a Dietary laws 25. 12.15b-22a Two purity rules 26. 12.22b-14.19 Regulations for those in the camps 27. 14.20-22 Penal code dealing with infractions of communal discipline 28. Expulsion ceremony. This was found in Qumran.

B. Laws (15-16 + 9-14)

1. Oaths and vows (15.1 – 9.10a)
taking oaths, becoming a member of the community, offerings and vows to God
2. Sundry rulings (9.10b – 12.22a)
rules regarding witnesses, purity and purification, the Sabbath, sacrifices, gentiles and impure foods
3. Camp laws (12.22b – 14.18a)
laws for camp living, qualification for an overseer, relations with outsiders, ranks and needs of camp members
4. Penal code (14.18b – 22)
fragment concerning punishments

Book of Jubilees– Content

Jubilees covers much of the same ground as Genesis, but often with additional detail, and addressing Moses in the second person as the entire history of creation, and of Israel up to that point, is recounted in divisions of 49 years each, or “Jubilees”. The elapsed time from the creation, up to Moses receiving the scriptures upon Sinai during the Exodus, is calculated as fifty Jubilees, less the 40 years still to be spent wandering in the desert before entering Canaan – or 2,410 years.

Four classes of angels are mentioned: angels of the presence, angels of sanctifications, guardian angels over individuals, and angels presiding over the phenomena of nature. Enoch was the first man initiated by the angels in the art of writing, and wrote down, accordingly, all the secrets of astronomy, of chronology, and of the world’s epochs. As regards demonology, the writer’s position is largely that of the deuterocanonical writings from both New and Old Testament times.

The Book of Jubilees narrates the genesis of angels on the first day of Creation and the story of how a group of fallen angels mated with mortal females, giving rise to a race of giants known as the Nephilim, and then to their descendants, the Elioud. The Ethiopian version states that the “angels” were in fact the disobedient offspring of Seth (Deqiqa Set), while the “mortal females” were daughters of Cain.[19] This is also the view held by Simeon bar YochaiClementine literatureSextus Julius AfricanusEphrem the SyrianAugustine of Hippo, and John Chrysostom among many other early authorities. Their hybrid children, the Nephilim in existence during the time of Noah, were wiped out by the great flood. However, Jubilees also states that God granted ten percent of the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim to try to lead mankind astray after the flood.

Jubilees makes an incestuous reference regarding the son of Adam and Eve, Cain, and his wife. In chapter iv (1–12) (Cain and Abel), it mentions that Cain took his sister Awan to be his wife and Enoch was their child. It also mentions that Seth (the third son of Adam and Eve) married his sister Azura.[20]

According to this book, Hebrew is the language of Heaven, and was originally spoken by all creatures in the Garden, animals and man; however, the animals lost their power of speech when Adam and Eve were expelled. Following the Deluge, the earth was apportioned into three divisions for the three sons of Noah, and his sixteen grandsons. After the destruction of the Tower of Babel, their families were scattered to their respective allotments, and Hebrew was forgotten, until Abraham was taught it by the angels.

Jubilees also contains a few scattered allusions to the Messianic kingdom. Robert Henry Charles wrote in 1913: “This kingdom was to be ruled over by a Messiah sprung, not from Levi – that is, from the Maccabean family – as some of his contemporaries expected – but from Judah. This kingdom would be gradually realized on earth, and the transformation of physical nature would go hand in hand with the ethical transformation of man until there was a new heaven and a new earth. Thus, finally, all sin and pain would disappear and men would live to the age of 1,000 years in happiness and peace, and after death enjoy a blessed immortality in the spirit world.”[3]

Jubilees insists (in Chapter 6) on a 364 day yearly calendar, made up of four quarters of 13 weeks each, rather than a year of 12 lunar months, which it says is off by 10 days per year (the actual number being about 11¼ days). It also insists on a “Double Sabbath” each year being counted as only one day to arrive at this computation.

Jubilees 7:20–29 is possibly an early reference to the Noahide laws.[21]


Jubilees bases its take on Enoch on the “Book of Watchers”, 1 Enoch 1–36.[22]

Its sequence of events leading to the Flood match those of the “Dream Visions”, 1 Enoch 83–90.

Cohen on the Jewish Biblical Canon

The Tripartite Canon

Ben Sira divided the curriculum of the scribe into law, wisdom, and prophecies. This classification reflects the ancient distinction between priest, sage, and prophet. Four hundred years before Ben Sira, the Israelites rejected Jeremiah’s prophecies of doom and insisted that life would proceed normally: “For instruction [Torah] shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet” (Jer. 18:18).

The Torah

For all the Jews of antiquity, the core of the canon was the Torah (lit., “teaching” or “instruction”), often called by Greek-speaking Jews “the Law” or “the laws.” (The term Pentateuch, “the five scrolls,” derives from the Greek church fathers.) The narrator of the first four books of the Torah (Genesis– Numbers) is anonymous; God often speaks to the patriarchs (in Genesis) and to Moses and the Israelites (in Exodus–Numbers), but the text nowhere identifies either its narrator or its author. Deuteronomy, by contrast, claims to be the work of Moses. It is a series of long orations in which Moses speaks about himself in the first person (although in some sections an anonymous narrator speaks about Moses in the third person). It is no accident that Deuteronomy, which began its career as a document discovered in the temple, has respect for writing and the written word. It refers to itself as “the book of the Torah” (e.g., Deut. 29:20) and enjoins the king to write a copy of the Torah for himself (Deut. 17:18). The historical works written in the Deuteronomic tradition (Joshua–Kings) frequently refer to a book called “the Torah of Moses” (e.g., Josh. 8:31; 2 Kgs. 14:6) and use expressions like “in accordance with what is written in the book of the Torah” (e.g., Josh. 8:34) or “in accordance with what is written in [the book of] the Torah of Moses” (e.g., Josh. 23:6; 1 Kgs. 2:3). In these passages the word “Torah” retains its original meaning of “instruction” or “teaching” but is on its way to becoming a proper noun.

The Writings

Thus did the words of Jeremiah’s prophecy live on, their potency and veracity undiminished long after their own time. The same attitude toward the prophets is well attested in the pesharim from Qumran, as I shall discuss below; in the Gospels, with their frequent reference to the “fulfillment” of biblical prophecies; and in rabbinic literature. Read from this perspective, the prophets are “canonical.” It seems, then, that the prophetic books were edited before the time of Ben Sira and became canonical during the second and first centuries BCE. The Samaritans, who separated themselves from the Judean community at the end of the second century BCE, did not take the prophets with them.


N.T. Wright –

Who were the Essenes and Were Jesus and John the Baptist Essenes?

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