Reconsidering the process of making the Old Testament

Samuel Cheon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study is to reconsider the process of forming the Old Testament. To do so, it critically reviews the so-called "the standard theory of the Old Testament canonization," which was suggested by H. E. Ryle in the late 19th century, considering the recent scholarly views of the Hebrew Bible's formation. Ryle's theory of its canonization, which is still being taught in theological schools, was very influential in the field of the theological education until the 1960s. However, as scholars studied the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the 1947-1956, they seriously challenged the theory as well as the insistence which the formation of the Hebrew canon was completed in Jamnia Council which Jewish rabbis met in 90 C.E. This study firstly considers the theory of Jewish Jamnia Council, which was suggested by Jewish scholar H. Graetz in the 19th century, and suggests that the Old Testament as the form which we have in the present was not completed at least until the first century. We cannot find any evidence of the argument in any Jewish and Christian literature. Secondly, there is no evidence that the canonization of the Torah and the Prophets was completed in the second century B.C.E. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that Jewish sects had different opinions about the concept and limit of the Prophetic Books. Thirdly, there is no evidence that the early Christianity did not received the completed Hebrew canon from the Jewish community. Rather it used the Septuagint as their Scripture, having no strict concept of canon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-226
Number of pages27
JournalKorea Journal of the Old Testament Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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