One last question if you have time .  Was there an Old Testament canon completed before the time of Christ that the Jews used?   Or was it not until 90AD at Jamnia that it was established? I’m seeing different claims on this topic. Was hoping maybe you could help me clear it up?   Thank you again!


The Old Testament canon was decided at least two hundred years before the Council of Jamnia. This council was held in AD 90. It confirmed what had already been long accepted. Josephus had the same list of book as the Council of Jamnia. His 22 books are our 39 books. The twelve minor prophets were one book in the Hebrew Bible of Josephus and Jamnia, the Samuels, the Kings and the Chronicles were also one book in the Hebrew Bible, etc. which is why the number of books was lower) The Hebrew (and Aramaic) Old Testament had been translated into the Greek in what is known as the Septuagint translation by about 200 BC. Jesus quoted from nearly every Old Testament book but never quoted from other books, such as the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. Also, nearly all the Old Testament books were found in at least partial manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls. All this data (Josephus, Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint translation and quotes by Jesus and by other Jewish writers) supports the conclusion that the Jewish canon was established hundreds of years before the Council of Jamnia.

We cannot attach an exact date for the finalization of the Hebrew canon of scripture. What we can say is that it probably reached its final form somewhere between 400 and 300 BC, but almost certainly, conservatively, by 200 BC. The Council of Jamnia was not called to decide the contents of the Old Testament, but they did confirm what was already in place. Reports from these meetings imply that the authority of some books was questioned (Daniel, Ecclesiates, Esther), but that the debate was completely one-sided, and no important change was made at that time. They questioned the canon, at least in part because the very early church had begun to use some of the Greek Apocrypha. The Jews completely rejected this and pushed back against the Christian use of these extra books by confirming that only what we now call the 39 books were canonical.

I hope this helps.

John Oakes

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