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“The Formation of the Jewish Canon”: Lim’s New Book

November 3, 2014

Over the weekend I finished the new book by my colleague, Prof. Timothy Lim:  The Formation of the Jewish Canon (Yale University Press, 2013), and I’m very impressed.  Though of relatively modest size (288 pp. including notes, bibliography & indices), it packs a lot between its covers, delivering a careful analysis of key evidence, informed engagement with prior scholarship, and a cogent proposal:  The traditional Jewish biblical canon derives from the Pharisaic canon, which was one of a number of lists of authoritative writings among various Jewish groups of the first century CE.

Lim is cordial and even generous in his treatment of other scholars, without pulling punches in noting any deficiencies in their handling of matters.  He goes into key evidence in considerable detail, showing the benefits of the sort of high-level language skills he possesses.  He weighs various factors, candidly noting where he makes inferences and judgement-calls, not over-claiming, but offering a way through the thicket of issues toward what seems to me a solid proposal.  In any case, I think that it’s now the book to note and engage on the question of when and how the traditional Jewish “Bible” came to have its contents.

Part of the evidence dealt with is, of course, in the NT.  And here, too, Lim, is a careful and reliable guide.  His handling of the Pauline citations and allusions to the Jewish scriptures is particularly worth highlighting.  Recommended!

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