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Edinburgh Canon Conference

May 22, 2015

I’m a bit tardy in commenting on the day-conference held here on 6 May:  “Power, Authority, and Canon,” which brought together a small galaxy of scholars on questions about the process by which certain writings came to be treated as “scriptures” and what it meant to do so.  The conference was organized by my Edinburgh colleague, Professor Timothy Lim, who himself is a major contributor to scholarly analysis on the topic, with his recent book:  The Formation of the Jewish Canon (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).

Those presenting (in the order of their presentations) were John J. Collins (on uses of Torah in the second-temple period), Michael Satlow (on “bad prophecies,” i.e., how books that contain unfulfilled prophecy were included among “scriptures”), Manfred Oeming (proposing that the dynamics of canon-formation go deeply back into Israel’s history), Timothy Lim (arguing that divine “inspiration” doesn’t seem to have been all that decisive a criterion for canonicity), John Barton (exploring how much the contents of scriptural writings matters for faith-communities), Walter Moberly (a critique of a recent effort at redrawing the NT canon), Craig Evans (exploring Gospel reports of Jesus’ attitude toward scriptures), and Shaye Cohen (offering concluding reflections on the conference).

Our Martin Hall was full for the conference, which drew attendance from several UK universities, as well as from Germany, Lithuania, Canada, and the USA.  There were animated discussions in response to papers and in the breaks for coffee and lunch, indicating that the topic continues to hold a lively interest.  Lim is working with presenters toward publication of a volume arising from the conference.

From → canon

9 Comments
  1. Rev. Bryant J. Williams III permalink

    Dear Larry,

    Did any of the conference speakers interact with McDonald, Kruger, Ehrmann, etc.? What are your thoughts?

    • The conference focused mainly on the formation of the Hebrew canon, on which these scholars have not pronounced as such.

  2. Hugh Scott permalink

    In advance of book production, it would be wondeful to have a review-length summary (say, 250-500 words) of each of these fascinating papers.

  3. Denis Campbell permalink

    Will a book of the papers br published?

  4. Brian Lopez permalink

    I found the abstracts: http://conferences.hss.ed.ac.uk/power-authority-canon/abstracts

    This is interesting. It confirms some of my tentative conclusions on inspiration and canonicity (not to mention inerrancy). The fact that “inspiration from God” was not the only criteria for a text to become canonical and/or authoritative. Esther comes to mind in the OT, or the short letters of Paul such as Philemon (to mention all his letters). Also, 1 Enoch, at least the “Book of Watchers” within it, in principal, was viewed as canonical by some, and quoted as such, of course, by Jude; and alluded to by 1 and 2 Peter. Also, the diversity of texts and translations between Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek (LXX and versions); The NT use of the OT from the LXX and differing readings from the Hebrew mss we have; etc.

  5. Brian Lopez permalink

    Apart from Lim’s book, where can we get access to the other’s works on this specific matter?

    • You’d have to run a search using standard library catalogue and periodical index tools.

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