The Oracles of God: "The Old Testament Canon" by Andrew E. Steinmann

John J. Bombaro
Wednesday, June 13th 2007
Sep/Oct 2001

With The Oracles of God, Lutheran pastor and professor of Old Testament at Ashland University, Andrew Steinmann, has made a fresh and invaluable contribution to an important and much-debated topic-the dating and assembling of the Old Testament canon. By a comprehensive examination of Jewish, Christian, and secular sources, Dr. Steinmann convincingly argues that the widely accepted view that the Old Testament canon developed in three divisions (Torah, Prophets, Writings) is based on late evidence. This late evidence for a tripartite Hebrew canon, he explains, is then read back onto earlier references to an Old Testament canon, which has resulted in erroneous assessments of those references: either early dates with an inconsistent tripartite division, or late dates which bring into question the early value of the Hebrew Scriptures. Steinmann explains, however, that a close, comprehensive, and chronological examination of the relevant data reveals that our present order and division of the Old Testament canon is the product of liturgical developments subsequent to the destruction of Herod's temple. Prior to A.D. 70, the canonicity of Scripture books was based upon their status within the official archives of the temple, not on an enumerated and codified list. This insight, along with his systematic analysis of the ancient evidence and critical engagement with competing biblical theories, facilitates Steinmann's conclusion that there was a normative and authoritative collection of sacred books the Old Testament canon archived in the Temple before the second century B.C.

The Oracles of God is written in a way that makes it entirely accessible to those unfamiliar with the debate and/or without abilities in Hebrew or Greek. Not only are all manuscript excerpts translated for the reader, but also the book's lucid prose, pithy chapter summaries, tables, and charts make what could be a complex subject pleasant and illuminating reading. This book is a must read for every seminarian and deserves wide readership among pastors and elders.

Wednesday, June 13th 2007

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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