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The Canon of the Bible   By: (1806-1898)

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The Canon of the Bible:

Its Formation, History, And Fluctuations


Samuel Davidson, D.D.

Of Halle, And LL.D.

From the Third Revised and Enlarged Edition.

New York

Peter Eckler Publishing Co.



Preface. Chapter I. Introductory. Chapter II. The Old Testament Canon From Its Beginning To Its Close. Chapter III. The Samaritan And Alexandrian Canons. Chapter IV. Number And Order Of The Separate Books. Chapter V. Use Of The Old Testament By The First Christian Writers, And By The Fathers Till The Time Of Origen. Chapter VI. The New Testament Canon In The First Three Centuries. Chapter VII. The Bible Canon From The Fourth Century To The Reformation. Chapter VIII. Order Of The New Testament Books. Chapter IX. Summary Of The Subject. Chapter X. The Canon In The Confession Of Different Churches. Chapter XI. The Canon From Semler To The Present Time, With Reflections On Its Readjustment. Footnotes


The substance of the present work was written toward the close of the year 1875 for the new edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica . Having been abridged and mutilated, contrary to the author's wishes, before its publication there, he resolved to print it entire. With that view it has undergone repeated revision with enlargement in different parts, and been made as complete as the limits of an essay appeared to allow. As nothing of importance has been knowingly omitted, the writer hopes it will be found a comprehensive summary of all that concerns the formation and history of the Bible canon. The place occupied by it was vacant. No English book reflecting the processes of results of recent criticism, gives an account of the canon in both Testaments. Articles and essays upon the subject there are; but their standpoint is usually apologetic not scientific, traditional rather than impartial, unreasonably conservative without being critical. The topic is weighty, involving the consideration of great questions, such as the inspiration, authenticity, authority, and age of the Scriptures. The author has tried to handle it fairly, founding his statements on such evidence as seemed convincing, and condensing them into a moderate compass. If the reader wishes to know the evidence, he may find it in the writer's Introductions to the Old and New Testaments , where the separate books of Scripture are discussed; and in the late treatises of other critics. While his expositions are capable of expansion, it is believed that they will not be easily shaken. He commends the work to the attention of all who have an interest in the progress of theology, and are seeking a foundation for their faith less precarious than books however venerable.

It has not been the writer's purpose to chronicle phases of opinion, or to refute what he believes to be error in the newest hypotheses about the age, authority, and composition of the books. His aim has been rather to set forth the most correct view of the questions involved in a history of the canon, whether it be more or less recent. Some may think that the latest or most current account of such questions is the best; but that is not his opinion. Hence, the fashionable belief that much of the Pentateuch, the Book of Leviticus wholly, with large parts of Exodus and Numbers, in a word, that all the laws relating to divine worship, with most of the chronological tables or statistics, belong to Ezra, who is metamorphosed in fact into the first Elohist, is unnoticed. Hence, also, the earliest gospel is not declared to be Mark's. Neither has the author ventured to place the fourth gospel at the end of the first century, as Ewald and Weitzs├Ącker do, after the manner of the old critics; or with Keim so early as 110 115 A... Continue reading book >>

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