Bible Master Class Series:

Lesson 2 "The Development of Canon"






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There is lots more you could look at in the bible on this topic than what is outlined below. However such a study is outside the scope of this series. If you want to go further word studies on "scripture" etc will be most illuminating. Having said that some key points are covered below.


Recognition of Scripture:


Neh 8 – 10 (first few verses of Neh 8 if you are in a hurry)


The hebrew word Torah can be translated as an arrow aimed at the mark. The mark in this sense is the truth about God. Thus Torah is the teaching to bring us to the truth about God. Based on the tradition from the Septuaguint, Torah is usually translated as “Law” and in many bible translations Ezra reads from the Book of the Law. (cf


Consider the response and attitude of the various players to the Torah. This is a passage from the Writings generally considered evidence for dating of the canonisation of the Torah.


2Pet 3:15,16 – The dating of 2 Peter is an ongoing debate with everything from 60 A.D. to 160 A.D. suggested by Scholars. How does this reflect, if at all, about the statement that Paul's writings were “Scripture”?


Authorship of Scripture:


Josh 8:32 Several things are clear from this verse.


  • The Law that Joshua wrote must have been short.

  • Writing was rare and so to be noted and used in a ceremonial context of covenant ceremony

  • Moses had a hand in forming the Law traditions for the Israelites.


Do you agree with the statements above?


It is generally agreed that writing didn't come to the fore in Israel until David's kingdom. You needed to have the spare capacity to invest in people knowing how to write for one thing and an agrarian society didn't need writing. However a King's court does for taxes and other records.


While writing on stone happened in ancient times the amount of text tended to be small. The most famous of these stellae was the rosetta stone contained a decree in praise of Ptolemy III in three languages. The stone itself is about the size of a large man, it was inscribed with three languages though. The preferred writing medium at this time was clay tablets or papyrus.


By the time of Ezra/Nehemiah, the Law was large enough to take hours or days to read.


While writing didn't become common until the time of David, like many stone age nomads, the Israelites had an extensive oral tradition. At the time of the passage, Moses' influence and the Exodus would have loomed large – as it does throughout the Old Testament.


Mark 7:10, 12:19. There are many places where the Torah is ascribed Mosaic authorship. What does that say about the accuracy and authority of Scripture?


For me, there is a distinction between a way of saying something – ie the books of Moses – stating that something is so – ie Moses wrote the Torah. I see lots of the first and not much of the second. In the first the key thing is knowing which books they are talking about using the common way of saying at the time.




2Pet 1:19-21


So who caused scripture to be written?


If we take the Jewish view then all writers of the Bible were prophets.


Purpose of Scripture


Rom 15:4, 2Tim 3:16



 The scriptures were provided to encourage us and to give us hope.