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Gotta Sink an Anchor

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“In these first centuries of the common era both Judaism and Christianity gave shape to and defined the authority of collections of writings that formed their respective Bibles or canons of sacred writings” (Oxford Study Bible, page 47).

Is this true? I had no idea that Judaism waited so long to canonize its scriptures. It’s strange to think of Christians and Jews on a parallel track to found themselves, to make a way not to forget themselves in a shifting world. It was a time when you could no longer trust culture. Too much was changing; you couldn’t trust yourself to pass the traditions to your children, and you couldn’t trust them either. It was time to textualize: this book, this will tell us what is true and what we are. What a sad time.

And yet, part of what they were doing I hold in common: “engaging the past in search of identity for the present and direction for the future” (ibid.).

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  1. Leonardo Z
    July 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    The canon of scripture did not ‘found’ or establish neither the Jewish nor the Christian religion. The Judeo-Christian tradition is founded on God’s divine revelation, which is recorded in scripture. But as a Catholic, I believe that Jesus Christ is the revealed Word of God made incarnate. And he gave authority to his apostles, whom he sent with the authority given to him by the Father. And it is from that God-given authority, that I can know that the Church’s teaching (including the canon of Scripture) can be trusted.

    After all, Jesus did walk on this earth, and he is who he says he is. It’s not just a nice heart-warming myth.

    I’d recommend you read ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and ‘Introduction to Christianity’ by Benedict XVI. You may enjoy reading about it, and hopefully you will get a better sense of this divine revelation, the deposit of faith which the Church has guarded and continues to teach faithfully.

  2. Elisabeth M
    July 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks, Leonardo. I’ll read those texts.

    I think you’re right, canonization didn’t found these religions in the sense of “create” or “establish.” Judaism and Christianity are a lot older than their canonization. When I said “they were on a track to found themselves,” I meant to formalize their identity, to stabilize it against the passage of time. Putting something into print solidifies a thing in a way nothing else does. Granted, the scriptures were already in print at that time, but before canonization, there was at least a continued discussion about which ones were authoritative: which were God’s divine revelation and which were not.

    About Jesus. To clarify, the last description I would ever give to the life of Christ is “just a nice heart-warming myth.” Jesus isn’t “just” anything, in my opinion. I do have questions about who he was and is, and I’m going to keep asking them, but I do so with love and respect, both for his person and for the faith.

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