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Re: orion re: Altman and Crowder

On Thu, 18 Dec 1997, Kelly McGrew wrote:

> The fact that the NRSV used the DSS to add to Samuel is interesting and could be
> fractous.  This implies that the Bible is no longer a 'closed' book in--that
> scholars can reasonably use the DSS (and other newly discovered texts?) to add to
> the MT.  Give the attitude of some--that the Bible is divinely inspired and the
> 'inerrant and ineffable word of God'--there could be some serious ramifications
> within organized religion as the Bible becomes a 'living document' and begins to
> change--once again.


Perhaps you should take a look at the editorial policy of the NRSV, 
which, if I am not mistaken, is not simply to reproduce the MT but to 
include in the covers of one book everything that has been considered 
canonical by the major Christian divisions.  This policy becomes obvious 
if one takes a look at the Apocrypha in the RSV/NRSV, which is not 
represented in the MT.  The Apocrypha there includes books like 3 and 4 
Maccabees, which are found in the Eastern Orthodox canon but not the 
Catholic Deuterocanonical books or the Protestant Apocrypha.  The same is 
the case for Psalm 151 (which someone at Harper and Row "corrected" to 
Psalm 141 in my article on the Apocrypha of the OT in the first edition 
of Harper's Bible Dictionary published by SBL).  Psalm 151 survived in 
some versions the Eastern Orthodox Bible, and has now been found at 
Qumran.  The addition to Samuel is perhaps outside of the above policy in 
that the Qumran does not represent a Christian canon, but the addition 
(apparently with appropriate notes) follows the inclusive policy of that 
translation/edition of the Bible.  The idea apparently was not to create 
a closed Bible but to create an inclusive one for ecumenical purposes.

While I am aware that the principle of a closed canon developed somewhere 
early in the history of the Christian Church, if one looks at the history 
of the canon in Christianity, it appears to be more principle than 
practice.  As a teacher I know of nothing more difficult to 
communicate to students (and to some Biblical scholars) than the 
complexity and fluidity of the canon in Christianity.

This is probably not an appropriate topic for continued discussion on 
Orion, so I would invite private replies for a round or two (although I 
am not at present prepared to pursue such a discussion at length).

David W. Suter
Saint Martin's College
Lacey, WA 98503