Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Canon List of Baba Bathra 14b

Since there has been some discussion recently on this blog (e.g., here) concerning the relevance of the canon list found in the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Bathra, folio 14b, I thought it would be valuable to post the text, in Hebrew and English. (For English, see also here.)

The Hebrew below, I typed in some time ago from the standard Vilna edition of the Talmud. There may be typos, and if you find any, I'd appreciate your telling me. The English is from the Soncino translation.

I include not only the canon list but the subsequent discussion concerning the authorship of the books. Notice that the Torah is not included in the canon list; it is rather assumed. Notice also that the specific question addressed by the baraita is not the contents of the various divisions, but their order. Presumably, there was no debate about the order of the books of the Torah.

The date of this discussion is not strictly known. The redaction of the Talmud itself is usually dated to the sixth century, but since this discussion is reported as a baraita--that is, it begins with the phrase "Our Rabbis taught", the standard phrase introducing a tannaitic tradition preserved only in amoraic sources--it possibly goes back to the second century CE. As with everything, scholars debate the dating of this baraita. One scholar (Roger Beckwith) has argued forcefully that it actually can be dated to the second century BCE (The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church), while others would not necessarily even trust that it is authentically tannaitic (thus, perhaps third century CE or later; see Lightstone in The Canon Debate).

In any case, here is the text.

Babylonian Talmud, Baba Bathra 14b–15a
Edition: Vilna. Translation: Soncino.
ת׳׳ר סדרן של נביאים יהושע ושופטים שמואל ומלכים ירמיה ויחזקאל ישעיה ושנים עשר מכדי הושע קדים דכתיב תחלת דבר ה׳ בהושע וכי עם הושע דבר תחלה והלא ממשה ועד הושע כמה נביאים היו וא׳׳ר יוחנן שהיה תחלה לארבעה נביאים שנתנבאו באותו הפרק ואלו הן הושע וישעיה עמום ומיכה וליקדמיה להושע ברישא כיון דכתיב נבואתיה גבי חגי זכריה ומלאכי וחגי זכריה ומלאכי סוף נביאים הוו חשיב ליה בידייהו וליכתביה לחודיה וליקדמיה איידי דזוטר מירכס מכדי ישעיה קדים מירמיה ויחזקאל ליקדמיה לישעיה ברישא כיון דמלכים סופיה חורבנא וירמיה כוליה חורבנא ויחזקאל רישיה חורבנא וסיפיה נחמתא וישעיה כוליה נחמתא סמכינן חורבנא לחורבנא ונחמתא לנחמתא׃ סידרן של כתובים רות וספר תהלים ואיוב ומשלי קהלת שיר השירים וקינות דניאל ומגילת אסתר עזרא ודברי הימים ולמ׳׳ד איוב בימי משה היה ליקדמיה לאיוב ברישא אתחולי בפורענותא לא מתחלינן רות נמי פורענות היא פורענות דאית ליה אחרית דאמר רבי יוחנן למה נקרא שמה רות שיצא ממנה דוד שריוהו להקב׳׳ה בשירות ותושבחות ומי כתבן משה כתב ספרו ופרשת בלעם ואיוב יהושע כתב ספרו ושמונה פסוקים שבתורה שמואל כתב ספרו ושופטים ורות דוד כתב ספר תהלים ע׳׳י עשרה זקנים ע׳׳י אדם הראשון על ידי מלכי צדק ועל ידי אברהם וע׳׳י משה ועל ידי הימן וע׳׳י ידותון ועל ידי אסף ועל ידי שלשה בני קרח ירמיה כתב ספרו וספר מלכים וקינות חזקיה וסיעתו כתבו (ימש׳׳ק סימן) ישעיה משלי שיר השירים וקהלת אנשי כנסת הגדולה כתבו (קנד׳׳ג סימן) יחזקאל ושנים עשר דניאל ומגעלת אסתר עזרא כתב ספרו ויחס של דברי הימים עד לו מסייעא ליה לרב דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב לא עלה עזרא מבבל עד שיחס עצמו ועלה ומאן אסקיה נחמיה בן חכליה.
Our Rabbis taught: The order of the Prophets is, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve Minor Prophets. Let us examine this. Hosea came first, as it is written, God spake first to Hosea [Hos. 1:2]. But did God speak first to Hosea? Were there not many prophets between Moses and Hosea? R. Joḥanan, however, has explained that [what it means is that] he was the first of the four prophets who prophesied at that period, namely, Hosea, Isaiah, Amos, and Micah. Should not then Hosea come first?—Since his prophecy is written along with those of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi came at the end of the prophets, he is reckoned with them. But why should he not be written separately and placed first?—Since his book is so small, it might be lost [if copied separately]. Let us see again. Isaiah was prior to Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Then why should not Isaiah be placed first?—Because the Book of Kings ends with a record of destruction and Jeremiah speaks throughout of destruction and Ezekiel commences with destruction and ends with consolation and Isaiah is full of consolation; therefore we put destruction next to destruction and consolation next to consolation.
The order of the Hagiographa is Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles. Now on the view that Job lived in the days of Moses, should not the book of Job come first?—We do not begin with a record of suffering. But Ruth also is a record of suffering?—It is a suffering with a sequel [of happiness], as R. Joḥanan said: Why was her name called Ruth?—Because there issued from her David who replenished the Holy One, blessed be He, with hymns and praises.
Who wrote the Scriptures?—Moses wrote his own book and the portion of Balaam and Job. Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and [the last] eight verses of the Pentateuch. Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the Book of Judges and Ruth. David wrote the Book of Psalms, including in it the work of the elders, namely, Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Yeduthun, Asaph, Korah. Jeremiah wrote the book which bears his name, the Book of Kings, and Lamentations. Hezekiah and his colleagues wrote (Mnemonic YMSHḲ) Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. The Men of the Great Assembly wrote (Mnemonic ḲNDG) Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther. Ezra wrote the book that bears his name and the genealogies of the Book of Chronicles up to his own time. This confirms the opinion of Rab, since Rab Judah has said in the name of Rab: Ezra did not leave Babylon to go up to Eretz Yisrael until he had written his own genealogy. Who then finished it [the Book of Chronicles]?—Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

The discussion then continues with further nuancing of the authorship of the various books.

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