Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Sequence of the Hagiographa (Part 2)

Last time I looked at the three major sequences for the Hagiographa attested in Hebrew/Jewish sources--the "Traditionally Printed Sequence," the "Aleppo-Leningrad Sequence," and the "Talmudic Sequence." In this post I will look briefly at the order of books attested in Greek/Christian sources and how Roger Beckwith eliminates them from consideration in his discussion of what order of books was 'original' (see here for more on all that).

Actually, there has been somewhat of a change of plans about how this post will go. I originally intended to provide some detailed information about some of the Greek lists (especially those of Melito and Origen; see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26.12-14 and 6.25.1-2, respectively). But that ended up taking too long, so I've decided to finish up this series on the Hagiographa first, and then blog my way through each of the Greek and Latin canon lists from the first four centuries CE (and include maybe one or two from the early fifth century). If I actually follow through with this plan, it will take quite a while, but it will also be a good exercise for me.

So, now back to the Hagiographa in the Greek sources. Actually, there isn't really a category of "Hagiographa" in Greek sources--the OT canon is arranged differently from the tripartite Jewish canon. A few years ago, I surveyed the Christian canon lists from the first four centuries CE in this post, and I especially drew attention to those that numbered the OT books as 22. I didn't really talk about the order of books then, though. But, the order in these Christian sources is similar to what we are familiar with in the English Bible. That's because the order in these lists apparently set the agenda for the way to order books in Greek codices (LXX), which set the agenda for Latin codices, which set the agenda for English Bibles. Of course, the sequence of books presented by any two Fathers will almost invariably diverge somewhat, sometimes quite a lot, but in the first post in this series I noted that Beckwith surveys 70 different orders for the Hagiographa in Jewish sources, so we should not exaggerate the significance of this variation in Christian sources. The fact is that the Christian sources are fairly consistent in the 'big picture' on the order of books.

But, do these Christian lists reflect Jewish sources? Well, some of them say they do. For instance, Melito of Sardis says that he has traveled 'to the east' (i.e., Palestine) to obtain his list (Beckwith, 184-85, thinks he has consulted Christians), and he explicitly says that he is concerned with the 'order' (τάξις) of books, though there are definitely some problems with the order he presents (like putting Numbers before Leviticus). Origen explicitly says that he is presenting the 22 books "according to the Hebrews" (see Sundberg, pp. 134-38). There is also the "Bryennios List" of books from Codex Hierosolymitanus 54 that probably derives from a Jewish source.

If we are to believe this account, then we would have, on the one hand, ancient attestation for a tripartite canon of scripture known as the Tanak, but, on the other hand, other ancient attestation for a completely different Jewish order of the OT books. I think this is exactly the way it was, and I'm certainly not the only one. Even someone like Brevard Childs--who thinks that OT scholars ought to use the tripartite structure of the Hebrew canon in their canonical approaches to the Hebrew Bible (see pp. 666-67 of his Introduction)--even he recognizes that the tripartite structure was not universal among Jews in the centuries surrounding the turn of the era (same reference, but see also p. 53). A position similar to that of Childs is reflected in Steinberg (this book, p. 87) and Steins (this book, pp. 516-17) and others. One should also consult ch. 5 of the new book by David Carr.

However, Beckwith will have none of this. He will not allow that any Greek Christian list of OT books authentically reflects Jewish sources. Why? Because none of them (save for Jerome's list) divides the books into the three categories of the Tanak. Seriously, that's the reason. I have previously noted that Beckwith attributes this threefold arrangement and sequence to Judas Maccabeus in 164 BCE. Now, before 164 BCE, Beckwith thinks there were two categories called the Law and the Prophets (see, e.g., p. 163), but apparently from that time on every Jew throughout the world gave up the bipartite structure and immediately adopted Judas' new tripartite structure.

And so Beckwith can say things like this:
Up to the first century AD, the desire to adopt such arrangements of the books [i.e., mingling the Prophets and Hagiographa together, as in the Greek lists] seems to have been restrained by the force of Jewish tradition: only Josephus [...] gives cautious expression to it. (p. 182)
One may wonder who besides Josephus attests anything like an order of books "up to the first century AD." I can't think of anyone. But Beckwith is convinced that all Jews between Judas and Josephus would have unequivocally adhered to the tripartite canon of Baba Bathra.

Or again:
Melito's regrouping of the Prophets and Hagiographa in four categories is alone sufficient to defeat his purpose of reproducing the authentic 'order' [...]. (p. 184)
[...] there is one respect in which Origen's list resembles Melito's, that it regroups the Prophets and Hagiographa in four categories [...]. This is a characteristically Christian arrangement, which Origen does not claim to have found among the Jews, and which in all probability had a different source. Hence, whatever we may learn about the Jewish canon from Origen's list, we learn nothing from it about the Jewish structure or about the Jewish order of books. (pp. 186-87)
Epiphanius and his sources pursue chronology without regard to the distinction between the Prophets and Hagiographa, and each of his lists intermingles them, thus demonstrating that his orders are not Jewish. (p. 188)
J. P. Audet, who first published the Bryennios text [JTS 1.2 (1950): 135-54], claimed that it was a Jewish list of the first or second century. However, since it mixes the Prophets and Hagiographa indiscriminately together, it must be of Christian rather than Jewish authorship [...]. (p. 188)

So, for Beckwith, unless the order corresponds to the tripartite arrangement of the Tanak, it cannot be Jewish. If it mixes the Prophets and Hagiographa, it cannot be Jewish. No Jew would do that!

No comments: