[b-hebrew] Tanach book order - different in Christian Bibles

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Sep 1 08:46:46 EDT 2006

In some cases, the different order results from Christian theological 
considerations. For example, "upgrading" Daniel to the status of prophet. 
Another example is that of the end of Malachi, foretelling the coming of 
Elijah to bring word of the Lord's Great and Terrible Day, leading into 
Matthew's annunciation (of course disregarding the Apocrypha). I refuse to 
believe that this happened by chance.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold Holmyard" <hholmyard at ont.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2006 1:22 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tanach book order - different in Christian Bibles

> Dear Steven,
>>  Here is a cross-disciplinary question :-)
>>  The Reformation Bibles we know have a different book order and
>>combination of books than the Hebrew Bible, and its tri-partite division.
>>   Where did this Christian book-order arise ?  It is said sometimes that
>>it arose from the Greek Tanach (socalled LXX) translations, but those
>>manuscripts are quite inconsistent, so I am skeptical of that claim, at
>>least it needs more detail about who, where, when.
>>  Is there a study of the process that gave us the current Christian Bible
>>book order in Tanach ?  Is this discussed in early days, like with Jerome 
>>How did he order his Latin Vulgate, translated from the Hebrew-Aramaic ?
>>Do we know ?
> HH: Here is a helpful part of an ISBE article:
> http://www.bible-researcher.com/isbelxx03.html#vii
> In the arrangement of books there is a radical departure from
> Palestinian practice. There were three main unalterable divisions in the
> Hebrew Bible, representing three stages in the formation of the Canon:
> Law, Prophets ("Former" i.e. Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and
> "Latter") and "Writings." This arrangement was known at Alexandria at
> the end of the 2nd century BC (Sirach, prologue) but was not followed.
> The "Writings" were a miscellaneous collection of history and poetry
> with one prophetical book (Daniel). Alexandrian scholars introduced a
> more literary and symmetrical system, bringing together the books of
> each class and arranging them with some regard to the supposed
> chronological order of their authors. The Law, long before the Greek
> translation, had secured a position of supreme sanctity; this group was
> left undisturbed, it kept its precedence and the individual books their
> order (Leviticus and Numbers, however, exchange places in a few lists).
> The other two groups are broken up. Ruth is removed from the "Writings"
> and attached to Judges. Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah are similarly
> transferred to the end of the historical group. This group, from
> chronological considerations, is followed by the poetical and other
> "Writings," the Prophets coming last (so in Codex Vaticanus, etc.; in
> Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, prophets precede poets). The
> internal order of the Greek Hagiographa, which includes quasi-historical
> (Esther, Tobit, Judith) and Wisdom books, is variable. Daniel now first
> finds a place among the Prophets. The 12 minor prophets usually precede
> the major (Codex Sinaiticus and Western authorities give the four
> precedence), and the order of the first half of their company is
> shuffled, apparently on chronological grounds, Hosea being followed by
> Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah. Jeremiah has his train of satellites,
> Baruch, Lamentations (transferred from the "Writings") and Epistle of
> Jeremiah; Susanna and Bel and the Dragon consort with and form integral
> parts of Daniel. Variation in the order of books is partly attributable
> to the practice of writing each book on a separate papyrus roll, kept in
> a cylindrical case; rolls containing kindred matter would tend to be
> placed in the same case, but there would be no fixed order for these
> separate items until the copying of large groups in book-form came into
> vogue (Swete, Introduction, 225, 229 f).
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
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