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 The Old Testament is Dying
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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Purpose of Canon

Torah and Canon: 2nd Edition,
James A. Sanders, Cascade Books, 2005, page xiidnl

Sanders provides an answer to a question he has not directly asked - What is the purpose of canon? - as he takes forward the relationship between canon and community:

It is the nature of canon to be contemporised; it is not primarily a source book for the history of Israel, early Judaism, Christ and the early church, but rather a mirror for the identity of the believing comunity which in any era turns to it to ask who it is and what it is to do, even today. The believing community, whether synagogue or church, can find out both what it is and what it ought to be by employing valid hermeneutic rules when reading the Bible.

So the canon follows James' comments about a mirror. But Sanders doesn't comment upon what the different hermeneutics are, or how the same text supports two quite different institutions. But perhaps he doesn't see the institutions as they are today, but more how they ought to be?

The believing community abuses the Bible whenever it seeks in its models for its morality but reads it with validity when it finds in the Bible mirrors for its identity. By dynamic analogy the community sees its current tensions, between what ir is and what it ought to be, in thetensions which Israel and the early church also experienced.

Shades of "these things were written for our benefit"?

By reading the Bible correctly the believing community sees itself on the pilgrimage that Israel too was making from the one to the other, from its enslavements to its freedom. Canonical criticism asks how and why this is the case.

Well, I'd be happier with less of the 'was' and more 'is', but he does have a point.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: