Wednesday, May 03, 2017

OT as A to Z / ABC

William Whitaker defends the protestant canon of Scripture against Roman Catholic additions at some length. He notes that a number of the church fathers said that there are 22 Old Testament books, corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

Whitaker does not really go into their reasons much.

It might of course just be a numerological love of parallels and patterns: see a number and think of any other corresponding number! It could just be a generalised vibe of appropriateness.

But if one wanted to make something of it, perhaps it might suggest that the Old Testament has a completeness to it: it is the A to Z of revelation for ancient Israel. (This of course would suit the argument that there should be 22 books and no more).

Or one might say that the Old Testament is like the basic elements or rudiments of instruction for the early church. It gives us our ABC, our primary school lessons in the faith, just as a child would learn his alphabet. This idea of the Old Testament as elementary instruction can of course claim some New Testament support.

William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton (Latin original 1588; The Parker Society Edition, Translated and Edited by William Fitzgerlad, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, MDCCCXLIX = 1849) Forgotten Books Reprinting, London, 2015 - (pp57-60, 64-65)

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