An ‘Extraordinary Fact’: “ Torah And Temple” And The Contours Of The Hebrew Canon: Part 2 -- By: Stephen Dempster

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 48:2 (NA 1997)
Article: An ‘Extraordinary Fact’: “ Torah And Temple” And The Contours Of The Hebrew Canon: Part 2
Author: Stephen Dempster

An ‘Extraordinary Fact’:1
Torah And Temple” And The Contours Of
The Hebrew Canon: Part 2

Stephen Dempster


Part 1 reviewed recent studies that suggest the presence of significant editorial activity in the final form of the Hebrew Bible. It also presented evidence for such editorial activity in the first major division of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah. Part 2 now considers the second and third divisions of the canon, the Prophets and the Writings. Again, the themes of Torah and Temple, so prominent in the Torah, also provide a hermeneutical framework for these divisions. This editorial activity is also considered as internal evidence which can help determine the order of some of the books, particularly in the Writings.

VI. The Prophets.

1. Introduction

The ending of Deuteronomy provides a key transition to the next section of the Canon, the Prophets, which continues these themes. Joshua 1:1-9 functions as an introduction to the book of Joshua but also to this section of the canon. The two-fold reference to the death of Moses (1:1, 2) not only continues Deuteronomy but also signifies the end of an era. The expression ‘Moses, my servant’ (משׁה עבדי) occurs twice in this text (1:2, 7). The only other time this expression is used in the entire TaNaK is at the end of this section of the canon (Mal. 4:4 [3:22]).2

Joshua is now the focus of attention as the ‘minister of Moses’ (1:1). He, as the successor of the great prophet, is to lead Israel into the land the prophet could only survey from a distance. An old era has passed and a new one has come—that of the occupation of the land of promise. At the same time the introduction builds to a climax by pointing out that the success of the enterprise can only be guaranteed if the book of Moses’ Torah informs the heart and soul of Joshua’s character. Joshua, the new leader, who is to guide Israel into the new Garden of Eden, will only be successful if he preoccupies his mind with Torah. It is this word which will give him success (תשׂכיל, cf. Gn. 3:6):

Only be courageous a...

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