The Origins of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible

An Analysis of Josephus and 4 Ezra


In The Origins of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible: An Analysis of Josephus and 4 Ezra, Juan Carlos Ossandón Widow examines the thorny question of when, how, and why the collection of twenty-four books that today is known as the Hebrew Bible was formed. He carefully studies the two earliest testimonies in this regard—Josephus’ Against Apion and 4 Ezra—and proposes that, along with the tendency to idealize the past, which leads to consider that divine revelation to Israel has ceased, an important reason to specify a collection of Scriptures at the end of the first century CE consisted in the need to defend the received tradition to counter those that accepted more books.


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Biographical Note

Juan Carlos Ossandón Widow, Ph.D. (2016), Pontifical Biblical Institute, is Assistant Professor of Biblical Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments IX

 1 A Status Quaestionis on the Formation of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible
 2 Some Preliminary Clarifications
 3 Methodology and Structure

1 The Twenty-Two Books of the Jews According to Josephus
 1 The Passage of the Against Apion
 2 The Twenty-Two Books Outside the Against Apion
 3 Josephus and Some Books on the Borderline of the Canon

2 The Ninety-Four Books of the Torah According to 4 Ezra
 1 Introduction to 4 Ezra
 2 Coordinates for a Comprehensive Understanding of 4 Ezra
 3 The Characterization of Ezra
 4 Function and Meaning of the Ninety-Four Books
 5 Historical Context and Social Function of 4 Ezra
 6 Fourth Ezra and the Canon of the Hebrew Bible

3 Comparison and Conclusions
 1 A Short Comparison between Josephus and 4 Ezra on the Books
 2 Elements for an Hypothesis


All interested in Second Temple Judaism and in the formation of the biblical canon, and anyone concerned with Josephus or 4 Ezra.