What does it mean to speak of a "canon" of scripture? How, when, and where did the canon of the Hebrew Bible come into existence? Why does it have three divisions? What canon was in use among the Jews of the Hellenistic diaspora? At Qumran? In Roman Palestine? Among the rabbis? What Bible did Jesus and his disciples know and use? How was the New Testament canon formed and closed? What role was played by Marcion? By gnostics? By the church fathers? What did the early church make of the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha? By what criteria have questions of canonicity been decided? Are these past decisions still meaningful faith communities today? Are they open to revision?
These and other debated questions are addressed by an international roster of outstanding experts on early Judaism and early Christianity, writing from diverse affiliations and perspectives, who present the history of discussion and offer their own assessments of the current status.
William Adler, Peter Balla, John Barton, Joseph Blenkinsopp, François Bovon, Kent D. Clarke, Philip R. Davies, James D. G. Dunn, Eldon Jay Epp, Craig A. Evans, William R. Farmer, Everett Ferguson, Robert W. Funk, Harry Y. Gamble, Geoffrey M. Hahneman, Daniel J. Harrington, Everett R. Kalin, Robert A. Kraft, Jack P. Lewis, Jack N. Lightstone, Steve Mason, Lee M. McDonald, Pheme Perkins, James A. Sanders, Daryl D. Schmidt, Albert C. Sundberg Jr., Emanuel Tov, Julio Trebolle-Barrera, Eugene Ulrich, James C. VanderKam, Robert W. Wall.
Lee Martin McDonald was professor of New Testament studies and president of Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, Canada (now retired). He is also the author of The Biblical Canon and coauthor of Early Christianity and Its Sacred Literature.
James A. Sanders is professor of religion and president of the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center for Preservation and Research at Claremont Graduate University in California.