This brief statement intends to attack the Bible and its canon in totally Jewish terms. We hope in this way to facilitate a realization of the extent to which the academic discussion of these issues has been conditioned by fundamentally Christian terms, definitions and issues, or by objective academic language that, while welcome, does not represent Judaism in its own light. Let’s save time and call this: “Reclaiming the Jewish Bible”—the title of a book I should probably write.
It’s not that Bible isn’t a Jewish term; it is. Ha-sefarim in Dan. 9:2 is translated as en tois biblois, and this is the origin of the term Bible, ta biblia. Judaism, in all its manifestations, has accepted the notion of a set of books that were authoritative. These are books that were believed to emerge from the experience of divine revelation: direct for the Torah; less direct for the Prophets, and indirect for the Writings. To be authoritative, a book must be believed to be divinely inspired in some way. Because they were not seen as authoritative, over twenty books mentioned in the Bible did not survive. Besides divine inspiration there was chronology. No book that did not claim to have been composed before the end of the Persian period could be accepted as inspired, since prophecy was believed to have ended then. So the corpora we call Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and Dead Sea Scrolls were disallowed.