Ryle’s Canon of the Old Testament

The following public domain book is now available on-line in PDF.

Herbert Edward Ryle [1856-1925], The Canon of the Old Testament, 2nd edn. London: MacMillan & Co. Ltd, 1899. pp.316.

The Canon of the Old Testament

Introduction

Recent Biblical discussion has familiarised English readers with many of the chief problems raised by modern phases of Old Testament Criticism. But the interest, which is naturally felt in the investigation of the structure of the Sacred Books, has tended to throw into the background that other group of problems, which concerns their admission into the Canon. To the Christian student the latter, though a less attractive, or, at least, a less promising field of investigation, must always be one of first-rate importance. For, after all, whether a book has had a simple or a complex history, whether or no the analysis of its structure reveals the existence of successive compilation, adaptation and revision, are only secondary questions, of great literary interest indeed, but yet of subordinate importance, if they do not affect the relation of Scripture to the Church. They are literary problems. They need not necessarily invite the interest of the Christian student. Whether they do so or not, will depend upon his habits of mind. A better knowledge of the structure of a book will not, as a rule, affect his view of its authority. His conviction, that a book is rightly regarded as Holy Scripture, will not be shaken, because it proves to consist of elements whose very existence had been scarcely imagined before the present century.

Other problems, however, arise before the Biblical student. He never ceases to wish to learn more accurately, nay, he is compelled, against his will, to reflect more seriously upon, the process, by which the books of Holy Scripture have obtained recognition as a sacred and authoritative Canon.

The process, by which the various books of the Old Testament came to be recognised as sacred and authoritative, would, if we could discover it, supply us with the complete history of the formation of the Old Testament Canon. By that process, we know, books, believed to be divine, were separated from all other books. By that process, we know, writings, containing the Word of God, became recognised as the standard of life and doctrine. These are only the results which lie at our feet. We instinctively inquire for the causes which led to them. How were these writings separated from all other Hebrew literature? When did the separation take place? What was the test of Canonicity, which determined, in one case, admission into, in another, exclusion from, the sacred collection ? Questions such as these, cannot fail to suggest themselves to every thoughtful Christian mind. Indeed, the literature of the Old Testament is itself so varied in character, that an inquiry into the formation of a Canon, which includes writings so different as Genesis and the Song of Songs, Esther and Isaiah, Judges and the Psalter, needs no justification. It is demanded by the spirit of the age. It is even demanded, as just and necessary, by the requirements of reverent and devout study.

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Website Visitor Numbers Double

The statistics for BiblicalStudies.org.uk in October make very encouraging reading.

BilbicalStudies.org.uk Website Statistics
Website Statistics for BiblicalStudies.org.uk 2013-2014

In October 2013 the site received 46,347 visitors; this October it received 92,240 visitors – a 100% increase! The month by month figures over the year also indicate a steady growth. This means that the 20,000+ theological articles and books currently hosted are being distributed at a phenomenal rate.

Website Statistics by Month
Websites statistics for BiblicalStudies.org.uk 2013-2014

I was also greatly encouraged to see that the site is being used Internationally, including countries where these theological resources are otherwise difficult or impossible to obtain (see table below).

Top 30 countries of visitors to BiblicalStudies.org.uk
Top 30 countries of visitors to BiblicalStudies.org.uk

The only downside of the dramatic increase in site usage is that the demand on server resources now regularly exceeds the capacity of the shared server in which it resides. This can be seen on the usage chart below. When the blue line on the chart meets the red line, this indicates that server cannot meet the demand being placed upon it.

Server Usage for BiblicalStudies.org.uk
Server Usage for BiblicalStudies.org.uk Oct. 2014

None of this tremendous growth would have been possible without your support. Thank you to everyone who has prayed, financially supported, lent resources and given permission for material to be hosted here. We give thanks to God that there is every indication that visitor numbers will continue to climb.

ICC 1 Corinthians Commentary online

The following public domain book is now available for free download in PDF:

Archibald Robertson [1853-1931] & Alfred Plummer [1841-1926], A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1914. Hbk. pp.424.

International Critical Commentary on 1 Corinthians

§ I. Corinth

What we know from other sources respecting Corinth in St Paul’s day harmonizes well with the impression which we receive from 1 Corinthians. The extinction of the totius Graeciae lumen, as Cicero (Pro lege Manil. 5) calls the old Greek city of Corinth, by the Roman consul L. Mummius Achaicus, 146 B.C., was only temporary. Exactly a century later Julius Caesar founded anew city on the old site as Colonia Julia Corinthus. The re-building was a measure of military precaution, and little was done to show that there was any wish to revive the glories of Greece (Finlay, Greece under the Romans, p. 67). The inhabitants of the new city were not Greeks but Italians, Caesar’s veterans and freedmen. The descendants of the inhabitants who had survived the destruction of the old city did not return to the home of their parents, and Greeks generally were for a time somewhat shy of taking up their abode in the new city. Plutarch, who was still a boy when St Paul was in Greece, seems hardly to have regarded the new Corinth as a Greek town. Festus says that the colonists were called Corinthienses, to distinguish them from the old Corinthii. But such distinctions do not seem to have been maintained. By the time that St Paul visited the city there were plenty of Greeks among the inhabitants, the current language was in the main Greek, and the descendants of the first Italian colonists had become to a large extent Hellenized.

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