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The third part of the Old Testament canon, the other two being the Law (
The order of the Hagiographa in the Talmud is as follows: Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Canticles, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Chronicles (but see "Halakot Gedolot," ed. Hildesheimer, p. 633). The first place was given to the Book of Ruth on the ground, probably, not only that it contained an episode in the history of the house of David, but also that the genealogy at the end of the book, reaching down to David, was a suitable introduction to Psalms, ascribed to David. The Book of Job followed the Psalms because, on the one hand, the three great hagiographs should be grouped together, and, on the other, Proverbs should not be separated from Canticles, both being ascribed to Solomon. Ecclesiastes was for the same reason placed with the earlier books; and the three later books, Esther, Ezra, and Chronicles, were placed after Daniel because it was assumed that the latter was written earlier (by Daniel himself) at the Perso-Babylonian court. This sequence is found in different manuscripts, with the exception that in some, Proverbs immediately precedes Job, or Canticles precedes Ecclesiastes, and Esther precedes Daniel. The sequence differs among the Masoretes, who, according to Elijah Levita ("Massoret ha-Massoret," p. 120; ed. Ginsburg, p. 67), follow the Sephardic arrangement, which is as follows: Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra. The German manuscripts give another sequence: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the five Megillot, Daniel, Ezra, and Chronicles, the five Megillot following the order in which they are now read in the synagogue—Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther. Many other variations, however, are found in the different manuscripts.
The sequence of the Hagiographa in the Alexandrian canon must also be mentioned, as it not only differs from the Jewish canon in the order of the several books, but also includes a number of works not recognized as canonical in Palestine. Here the Book of Ruth follows Judges; I Ezra and II Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah) follow the Chronicles; and Esther follows the apocryphal Tobit and Judith, which follow I and II Ezra; of the other books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles, as the specifically poetical books, are placed together; Lamentations is an appendix to Jeremiah (between Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah); and the Book of Daniel follows, and ranks with, the three greater prophets. Through the Vulgate this sequence was, on the whole, adopted by Luther in his Bible.Origin of the Collection.
The existence of the Hagiographa collection as a third part of the canon is first stated in the prologue (about 130
Another point to be considered is the gradual growth of this collection. Although any conclusions in reference thereto are mainly based on conjecture, it may safely be assumed that the nucleus of the Hagiographa, Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, existed and was held in high esteem at the time when the books of the Prophets were officially read in the synagogue, and that other books were added in the course of time. As in the passage mentioned above (I Macc. vii. 17) an unmistakably Maccabean psalm is quoted, it follows that a Maccabean psalm had previously been admitted into the Psalter, which had then been in existence for a long time and was regarded as canonical. The formula with which the writer of I Maccabees (about 100
That earlier works, becoming increasingly appreciated, were included at a later date, may be seen in the case of the Chronicles, which were the last admitted, although they form the first part of the great historical work which concludes with the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah. The present sequence of the books of the Hagiographa is by no means identical with the order of their admission, as may be seen in the case of the five smaller books, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, which weresubsequently grouped together for the reason that they were read at the synagogal services on Passover, Pentecost, the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem, the Feast of Tabernacles, and Purim; they were written on special scrolls, like the Torah, deriving thence their special name "Ḥamesh Megillot" (Five Rolls).
The Hagiographa was called also
- Buhl, Kanon und Text des Alten Testamentes, Leipsic, 1891;
- G. Wildeboer, Het Ontstaen van den Kanon des Ouden Verbands, 2d ed., Groningen (Ger. transl. by F. Risch, Die Entstehung des Alttestamentlichen Kanons, Gotha, 1891);
- H. N. Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament, London, 1892;
- T. Mullen, The Canon of the Old Testament, New York, 1893; the various introductions to the books of the Old Testament;
- Marx, Traditio Rabbinorum Veterrima, Leipsic, 1884;
- H. L. Brack, Kanon des Alten Testaments, in Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. ix. 741-768.