The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 167 of 202
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The volume of the Book.
The canon of the O.T.
pp. 7 - 12
The testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole, and
to their various parts, is the supreme witness that the church has or needs. Without
diminishing that supreme authority, it may be helpful if we enquire into the evidences we
possess of the canonicity of the Old and New Testaments.
The word "canon", from the Greek word kanon, in its primary sense means a "reed",
thence a "cane", a "cannon", and the "canon". Each derived word is related to the idea
of something straight; hence "canon" comes to mean "rule", and is so translated in
Gal. 4: 16 and Phil. 3: 16. When we speak of canon of scripture we therefore mean
those sacred books which are genuine, authentic and authoritative. It may be as well to
see clearly the distinction, between these three related terms.
Genuine.--A book is genuine if it was actually written by the person whose name it
bears, or, if anonymous, if it contains evidence that it was written at the time when it
purports to have been written, either expressly or by undersigned evidence of its contents.
Authentic.--A book is authentic if the matters of fact with which it deals actually
Authoritative.--In the case of the Scriptures, by their very nature, if they are both
genuine and authentic, they necessarily become authoritative.
Now a book may be genuine but not authentic as, for instance, Gulliver's Travels by
Dean Swift. There is no doubt as to its genuineness, but no one believes that the events
described by Dean Swift ever occurred. A book may be authentic without being genuine,
that is, it may contain actual facts, but be written by a person pretending to be another,
and in another age. If, however, it is established that Moses wrote the books of the law,
and if it be established further that the things recorded actually took place, then the very
nature of the books, once so proved, makes them of supreme authority. Matters of fact
such as these depend for their proof upon external and internal evidences, the external
evidence being the testimony of witnesses; the internal, the evidence of language, style,
reflected colour, etc.
At the time of Christ the canon of the O.T. was fixed, and we remember how He
endorsed its threefold composition when He spoke of "The Law, the Prophets and the
Psalms" (Luke 24: 44). There is a consistent testimony to this canon of the O.T.
extending from the days of Christ to the days of the Prophets. Let us call some of the