The Community of Israel and the
Composition of the Scriptures
James Sanders has been one of the leading voices in the last third of this century reflecting on the relationship between the text and canon of the First Testament, and I thank him for being a catalyst, teacher, and conversation partner for my own thinking.1 The purpose of this study is to reflect further on the interrelationships between a number of topics for which he has made contributions. Can we gain further focus on the interrelationships between customary questions such as: How did the Scriptures come to be, how were they composed? What is the text of Scripture, what form of the text do we seek in the text-critical endeavor or when translating “The Holy Bible”? What do the Qumran scrolls teach us about the nature of the scriptural text at the time of Hillel the Elder and Jesus Christ? And a question I do not think I have ever heard asked: does the way that the Scriptures were composed have a bearing on the text form we present as Scripture?
and Its Method of Composition
The community of Israelcomposed the Scriptures over the course of approximately a millennium, from the time of the early monarchy
1. See esp. J. A. Sanders, Torah and Canon (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972); idem, Canon and Community: A Guide to Canonical Criticism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984); idem, From Sacred Story to Sacred Text (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987).