The issue of the Canon...

The OT model of judging revelation: The Mosaic setup and launch
[draft created 8/6/97]

It is the Exodus-event that structures many of these issues for us. In the Exodus, God gives a formal revelation, creates a community that accepts it, authenticates it to the founders of the community, authenticates the mediator of much of that revelation, sets it up as a standard to judge future claims to revelation, provides a mean to preserve the continuity of content, and sets criteria in place to allow micro- and macro-changes to the content.

Let's analyze the Mosaic Events (i.e. Exodus and Wanderings):

Summary of the Exodus/Wanderings revelation "set-up":

  1. God delivered a very concrete message, clear in its instructions (not like augury!), understandable in its form (e.g. treaty, contract), tied to the past (i.e. Abraham), with good motives/intent (e.g. keep promises, bless the world through the Jew), and mediated through a specific individual (e.g. Moses).

  2. This message was HEAVILY authenticated--to its mediators (e.g. Moses) and to its recipients (Israel, Egypt, the other nations), and PRE-interpreted by God for them.

  3. This message contained in it the seeds for its own continuance--measures to safeguard its accurate transmission (e.g. priesthood, ritual, family life) and measures by which to 'weed out' hostile/destructive 'competing revelations' (e.g. test for false prophet, warnings against external-spirit-dependent "discovery").

  4. This message also included provision for additional "ad hoc" authorized messages from God (i.e. prophets, which originally did NOT constitute a regular institution like the priesthood)--but with functions/usages unspecified in the Law, and the guarantee of Another Moses-like Messenger, with the very authority of God and some indication of ADDITIONAL revelation from God.


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