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):

  • Finally, there was a provision for ANOTHER Moses-like messenger and for ANOTHER future burst of revelation (Deut 18:15ff):
    The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die." 17 The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.
    Here is the promise of the Messianic prophet--like unto Moses--of special stature with YHWH, and under special commission by Him. Also, it is important to note that there may be ADDITIONAL revelation--"I WILL put my words in his mouth...".

    Thus, even within the fixity of this exodus/wandering revelation, there is a provision of ANOTHER authenticated messenger and authenticated message...

    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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