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In my post, “The Scriptures: A Written Conversation” I noted the chiastic structure of the Writings (the third section of the OT canon) highlights Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) as the central book. I said, “This ending to the central book of the chiasm of the Writings is fitting. It is similar to ending the New Testament with the Book of Revelation given how Revelation ends warning about adding or subtracting from it. The effect of Ecclesiastes 12:12 is to say, the Writings are now complete until prophecy resumes, beware of adding to or subtracting from them.”

Sailhamer notes in The Meaning of the Pentateuch that Scripture distinguishes between “writing in a book” and “making a book.” Writing usually has more to do with copying. Making a book has to do with the composition of written works. His point is that making a book is much more complicated than simply taking dictation or copying.

He further argues that “many” can be an adjective “many books” or an adverb “constantly.” Thus the verse may refer to either making an “endless number of books” or to how “the process of making a book is endless.” He concludes it is the latter because of the warning about adding any more “wise sayings” (Ecclesiastes 12:11). So Sailhamer says, “in Ecclesiastes it aims at cutting short the process of making a book. The problem is not making more books, but deciding whether and when to end this one” (267). The composition of a book can involve several editions and revisions and such, and the author means to cut that process short rather than let it continue indefinitely.

I want to argue that the deeper problem is deciding whether and when to end the composition of the Hebrew Scriptures. Because of the placement of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew canon, I want to suggest that it is aiming to end the process of making the Scriptures. In other words, for the rest of this time when prophecy has ceased, there should be no more books added to the Book and there should be no more revisions (no more editions of Biblical books, no more editing of Biblical books, and the like). The composition of the Hebrew Scriptures was complete.

It is fitting then that the apostles did not publish their own edition of the Hebrew Scriptures. The apostles viewed the Hebrew Scriptures as a finished product. To be sure they and others close to them made new compositions and some of those are collectively a new composition we now call the New Testament. But early Christians did not write their own versions of the OT Torah, Prophets, and Writings. This is an important observation because various groups in Judaism did this very thing — they continued to edit and revise the Hebrew Bible for some time.

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