This is an ongoing series of meditations on faith, in response to readings from the articles that preface The Oxford Study Bible.
I will trust the reader to dig up the context if the meaning is unclear.
Is this true? I had no idea that Judaism waited so long to canonize its scriptures.
In these first centuries of the common era both Judaism and Christianity gave shape to and defined the authority of collections of writings that formed their respective Bibles or canons of sacred writings" (page 47).
The first centuries C.E. It's strange to think of Christians and Jews on a parallel track to found themselves, to make sure they wouldn't forget themselves in a shifting world.
People don't canonize for the heck of it; the fact that they took this step means they were facing some massive flux or uncertainty. It was a time when you could no longer trust your lived and spoken tradition to stabilize you. Too much was changing; you couldn't trust yourself to pass the right traditions to your children. You couldn't trust them, either. It was time to textualize: this book, this will tell us what is true and what we are. What a sad time.
And yet, part of what they were doing, I'm doing too: "engaging the past in search of identity for the present and direction for the future."