The Canon Within the Canon

Reading about 13th century commentaries on the Bible has led me to a thought: there has always been a kind of “canon within the canon,” sections of the Bible that have attracted more (or less) attention. This has taken different forms and been done for different reasons. For instance, after surveying the number of commentaries produced in Paris in the 13th century on different books of the Bible, Jacques Verger (“L’exégèse de l’Université,” in Le moyen age et la Bible) concludes that the friars were attracted to books that led more clearly to doctrine or lent themselves to preaching morality, books such as the Psalms, wisdom books, the Gospels and Paul’s letters, and led them to leave aside the Pentateuch and historical books, the minor prophets and Revelation. It “illustrates the ancillary use of exegesis for speculative theology and Christian philosophy” in this time period (p.224). Christians of every age, it seems, have had their reasons to be drawn more to certain books than others. What are our reasons?

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