The EIGHT books of the Pentateuch? Per my NAB

The last time I checked, the Greek prefex “penta” means “five” (ie, pentagon). And, indeed, I have always understood that the Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).

My Catholic New American Bible (July 27, 1970, World Bible Publishers, burgundy cover with goldenrod text), duly authorized by the CCD and the USCCB, has a prefix with some handy information (list of Popes, list of miracles, etc). It also has a page listing the OT “Books of the Bible” arranged categorically (Pentateuch, Historic, Wisdom, and Prophetic).

Under “Pentateuch,” along with the five familiar books, it includes Joshua, Judges, and Ruth.

How does the Pentateuch become an Octateuch in my NAB?

It seems like a misprint.

In the online listing at the USCCB site, those 3 are listed as the first 3 in the category of “historical” (in other words, they’re not listed alphabetically).

It’s probably just a printing error that the title “Historical” was placed too high on the page (or some such).

Don’t worry, there are still just 5 books in the Pentateuch. :thumbsup:

Actually this is not a misprint.

The original NAB translators decided to do this on the basis that many early Greek manuscripts actually include Joshua, Judges, and Ruth as part of the Pentateuch.

Since the Greek Septuagint collection of books defined the accepted canon of the early Church, the original NAB defined its table of contents by this earliest Christian list.

When the NABRE was produced, the translators decided to follow the older (and original) Jewish descriptions, limiting the Pentateuch to the Five Books of Moses or the Torah.

Some scholars still prefer the Greek definition of books, even though technically the “pente” in the Greek word “Pentateuch” means “five.”

The reason for this preference among some is that Joshua is considered a continuation of Deuteronomy. Judges picks up the story where the book of Joshua leaves off and Ruth immediately follows setting the stage for the “real” history of Israel under the rule of its kings. The books are seen by many not as mere history as they are setting the stage for the great David dynasty story.

So again it’s not a misprint, just a change in editorial direction as how to present the books in the table of contents.

Interesting. I’d never heard that before. :coffeeread:

I started seminary in the fall of 1989. By then, there were 5 books listed for the Pentateuch. I distinctly remember that in '89 we used the New Jerusalem Bible. I remember because we had a prof who made us go through the Pentateuch and “color code” the texts according to J, E, P, D sources and I hated doing that–therefore I have a good memory of the actual book. I also remember that I had to switch to a New American in the fall of '93. By that time, there were 5 books in the Pentateuch in the NAB.

I’ll have to go around the place looking for older printings of the N.A.B. to see what they say (if I can find one)–because I’m curious to read it.

I checked an older Catholic Bible: St. Joseph “Confraternity Edition” from 1962. 5 books in the Pentateuch.

While not the only place you can find this, one Catholic source you can check about this is The Bible Blueprint: A Catholics’s Guide to Understanding and Embracing God’s Word by Joe Paprocki and published by Loyola Press. Chapter 4, entitled “The Bible’s Floor Plan” explains this in a “blurb” box entitled “Why Did the NAB Do That?”

I have the 1990 edition of the NAB and it also lists 8 books under the Pentateuch.

My 1970 NAB is like Dave Filmer’s. 8 books in the Pentateuch! LOL :smiley: Good catch Dave!

Correct. There’s actually a specific term for the Pentateuch plus Joshua-Judges-Ruth: Octateuch. But then again you don’t see this term that often, so we can’t blame the NAB translators for still choosing to call the thing ‘Pentateuch’. :cool:

BTW in the Jewish order of the OT Joshua and Judges are included along with 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel to form the ‘Former Prophets’ (distinguished from the Twelve Minor Prophets). Ruth (and Daniel) is tucked in the Ketuvim (‘Writings’), aka the miscellanea section.

The NAB editors and translators must have been a bunch of non-conformists. They seem to often take the uncommon way about things.

  1. I have the 1970 NAB and see the blank line separating the 5 traditional books of the Pentateuch from the Joshua-Judges-Ruth listing === all under the heading of Pentateuch. I believe there was no intention whatsoever to declare it to have eight books.

  2. The (new, as in recently published ) Orthodox Study Bible is based on the Septuagint and lists five books as the Pentateuch, and those other three as historical.

  3. What none have mentioned is the salient issue of naming a Hexateuch. Now, why would that be salient?

Because the promise of a homeland is not fulfilled until the book of Joshua. In other words, the Pentateuch leaves us all hanging about the fulfillment of God’s promises. That’s trivial to us non-Jews, who turn the page of our NAB’s and keep reading, (to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill) as if nothing had happened.

  1. Certainly Joshua-Judges-Ruth would be logically placed after the Pentateuch, but certainly do not qualify under the traditional title of the Books of Moses.

  2. The “literary-theological” structure of the Hexateuch is discussed in the introduction to the Commentary on (the book of ) Numbers from the Jewish Publication Society (1990) using a diagram from somebody called Newing who was writing in a South Pacific Christian research journal.

  3. This Jewish commentary details the chiastic structure of the Hexateuch, which of necessity, includes Joshua.

A chiastic structure takes the form

where X is the feature of the text which is being emphasized. A and A’ are identical or similar verses, likewise BB’, and CC’.

The chaism of the Hexateuch is many levels deeper than this and the X turns out to be the establishment of the covenant at Sinai. That event is the paramount text of the Hexateuch.

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