The Compilational History of the Megilloth
Timothy J. Stone explores the canonical shape of the third part of the Hebrew canon, the Writings, challenging the common assumption that the collection is an anthology of unrelated books. First he analyzes the formation and various orders for the Writings in antiquity. Conceptions of sacred literature differed in Judaism, but within temple circles, the Writings and the Hebrew canon were likely solidified prior to the end of the first century. Despite the consensus that there are a large number of orders for the Writings, there is only evidence of the Masoretic and the Talmudic orders prior to the twelfth century. Stone also examines the books of the "Megilloth" for signs of their compilation, especially Ruth and Esther. He concludes that the codification of the "Megilloth" into a collection is integral to the canonical process and preserved in the shape of the Writings' ancient arrangements.