Quick: Who was the greatest prophet of the Old Covenant?
Elijah? Moses maybe? Wrong!
John the Baptist. See Matthew 11:11.
Next question: How could the Jews close their canon of Scripture when the greatest prophet, the forerunner, the new Elijah a la Malachi 4:5…was still to come?
We know that they were waiting for him based on their questions in John 1. They wondered if John the Baptist was Elijah or the prophet (the new Moses).
I read something the other day on Shameless Popery that led me to think about this. (He’s got too many good posts for me to recall which one exactly.) Consider that many of the books of the Old Testament were written by prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the twelve “minor” prophets, with the Pentateuch attributed to Moses.
So it stands to reason that the Jews, knowing that at least two prophets were still to come–the new Elijah (John the Baptist) and the new Moses (Jesus)–could not close the book on the canon until after they had made their appearance.
Several Protestants have taken the tack of claiming that the Jews had closed their canon long before Christ’s Incarnation, but the argument I present here provides strong evidence against their assertion.
Consider also that no Old Testament book claims it is the “last” one, nor was any prophet given special revelation to indicate which book was the last one.
So how does a Protestant counter this argument? Or do my fellow Catholics see flaws in it?