Development of the Old Testament canon
|Part of a series on the|
|Bible book Bible portal|
The Old Testament is the first section of the two-part Christian Biblical canon, which includes the books of the Hebrew Bible or protocanon, and in various Christian denominations also includes the deuterocanonical books. Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants use different canons, which differ with respect to the texts that are included in the Old Testament and with respect to the antilegomena of the New Testament.
Martin Luther, holding to Jewish and other ancient precedent, excluded the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament of his translation of the Bible, placing them in a section he labeled "Apocrypha" ("hidden"), thus dissenting from the canon that Trent would affirm in the year Luther died (1546). Following Jerome's Veritas Hebraica (truth of the Hebrew) principle, the Protestant Old Testament consists of the same books as the Hebrew Bible, but the order and division of the books are different. Protestants number the Old Testament books at 39, while Judaism numbers the same books as 24. This is because Judaism considers Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles to form one book each, groups the 12 minor prophets into one book, and also considers Ezra and Nehemiah a single book.
The differences between the Hebrew Bible and other versions of the Old Testament such as the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint, the Ethiopian Bible and other canons, are more substantial. Many of these canons include books and sections of books that the others do not. For a fuller discussion of these differences, see Books of the Bible.
Hebrew Bible canon
Rabbinic Judaism recognizes the twenty-four books of the Masoretic Text, commonly called the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible. There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed: some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty (140-40 BCE), while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later. According to Marc Zvi Brettler, the Jewish scriptures outside the Torah and the Prophets were fluid, different groups seeing authority in different books.
Michael Barber says that the earliest and most explicit testimony of a Hebrew canonical list comes from Jewish historian Josephus (37CE – c. 100CE). Josephus wrote about a canon used by Jews in the first century AD. In Against Apion (Book 1, Paragraph 8), the writing of Josephus in 95 CE, he divided sacred scriptures into three parts, five books of the Torah, thirteen books of the prophets, and four books of hymns:
For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them.
Josephus mentions Esdras and Nehemiah in Antiquities of the Jews (Book XI, Chapter 5) and Esther (during the rule of Artaxerxes) in Chapter 6. The canon is till the reign of Artaxerxes as mentioned by Josephus above in Against Apion Book 1, Paragraph 8. For a long time, following this date, the divine inspiration of Esther, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes was often under scrutiny. According to Gerald A. Larue, Josephus' listing represents what came to be the Jewish canon, although scholars were still wrestling with problems of the authority of certain writings at the time that he was writing. Barber says that Josephus' 22 books was not universally accepted, since other Jewish communities using more than 22 books.
In 1871, Heinrich Graetz concluded that there had been a Council of Jamnia (or Yavne in Hebrew) which had decided Jewish canon sometime in the late 1st century (c. 70–90). This became the prevailing scholarly consensus for much of the 20th century. However, the theory of the Council of Jamnia is largely discredited today.
The protocanonical and deuterocanonical books
The Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches canons include books, called the deuterocanonical books, whose authority was disputed by Rabbi Akiva during the first-century development of the Hebrew Canon, though Akiva was not opposed to a private reading of them as he himself frequently uses Sirach. One early record of the deuterocanonical books is found in the early Koine Greek Septuagint translation of the Jewish scriptures. This translation was widely used by the Early Christians and is the one most often quoted (300 of 350 quotations including many of Jesus' own words) in the New Testament when it quotes the Old Testament. Other, older versions of the texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, have since been discovered among the Dead Sea scrolls and the Cairo Geniza.
The traditional explanation of the development of the Old Testament canon describes two sets of Old Testament books, the protocanonical and the deuterocanonical books. According to this, some Church Fathers accepted the inclusion of the deuterocanonical books based on their inclusion in the Septuagint (most notably Augustine), while others disputed their status based on their exclusion from the Hebrew Bible (most notably Jerome). Michael Barber argues that this time-honored reconstruction is grossly inaccurate and that "the case against the apocrypha is overstated". Augustine simply wanted a new version of the Latin Bible based on the Greek text since Septuagint was widely used throughout the churches and translation process could not rely on a single person (Jerome) who could be fallible; he in fact held that the Hebrew and the Septuagint were both equally inspired, as stated in his City of God 18.44. For most Early Christians, the Hebrew Bible was "Holy Scripture" but was to be understood and interpreted in the light of Christian convictions.
While deuterocanonical books were referenced by some fathers as Scripture, men such as Athanasius held that they were for reading only and not to be used for determination of doctrine. Athanasius includes the Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah in the list of the Canon of the Old Testament, and excludes the Book of Esther. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "the inferior rank to which the deuteros were relegated by authorities like Origen, Athanasius, and Jerome, was due to too rigid a conception of canonicity, one demanding that a book, to be entitled to this supreme dignity, must be received by all, must have the sanction of Jewish antiquity, and must moreover be adapted not only to edification, but also to the 'confirmation of the doctrine of the Church', to borrow Jerome's phrase."
Following Martin Luther, Protestants regard the deuterocanonical books as apocryphal (non-canonical). According to J. N. D. Kelly, "It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church… always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books."
The Early Christian Church used the Greek texts since Greek was a lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time, and the language of the Greco-Roman Church (Aramaic was the language of Syriac Christianity, which used the Targums).
The Septuagint seems to have been a major source for the Apostles, but it is not the only one. St. Jerome offered, for example, Matt 2:15 and 2:23, John 19:37, John 7:38, 1 Cor. 2:9. as examples not found in the Septuagint, but in Hebrew texts. (Matt 2:23 is not present in current Masoretic tradition either, though according to St. Jerome it was in Isaiah 11:1.) The New Testament writers, when citing the Jewish scriptures, or when quoting Jesus doing so, freely used the Greek translation, implying that Jesus, his Apostles and their followers considered it reliable.
In the Early Christian Church, the presumption that the Septuagint (LXX) was translated by Jews before the era of Christ, and that the Septuagint at certain places gives itself more to a christological interpretation than 2nd-century Hebrew texts was taken as evidence that "Jews" had changed the Hebrew text in a way that made them less christological. For example, Irenaeus concerning Isaiah 7:14: The Septuagint clearly writes of a virgin (Greek παρθένος) that shall conceive. While the Hebrew text was, according to Irenaeus, at that time interpreted by Theodotion and Aquila (both proselytes of the Jewish faith) as a young woman that shall conceive. According to Irenaeus, the Ebionites used this to claim that Joseph was the (biological) father of Jesus. From Irenaeus' point of view that was pure heresy, facilitated by (late) anti-Christian alterations of the scripture in Hebrew, as evident by the older, pre-Christian, Septuagint.
When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew texts that were then available. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary; a flood of still less moderate criticism came from those who regarded Jerome as a forger. While on the one hand he argued for the superiority of the Hebrew texts in correcting the Septuagint on both philological and theological grounds, on the other, in the context of accusations of heresy against him, Jerome would acknowledge the Septuagint texts as well.
The Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Eastern Orthodox also use LXX (Septuagint) untranslated where Greek is the liturgical language, e.g. in the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Masoretic Text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, undeniably corrupt, or ambiguous. For example, the Jerusalem Bible Foreword says, "... only when this (the Masoretic Text) presents insuperable difficulties have emendations or other versions, such as the ... LXX, been used." The Translator's Preface to the New International Version says: "The translators also consulted the more important early versions (including) the Septuagint ... Readings from these versions were occasionally followed where the MT seemed doubtful ..."
Perhaps the earliest reference to Christian canon is the Bryennios List which was found by Philotheos Bryennios in the Codex Hierosolymitanus found in the library of the monastery of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1873. The list is written in Koine Greek (with transcribed Aramaic and/or Hebrew) and dated to first or early second century by Jean-Paul Audet in 1950. Audet lists 27 books:
- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Jesus Nave, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Judges, Ruth, 4 of Kings (Samuel and Kings), 2 of Chronicles, 2 of Esdras, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Minor prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.
"Jesus Nave" was an old name for the Book of Joshua. "2 of Esdras" could be 1 Esdras and Ezra-Nehemiah as in the Septuagint or Ezra and Nehemiah as in the Vulgate. According to Albert Sundberg, the uncommon 27 number of books is unknown in Jewish lists; and R.T. Beckwith asserts that the Bryennios list "mixes the Prophets and Hagiographa indiscriminately together, it must be of Christian rather than Jewish authorship, and since the use of Aramaic continued in the Palestinian church for centuries, there is no reason to date it so early (first or second century C.E.)."
Marcion of Sinope was the first Christian leader in recorded history (though later, considered heretical) to propose and delineate a uniquely Christian canon. He explicitly rejects the Old Testament and pushes his version of the New Testament to be the Christian canon. Iranaeus wrote:
- Marcion [besides abolishing the prophets and the law] mutilates the Gospel that is according to Luke.... He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing his followers not with the Gospel but merely a fragment of it. In like manner, too, he dismembered the letters of Paul. (Haer. 1.27.2)
With different perspective, Tertullian said:
- Since Marcion separated the New Testament from the Old, he is necessarily subsequent to that which he separated, inasmuch as it was only in his power to separate what was previously united. Having been united previous to its separation, the fact of its subsequent separation proves the subsequence also of the man who effected the separation. (De praescriptione haereticorum 30)
Everett Ferguson, in chapter 18 of The Canon Debate, makes a note that: "[Wolfram] Kinzig suggests that it was Marcion who usually called his Bible testamentum [Latin for testament]".:308 In the same chapter, Ferguson also says that Tertullian criticizes Marcion regarding the naming of the books in his list. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Marcionites "were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known".
Eusebius on Melito and Origen
The first list of Old Testament books compiled by a Christian source is recorded by the 4th century historian Eusebius. Eusebius describes the collection of a 2nd century bishop, Melito of Sardis. Melito's list, dated to circa 170, the result of a trip to the Holy Land (probably the famous library at Caesarea Maritima) to determine both the order and number of books in the Hebrew Bible, instead seems to follow the order of the books presented in the Septuagint. Melito's list, as cited by Eusebius, as follows:
- Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras.
According to Archibald Alexander, Melito's list is thought by many includes the Book of Wisdom, which is part of the Deuterocanon, but which others dispute. Book of Esther does not appear in the list.
Eusebius also records 22 canonical books of the Hebrews given by Origen of Alexandria:
- That which is called by us Genesis, but by the Hebrews, from the beginning of the book, Bresith, which means, ‘In the beginning’; Exodus, Welesmoth, that is, ‘These are the names’; Leviticus, Wikra, ‘And he called‘; Numbers, Ammesphekodeim; Deuteronomy, Eleaddebareim, ‘These are the words’; Jesus, the son of Nave, Josoue ben Noun; Judges and Ruth, among them in one book, Saphateim; the First and Second of Kings, among them one, Samouel, that is, ‘The called of God’; the Third and Fourth of Kings in one, Wammelch David, that is, ‘The kingdom of David’; of the Chronicles, the First and Second in one, Dabreïamein, that is, ‘Records of days’; Esdras, First and Second in one, Ezra, that is, ‘An assistant’; the book of Psalms, Spharthelleim; the Proverbs of Solomon, Meloth; Ecclesiastes, Koelth; the Song of Songs (not, as some suppose, Songs of Songs), Sir Hassirim; Isaiah, Jessia; Jeremiah, with Lamentations and the epistle in one, Jeremia; Daniel, Daniel; Ezekiel, Jezekiel; Job, Job; Esther, Esther. And besides these there are the Maccabees, which are entitled Sarbeth Sabanaiel.
Origen's list excludes the Twelve Minor Prophets, apparently by accident; but includes the Epistle of Jeremiah (perhaps referring Baruch as an appendix to Jeremiah) and the Maccabees, which disputation exists whether he considers the Maccabees as canonical or not.
Constantine the Great
In 331, Constantine I commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius (Apol. Const. 4) recorded Alexandrian scribes around 340 preparing Bibles for Constans. Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus may be examples of these Bibles. Those codices contain almost a full version of the Septuagint; Vaticanus is only lacking 1–3 Maccabees and Sinaiticus is lacking 2–3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Baruch and Letter of Jeremiah.
Together with the Peshitta and Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the earliest extant Christian Bibles. There is no evidence among the canons of the First Council of Nicaea of any determination on the canon, however, Jerome (347–420), in his Prologue to Judith, makes the claim that the Book of Judith was "found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures".
Jerome and the Vulgate
Pope Damasus I's Council of Rome in 382, if the Decretum Gelasianum is correctly associated with it, issued a biblical canon identical with the list given at Trent, or if not the list is at least a 6th-century compilation claiming a 4th-century imprimatur. He was encouraged his personal secretary, Jerome, in the Vulgate translation of the Bible. Damasus's commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible was instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West. This list, given below, was purportedly endorsed by Pope Damasus I: (only shown the Old Testament part)
- The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book; Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Joshua Nave, one book; Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; Kings, four books; Paralipomenon, two books; Psalms, one book; Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book; Ecclesiastes, one book; Canticle of Canticles, one book; likewise Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus, one book. Likewise the order of the prophets: ... [16 books of the prophets listed]. Likewise the order of the histories: Job, one book; Tobit, one book; Esdras, two books; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; Maccabees, two books.
The two books of Esdras refer to the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah like what is appeared as one book (‘Ezrā) in the Hebrew Bible; Jerome, in the Preface of the Books of Samuel and Kings, explains the following: "To the third class belong the Hagiographa, of which the first book begins with Job, ... the eighth, Ezra, which itself is likewise divided amongst Greeks and Latins into two books; the ninth is Esther."
In his Vulgate's prologues, Jerome argued for Veritas Hebraica, meaning the truth of the Hebrew text over the Septuagint and Old Latin translations. Vulgate Old Testament included books outside of the Hebrew Bible, translated from the Greek and Aramaic, or derived from the Old Latin. His Preface to The Books of Samuel and Kings includes the following statement, commonly called the Helmeted Preface:
- This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a “helmeted” introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees I have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style.
At the request of two bishops, however, he made translations of Tobit and Judith from Hebrew texts, which he made clear in his prologues he considered apocryphal. But in his prologue to Judith, without using the word canon, he mentioned that Judith was held to be scriptural by the First Council of Nicaea. In his reply to Rufinus, he affirmed that he was consistent with the choice of the church regarding which version of the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel to use, which the Jews of his day did not include:
- What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. (Against Rufinus, II:33 [AD 402]).
Michael Barber asserts that, although Jerome was once suspicious of the apocrypha, he later viewed them as Scripture. Barber argues that this is clear from Jerome's epistles. As an example, he cites Jerome's letter to Eustochium, in which Jerome quotes Sirach 13:2., elsewhere Jerome also refers to Baruch, the Story of Susannah and Wisdom as scripture.
Augustine and the North African councils
The Synod of Hippo (in 393), followed by the Councils of Carthage (in 397 and 419), may be the first council that explicitly accepted the first canon which includes the books that did not appear in the Hebrew Bible; the councils were under significant influence of Augustine of Hippo, who regarded the canon as already closed.
- Genesis; Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy; Joshua the Son of Nun; The Judges; Ruth; The Kings, iv. books; The Chronicles, ii. books; Job; The Psalter; The Five books of Solomon; The Twelve Books of the Prophets; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Ezechiel; Daniel; Tobit; Judith; Esther; Ezra, ii. books; Macchabees, ii. books.
- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two books of Paraleipomena, Job, the Psalter, five books of Solomon, the books of the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees.
About the two books of Ezra/Esdras, Augustine of Hippo says: "...and the two of Ezra, which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles." The five books of Solomon refer to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, and Ecclesiasticus. The four books of Kings refer to the two books of Samuel and the two books of Kings (see Books of Kings Composition)
Successively the Council of Carthage (A.D. 419) in its Canon 24 listed exactly the same Old Testament Canon of the previous councils.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the canon from those councils corresponds to the present Roman Catholic canon. Philip Schaff states: "The council of Hippo in 393, and the third (according to another reckoning the sixth) council of Carthage in 397, under the influence of Augustine, who attended both, fixed the catholic canon of the Holy Scriptures, including the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, ... This decision of the transmarine church however, was subject to ratification; and the concurrence of the Roman see it received when Innocent I and Gelasius I (A.D. 414) repeated the same index of biblical books. This canon remained undisturbed till the sixteenth century, and was sanctioned by the council of Trent at its fourth session."
The Synod of Laodicea
Other early authors
Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 385 AD) in his Panarion writes that Jews had in their books the deuterocanonical Epistle of Jeremiah and Baruch, both combined with Jeremiah and Lamentations in only one book.
Pope Innocent I (405 AD) in a letter sent to the bishop of Toulouse cited as Canonical books the books of the Hebrew Bible plus the deuterocanonical books as a part of the Old Testament Canon.
The Decretum Gelasianum which is a work written by an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553 contains a list of books of Scripture presented as having been made Canonical by the Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome 366-383. This list mentions the Hebrew Bible plus the deuterocanonical books as a part of the Old Testament Canon.
Quinisext Council and Canons of the Apostles
The Quinisext Council (or the Council in Trullo) in 691–692, which was rejected by Pope Sergius I and is not recognized by the Catholic Church (see also Pentarchy), endorsed the following lists of canonical writings: the Apostolic Canons (c. 385), the Synod of Laodicea (c. 363), the Third Synod of Carthage (c. 397), and the 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius (367). The Apostolic Canons (or Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles, Canons of the Apostles) is a collection of ancient ecclesiastical decrees concerning the government and discipline of the Early Christian Church, first found as last chapter of the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions.
Canon n. 85 of the Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles is a list of canonical books, includes 46 books of Old Testament canon which essentially corresponds to that of the Septuagint. The Old Testament part of the Canon n. 85 stated as follows:
- Of the Old Covenant: the five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; one of Joshua the son of Nun, one of the Judges, one of Ruth, four of the Kings, two of the Chronicles, two of Ezra, one of Esther, one of Judith, three of the Maccabees, one of Job, one hundred and fifty psalms; three books of Solomon—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; sixteen prophets. And besides these, take care that your young persons learn the Wisdom of the very learned Sirach.
Karl Josef von Hefele argues that "This is probably the least ancient canon in the whole collection";:n.3826 even he and William Beveridge believe that the writings of the Apostolic Canons dating from end of the second or early of the third century, though others agree that they could not have been composed before the Synods of Antioch of 341 nor even before the latter end of the 4th century.
One of the tenets of the Protestant Reformation (beginning c. 1517) was that translations of scriptures should be based on the original texts (i.e. Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic for the Old Testament and Biblical Greek for the New Testament) rather than upon Jerome's translation into Latin, which at the time was the Bible of the Catholic Church.
The reformers saw the Apocrypha at variance with the rest of Scripture. The Roman Catholic Church uses them to support the doctrine of Purgatory, for prayers and Masses for the dead (2 Macc 12:43–45), and for the efficacy of good works in attaining salvation (Tobit 12:9; Ecclesiasticus 7:33), things that Protestants then and today deem to be blatantly contradicting other parts of the Bible.
Luther did remove the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament of his translation of the Bible, placing them in the "Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read". He also did many other canon-related things. Luther argued unsuccessfully for the relocation of Esther from the Canon to the Apocrypha, since without the deuterocanonical sections, it never mentions God. Then he said: "Does it urge Christ? Yes, because it tells the story of the survival of the people from whom Christ came." As a result, Catholics and Protestants continue to use different canons, which differ in respect to the Old Testament and in the concept of the Antilegomena of the New Testament.
There is some evidence that the first decision to omit these books entirely from the Bible was made by Protestant laity rather than clergy. Bibles dating from shortly after the Reformation have been found whose tables of contents included the entire Roman Catholic canon, but which did not actually contain the disputed books, leading some historians to think that the workers at the printing presses took it upon themselves to omit them. However, Anglican and Lutheran Bibles usually still contained these books until the 20th century, while Calvinist Bibles did not. Several reasons are proposed for the omission of these books from the canon. One is the support for Catholic doctrines such as Purgatory and Prayer for the dead found in 2 Maccabees. Luther himself said he was following Jerome's teaching about the Veritas Hebraica.
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, approved the enforcement of the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books as an article of faith (the contents of the canon itself having already been reaffirmed unanimously), and the decision was confirmed by an anathema by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain). This is said to be the same list as produced at the Council of Florence (Session 11, 4 February 1442), Augustine's 397-419 Councils of Carthage, and probably Damasus' 382 Council of Rome. This list was defined as canonical in the profession of faith proposed for the Jacobite Orthodox Church. Because of its placement, the list was not considered binding for the Catholic Church, and in light of Martin Luther's demands, the Catholic Church examined the question of the Canon again at the Council of Trent, which reaffirmed the Canon of the Council of Florence and added the anathema against attempts to change the contents of the canon. The Old Testament books that had been in doubt were termed deuterocanonical, not indicating a lesser degree of inspiration, but a later time of final approval. Beyond these books, some editions of the Latin Vulgate include Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Esdras (called 3 Esdras), 2 Esdras (called 4 Esdras), and the Epistle to the Laodiceans in an appendix, styled "Apogryphi".
On 2 June 1927, Pope Pius XI decreed that the Comma Johanneum of the New Testament was open to dispute; on 3 September 1943, Pope Pius XII reiterated the teaching of the Church in Divino afflante Spiritu, reaffirming that Catholic translations of the Bible in vernacular languages, based on Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew texts, had been allowed by the Church since the time of the Council of Trent.
Church of England
The Church of England separated from Rome in 1534, and published its Thirty-Nine Articles in Latin in 1563 and in Elizabethan English in 1571. Article 6 of the 1801 American revision is titled: "Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation":
...In the name of Holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church. Of the names and Number of the Canonical Books: Genesis; Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy; Joshua; Judges; Ruth; The I Book of Samuel; The II Book of Samuel; The I Book of Kings; The II Book of Kings; The I Book of Chronicles; The II Book of Chronicles; The I Book of Esdras; The II Book of Esdras; The Book of Esther; The Book of Job; The Psalms; The Proverbs; Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher; Cantica, or Songs of Solomon; Four Prophets the Greater; Twelve Prophets the Less. And the other Books (as Heirome [The Old English form of Hieronymus, or Jerome...] saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet it doth not apply them to establish any doctrine. Such are these following: The III Book of Esdras; The IV Book of Esdras; The Book of Tobias; The Book of Judith; The rest of the Book of Esther†; The Book of Wisdom; Jesus the Son of Sirach; Baruch the Prophet†; The Song of the Three Children†; The Story of Suzanna; Of Bel and the Dragon†; The Prayer of Manasses†; The I Book of Maccabees; The II Book of Maccabees. All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account them Canonical. [books marked † were added in 1571.]
The original King James Bible of 1611 included King James Version Apocrypha which is frequently omitted in modern printings. These texts are: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Rest of Esther, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy, Song of the Three Children, Story of Susanna, The Idol Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasses, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees.
The English Civil War broke out in 1642 and lasted till 1649. The Long Parliament of 1644 decreed that only the Hebrew Canon would be read in the Church of England, and in 1647 the Westminster Confession of Faith was issued which decreed a 39-book OT and 27-book NT, the others commonly labelled as "Apocrypha" were excluded. Today this decree is a Protestant distinctive, a consensus of Protestant churches, not limited to the Church of Scotland, Presbyterianism, and Calvinism, but shared with Baptist and Anabaptist confessions of faith also.
With the Restoration of the Monarchy to Charles II of England (1660–1685), the Church of England was once again governed by the Thirty-Nine Articles, as printed in the Book of Common Prayer (1662), which explicitly excludes the Apocrypha from the inspired writings as unsuitable for forming doctrine, while eirenically conceding them value for education so permitting public reading and study. According to The Apocrypha, Bridge of the Testaments:
On the other hand, the Anglican Communion emphatically maintains that the Apocrypha is part of the Bible and is to be read with respect by her members. Two of the hymns used in the American Prayer Book office of Morning Prayer, the Benedictus es and Benedicite, are taken from the Apocrypha. One of the offertory sentences in Holy Communion comes from an apocryphal book (Tob. 4: 8–9). Lessons from the Apocrypha are regularly appointed to be read in the daily, Sunday, and special services of Morning and Evening Prayer. There are altogether 111 such lessons in the latest revised American Prayer Book Lectionary [The books used are: II Esdras, Tobit, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Three Holy Children, and I Maccabees.] The position of the Church is best summarized in the words of Article Six of the Thirty-nine Articles: “In the name of Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority there was never any doubt in the Church. . . . And the other Books (as Hierome [St. Jerome] saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine . . .”:
Eastern Orthodox Canon
The Eastern Orthodox receive as their canon the books found in their Septuagintal, Patristic, Byzantine, and liturgical tradition. As of the Synod of Jerusalem, convened in 1672, the Orthodox Church considers as canonical the following:
specifically, “The Wisdom of Solomon,” “Judith,” “Tobit,” “The History of the Dragon” [Bel and the Dragon], “The History of Susanna,” “The Maccabees,” and “The Wisdom of Sirach.” For we judge these also to be with the other genuine Books of Divine Scripture genuine parts of Scripture. For ancient custom, or rather the Catholic Church, which has delivered to us as genuine the Sacred Gospels and the other Books of Scripture, has undoubtedly delivered these also as parts of Scripture, and the denial of these is the rejection of those. And if, perhaps, it seems that not always have all of these been considered on the same level as the others, yet nevertheless these also have been counted and reckoned with the rest of Scripture, both by Synods and by many of the most ancient and eminent Theologians of the Catholic Church. All of these we also judge to be Canonical Books, and confess them to be Sacred Scripture.
Not all books of the Old Testament are covered in the Prophetologion, the official Old Testament lectionary: "Because the only exposure most Eastern Christians had to the Old Testament was from the readings during services, the Prophetologion can be called the Old Testament of the Byzantine Church."
- Canon of the Old Testament, The Catholic Encyclopedia
- Samuel Fallows et al., eds. (1910) . The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopædia and Scriptural Dictionary, Fully Defining and Explaining All Religious Terms, Including Biographical, Geographical, Historical, Archæological and Doctrinal Themes. The Howard-Severance company. p. 521.
- For the number of books of the Hebrew Bible see: Darshan, G. “The Twenty-Four Books of the Hebrew Bible and Alexandrian Scribal Methods,”, in: M.R. Niehoff (ed.), Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters: Between Literary and Religious Concerns (JSRC 16), Leiden: Brill 2012, pp. 221–244.
- Philip R. Davies in The Canon Debate, page 50: "With many other scholars, I conclude that the fixing of a canonical list was almost certainly the achievement of the Hasmonean dynasty."
- McDonald & Sanders, The Canon Debate, 2002, page 5, cited are Neusner's Judaism and Christianity in the Age of Constantine, pages 128–145, and Midrash in Context: Exegesis in Formative Judaism, pages 1–22.
- Brettler, Marc Zvi (2005), How to read the Bible, Jewish Publication Society, p. 274, ISBN 978-0-8276-1001-9
- Barber, Michael (2006-03-04). "Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament (Part 1)".
- Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, Early Jewish Writings
- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews - Book XI, Internet Sacred Text Archive
- Henshaw, T. The Writings: The Third Division of the Old Testament Canon. George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1963, pp. 17
- Gerald A. Larue (1968), "Chapter 31. Development of the Canon", Old Testament Life and Literature, Allyn and Bacon
- W. M. Christie, The Jamnia Period in Jewish History (PDF), Biblical Studies.org.uk
- Jack P. Lewis (April 1964), "What Do We Mean by Jabneh?", Journal of Bible and Religion, 32, No. 2, Oxford University Press, pp. 125–132, JSTOR 1460205
- Anchor Bible Dictionary Vol. III, pp. 634–7 (New York 1992).
- McDonald & Sanders, editors, The Canon Debate, 2002, chapter 9: Jamnia Revisited by Jack P. Lewis.
- W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 277; H. Grätz, Gnosticismus, p. 120.
- Abegg, Martin; Flint, Peter; Ulrich, Eugene (1999). The Dead Sea Scroll Bible. HarperOne. p. 597,628,636. ISBN 978-0-06-060064-8.
- Barber, Michael (2006-03-06). "Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament (Part 2)". Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- Ernst Wurthwein; Alexander Achilles Fischer (2014), The Text of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 142–143, ISBN 9780802866806
- Grant, Robert M. (1948). The Bible in the Church. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 43 ff.
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. VI, St. Athanasius, Letter 39.7, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), p. 552.
- Aboagye-Mensah, Robert (2015), "Bishop Athanasius: His Life, Ministry and Legacy to African Christianity and the Global Church", in Gillian Mary Bediako; Bernhardt Quarshie; J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Seeing New Facets of the Diamond, Wipf and Stock Publishers, ISBN 9781498217293
- Reid, G (1908), "Canon of the Old Testament", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 3, New York: Robert Appleton Company (retrieved from New Advent)
- Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Doctrines. Harper Collins. pp. 53–54.
- "The translation, which shows at times a peculiar ignorance of Hebrew usage, was evidently made from a codex which differed widely in places from the text crystallized by the Masorah (..) Two things, however, rendered the Septuagint unwelcome in the long run to the Jews. Its divergence from the accepted text (afterward called the Masoretic) was too evident; and it therefore could not serve as a basis for theological discussion or for homiletic interpretation. This distrust was accentuated by the fact that it had been adopted as Sacred Scripture by the new faith [Christianity] (..) In course of time it came to be the canonical Greek Bible (..) It became part of the Bible of the Christian Church.""Bible Translations – The Septuagint". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
- St. Jerome, Apology Book II.
- H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, revised by R.R. Ottley, 1914; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1989.
- "The quotations from the Old Testament found in the New are in the main taken from the Septuagint; and even where the citation is indirect the influence of this version is clearly seen (..)""Bible Translations – The Septuagint". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
- Paulkovich, Michael (2012), No Meek Messiah, Spillix Publishing, p. 24, ISBN 0988216116
- Irenaeus, Against Herecies Book III.
- Rebenich, S., Jerome (Routledge, 2013), p. 58. ISBN 9781134638444
- Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Errol F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. Eerdmans, 1995.
- Jerusalem Bible Readers Edition, 1990: London, citing the Standard Edition of 1985
- "Life Application Bible" (NIV), 1988: Tyndale House Publishers, using "Holy Bible" text, copyright International Bible Society 1973
- Edward Earle Ellis (1991), The Old Testament in Early Christianity, Mohr Siebeck, p. 22, N.70, ISBN 9783161456602
- Albert C. Sundberg, Jr, 'The Old Testament of the Early Church' Revisited, Department of Classics - Monmouth College
- Bruce Metzger (1997), The canon of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, p. 98
- Everett Ferguson (2001), "18. Factors Leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon: A Survey of Some Recent Studies", in Lee Martin McDonald, James A. Sanders, The Canon Debate, Baker Academic, ISBN 9781441241634
- Arendzen, John (1910), "Marcionites", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 9, New York: Robert Appleton Company
- Edward Kessler; Neil Wenborn (2005), A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge University Press, p. 316, ISBN 9781139447508
- Eusebius. "Ecclesiastical History 4.26.12–14".
- Archibald Alexander, "Section II, Constitution of the Canon of the Old Testament by Ezra", The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained
- Eusebius. "Ecclesiastical History 6.25.1–2".
- James Waterworth; R. Simpson (1835), An Examination of the Distinctive Principle of Protestantism, W. M. Watson, pp. 93–95
- John Goldingay (2004), Models for Scripture, Clements Publishing Group, p. 148, n.37, ISBN 9781894667418
- Martin Hengel (2004), Septuagint As Christian Scripture, A&C Black, p. 57, ISBN 9780567082879
- The Canon Debate, pages 414–415, for the entire paragraph
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Book of Judith". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.: Canonicity: "..."the Synod of Nicaea is said to have accounted it as Sacred Scripture" (Praef. in Lib.). It is true that no such declaration is to be found in the Canons of Nicaea, and it is uncertain whether St. Jerome is referring to the use made of the book in the discussions of the council, or whether he was misled by some spurious canons attributed to that council"
- Lindberg, Carter (2006). A Brief History of Christianity. Blackwell Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 1-4051-1078-3.
- F.L. Cross; E.A. Livingstone, eds. (1983), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 232
- Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. InterVarsity Press. p. 234.
- Burkitt, F. C. (1913). "The Decretum Gelasianum". Journal of Theological Studies. 14: 469–471. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
- Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. InterVarsity Press. p. 225.
- Ernst von Dobschütz (ed.), Decretum Gelasianum De Libris Recipiendis Et Non Recipiendis, www.tertullian.org
- James Akin, Defending the Deuterocanonicals, Eternal Word Television Network
- "Jerome's Preface to Samuel and Kings", Jerome: The Principal Works of St. Jerome, CCEL
- Jerome (2006). "Prologue to Tobit".
- McDonald & Sanders, editors of The Canon Debate, 2002, chapter 5: The Septuagint: The Bible of Hellenistic Judaism by Albert C. Sundberg Jr., page 88: "Jerome had Hebrew texts of Sirach, Tobit, Judith (in Aramaic, or "Chaldee"), 1 Maccabees, and Jubilees, presumably from Jews, translating them into Latin."
- "Jerome's Prologue to Judith".
- Jerome, "Apology Against Rufinus (Book II)", in Philip Schaff; Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, 3 (1892 ed.), Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co. (retrieved from New Advent)
- Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119.: "Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: "wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]" Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion [Num. 11:16]? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age [Daniel 13:55–59 aka Story of Susannah 55–59]"
- Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159.:"I would cite the words of the psalmist: 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel 'I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] and those of Baruch, 'Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the Prophets."
- Jerome, Letter 51, 6, 7, NPNF2, VI:87-8: "For in the book of Wisdom, which is inscribed with his name, Solomon says: "God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity."[Wisdom 2:23]...Instead of the three proofs from Holy Scripture which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, behold I have given you seven"
- McDonald & Sanders, editors of The Canon Debate, 2002, chapter 5: The Septuagint: The Bible of Hellenistic Judaism by Albert C. Sundberg Jr., page 72, Appendix D-2, note 19.
- Everett Ferguson, "Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon," in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320.
- F. F. Bruce (1988), The Canon of Scripture. Intervarsity Press, p. 230.
- Augustine, De Civitate Dei 22.8
- "Canon XXIV. (Greek xxvii.)", The Canons of the 217 Blessed Fathers who assembled at Carthage, Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- B.F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (5th ed. Edinburgh, 1881), pp. 440, 541-2.
- Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine. Book II, Chapter 8.
- Innocent I, Bible Research
- Council of Carthage (A.D. 419) Canon 24
- Havey, Francis (1907), "African Synods", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1, New York: Robert Appleton Company
- Philip Schaff, "Chapter IX. Theological Controversies, and Development of the Ecumenical Orthodoxy", History of the Christian Church, CCEL
- of Hippo, Augustine. On Christian Doctrine Book II Chapter 8:2. newadvent. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Council of Laodicea at bible-researcher.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "Synod of Laodicea" Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (eds). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., (1900). "[N. B.— This Canon is of most questionable genuineness.]" Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- of Alexandria, Athansius. CHURCH FATHERS: Letter 39 (Athanasius). newadvent. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
- of Jerusalem, Cyril. Catechetical Lecture 4 Chapter 35. newadvent. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Williams, translated by Frank (1987). The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis 8:6:1-3 (2. impression. ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill. ISBN 9004079262. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- of Aquileia, Rufinus. Commentary on the Apostles' Creed #38. newadvent. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Westcott, Brooke Foss (2005). A general survey of the history of the canon of the New Testament Page 570 (6th ed. ed.). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. ISBN 1597522392.
- Andrew J. Ekonomou (2007), Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes, Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0-73911977-8, p. 222.
- Philip Schaff; Henry Wace (eds.), "Council in Trullo", Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14
- "APOSTOLIC CANONS".
- Michael D. Marlowe. "The "Apostolic Canons" (about A.D. 380)". Bible Research. Archived from the original on 29 August 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
- James Donaldson, D.D. (ed.), "Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles", Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- Shahan, Thomas (1908), "Apostolic Canons", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 3, New York: Robert Appleton Company
- Fallows, Samuel; et al., eds. (1910) . The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopædia and Scriptural Dictionary, Fully Defining and Explaining All Religious Terms, Including Biographical, Geographical, Historical, Archæological and Doctrinal Themes. The Howard-Severance co. p. 521.
- "Martin Luther". WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 20 April 2014. Retrieved 30 Sep 2015.
- Metzger, Bruce M. (March 13, 1997). The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford University Press. p. 246. ISBN 0-19-826954-4.
Finally on 8 April 1546, by a vote of 24 to 15, with 16 abstensions, the Council issued a decree (De Canonicis Scripturis) in which, for the first time in the history of the Church, the question of the contents of the Bible was made an absolute article of faith and confirmed by an anathema.
- "Council of Basel 1431-45 A". Papalencyclicals.net. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- Pope Pius XII. "Divino afflante Spiritu". pp. #22. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
Nor is it forbidden by the decree of the Council of Trent to make translations into the vulgar tongue, even directly from the original texts themselves, for the use and benefit of the faithful and for the better understanding of the divine word, as We know to have been already done in a laudable manner in many countries with the approval of the Ecclesiastical authority
- "Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, The Elizabethan Articles. A.D. 1563 and 1571".
- The Bible: Authorized King James Version with Apocrypha, Oxford World's Classics, 1998, ISBN 978-0-19-283525-3
- "Westminster Confession of Faith".
- WCF 1.3: "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings"
- Hall, Peter (1842). The Harmony of Protestant Confessions, Exhibiting the Faith of the Churches of Christ Reformed after the Pure and Holy Doctrine of the Gospel throughout Europe, Revised edition. London: J. F. Shaw.
- "The Apocrypha, Bridge of the Testaments" (PDF).
- Dennis Bratcher (ed.), The Confession of Dositheus (Eastern Orthodox, 1672), Question 3, CRI / Voice, Institute
- "Bishop Demetri Khoury Releases Prophetologion E-Book".
- "The Jewish people and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible" from the Pontifical Biblical Commission
- "The Old Testament Canon", Scripture & tradition, Church Fathers.
- "Old Testament", Reading Room, CA: Tyndale Seminary. Extensive online OT resources (incl. commentaries).
- Deuterocanonical books – Full text from Saint Takla Haymanot Church Website (also available the full text in Arabic)
- The Apocrypha: Inspired of God?