Biblical Canon

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The Biblical canon is the officially recognized list of books which are considered part of the Bible. The first Christians used the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint which was written and read by Jews as the Greek language had generally replaced Hebrew. In the Council of Jamnia of 90 A.D., Jewish rabbis rejected the Septuagint in favor of the Hebrew language text, and omitted certain books such as Baruch, Judith, Maccabees, Sirach, and Tobit, relatively recent contributions which had become part of Jewish culture.

The Eastern Christian churches continue to use the Greek Septuagint to this day. The Western Church of Catholicism commissioned a Latin translation from Saint Jerome in the early 5th century which came to be known as the Vulgate. It remains the official Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) Bible.

The Biblical New Testament was taking shape by the end of the first century when the Gospels and the letters of Paul were already being circulated. The heretic Marcion attempted to remove some books around 140 A.D., showing that there was already a grouping of books that were accepted as authentic. Twenty of the 27 books of the New Testament were accepted early in the history of Christianity, while the other seven that make up the Scriptures were subjects of dispute by a minority of biblical scholars. When Constantine first made Christianity a legal religion in the Roman Empire in the early 300s, he called together leading Christians from the East and West parts of the empire to iron out the principles of Christianity, including cementing the canon. Subsequent councils such as the Council of Hippo (393) and the Third Council of Carthage (397), dealt with minor questions of authenticity, and setting forth the first-ever listing of all 27 books of the New Testament, and 46 books of the Old Testament, a canon of 73 books of the Bible, which remained unchanged for 1200 years. Still, 7 books of the Old Testament (and parts of 2 other books) and 7 books of the New Testament, 14 total, while accepted by the majority of Christian scholars and church leaders as part of the Biblical canon, continued to be debated by a minority of independent scholars, from the 4th through the 16th centuries. The deuterocanonical Old Testament scriptural texts are:

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Greek rabbinical Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4-16:24)[26]
  • Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)
  • Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira (or Sirach or Ecclesiasticus)
  • Baruch, including the Letter of Jeremiah (Additions to Jeremiah in the Septuagint)[27]
  • Greek rabbinical Additions to Daniel:
  • Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Vulgate Daniel 3:24-90)
  • Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13, Septuagint prologue)
  • Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14, Septuagint epilogue)
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

The term deuterocanonical is sometimes used to describe the canonical antilegomena, those books of the New Testament which, like the deuterocanonicals of the Old Testament, were not universally accepted by the early Church, but which are now included in the 27 books of the New Testament recognized by almost all Christians. The deuterocanonicals of the New Testament are as follows:

  • The Epistle to the Hebrews
  • The Epistle of James
  • The Second Epistle of Peter
  • The Second Epistle of John
  • The Third Epistle of John
  • The Epistle of Jude
  • The Apocalypse of John (also known as the Book of Revelation)
These 14 books since the 16th century are today called deuterocanonical, as distinct from the protocanonical books universally accepted without debate from the 1st century of the church. For the Catholic Church, a formal proclamation was made at the Council of Trent, that the Bible they had been using and the books it contained "with all their parts" were correct, in reaction to the Protestant Reformation's rejection of 7 of the deuterocanonical works as apocrypha, together with those parts of 2 other canonical books which had been long debated (parts of Esther and Daniel). However, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh were not included in the canon of the Catholic Bible defined by the Council of Trent, although they were part of the Vulgate, but they were placed in an appendix to the definitive Clementine Vulgate, "lest they be lost altogether". Martin Luther had initially placed 4 of the New Testament deuterocanonical books in an appendix after the New Testament of his German Bible, judging them to be unscriptural and hostile to the gospel of Christ: Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation. When Protestant leaders approached the leaders of the separated Orthodox Church with their revised canon of 66 books, they were rebuffed. Orthodoxy has continued to use the Septuagint as passed down from the time of the apostles of the ancient Church in the 1st century. The 1611 King James Bible, put together after the Church of England had broken away from the Catholic Church under Henry VIII, included the 7 Old Testament deuterocanonical books and the deuterocanonical parts of the 2 other canonical books, but removed them from the Old Testament and placed them in a separate section, and the Church of England continued to use the deuterocanonicals in the liturgy until forbidden by the Long Parliament in 1644. By the 1800s Protestant Bibles began to omit some of the deuterocanonical books altogether as The Apocrypha, while retaining the other deuterocanonicals, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation. A common Protestant teaching is that the Apocrypha were never part of the Bible, but were added to the Bible by the Antichrist Catholic Popes at the Council of Trent, and that they contain doctrines of the Devil.[1]
"Yes, Catholicism is straight out of the pits of hell, but so is Lutheranism!" (The Truth About Martin Luther, Dr. Max D. Younce, Th.D.[2])

Orthodox Christians do not usually speak of "the canon of Scripture" but do think of the writings as "canonical", the difference being that the canonical writings are judged as being faithful to the dogma of the Church. The Orthodox Church has never defined the Old Testament canon, but they have been using the same one since the early times of the Church. The Orthodox Old Testament canonical books are these:

  • GENESIS
  • EXODUS
  • LEVITICUS
  • NUMBERS
  • DEUTERONOMY
  • JOSHUA OF NAVI
  • JUDGES
  • RUTH
  • KINGS I (SAMUEL I)
  • KINGS II (SAMUEL II)
  • KINGS III (1 Kings)
  • KINGS IV (2 Kings)
  • CHRONICLES I
  • CHRONICLES II
  • ESDRAS I (1 Esdras)
  • ESDRAS II (Ezra)
  • NEHEMIAH
  • TOBIT
  • JUDITH
  • ESTHER
  • MACCABEES I
  • MACCABEES II
  • MACCABEES III
  • PSALMS (Psalm 150 with Psalm 151)
  • JOB
  • PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
  • ECCLESIASTES
  • SONG OF SONGS
  • WISDOM OF SOLOMON
  • WISDOM OF SIRACH
  • OSEE (Hosea)
  • AMOS
  • MICHAEAS (Micah)
  • JOEL
  • OBDIAS (Obadiah)
  • JONAS
  • NAUM (Nahum)
  • AMBACUM (Habakkuk)
  • SOPHONIAS (Zephaniah)
  • AGGAEUS (Haggai)
  • ZACHARIAS
  • MALACHIAS
  • ESAIAS (Isaiah)
  • JEREMIAS
  • BARUCH
  • LAMENTATIONS OF JEREMIAS
  • EPISTLE OF JEREMIAS
  • JEZEKIEL (Ezekiel)
  • SUSANNA
  • DANIEL
  • MACCABEES IV - APPENDIX

The canon of the Ethiopic Bible of the Orthodox Ethiopian Church as a whole differs both in the Old and New Testament from that of any other churches. The books written in the Geez language and on parchment are numerous. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has 46 books of the Old Testament and 35 books of the New Testament, bringing the total of canonized books of the Bible to 81. The canon of the Ethiopic Bible appears to date back to the 5th century.[3]

These are the following:
A. The Holy Books of the Old Testament
1. Genesis
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy
6. Joshua
7. Judges
8. Ruth
9. I and II Samuel
10. I and II Kings
11. I Chronicles
12. II Chronicles
13. Jublee
14. Enoch
15. Ezra and Nehemia
16. Ezra (2nd) and Ezra Sutuel
17. Tobit
18. Judith
19. Esther
20. I Maccabees
21. II and III Maccabees
22. Job
23. Psalms
24. Proverbs
25. Tegsats (Reproof)
26. Metsihafe Tibeb (the books of wisdom)
27. Ecclesiastes
28. The Song of Songs
29. Isaiah
30. Jeremiah
31. Ezekiel
32. Daniel
33. Hosea
34. Amos
35. Micah
36. Joel
37. Obadiah
38. Jonah
39. Nahum
40. Habakkuk
41. Zephaniah
42. Haggai
43. Zechariah
44. Malachi
45. Book of Joshua the son of Sirac
46. The Book of Josephas the Son of Bengorion

B. The holy books of the New Testament
1. Matthew
2. Mark
3. Luke
4. John
5. The Acts
6. Romans
7. I Corinthians
8. II Corinthians
9. Galatians
10. Ephesians
11. Philippians
12. Colossians
13. I Thessalonians
14. II Thessalonians
15. I Timothy
16. II Timothy
17. Titus
18. Philemon
19. Hebrews
20. I Peter
21. II Peter
22. I John
23. II John
24. III John
25. James
26. Jude
27. Revelation
28. Sirate Tsion (the book of order)
29. Tizaz (the book of Herald)
30. Gitsew
31. Abtilis
32. The I book of Dominos
33. The II book of Dominos
34. The book of Clement
35. Didascalia

References

See also

Third Council of Carthage (397)

Books of the Bible

External links

Theopedia: Marcionism

Third Council of Carthage (397) (bible-researcher.com)

Catholic Encyclopedia: African Synods

Canon of the Old Testament

Essay: The New Testament Canon (tektonics.org)

The Biblical Canon Of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church

See the following six sources:

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