The deuterocanonicals are seven books with parts of two other historical books of the Old Testament, and seven books of the New Testament, fourteen total, which were accepted by the majority of Christian scholars and church leaders in the early Christian Church as part of the Biblical canon, but whose precise canonical status intermittently continued to be debated by a minority of independent scholars, from the 4th through the 16th centuries, many of them often citing and quoting from the disputed books as if they were authoritative scripture—books of the Bible accepted as divinely inspired by the majority of Christian believers in the United States and throughout the world. Since the 16th century these fourteen books and parts of books in the Old and New Testaments have been designated deuterocanonical, as distinct from the protocanonical books, those books of scripture which were universally accepted without debate from the 1st century of the church.
The Old Testament deuterocanonicals were first removed from the Old Testament and placed in the Apocrypha together with the noncanonical 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh by Martin Luther in the 16th century. The Old Testament deuterocanonicals are regarded as apocryphal by less than one-third of Christian believers. They were dogmatically declared canonical by the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 along with the New Testament deuterocanonicals, definitively bringing to an end all further debate over their canonical status in the Catholic Church.
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. The entire canonical text was identified by Pope Damasus I and the Synod of Rome (382). Subsequent councils such as the Council of Hippo (393) and the Third Council of Carthage (397), dealt with minor questions of authenticity, affirming the canon of Damasus and the Synod of Rome, and set forth the first-ever listing of all 27 books of the New Testament, and together with them listed 46 books of the Old Testament, a canon of 73 books of the Bible, which quickly gained acceptance and 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, many of them quoting from the disputed books as if they were authoritative scripture. Jerome (Prologus Galeatus c. A.D. 420) listed the books rejected by the Jews as "apocryphal", a view regarded by his contemporaries as highly controversial, but he himself quoted them as if they were scripture. The canon of Damasus, and the Synods of Rome, Hippo and Carthage, was reaffirmed at the Council of Florence of the (briefly reunited) Church of the east and west in 1442.
List of deuterocanonical texts
The deuterocanonical Old Testament scriptural texts are:
- Greek rabbinical Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4-16:24)
- 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)
- 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 to Daniel)
- Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14, Septuagint epilogue of Daniel)
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, while accepted by the majority of Christian believers, 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 since the time of the Third Council of Carthage (397). 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)
The meaning of the term "deuterocanonical" is therefore not identical with "apocryphal". The apocryphal books are the deuterocanonical books and parts of books removed from the Old Testament of the Bible by Martin Luther in the 16th century and collected and placed together indifferently with the noncanonical books of 1 and 2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh in a separate section of his German Bible as The Apocrypha.
Martin Luther also initially placed four 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 in the 16th century approached the leaders of the separated Orthodox Church with their revised canon of 66 books, they were rebuffed.
Council of Trent 1546
For the Catholic Church, a formal dogmatic proclamation was made at the Council of Trent, that the Bible the Church had been using and the books it contained "with all their parts" was 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, although they were part of the Vulgate, were not included in the canon of the Catholic Bible defined by the Council of Trent, but they were subsequently placed in an appendix to the definitive Clementine Vulgate, "lest they be lost altogether". This definitively closed 1400 years of intermittant debate over the traditional canon of the Bible in the Catholic Church, and declared henceforth anathema (cursed) any one who persisted in holding any dissenting opinion in the matter  (see 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 13:1-2; Hebrews 13:17; 2 Peter 1:20 and 3:16-17; Jude 8, 16-19; Revelation 22:19).
Orthodoxy in the east was never confronted with a need to officially define the canon of the Bible and has continued to use the Septuagint as passed down from the time of the apostles of the ancient Church in the 1st century to the present day.
- The Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian body comprised of several distinct "Rites". The Catholic Church (Latin Rite) is the largest religious body in the United States, with over 60 million adherents (4 times as large as the second largest church, the Orthodox).
“The Global Catholic Population,” © 2011, Pew Research Center.
The Largest Catholic Communities
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church, and also referred to as the Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, most of whom live in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia.
The Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Of America (1983). Retrieved on 7 May 2014.
Christianity:Basics:Eastern Orthodox Church Denomination. about.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
Christianity. Major Branches of Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents. adherents.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
- See Percentage of Christians in Protestant Denominations (29.5%).
- "noncanonical 1 and 2 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh". These texts included by Jerome in the Vulgate (A.D. 420) were not explicitly included in any canon of the books of the Bible as formulated by any local synod or general council of Christianity from the synod of Rome 382 through the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the East and West to the Council of Trent.
- See Myths about the Council of Nicea, By Ryan Turner, edited by Matt Slick
- Major Church Pronouncements on the Bible
Decree of Council of Rome (AD 382) on the Biblical Canon, by Dr Taylor Marshall
BlogSpot. Beggars All: Reformation & Apologetics. Pope Damasus and the Canon of Scripture (Part One) (beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com) See also (Part Two) Both offer clear explanations and clarifications by one Protestant apologist of the rationale for the firm Protestant position that the decision by Pope Damasus and the Synod of Rome in 382 on the canon of the books of the Bible is invalid (includes discussions).
- The Old Testament Canon and the Apocrypha. Part 3: From Jerome to the Reformation, William Webster. This article provides extensive translations of the writings of many of the major Western theologians from the fifth to the sixteenth centuries on their view of the Canon for the first time in English.
See also Jerome on the Canon (bible-researcher.com)
- Edmon Gallagher on Jerome's Prologus and the Council of Hippo regarding the Canon (2013)
- The Apocrypha, By David deSilva. Abingdon Press (books.google.com)
- Saturday, October 26, 2013. The Council of Florence on the Pope, the Church and the Bible
Catholic Encyclopedia (1915) Canon of the Old Testament "During the deliberations of the Council [of Trent] there never was any real question as to the reception of all the traditional Scripture. Neither--and this is remarkable--in the proceedings is there manifest any serious doubt of the canonicity of the disputed writings. In the mind of the Tridentine Fathers they had been virtually canonized, by the same decree of Florence, and the same Fathers felt especially bound by the action of the preceding ecumenical synod" [of Florence]."
Christian Classics Ethereal Library. History of the Church, Vol. 6: § 18. The Council of Ferrara-Florence. 1438–1445.
Canons of the ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF FLORENCE (1438-1445) (Basel/Ferrara/Florence/Rome)
- Luther's Treatment of the 'Disputed Books' of the New Testament (bible-researcher.com/antilegomena)
See Martin Luther's Table Talk, by Martin Luther, translated by William Hazlitt, Alexander Chalmers. Bell & Daldy, 1872. pages 11-13 (books.google.com)
- Luther rejected the seven books of the Old Testament, citing the Palestinian Canon as his authority. Clearly his reasons were doctrinal. However, his decision poses serious difficulties. What authority from God would Jews have in the Christian era to determine which books of the Old Testament were or were not divinely inspired? In 1529, Luther proposed adoption of the 39-book canon of rabbinic Judaism as the Old Testament canon of the Christian Bible. He justified his decision to exclude seven books from the Old Testament canon of 46 books by an appeal to precedent, citing Jerome who, around A.D. 400 had expressed concerns also voiced by his rabbinical sources that these books in Greek had no Hebrew counterparts. Research into the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran has discovered Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books, which makes their rejection on this ground unsupportable. Luther's principal reason for opposing these Old Testament books seems to be that they contain textual support for doctrines he had rejected, such as praying for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:42-45).
See Luther and the Canon of the Bible, by Jim Seghers
The Canon of the Bible
Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Can Protestants Rely Upon the "Council of Jamnia" for Their Bible?
- Orthodox Christian Information Center. Luther Had His Chance.
St. Takla.org. The Deuterocanon (The Holy Bible books that the Protestants removed from their Bible)
Christian History.Net What did the reformers think about the Eastern Orthodox Church? (christianitytoday.com)
- "But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema."The Council of Trent. The Fourth Session. The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent, Trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848), 17-21. [Page 17] SESSION THE FOURTH Celebrated on the eighth day of the month of April, in the year MDXLVI. DECREE CONCERNING THE CANONICAL SCRIPTURES