Photo: The Holy Bible.

GOD'S WORD Category

 

Books of the Bible:

Canon of Holy Scripture

66 Books: 39 Old Testament; 27 New Testament    

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."

Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant Views

New Testament:

Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants all agree on which 27 books (no more and no less) comprise the New Testament Canon ("Rule") of Inspired Holy Scripture.  

The different groups may place the books in different orders.

Old Testament:

With the Old Testament, sometimes books like I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and I & II Chronicles are combined, changing the total number of the inspired books, but not one word of the actual content of them.

Protestants agree with Judaism, as to which books comprise the Canon of Old Testament Inspired Holy Scripture.  

 Roman Catholics also accept these same books as Holy Scripture.  

In 1546, the (Roman Catholic) Council of Trent  declared the Canonicity of some additional books which they call the "Deutero-Canonical" (2nd Canon) books.  Protestants refer to these books as: "The Apocrypha". 

Eastern Orthodox accepted the Greek Septuagint Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures to be their official version of the Old Testament Canon.

Because of this, the Eastern Orthodox also accept the "Deutero-Canonical" (2nd Canon) books that Roman Catholics accept.   

Eastern Orthodox do not call them "Deutero- Canonical" books; they just refer to them as books of the Old Testament.

The Eastern Orthodox consider the Septuagint books of "Odes" and 3rd and 4th Maccabees to be Scripture.  These are three books that Roman Catholics do not accept.

None of these "Apocrypha" books or "Deutero-Canonical" (2nd Canon) books were or are accepted by Judaism as being Inspired Holy Scripture.

The Anglican Church (Church of England) gives to "The Apocrypha" a semi-canonical status: they may be read in public worship "for example of life and instruction of manners" but not in order "to establish any doctrine." _________________

The Formation of the New Testament Canon

"Homologoumena"

At the time of the formation of the New Testament canon twenty out of the twenty-seven books were readily and universally accepted as genuine, and therefore called "Homologoumena" (i.e. acknowledged).  

These twenty books were the four Gospels, the Acts, the epistles of Paul (except that to the Hebrews), and the first epistles of John and Peter

"Antilegomena"

The other seven books--Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, James, Revelation--were disputed for a time by particular churches, and were therefore styled "Antilegomena" (or disputed).

The question at issue with regard to the books called "Antilegomena," was not so much that of the canonicity of the writings, as whether they were really written by the men who were called their authors.

 Hebrews bore no name of its author, and differed in style from the acknowledged Pauline epistles; 2 Peter differed in style from 1 Peter; James and Jude styled themselves "servants," and not "apostles"; the writer of 2 and 3 John called himself an "elder" or "presbyter," and not an "apostle"; Jude recorded apocryphal stories. 

For these reasons these books were not at once allowed their place in the canon. 

After a deliberate examination, however, they were at last received as genuine, the very delay proving the close scrutiny which their claims had undergone. 

At the beginning of the fourth century they were received by most of the churches, and at the end of that century they were received by all. _________________

Biblical Canon or Canon of Scripture:

 A list or set of Biblical books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community, generally in Judaism or Christianity.

The Old Testament

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy
  6. Joshua
  7. Judges
  8. Ruth
  9. I Samuel
  10. II Samuel
  11. I Kings
  12. II Kings
  13. I Chronicles
  14. II Chronicles
  15. Ezra
  16. Nehemiah
  17. Esther
  18. Job
  19. Psalms
  20. Proverbs
  21. Ecclesiastes
  22. Song of Solomon
  23. Isaiah
  24. Jeremiah
  25. Lamentations
  26. Ezekiel
  27. Daniel
  28. Hosea
  29. Joel
  30. Amos
  31. Obadiah
  32. Jonah
  33. Micah
  34. Nahum
  35. Habakkuk
  36. Zephaniah
  37. Haggai
  38. Zechariah
  39. Malachi

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The Formation of the Old Testament Canon

About fifty years after the temple was rebuilt Ezra made a collection of the sacred writings (Nehemiah 8:2,3,14). 

To this collection were added the writings of Nehemiah, Malachi, and Ezra. 

It is a historical fact that Nehemiah gathered the "Acts of the Kings and the Prophets, and those of David," when founding a library for the second temple, 432 B.C. (2 Maccabees 2:13).

The canon of the Old Testament in the form we now have it, was the work of Ezra and the Great Synagogue.

This fact is borne witness to in the most ancient Jewish writings.  The Great Synagogue was composed of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. 

There is no doubt but that such a collection of books existed in the time of our Lord and the apostles (Luke 24:27,44). _______________________________

     The Apocrypha                "Deutero-Canonical" Books

14 or 15 Books (depending on how you count them); not considered to be fully Canonical Inspired Scripture by Protestants, including Anglicans (see further explanation in column at left).

  • 1. The First Book of Esdras (also known as Third Esdras)
  • 2. The Second Book of Esdras (also known as Fourth Esdras) (Note: Esdras is a Greek form for Ezra)
  • 3. Tobit
  • 4. Judith
  • 5. The Additions to the Book of Esther
  • 6. The Wisdom of Solomon
  • 7. Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach
  • 8. Baruch
  • 9. The Letter of Jeremiah (This letter is sometimes incorporated as the last chapter of Baruch. When this is done the number of books is fourteen instead of fifteen.)
  • 10. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men
  • 11. Susanna
  • 12. Bel and the Dragon
  • 13. The Prayer of Manasseh
  • 14. The First Book of Maccabees
  • 15. The Second Book of Maccabees

How Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants View "The Apocrypha":

The Books called by Protestants "The Apocrypha" and by Roman Catholics the "Deutero-Canonical"(2nd Canon) books, are just considered to be Scripture by Eastern OrthodoxThese books are found in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and in some Anglican Bibles).

They were included in most Protestant Bibles all the way up until the 1820's. 

Most of these books were written between the writing of the Old Testament books and the New Testament Books.  The books were never considered by the Jewish people to be a part of the Canon of Holy Scripture.  

The Protestant Reformers considered them good books to be read by Christians as edifying, but that they are not inspired Holy Scripture.  This is the view that has always been held and taught by the The Anglican Church (Church of England).

The Anglican Church gives to "The Apocrypha" a semi-canonical status: they may be read in public worship "for example of life and instruction of manners" but not in order "to establish any doctrine."

The Roman Catholic Church declared them to be Canonical at the Council of Trent in 1546.  Three of these fifteen books (I and II Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh) are not considered Canonical by the Roman Catholic Church.

Eastern Orthodox also consider "Odes" and 3rd and 4th Maccabees to be "Deutero-Canonical" (2nd Canon) Books.  These are books that the Roman Catholic Church does not accept. _______________________________

Have you received Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

Find out how to do so on our page:

Plan of Salvation _______________________________

Tell others about Jesus:

  We are all called by God to share our faith (witness) with those who are not Christians.  Some Bible verses that you will find helpful for doing this, and that you may want to commit to memory are found on other pages on our  web site (see: Memory Verses; 2nd Set: Salvation!, Plan of Salvation, and Statement of Faith). 

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The New Testament

  • 40. Matthew
  • 41. Mark
  • 42. Luke
  • 43. John
  • 44. Acts
  • 45. Romans
  • 46. I Corinthians
  • 47. II Corinthians
  • 48. Galatians
  • 49. Ephesians
  • 50. Philippians
  • 51. Colossians
  • 52. I Thessalon.
  • 53. II Thessalon.
  • 54. I Timothy
  • 55. II Timothy
  • 56. Titus
  • 57. Philemon
  • 58. Hebrews
  • 59. James
  • 60. I Peter
  • 61. II Peter
  • 62. I John
  • 63. II John
  • 64. III John
  • 65. Jude
  • 66.Revelation

A folio from P46, an early 3rd century collection of Pauline epistles.

A folio from P46, an early 3rd century collection of Pauline epistles.

Criteria for Canonicity

Many modern Protestants point to the following four "Criteria for Canonicity" to justify the selection of the books that have been included in the New Testament:

  1. Apostolic Origin attributed to and based on the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).
  2. Universal Acceptance acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the fourth century).
  3. Liturgical Use read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord's Supper (their weekly worship services).
  4. Consistent Message containing a theological outlook similar or complementary to other accepted Christian writings.

The basic factor for recognizing a book's canonicity for the New Testament was divine inspiration, and the chief test for this was apostolicity. The term apostolic as used for the test of canonicity does not necessarily mean apostolic authorship or derivation, but rather apostolic authority. According to these Protestants, Apostolic authority is never detached from the authority of the Lord. ___________________________________

Other "apocryphal" Books

The Books of "The Apocrypha" are not to be confused with what are called "apocryphal" books, like the so-called "Gospel of Thomas" and other such.  

Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants all in common consider these to be heretical works that contain many errors not agreeing with the teaching of the Bible (most were written by anti-Christian Gnostics from the 2nd Century on).  

These "apocryphal" books were also considered to be heretical by, and were never accepted by, the Early Church and the early Church Fathers.

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Sources:

  • Wikipedia: "Bible", "Bible Canon" (Folio Photo). 
  • Anabaptists.org: "How We got Our Bible".

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Memorization 101:

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."  -Psalm 119:11 

The first Scriptures that every Christian should memorize are John 3:16 and The Lord's Prayer.  

Next on the list might be Psalm 23, and the Books of the Bible.

If you belong to a Church that uses the historic Creeds (or maybe even if you don't), you will want to memorize the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed (or both!).  These are essentially "pastiches" of some of the most important Scriptures in the Bible.

Check out our section on Memory Verses, which includes:

Then you're ready to go through our Growing in Christ Monastic Training Course.  We recommend it for all Christians, and it is posted absolutely free to all on this website. ___________________________________

Related Pages:

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GOD'S WORD Category