Regarding Its Canonicity? (Old Testament)

Taken from: Executable Outlines


1. The Bible consists of 66 books...

   a. The Old Testament contains 39

   b. The New Testament contains 27

2. Why these 66 books and not others...?

   a. What about the additional books in Catholic versions of the Old


   b. What about the so-called "lost books of the Bible?"

3. Such questions pertain to the canonicity of the Bible...

   a. The word "canon" means a rule or standard for anything

   b. For early Christians, it meant the rule of faith, what is accepted

      as authoritative Scripture

4. The inclusion of any book into the canon follows two basic steps...

   a. Inspiration by God - God determined the canon by co-authoring it

   b. Recognition by men - Man recognized what God revealed and accepted

      it as the canon

   c. "A book is not the Word of God because it was accepted by the

      people, it was accepted by the people because it was the Word of


[So why 66 books and not others?  Let's first consider the question as

it relates to the OT...]



      1. Anyone who accepts the authority of Jesus will accept what He

         acknowledged as Scripture

         a. He pointed people to the Scriptures - cf. Jn 5:39

         b. He spoke of the faithfulness of Scripture - cf. Jn 10:35

      2. Jesus recognized three major divisions of the OT, which

         included 39 books  - cf. Lk 24:44

         a. The Law (Torah) - the five books of Moses (Genesis -


         b. The Prophets (Nebhiim) - "the former prophets" (Joshua,

            Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and "the latter prophets"

            (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and a book containing the 12

            minor prophets).

         c. The Writings (Kethubhim) - three poetical books (Psalms,

            Proverbs, and Job), five rolls (the Song of Solomon, Ruth,

            Lamentations, Esther, and Ecclesiastes), and several

            historical books (Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles)

      3. Jesus followed the arrangement of the OT books that was

         customary among the Jews

         a. We see this from His comments in Lk 11:49-51

         b. There he speaks of the persecution of the prophets from the

            murder of Abel (Gen 4:8) to the slaying of Zechariah (2 Chr


         c. This arrangement is the one that is followed in the Hebrew

            OT today also

      4. "Jesus does not quote from every book of the Old Testament, but

         he does quote from all three of the main divisions, showing

         that he accepted the entire Old Testament as canonical."

         - Wilbert R. Gawrisch (How The Canonicity Of The Bible Was



      1. Paul acknowledged the Hebrew canon

         a. As written for our learning - Ro 15:4

         b. As written for our admonition - 1 Co 10:11

         c. As profitable for doctrine, etc.- 2 Ti 3:14-17

      2. The apostles frequently quoted from those books in the Hebrew


         a. In their gospels - e.g., Mt 1:22-23; 2:17-18; Jn 12:37-41

         b. In their efforts to evangelize - e.g., Ac 17:2-3

         c. In their epistles - e.g., Ro 3:9-10; 4:3; 1 Pe 2:6

[It is evident that Jesus and His apostles accepted the authority

(canon) of the Hebrew scriptures which include the 39 books in the Old

Testament.  But what of the extra books found in the Catholic Old




      1. These books were written after Malachi (400 B.C), prior to the

         coming of Jesus

      2  These books include:

         a. The Wisdom of Solomon (30 B.C.), known as the Book of Wisdom

         b. Ecclesiasticus (132 B.C.), also known as Sirach

         c. Tobit (200 B.C.)

         d. Judith (150 B.C.)

         e. 1 Maccabees (110 B.C.)

         f. 2 Maccabees (110 B.C.)

         g. Prayer of Azariah (100 B.C.) placed as Daniel 3:24-90

         h. Susanna (100 B.C.) placed as Daniel 13

         i. Bel and the Dragon (100 B.C.), placed as Daniel 14

         j. Baruch (150-50 B.C.), placed as Baruch 1-5

         k. Letter of Jeremiah (300-100 B.C.) placed as Baruch 6

         l. Additions to Esther (140-130 B.C.), placed as Esther


         m. 1 Esdras (150-100 B.C.), also known as 3 Esdras

         n. 2 Esdras (150-100 B.C.), known as 4 Esdras

         o. Prayer of Manasseh (100 B.C.)


      1  The Council of Trent accepted the Old Testament Apocrypha as

         canonical in 1546

         a. With the exception of 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of


         b. While there are 15 total books in the Apocrypha, Roman

            Catholic Bibles count only 11

            because they combine the Letter of Jeremiah with Baruch and

            omit 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh

         c. The teaching of 2 Esdras 7:105 in opposition to prayer for

            the dead may have led to its exclusion by the Roman Catholic Church

      2  Reasons suggested for the Old Testament Apocrypha as Scripture


         a. Some church fathers accepted these books (Irenaeus,

            Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria

         b. The Syriac church accepted them in the fourth century

         c. The Eastern Orthodox church accepts them

         d. The Roman Catholic Church proclaimed them as canonical in


         e. The Apocrypha was included in Protestant Bibles, including

            the original KJV of 1611

         f. Some have been found among other OT books with the Dead Sea



      1. Jesus and His apostles did not accept these books as part of

         the Scripture

         a. There are no NT references to any of the Apocrypha as being


         b. The NT writers quote not one part of the Apocrypha

      2. Judaism never accepted these books as part of the Scriptures

         a. Ancient Jewish leaders specifically rejected the Apocrypha

            (Josephus, Philo)

         b. While included in the Septuagint (Gr. OT), they were never

            accepted as canonical

         c. The New American Bible, the new Catholic translation, in a

            footnote to the Story of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon

            frankly admits: "They are excluded from the Jewish canon of


      3. While a few early church leaders appear to take some material

         from them, most were opposed to the inclusion of the Apocrypha

         into the canon of Scripture (Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem,

         Jerome, Origen)

      4. The Apocrypha itself recognizes our OT canon as a distinct

         twenty-four books, which corresponds to the Hebrew Bible as it

         is known today

         a. In 2 Esd 14:44-48, 70 books are distinguished from 94,

            leaving 24, or the exact number of the Hebrew canon, which

            became our 39 OT books

         b. Not only does the Apocrypha not claim inspiration for

            itself, it actually disclaims it when 1 Mac 9:27 describes

            an existing cessation of prophecy

      5. They include unbiblical teaching, such as praying for the dead

         (2 Mac 12:46)

      6. They contain demonstrable errors; for example:

         a. Tobit was supposedly alive when Jeroboam led his revolt (931


         b. He was still living at the time of the Assyrian captivity

            (722 B.C.)

         c. Yet the Book of Tobit says he lived only 158 years - Tob

            1:3-5; 14:11

      7. The first official adoption of the Apocrypha by the Roman

         Catholic Church came at the Council of Trent in 1546, over

         1,500 years after the books were written

      8. When the Apocrypha appeared in Protestant Bibles:

         a. It was normally placed in a separate section since it was

            not considered of equal authority

         b. Luther included the Apocrypha in his German Bible, but he

            introduced them with the comment, "These are books that are

            not to be considered the same as Holy Scripture, and yet are

            useful and good to read."

      9. No Greek manuscript contains the exact collection of the books

         of the Apocrypha as accepted by the Council of Trent

     10. While the Syrian church accepted the Apocrypha in the fourth

         century, the translation of the Bible into Syrian in the second

         century A.D. did not include it

     11. The Qumran community had hundreds of books in its library

         beyond the Scriptures

         a. While the library had some of the Apocrypha, it did not have

            commentaries on the Apocrypha it did with OT books

         b. The OT books had special script and parchment, unlike the


         c. Qumran clearly considered the Apocrypha as different from



1. While the Apocrypha of the OT may be of historical value and in some

   ways supplement God's truth, they are not canonical

2. Those who accept the authority of Jesus and His apostles will be

   content with those books found in the Hebrew OT

3. In one sense, the issue might be regarded as irrelevant...

   a. The Apocrypha relates to the Old Testament

   b. Christians are under the New Covenant of Christ, not the Law of

      Moses - Ro 7:6; Ga 5:4

   c. Therefore we are to continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine

      - cf. Ac 2:42

But then that raises another question:  What about the canonicity of the

New Testament?  This we shall address in our next study...