The Canon of the Old Testament:

Definition of Terms:

  • Septuagint: the earliest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible 
  • Deuterocanon:  Books found in the Septuagint that are regarded by some traditions to be Scripture, but are not found in the Hebrew Bible
  • Apocrypha: Written works, sometimes of unknown authorship or doubtful origin, that early Christians identified as edifying Christian works to be read in private, but which were not considered canonical Scripture. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the word apocrypha came to mean “false, spurious, bad, or heretical” and was used in reference to the Deuterocanon.

Modern Christians will find that denominations disagree on which and how many books are contained in their Bibles.  Most Protestant Bibles contain 66 books, while Catholic Bibles have 73.  Orthodox Bibles vary, but may contain anywhere between 76-80 books in their Bibles.  These differences come from the number of books contained in their various Old Testaments.  The Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Assyrian Church of the East, and Oriental Orthodox Churches all include books that are referred to as the Deuterocanon (or Apocrypha) in their Old Testament canons, although which books and to what degree varies. Protestant churches usually do not include any since, after the Reformation, many Protestant Bibles began to follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional texts (which came to be called the Apocrypha by Protestants). Each will argue for reasons why their canon is the correct one.

During the time of the Apostles and the early Church Fathers, however, the Old Testament canon (the list of books considered Scripture) was still evolving and was not universally agreed upon. The Samaritans and Sadducees accepted only the Torah (“Law”) but rejected the Nevi’im (“Prophets”)and Ketuvim (“Writings”).  The Pharisees, on the other hand, accepted all three. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it seems that the Essenes apparently did not accept Esther, but accepted Tobit, Sirach, and Enoch, among other works (Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures, ed. Philip Davies. Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press).  Greek speaking Jews, which was the large majority of the Jewish population at the time, heavily favored the Septuagint.  The Septuagint, or the Greek Old Testament (abbreviated as LXX) is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from the original Hebrew.  It is a product from the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE. Contrary to popular belief, the Septuagint is the most ancient extant translation of the Old Testament while the Hebrew text, as it has come down to us, is the product of the sixth century Masoretes. Thus, the Septuagint, (extant manuscripts of which date to the fourth century and parts of it have been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls which date 200 years before Christ), has been used by scholars to correct the errors that crept into the Hebrew (Masoretic) text, the oldest extant manuscripts of which date only from the ninth century (Timothy Michael Law; When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible Oxford University Press; 1st edition July 19, 2013).

The Septuagint contains books not present in the Hebrew canon.  These books became known as the anagignoskomena in Greek and as deuterocanon in English (derived from the Greek words for “second canon”), to signify that they were books not included in the Jewish canon (i.e. “first canon”).  These books are estimated to have been written between 200 BCE and 50 CE. Among them are 1 Maccabees; 2 Maccabees; Tobit; Judith; the Wisdom of Solomon; Sirach; Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), and additions to Esther and Daniel.  There are some copies of the Septuagint that include The Psalms of Solomon, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Book of Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151.  Protestants, however, tend to use the term Apocrypha when referring to these works.

The Early Christian church would make heavy use of the Septuagint.  When quoting the Old Testament, the New Testament writers used the Septuagint the majority of the time (see list of N.T. quotes from Deuterocanon).  For example, Hebrews 11:35 draws upon a story found in 2 Maccabees 7; “Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release that they might rise again to a better life.”  Protestant authors Archer and Chirichigno list 340 places where the New Testament cites the Septuagint but only 33 places where it cites from the Hebrew Masoretic Text (G. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey, 25-32).  The New Testament writers also made use of the Septuagint’s Deuterocanon (Apocrypha) as many verses in the New Testament can be shown to allude to or even rely upon Deuterocanon texts.  Many of the earliest Protestant English translations of the Bible included cross-references in the New Testament to the deuterocanon.  Several examples of early Protestant Bibles that contained New Testament cross-references to the Deuterocanon are the original 1611 edition of the King James Bible, Coverdale Bible (1535), Matthew’s Bible (1537), Great Bible (1541), Taverner’s Bible (1551), Geneva (1557, 1560, 1583), and the Bishops’ Bible (1568).  These cross-references remained in Protestant bibles until the “Apocrypha” were eventually removed.  (It should be observed, however, that New Testament quotations are not sufficient for determining Scripture; as for example, Jude 14-15 quotes formally the apocryphal book 1 Enoch 1:9 and James 4:5 formally quotes as Scripture an otherwise unknown work.  In contrast, the Old Testament books of Ruth, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Esther, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Ezekiel are never quoted).

The Church Fathers also extensively used the Septuagint.  While some, like Jerome, questioned the Deuterocanonicals status as Scripture, others, such as Irenaeus believed the Hebrew version to have been corrupted.  Irenaeus writes about Isaiah 7:14 that the Septuagint clearly identifies a “virgin” (Greek παρθένοςbethulah in Hebrew) who would conceive, while the Hebrew version would render it as “young woman”.  Some Church Fathers, such as Justin Martyr, even claimed that Jewish authorities either changed or removed these books from their canon because they were so heavily used to prove that Jesus was the Messiah (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 71-72).

It is precisely because of its wide use by the Apostles and early Church Fathers, that the Septuagint became the accepted version of the Old Testament by the early Church.   Every early list still in existence contains at least one reference to a Deuterocanonical book (see Early Biblical Canons).  Protestant historian J.N.D. Kelly writes, “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books” (J.N.D. Kelly.  Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition. 1978).  The use of the Deuterocanonical books in the Church’s liturgy would eventually lead to them being officially included in the Bible at the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage in the fourth century.  It would not be until the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646 that all traces of the Deuterocanon (Apocrypha) would be removed.

return to top ⇑

Early Christian Use of the Deuterocanon:

Bible Verses:

Hebrews 11:35

2 Maccabees 7

Matthew 27:39-43

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying,

‘You who would destroy the temple

and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,

“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him, for he said, I am the Son of God (Matt. 27:39-43).»

Wisdom 2:17-22

“Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries (Wis. 2:17-22)

Luke 6:31 and Tobit 4:15

And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them (Luke 6:31).

And what you hate, do not do to anyone (Tob. 4:15).

Luke 14:13 and Tobit 4:7

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:13).

Give alms from your possessions to all who live uprightly, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from any poor man, and the face of God will not be turned away from you (Tob. 4:7).

5) John 10:22 and 1 Maccabees 4:59

It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem (John 10:22).

Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev (1 Macc. 4:59).

The Feast of the Dedication, mentioned in John 10:22, known today as Hanukkah, was established during the time ofthe Maccabees and prescribed as an annual feast in 1 Maccabees 4:59.

Romans 9:20-22 and Wisdom 15:7

But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me thus?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use (Rom. 9:20-22).

For when a potter kneads the soft earth and laboriously molds each vessel for our service, he fashions out of the same clay both the vessels that serve clean uses and tho for contrary uses, making all in like manner; but whit shall be the use of each of these the worker in clay decide (Wis. 15:7).

Protestant theologian Bruce M. Metzger notes, however, that although the image of the potter and clay can be found elsewhere, only Romans and Wisdom agree in the “twist: that both good and bad are made from the same lump of clay.  Metzger further bolsters this observation by noting between these two texts several linguistic parallels that are sustained through three consecutive verses from Romans 9:20-22.

Romans 11:34 and Wisdom 9:13

For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? (Rom. 11:34).

For what man can learn the counsel of God? Or who cal discern what the Lord wills? (Wis. 9:13).

return to top ⇑

Church Father Quotes:

The Didache
“You shall not waver with regard to your decisions [Sir. 1:28].” “Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving [Sir. 4:31]” (Didache 4:5 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas
“Since, therefore, [Christ] was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, his suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against evil, ‘Woe to their soul, because they have counseled an evil counsel against themselves’ [Isa. 3:9], saying, ‘Let us bind the righteous man because he is displeasing to us’ [Wis. 2:12.]” (Letter of Barnabas 6:7 [A.D. 74]).

Clement of Rome
“By the word of his might [God] established all things, and by his word he can overthrow them. ‘Who shall say to him, “What have you done?” or who shall resist the power of his strength?’ [Wis. 12:12]” (Letter to the Corinthians 27:5 [ca. A.D. 80]).

Polycarp of Smyrna
“When you can do good, defer it not, because ‘alms delivers from death’ [Tob. 4:10, 12:9]” (Letter to the Philadelphians 10 [A.D. 135]).

Justin Martyr
“But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders [the Septuagint] who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [the Deuterocanon] and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying; but since I am aware that this is denied by all of your nation, I do not address myself to these points, but I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are still admitted by you. For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive,’ and say it ought to be read, ‘Behold, the young woman shall conceive.’” -Dialogue with Trypho the Jew Chapter 71.

“From the statements, then, which Esdras made in reference to the law of the passover, they have taken away the following: ‘And Esdras said to the people, This passover is our Saviour and our refuge. And if you have understood, and your heart has taken it in, that we shall humble Him on a standard, and thereafter hope in Him, then this place shall not be forsaken for ever, says the God of hosts. But if you will not believe Him, and will not listen to His declaration, you shall be a laughing-stock to the nations.’ And from the sayings of Jeremiah they have cut out the following: ‘I was like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter: they devised a device against me, saying, Come, let us lay on wood on His bread, and let us blot Him out from the land of the living; and His name shall no more be remembered’ [Jeremiah 11:19]. And since this passage from the sayings of Jeremiah is still written in some copies of the Scriptures in the synagogues of the Jews for it is only a short time since they were cut out, and since from these words it is demonstrated that the Jews deliberated about the Christ Himself. . .” -Dialogue with Trypho the Jew Chapter 72.

Irenaeus of Lyons
“Those . . . who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts and do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt toward others and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat [Matt. 23:6] and work evil deeds in secret, saying ‘No man sees us,’ shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance, nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart; and they shall hear those words to be found in Daniel the prophet: ‘O you seed of Canaan and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you and lust perverted your heart’ [Dan. 13:56]. You that have grown old in wicked days, now your sins which you have committed before have come to light, for you have pronounced false judgments and have been accustomed to condemn the innocent and to let the guilty go free, although the Lord says, ‘You shall not slay the innocent and the righteous’ [Dan. 13:52, citing Ex. 23:7]” (Against Heresies 4:26:3 [A.D. 189]; Daniel 13 is not in the Protestant Bible).

“Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left on the earth, should both be under the rule of the saints and to minister to this [new] Jerusalem and that [his] kingdom shall be in it, saying, ‘Look around Jerusalem toward the east and behold the joy which comes to you from God himself. Behold, your sons whom you have sent forth shall come: They shall come in a band from the east to the west. . . . God shall go before with you in the light of his splendor, with the mercy and righteousness which proceed from him’ [Bar. 4:36—5:9]” (ibid., 5:35:1; Baruch was often considered part of Jeremiah, as it is here).

Clement of Alexandria

“And very clearly He calls to goodness by Solomon, when He says, ‘Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who has found understanding’ (Proverbs 3:13). ‘For the good is found by him who seeks it, and is wont to be seen by him who has found it.’ By Jeremiah, too, He sets forth prudence, when he says, ‘Blessed are we, Israel; for what is pleasing to God is known by us;’ (Baruch 4:4) – and it is known by the Word, by whom we are blessed and wise. For wisdom and knowledge are mentioned by the same prophet, when he says, ‘Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life, and give ear to know understanding’ (Baruch 3:9). By Moses, too, by reason of the love He has to man, He promises a gift to those who hasten to salvation. For He says, ‘And I will bring you into the good land, which the Lord swore to your fathers’ (Deuteronomy 31:20). And further, ‘And I will bring you into the holy mountain, and make you glad,’ (Isaiah 56:7) He says by Isaiah.” -The Instructor 1:10

“This Scripture has briefly showed, when it says, ‘What you hate you shall not do to another’ [Tobit 4:15].” -Stromata 2:23

Hippolytus of Rome
“What is narrated here [in the story of Susannah] happened at a later time, although it is placed at the front of the book [of Daniel], for it was a custom with the writers to narrate many things in an inverted order in their writings. . . . [W]e ought to give heed, beloved, fearing lest anyone be overtaken in any transgression and risk the loss of his soul, knowing as we do that God is the judge of all and the Word himself is the eye which nothing that is done in the world escapes. Therefore, always watchful in heart and pure in life, let us imitate Susannah” (Commentary on Daniel [A.D. 204]; the story of Susannah [Dan. 13] is not in the Protestant Bible).

“Thus they say they prove that God is one. And then they answer in this manner: ‘If therefore I acknowledge Christ to be God, He is the Father Himself, if He is indeed God; and Christ suffered, being Himself God; and consequently the Father suffered, for He was the Father Himself.’ But the case stands not thus; for the Scriptures do not set forth the matter in this manner. But they make use also of other testimonies, and say, Thus it is written: ‘This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant (son), and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men’ [Baruch 3:35]” -Against the Heresy of Noetus, Chapter 2.

Origen of Alexandria
“But surely it is not without honour for the body to suffer for the sake of godliness, and to choose afflictions on account of virtue: the dishonourable thing would be for it to waste its powers in vicious indulgence. For the divine word says: ‘What is an honourable seed? The seed of man. What is a dishonourable seed? The seed of man’ [Ecclesiasticus or Sirach10:19].” -Contra Celsum, 8.50

Cyprian of Carthage
“In Genesis [it says], ‘And God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the high land and offer him there as a burnt offering”’ [Gen. 22:1–2]. . . . Of this same thing in the Wisdom of Solomon [it says], ‘Although in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality’ [Wis. 3:4]. Of this same thing in the Maccabees [it says], ‘Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness’ [1 Macc. 2:52; see Jas. 2:21–23]” (Treatises 7:3:15 [A.D. 248]).

“So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honor of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, ‘I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth’ [Dan. 14:5]” (Letters 55:5 [A.D. 253]; Daniel 14 is not in the Protestant Bible).

“But, dearest brother, ecclesiastical discipline is not on that account to be forsaken, nor priestly censure to be relaxed, because we are disturbed with reproaches or are shaken with terrors; since Holy Scripture meets and warns us, saying, ‘But he who presumes and is haughty, the man who boasts of himself, who has enlarged his soul as hell, shall accomplish nothing’ [Habakkuk 2:5]. And again: ‘And fear not the words of a sinful man, for his glory shall be dung and worms. Today he is lifted up, and tomorrow he shall not be found, because he is turned into his earth, and his thought shall perish’ [1 Maccabbees 2:62-63].” – Letter To Cornelius 54:3.

“Concerning which matters, since you have desired our advice, know that we do not depart from the traditions of the Gospel and of the apostles, but with constancy and firmness take counsel for our brethren and sisters, and maintain the discipline of the Church by all the ways of usefulness and safety, since the Lord speaks, saying, ‘And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, and they shall feed you with discipline’ [Jeremiah 3:15]. And again it is written; ‘Whoever despises discipline is miserable’ [Wisdom 3:11].” -Letter 61:1.

“And again, where the sacred Scripture speaks of the tortures which consecrate God’s martyrs, and sanctify them in the very trial of suffering: ‘And if they have suffered torments in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality; and having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace has He tried them, and received them as a sacrifice of a burnt-offering, and in due time regard shall be had unto them. The righteous shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people; and their Lord shall reign forever’ [Wisdom 3:4-8].” -Letter 80:2.

“Moreover, if the Christian know and keep fast under what condition and what law he has believed, he will be aware that he must suffer more than others in the world, since he must struggle more with the attacks of the devil. Holy Scripture teaches and forewarns, saying, ‘My son, when you come to the service of God, stand in righteousness and fear, and prepare your soul for temptation.’ And again: ‘In pain endure, and in your humility have patience; for gold and silver is tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation’ [Sirach 2:5].” -Treatise 7: On Morality 9.

“The remedies for propitiating God are given in the words of God Himself; the divine instructions have taught what sinners ought to do, that by works of righteousness God is satisfied, that with the deserts of mercy sins are cleansed. And in Solomon we read, ‘Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and these shall intercede for you from all evil’ [Sirach 22:12]. And again: ‘Whoever stops his ears that he may not hear the weak, he also shall call upon God, and there will be none to hear him’ [Proverbs 21:13].” -Treatise 8: On Works & Alms 5.

“In Deuteronomy; ‘The Lord your God proves you, that He may know if you love the Lord. your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength [Deuteronomy 13:3].” And again, Solomon: ‘The furnace proves the potter’s vessel, and righteous men the trial of tribulation’ [Sirach 27:5]. Paul also testifies similar things, and speaks, saying: ‘We glory in the hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also;’ [Romans 5:2-5].” -Treatise 11: Exhortation to Martyrdom, Chapter 9.

“In the Epistle of Paul to the Romans: ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy of comparison with the glory that is to come after, which shall be revealed in us.’ Of this same thing in the Maccabees: ‘O Lord, who hast the holy knowledge, it is manifest that while I might be delivered from death, I am suffering most cruel pains of body, being beaten with whips; yet in spirit I suffer these things willingly, because of the fear of your own self.’” -Treatise 12: Against the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 17.

“Be rather such a father to your children as was Tobias. Give useful and saving precepts to your pledges, such as he gave to his son; command your children what he also commanded his son, saying: ‘And now, my son, I command you, serve God in truth, and do before Him that which pleases Him; and command your sons, that they exercise righteousness and alms, and be mindful of God, and bless His name always’ [Tobit 14:10-11].” -Treatise 8: On Works & Alms 20.

“In Genesis: ‘And God, tempted Abraham, and said to him, Take your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go into the high land, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.’ . . . Of this same thing in the Maccabees: ‘Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.’” -Treatise 12: Against the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 15.

“Thus Job, after the loss of his wealth, after the death of his children, grievously afflicted, moreover, with sores and worms, was not overcome, but proved; since in his very struggles and anguish, showing forth the patience of a religious mind, he says, ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, naked also I shall go under the earth: the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; as it seemed fit to the Lord, so it has been done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ And when his wife also urged him, in his impatience at the acuteness of his pain, to speak something against God with a complaining and envious voice, he answered and said, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women. If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why shall we not suffer evil? In all these things which befell him, Job sinned not with his lips in the sight of the Lord’ [Job 1:8].”. . . And Tobias, after his excellent works, after the many and glorious illustrations of his merciful spirit, having suffered the loss of his sight, fearing and blessing God in his adversity, by his very bodily affliction increased in praise; and even him also his wife tried to pervert, saying, ‘Where are your righteousnesses? Behold what you suffer’ [Tobit 2:14]. But he, steadfast and firm in respect of the fear of God, and armed by the faith of his religion to all endurance of suffering, yielded not to the temptation of his weak wife in his trouble, but rather deserved better from God by his greater patience; and afterwards Raphael the angel praises him, saying, ‘It is honourable to show forth and to confess the works of God. For when you prayed, and Sara your daughter-in-law, I did offer the remembrance of your prayer in the presence of the glory of God. . . ’ [Tobit 12:11-15].” -Treatise 7: On Morality 10

Methodius of Olympus (Tyre)
“If, however, any one should venture to find fault with our argument as destitute of Scripture proof, we will bring forward the writings of the prophets, and more fully demonstrate the truth of the statements already made. . . and from the times of the prophets the contracting of marriage with several wives has been done away with; for we read, ‘Go not after your lusts, but refrain yourself from your appetites’ [Sirach 18:30] for ‘wine and women will make men of understanding to fall away’; [Sirach 19:2] and in another place, ‘Let your fountain be blessed; and rejoice with the wife of your youth,’ [Proverbs 5:18] manifestly forbidding a plurality of wives. And Jeremiah clearly gives the name of ‘fed horses’ [Jeremiah 5:8] to those who lust after other women; and we read, ‘The multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation’ [Wisdom 4:3].” -Methodius of Olympus, Banquet of the Ten Virgins; Discourse I, Chapter 3

“And that you may not take refuge behind a safe wall, bringing forward the Scripture which says, ‘As for the children of the adulterers, they shall not come to their perfection,’ [Wisdom 3:16] he will answer you easily, that we often see those who are unlawfully begotten coming to perfection like ripe fruit.” -Methodius of Olympus, Banquet of the Ten Virgins; Discourse II, Chapter 3

Aphrahat the Sage
“For Daniel said:— ‘I was considering the ten horns that were upon the head of the beast. For the ten horns were ten kings’ (Daniel 7:8, 24) who arose at that time until Antiochus. And he said:— ‘A little horn arose from between those ten and three fell before it’ (Daniel 7:8). For when Antiochus arose in the kingdom, he humbled three kings, and he exalted himself against the saints of the Most High and against Jerusalem. And he defiled the sanctuary (2 Maccabbees 6:2-4). And he caused the sacrifice and the offerings to cease for a week and half a week, namely, for ten and a-half years. And he brought in fornicators into the house of the Lord, and he caused the observances of the Law to cease (2 Maccabbees 5:26). And he slew righteous men and gave them to the birds of heaven and to the beasts of the earth. For in his days was fulfilled the word that David spoke: — ‘O God, the Gentiles have come into your inheritance, and have defiled Your holy temple. They have made Jerusalem desolate. They have given the dead bodies of Your servants as food to the birds of heaven, and the flesh of Your righteous ones to the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem, and there is none to bury them.’ For this was accomplished at that time, when the venerable and aged Eleazar was slain, and the sons of the blessed Samuna, seven in number, and when Judas (Maccabeus) and his brethren were struggling on behalf of their people, when they were dwelling in hiding-places (2 Maccabbees 5:27). At that time the horn made war with the saints, (Daniel 7:21) and their power prevailed. And the wicked Antiochus spoke words against the Most High, and changed the times and the seasons (Daniel 7:25). And he made to cease the covenant of Abraham, and abolished the Sabbath of rest (2 Maccabbees 6:10-11). For he commanded the Jews that they should not circumcise. Therefore, (the Prophet) said concerning him —‘He shall think to change the times and the seasons and the laws, and they were given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time’ (Daniel 7:25). Now the time and half a time is the week and a half, which is ten years and a half. Again he said:— ‘The judgment was set and they took away his authority from him, to injure and destroy him until the end of the kingdom’ (Daniel 7:26). For the judgment came upon Antiochus, a judgment from heaven; (2 Maccabbees 9:5-12) and he became sick with a grievous and evil sickness, and on account of the smell of him as he rotted, no man could approach him, for worms were crawling and falling from him and eating his flesh because he oppressed the worm Jacob (Isaiah 41:14).” -Demonstrations 5:20

Athanasius of Alexandria
“And this difference divine Scripture recognizes, saying concerning the creatures, ‘The earth is full of Your creation,’ and ‘the creation itself groans together and travails together;’ and in the Apocalypse it says, ‘And the third part of the creatures in the sea died which had life;’ as also Paul says, ‘Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving;’ and in the book of Wisdom it is written, ‘Having ordained man through Your wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which You have made’ [Wisdom 9:2.]” -Four Discourses Against the Arians, 2:45

Hilary of Poitiers
“Since, therefore, the words of the apostle, one God the Father, from whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through whom are all things, form an accurate and complete confession concerning God, let us see what Moses has to say of the beginning of the world. His words are, ‘And God said, let there be a firmament.’ If you deny it, you must tell us through whom it was that God’s work in Creation was done, or else point for your explanation to an obedience in things yet uncreated, which, when God said, ‘Let there be a firmament,’ impelled the firmament to establish itself. Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of Scripture. ‘For all things,’ as the prophet says, ‘were made out of nothing’ [2 Maccabees 7:28]; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of the non-existent.” -Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 4, 16.

Council of Rome (382 A.D.)
“Now indeed we must treat of the divine scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun. The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book; Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Joshua [Son of] Nave, one book; Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; Kings, four books [that is, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings]; Paralipomenon [Chronicles], two books; Psalms, one book; Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book, Ecclesiastes, one book, [and] Canticle of Canticles [Song of Songs], one book; likewise Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus [Sirach], one book . . . . Likewise the order of the historical [books]: Job, one book; Tobit, one book; Esdras, two books [Ezra and Nehemiah]; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; Maccabees, two books” (Decree of Pope Damasus [A.D. 382]).

The Council of Hippo 393 A.D. 
“[It has been decided] that besides the canonical scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. But the canonical scriptures are as follows: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the Son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the Kings, four books, the Chronicles, two books, Job, the Psalter, the five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and a portion of the Psalms], the twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, two books, Maccabees, two books . . .” (Canon 36 [A.D. 393]).

Council of Carthage III (397 A.D.)
“[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine scriptures. But the canonical scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon, two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees” (Canon 47 [A.D. 397]).

Augustine of Hippo 
“The whole canon of the scriptures, however, in which we say that consideration is to be applied, is contained in these books: the five of Moses . . . and one book of Joshua [Son of] Nave, one of Judges; one little book which is called Ruth . . . then the four of Kingdoms, and the two of Paralipomenon . . . . [T]here are also others too, of a different order . . . such as Job and Tobit and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Esdras . . . . Then there are the prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David, and three of Solomon. . . . But as to those two books, one of which is entitled Wisdom and the other of which is entitled Ecclesiasticus and which are called ‘of Solomon’ because of a certain similarity to his books, it is held most certainly that they were written by Jesus Sirach. They must, however, be accounted among the prophetic books, because of the authority which is deservedly accredited to them” (Christian Instruction 2:8:13 [A.D. 397]).

“We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place” (The Care to be Had for the Dead 1:3 [A.D. 421]).

The Apostolic Constitutions
“Now women also prophesied. Of old, Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron [Ex. 15:20], and after her, Deborah [Judges. 4:4], and after these Huldah [2 Kgs. 22:14] and Judith [Judith 8], the former under Josiah and the latter under Darius” (Apostolic Constitutions 8:2 [A.D. 400]).

Jerome of Stridon 
“What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:29–68, RSV-CE], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant” (Against Rufinius 11:33 [A.D. 401]).

Pope Innocent I
“A brief addition shows what books really are received in the canon. These are the things of which you desired to be informed verbally: of Moses, five books, that is, of Genesis, of Exodus, of Leviticus, of Numbers, of Deuteronomy, and Joshua, of Judges, one book, of Kings, four books, and also Ruth, of the prophets, sixteen books, of Solomon, five books, the Psalms. Likewise of the histories, Job, one book, of Tobit, one book, Esther, one, Judith, one, of the Maccabees, two, of Esdras, two, Paralipomenon, two books” (Letters 7 [A.D. 408]).

return to top ⇑

Non-Catholic Quotes:

J. N. D. Kelly (1909-1997),  a Protestant & Early Church historian:

“It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books” –Early Christian Doctrines (5th Rev. Ed.), pg. 53

“the deuterocanonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense.” –Early Christian Doctrines (5th Rev. Ed.)

Bruce M. Metzger
”Nowhere in the New Testament is there a direct quotation from the canonical books of Joshua, Judges, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Nahum; and the New Testament allusions to them are few in number.”  An Introduction to the Apocrypha Revised ed.

Otto Kaiser

the deuterocanonical books “presuppose the validity of the Law and the Prophets and also utilize the Ketubim, or ‘Writings’ collection, which was, at the time, still in the process of formation and not yet closed.”  –The Old Testament Apocrypha: An Introduction

J.B. Lightfoot

“All which follow in this chapter shows a remarkable correspondence with Wisdom 13-15, a passage which St. Paul must have had in his mind.” –J.B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), 252.

return to top ⇑