<< Previous | Index | Next >>
                       "CAN WE TRUST THE BIBLE?"

               Regarding Its Canonicity? (Old Testament)


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 - 1Co 10:11
         c. As profitable for doctrine, etc.- 2Ti 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; 1Pe 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...
<< Previous | Index | Next >>

Home Page
Have A Bible Question? | Want A Free Bible Study Course? | Looking For A Church Near You?
Want To Talk With Someone By Phone? | Want To Discuss The Bible By Email?
Search The Outlines

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2009

eXTReMe Tracker