Chapter Two
The Christian Old Testament Canon



If the revelation at the Mount Sinai was the ultimate test of Old Testament as we come to the New Covenant there again was a very visible objective standard. That standard was Jesus.
Heb 1:1 In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets;

Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Heb 1:3 He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.

In the first Covenant time all the people of Israel could not stand the revelation because of the glory that surrounded the event. So in the second Covenant God put away his glory and put on the garb of man. Thus in all matters of canon and standards Jesus is the ultimate and only authority. Everything should be with reference to him.

Jesus acknowledged the Old Testament as present in his period as Scripture
Joh 5:39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life.
Joh 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken),

Luk 24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled."

Thus we have:


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

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).

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) as understood by Jesus

Jesus followed the arrangement of the OT books that was customary among the Jews. This arrangement is the one that is followed in the Hebrew Old Testament which is the same as our Old Testament

But we do not know whether the book he accepted contained the Apocryphal books.
"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."

As people who followed Jesus for over three years, it was the privilege of the Apostles to be the next authority.

The apostles frequently quoted from those books in the Hebrew canon, in their gospels - e.g., Mt 1:22-23; 2:17-18; Jn 12:37-41; In their efforts to evangelize - e.g., Ac 17:2-3 and in their Epistles - e.g., Ro 3:9-10; 4:3; 1 Pe 2:6

We include Paul in that category even though he was never with Jesus. But he was a scholar in Old Testament and was accepted as such by all the Apostles.

Which Scripture was known to Jesus, His followers and the first Christians? The answer is, they knew both Palestinian Canon and Septuagint. Greek speaking Jews also lived in Palestine and known as Hellenists (Acts 6:1). However all New Testament writers mostly used Septuagint whenever they quoted from Old Testament. It is not a matter of convenience (both used Greek), because at few places they still quoted from Palestinian canon (translated into Greek). As mentioned above, Septuagint has textual difference compared to Palestinian canon. A good example is the famous prophecy about Jesus virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14 quoted in Matthew 1:23. The Palestinian canon does not say "virgin" but "young woman" while the Septuagint does say "virgin" (note that both Hebrew and Greek have different words for virgin and young woman).

Paul acknowledged the Hebrew canon
2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

2Ti 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Thus we have a defined Old Testament which is accepted by Jesus and the Apostles. But there were many literary works of the period in existence.

There are no NT references to any of the Apocrypha as being authoritative though the NT writers do quote from the Apocrypha.
Judaism never accepted these books as part of the Scriptures
Ancient Jewish leaders specifically rejected the Apocrypha (Josephus, Philo). While it was included in the Septuagint (Gr. OT), they were never accepted as canonica

The Apocrypha itself recognizes our OT canon as a distinct twenty-four books, which corresponds to the Hebrew Bible as it is known today

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
You can read them at http://wesley.nnu.edu/


Old Testament Apocrypha

Since the Old Testament in Greek was LXX at the time, Christians continued to use the LXX including books of the Apocrypha even though the Jews rejected them in the Jamnia Council. At the time of the Protestant Reformation the authority of the Apocrypha was challenged.

The Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent held in Tridentum, Italy from 1545 to 1563 canonized all the books of the Apocrypha, except I and II Esdras and the prayer of Manasseh,, The accepted books were then called "Deuterocanonical" by them.

In 1672, at the Council of Jerusalem, the Eastern Orthodox Church accepted I Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Young Men, Bel and the Dragon, and I and II Maccabees into their canon.

As it stands the general christian consensus is lacking regarding the canonicity of Old Testament books.

Protestants do not accept the apocrypha as canonical.. Martin Luther (1483-1546) did, however, included the apocrypha in the appendix of his German translation of the Bible. The Protestant Churches essentially hold Luther's view on the OT Canon. T

The Roman Catholic Church in the Council of Trent (1548) accepted as inspired eleven of the fourteen books of the apocrypha. It excluded I & II Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses of the apocrypha from the list of canonical books. This decision was reiterated in the First Vatican Council in 1870. Thus the Roman Catholic Old Testament has eleven more books that the Protestant one.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches accepted Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon as canonical in the synod at Jerusalem in 1672. The canon of the Eastern Orthodox churches contains in addition to all the books in the Roman Catholic Old Testament I Esdras, III Maccabees and the Letter of Jeremiah. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has expanded canon of has all the books of the Eastern Cannon along with I Enoch, Jubilees and Josippon's Medieval History.

Quoting of Apocryphal Books in the New Testament

It should be mentioned that quoting an apocryphat book by a canonical author does not in itself make the quoted material canonical. We can actually see that only a few such quotes are there in the New Testament. They are:

Jude 9 and 14-15 refers to something which is also found in the Book of Enoch. Paul actually quotes from the secular literature of Greece. That would not make them canonical.

If wisdom contained in the literature is a major factor in the canonization we might as well include lot of literature in the Hindu Religious writers. As we can see the boundaries of canon in the wisdom and literature is pretty hazy. While all of them are worthy of reading and edifying in one way or other they cannot be made par with the rest of the canon as Law and Prophets.