A debate began in the comment section of my last post – “Here I Stand: The Scriptures”  over this comment:

I believe that all sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God.

66? I was asked.  If you were to pick up a typical Catholic Bible they would have more books in the Old Testament.  The Protestant Bible has 39 Old Testament Books, the Catholics on the other hand have 46 (or 45 if Jeremiah and Lamentations are combined).  This is due to the acceptance of Deuterocanonical Books (literally means “second canon”) into the Catholic Old Testament Canon.  (Canon simply means “rule or measuring rod.”  The Canon is, as C. Michael Patton of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries would put it, “books that we need in order to be equipped for the age we are in.”)

Those Deuterocanonical books that Catholics include are: Tobit, Judith, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, and Additions to Jeremiah (Song of the Three Children, Story of Suzanna, Bel & the Dragon).

Most Eastern Orthodox traditions would also include as Deuterocanonical Books: 1 & 2 Esdras, 3 & 4 Maccabees, Prayer of Manesseh, and Psalm 151.

Protestants consider these books the Apocrypha which literally means “hidden writings”.  Protestants by and large believe these books are valuable to help us understand the period of Jewish history between the post exile prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) and the birth of Christ.  We don’t, however, consider these books to be inspired. 

In the Protestant Apocrypha are: 1 & 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Ester, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruck, Epistle of Jeremiah, Additions to Daniel (see above), Prayer of Massaneh, and 1 & 2 Maccabees.

These books were written mostly in Greek, some in Aramaic, during the intertestamental period (400 – 100 B.C.).  They are contained in the Septuagint (LXX) (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible – Old Testament) and the Latin Vulgate.

So, Deuterocanonical Books… in or out?

The next post on this topic we’ll look at common arguments for their inclusion into Old Testament canon and counter arguments.  The post after that will discuss common arguments for their exclusion.

When this came up I realized that I didn’t know all that much about this topic, so I wanted to learn more.  I am largely going to depend  on notes I took listening to the Canonization of Scripture (OT) lecture given by C. Michael Patton as part of a class called “Bibliology & Hermeneutics” from The Theology Program produced by Reclaiming the Mind Ministries.

40 comments
  1. I agree with you that the Deuterocanonical books are not scripture, But the common notion that there are sixty-six books in the Bible is an error. When the Psalms were given to us by God, they were in five books. Many Bibles have these five books noted as “the first book of the psalms,” “the second book of the Psalms,” etc.

    When we count the Psalms as five books, we find that there are seventy books in the Bible, not sixty-six, as is commonly stated.

    This is important, not only from an interest in the number seventy, but for an understanding of the Psalms.

    Each of the five books of the Psalms has a subject which is developed in an orderly fashion, just like any other book of the Bible. But lumping them all together, as has been done, masks the distinctive characters of the five books.

    I believe this has been missed because in our culture we do not look for any connection between the various poems in a book of poetry. Each individual poem is considered a separate work of art, independent of the rest. But this is not the case with the Psalms.

    If anyone is interested, I will comment on the five books and their individual subjects.

  2. I agree with you that the Deuterocanonical books are not scripture, But the common notion that there are sixty-six books in the Bible is an error. When the Psalms were given to us by God, they were in five books. Many Bibles have these five books noted as “the first book of the psalms,” “the second book of the Psalms,” etc.

    When we count the Psalms as five books, we find that there are seventy books in the Bible, not sixty-six, as is commonly stated.

    This is important, not only from an interest in the number seventy, but for an understanding of the Psalms.

    Each of the five books of the Psalms has a subject which is developed in an orderly fashion, just like any other book of the Bible. But lumping them all together, as has been done, masks the distinctive characters of the five books.

    I believe this has been missed because in our culture we do not look for any connection between the various poems in a book of poetry. Each individual poem is considered a separate work of art, independent of the rest. But this is not the case with the Psalms.

    If anyone is interested, I will comment on the five books and their individual subjects.

  3. I agree with you that the Deuterocanonical books are not scripture, But the common notion that there are sixty-six books in the Bible is an error. When the Psalms were given to us by God, they were in five books. Many Bibles have these five books noted as “the first book of the psalms,” “the second book of the Psalms,” etc.

    When we count the Psalms as five books, we find that there are seventy books in the Bible, not sixty-six, as is commonly stated.

    This is important, not only from an interest in the number seventy, but for an understanding of the Psalms.

    Each of the five books of the Psalms has a subject which is developed in an orderly fashion, just like any other book of the Bible. But lumping them all together, as has been done, masks the distinctive characters of the five books.

    I believe this has been missed because in our culture we do not look for any connection between the various poems in a book of poetry. Each individual poem is considered a separate work of art, independent of the rest. But this is not the case with the Psalms.

    If anyone is interested, I will comment on the five books and their individual subjects.

  4. I agree with you that the Deuterocanonical books are not scripture, But the common notion that there are sixty-six books in the Bible is an error. When the Psalms were given to us by God, they were in five books. Many Bibles have these five books noted as “the first book of the psalms,” “the second book of the Psalms,” etc.

    When we count the Psalms as five books, we find that there are seventy books in the Bible, not sixty-six, as is commonly stated.

    This is important, not only from an interest in the number seventy, but for an understanding of the Psalms.

    Each of the five books of the Psalms has a subject which is developed in an orderly fashion, just like any other book of the Bible. But lumping them all together, as has been done, masks the distinctive characters of the five books.

    I believe this has been missed because in our culture we do not look for any connection between the various poems in a book of poetry. Each individual poem is considered a separate work of art, independent of the rest. But this is not the case with the Psalms.

    If anyone is interested, I will comment on the five books and their individual subjects.

  5. You make a good point with the five books of Psalms. Do you know the reason why they were all placed together?

    Is that how they were found?

    I’ve never put too much meaning behind numbers in the Bible, I think we get to a point of straining a gnat when we do that. I’ve also seen some messed up interpretation based on placing great meaning behind numbers.

  6. You make a good point with the five books of Psalms. Do you know the reason why they were all placed together?

    Is that how they were found?

    I’ve never put too much meaning behind numbers in the Bible, I think we get to a point of straining a gnat when we do that. I’ve also seen some messed up interpretation based on placing great meaning behind numbers.

  7. You make a good point with the five books of Psalms. Do you know the reason why they were all placed together?

    Is that how they were found?

    I’ve never put too much meaning behind numbers in the Bible, I think we get to a point of straining a gnat when we do that. I’ve also seen some messed up interpretation based on placing great meaning behind numbers.

  8. You make a good point with the five books of Psalms. Do you know the reason why they were all placed together?

    Is that how they were found?

    I’ve never put too much meaning behind numbers in the Bible, I think we get to a point of straining a gnat when we do that. I’ve also seen some messed up interpretation based on placing great meaning behind numbers.

  9. Hey Foxfier – you are making me feel old with the Mr. Hart (it’s Vander Hart by the way – two words – Dutch name ;))

    Law, the Writings and the Prophets – was that what you were thinking of?

    Also, yeah I figured saying Apocrypha I wasn’t being “politically correct” in the debate. Dueterocanonical books works for both sides of the debate.

  10. Hey Foxfier – you are making me feel old with the Mr. Hart (it’s Vander Hart by the way – two words – Dutch name ;))

    Law, the Writings and the Prophets – was that what you were thinking of?

    Also, yeah I figured saying Apocrypha I wasn’t being “politically correct” in the debate. Dueterocanonical books works for both sides of the debate.

  11. Hey Foxfier – you are making me feel old with the Mr. Hart (it’s Vander Hart by the way – two words – Dutch name ;))

    Law, the Writings and the Prophets – was that what you were thinking of?

    Also, yeah I figured saying Apocrypha I wasn’t being “politically correct” in the debate. Dueterocanonical books works for both sides of the debate.

  12. Hey Foxfier – you are making me feel old with the Mr. Hart (it’s Vander Hart by the way – two words – Dutch name ;))

    Law, the Writings and the Prophets – was that what you were thinking of?

    Also, yeah I figured saying Apocrypha I wasn’t being “politically correct” in the debate. Dueterocanonical books works for both sides of the debate.

  13. Hehe, I try to be polite– ever since I felt a twinge at folks talking about “Bush” this and “W” that and all.

    If it helps any, I STILL call most of my teachers Mr. this and Mrs. that!

    Foxfiers last blog post..Tony Snow-

  14. Hehe, I try to be polite– ever since I felt a twinge at folks talking about “Bush” this and “W” that and all.

    If it helps any, I STILL call most of my teachers Mr. this and Mrs. that!

    Foxfiers last blog post..Tony Snow-

  15. Hehe, I try to be polite– ever since I felt a twinge at folks talking about “Bush” this and “W” that and all.

    If it helps any, I STILL call most of my teachers Mr. this and Mrs. that!

    Foxfiers last blog post..Tony Snow-

  16. Hehe, I try to be polite– ever since I felt a twinge at folks talking about “Bush” this and “W” that and all.

    If it helps any, I STILL call most of my teachers Mr. this and Mrs. that!

    Foxfiers last blog post..Tony Snow-

  17. Mark,

    I wouldn’t say it is the top burning issue no. But it does matter to me what I call Scripture and what I don’t. Does it carry with it the authority of being the inerrant, inspired Word of God? Since our theology is from scripture since that is how God has revealed Himself in specific way I think it is important to consider.

    I, however, don’t have problems with people reading it for historical information and even wisdom contained therein. I’m just not comfortable calling it scripture.

    Also, the canonization debate is important in light of the Da Vinci Code and the questions it brought.

  18. Mark,

    I wouldn’t say it is the top burning issue no. But it does matter to me what I call Scripture and what I don’t. Does it carry with it the authority of being the inerrant, inspired Word of God? Since our theology is from scripture since that is how God has revealed Himself in specific way I think it is important to consider.

    I, however, don’t have problems with people reading it for historical information and even wisdom contained therein. I’m just not comfortable calling it scripture.

    Also, the canonization debate is important in light of the Da Vinci Code and the questions it brought.

  19. Mark,

    I wouldn’t say it is the top burning issue no. But it does matter to me what I call Scripture and what I don’t. Does it carry with it the authority of being the inerrant, inspired Word of God? Since our theology is from scripture since that is how God has revealed Himself in specific way I think it is important to consider.

    I, however, don’t have problems with people reading it for historical information and even wisdom contained therein. I’m just not comfortable calling it scripture.

    Also, the canonization debate is important in light of the Da Vinci Code and the questions it brought.

  20. Mark,

    I wouldn’t say it is the top burning issue no. But it does matter to me what I call Scripture and what I don’t. Does it carry with it the authority of being the inerrant, inspired Word of God? Since our theology is from scripture since that is how God has revealed Himself in specific way I think it is important to consider.

    I, however, don’t have problems with people reading it for historical information and even wisdom contained therein. I’m just not comfortable calling it scripture.

    Also, the canonization debate is important in light of the Da Vinci Code and the questions it brought.

  21. Isn’t the order of the books as important as whether certain books are deemed only semi official or fully authoritative? The Hebrew bible puts prophets in the middle, reflecting their place in time. But every old testament has them at the end. Why is that? And why isn’t it a “burning issue”?

    gentleexits last blog post..The alone to the alone

  22. Isn’t the order of the books as important as whether certain books are deemed only semi official or fully authoritative? The Hebrew bible puts prophets in the middle, reflecting their place in time. But every old testament has them at the end. Why is that? And why isn’t it a “burning issue”?

    gentleexits last blog post..The alone to the alone

  23. Isn’t the order of the books as important as whether certain books are deemed only semi official or fully authoritative? The Hebrew bible puts prophets in the middle, reflecting their place in time. But every old testament has them at the end. Why is that? And why isn’t it a “burning issue”?

    gentleexits last blog post..The alone to the alone

  24. Isn’t the order of the books as important as whether certain books are deemed only semi official or fully authoritative? The Hebrew bible puts prophets in the middle, reflecting their place in time. But every old testament has them at the end. Why is that? And why isn’t it a “burning issue”?

    gentleexits last blog post..The alone to the alone

  25. I didn’t say it wasn’t a burning issue… just not a “top” burning issue.

    The Old Testament is grouped by genre of book…

    1. Law
    2. Writings
    3. Prophets

    I don’t read anything into how they are placed. They are all the inspired Word of God, and they are all inerrant in the originals, and infallible in what they teach.

  26. I didn’t say it wasn’t a burning issue… just not a “top” burning issue.

    The Old Testament is grouped by genre of book…

    1. Law
    2. Writings
    3. Prophets

    I don’t read anything into how they are placed. They are all the inspired Word of God, and they are all inerrant in the originals, and infallible in what they teach.

  27. I didn’t say it wasn’t a burning issue… just not a “top” burning issue.

    The Old Testament is grouped by genre of book…

    1. Law
    2. Writings
    3. Prophets

    I don’t read anything into how they are placed. They are all the inspired Word of God, and they are all inerrant in the originals, and infallible in what they teach.

  28. I didn’t say it wasn’t a burning issue… just not a “top” burning issue.

    The Old Testament is grouped by genre of book…

    1. Law
    2. Writings
    3. Prophets

    I don’t read anything into how they are placed. They are all the inspired Word of God, and they are all inerrant in the originals, and infallible in what they teach.

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