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.