The Organization of Canonical Books and List of Non-Canonical Books
Canonicity • Sermon • Submitted • 1:21:22
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There are two systems of dividing the Old Testament books: (1) Two-fold (2) Three-fold.
The two-fold division: (1) Law or Moses (2) The Prophets.
The three-fold division: (1) The Law or Moses (2) The Prophets (Nabhiim) (3) The Writings (Kethubim).
The present Hebrew Bible has this three-fold division and the Talmud shows this same three-fold division as does Jerome in approximately 400 A.D.
Josephus, Philo and the New Testament have this three-fold division but there is no evidence for this three-fold division prior to 400 A.D.
The first section is called the Torah meaning “the Law” contained: (1) Genesis (2) Exodus (3) Leviticus (4) Numbers (5) Deuteronomy.
The second section was the Prophets which were divided into two sections: (1) The Former Prophets (2) The Latter Prophets.
The Former Prophets: (1) Joshua (2) Judges (3) Samuel (4) Kings.
The Latter Prophets were divided into two categories: (1) Major (2) Minor.
Major Prophets: (1) Isaiah (2) Jeremiah (3) Ezekiel.
The Minor Prophets were also called the Twelve because they were all contained one book: (1) Hosea (2) Joel (3) Amos (4) Obadiah (5) Jonah (6) Micah (7) Nahum (8) Habakkuk (9) Zephaniah (10) Haggai (11) Zechariah (12) Malachi.
The third and last section was called the Writings: (1) The Poetical Books: Psalms, Proverbs and Job (2) The Five Rolls (Megilloth): Song of Solomon, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Lamentations (3) The Historical Books: Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah (1 book) and Chronicles.
The Apocrypha (literally: “hidden, secret, spurious, fraudulent, forged”) includes fourteen books which are found in the Septuagint (LXX) and Vulgate but never in the Hebrew Canon and were so named due to their doubtful authenticity.
Apocrypha contains the following works: (1) Tobit (2) Judith (3) The Wisdom of Solomon (4) Sirach or Ecclesiasticus (5) Baruch (6) Azariah and the Three Jews (6) Susanna (7) Bel and the Dragon (8) 1 Maccabees (9) 2 Maccabees (10) 1 Esdras (11) The Prayer of Manasseh (12) 3 Maccabees (13) 2 Esdras (14) 4 Maccabees.
The books of the Apocrypha are considered canonical by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches but are not included in the Jewish or most Protestant Scriptures.
The Apocryphal Old Testament includes books that are still deemed important for Judaism and Protestant Christianity, such as 1 and 2 Maccabees and Wisdom of Solomon, even though they are not considered canonical.
The Apocryphal books are nowhere held to be of either prophetic or apostolic authorship.
They were universally rejected as scripture in their own day by both Jew and Christian.
Josephus rejected the canonicity of the apocryphal books, apparently reflecting current Jewish thought and the Council of Jamnia held the same view.
The apocryphal books themselves admit that the prophetic succession ended with Zechariah and Malachi (I Macc. 4; 46; 9:27; 14:41).
This view is also reflected in the Manual of Discipline in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Apocrypha was sometimes included at the end of a New Testament codex copy.
Since the codex was cut and assembled before copying began, pages were left over.
These were often filled with one or more apocryphal books.
Jerome vigorously resisted including the Apocrypha in his Latin Vulgate Version, but was over-ruled.
As a result, the standard Roman Catholic Bible throughout the medieval period contained it.
Thus, it gradually came to be revered by the average clergyman.
Still, many medieval Catholic scholars realized that it was not inspired.
Pope Gregory the Great (ca 600 AD) when quoting 1 Maccabees says, “We address a testimony from books though not canonical, yet published for the edification of the Church.”
Not until the Council of Trent in the late 1500’s was the Apocrypha declared to be scripture, and then only by the Catholic Church.
Neither Jesus Christ nor any of the New Testament writers ever quoted from the Apocrypha.
Josephus expressly excluded them from his list of sacred Scripture in his book.
No mention of the Apocrypha was made in any catalogue of canonical books in the first four centuries A.D.
These Apocryphal books were never asserted to be divinely inspired, or to possess divine authority in their contents.
No prophets were connected with these writings.
These books contained many historical, geographical and chronological errors.
The Apocrypha teaches doctrines and upholds practices, which are contrary to the canon of Scripture.
Documentation regarding the false doctrine found in the Apocrypha is as follows: (1) Prayers and Offerings for the Dead (2 Macc. 12:41-46 cf. Jn. 3:18, 36). (2) Suicide Justified (2 Macc. 14:41-46 cf. Ps. 31:15). (3) Atonement and Salvation by Almsgiving (Tob. 4:11; cf. 1 Jn. 1:9; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). (4) Cruelty to Slaves Justified (Ecc. 33:25-29; cf. Dt. 23:15-16). (5) The Doctrine of Emanations (Wis. 7:25). (6) The preexistence of souls.
Objections had been raised by some of the Jews to the canonical recognition of a few books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Esther), and their canonicity was reaffirmed.
These books which were disputed are called “Antilegomena,” which is a term which is used to describe books in both the Old and New Testament whose inspiration and canonicity were disputed as opposed to those that were accepted by universally by the church.
All of the books that the Jews decided to acknowledge as canonical were already generally accepted, although questions had been raised about some of them.
On the other hand, those that they refused to admit, such as Ecclesiasticus, had never been included.
The “homologoumena” is a term to describe books which once they were accepted into the canon were not subsequently questioned or disputed.
They were recognized not only by early generations but by succeeding generations as well.
The “homologoumena” is composed of thirty-four of the thirty-nine books in the English versions of the Protestant Old Testament.
All of the Old Testament except the “antilegomena” are in this body of books.
The “homologoumena” includes every book of the Protestant English Old Testament except Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezekiel, and Proverbs.
The term “pseudepigrapha” refers to a large number of false and spurious writings.
The New Testament writers make use of a number of these books.
For example, Jude 14–15 have a possible quotation from the Book of Enoch (1:9) and the Assumption of Moses (1:9) and there is an allusion from the Penitence of Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8.
Of course, it should be remembered that the New Testament also quotes from the heathen poets Aratus (Acts 17:28); Menander (1 Cor. 15:33); and Epimenides (Titus 1:12).
Truth is truth no matter where it is found, whether uttered by a heathen poet, a pagan prophet (Num. 24:17), or even a dumb animal (22:28).
Nevertheless, it should be noted that no such formula as “it is written” or “the Scriptures say” is connected with these citations.
It should also be noted that neither the New Testament writers nor the Fathers have considered these writings canonical.
The “pseudepigrapha” books are those that are distinctly spurious and unauthentic in their overall content.
Even though they claim to have been written by biblical authors, they actually don’t express sound doctrine but rather religious fancy and magic from the period between about 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.
The Roman Catholic Church considers these books as the Apocrypha, which is a term not to be confused with an entirely different set of books known in Protestant circles by the same name which we noted earlier.
The actual number of these books is not known and various writers have given different numbers of important ones.
There are at least eighteen worth mentioning.
They are the book of Jubilee, the letter of Aristeas, the book of Adam and Eve, the martyrdom of Isaiah, 1 Enoch, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Sibylline Oracle, the Assumption of Moses, 2 Enoch, 2 and 3 Baruch, 3 and 4 Maccabees, Pirke Aboth, the story of Ahikar, the Psalms of Solomon, Psalm 151, and the Fragment of a Zadokite Work.