There is much talk these days about lost books of the Bible. From cults to the New Age, people make all sorts of claims about how the Bible is missing books, books that help justify what they hope to believe. Sometimes people claim that the Bible was edited to take out reincarnation, or the teaching of higher planes of existence, or different gods, or ancestor worship, or "at-one-ment" with nature.
The "lost books" were never lost. They were known by the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christians of the New Testament times and were never considered scripture. They weren't lost nor were they removed. They were never in the Bible in the first place.
The additional books were not included in the Bible for several reasons.
They lacked apostolic or prophetic authorship, they did not claim to be the Word of God; they contain unbiblical concepts such as prayer for the dead in 2 Macc. 12:45-46; or have some serious historical inaccuracies.
Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic church has added certain books to the canon of scripture. In 1546, largely due in response to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic church authorized several more books as scripture known as the apocrypha. The word
apocrypha means hidden. It is used in a general sense to describe a list of books written by Jews between 300 and 100 B.C. More specifically, it is used of the 7 additional books accepted by the Catholic church as being inspired. The entire list of books of the apocrypha are: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, (also titled Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Additions to Daniel, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books accepted as inspired and included in the Catholic Bible are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees Wisdom of Solomon Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch
The Pseudepigraphal books are "false writings." They are a collection of early Jewish and "Christian" writings composed between 200 BC and AD 200. However, they too were known and were never considered scripture.
The deuterocanonical (apocrypha) books are those books that were included in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) but not included in the Hebrew Bible. The recognized deuterocanonical books are "Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach or Ben Sira), Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), 1 and 2 Maccabees, and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. The canon of the Greek Orthodox community also includes 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and 3 Maccabees, with 4 Maccabees as an appendix."

Just started reading some of these "additional books", though they are not claimed to be "the word of God", its still pretty cool, here are links to the other books.



Re: Books around the same time the Bible was written

The funny thing about that. The books of the Bible were actually voted in by The Council of Nicaea and were choosen carefully by relevance. Some of the other books that wern't included in the final "official" Bible I hear still make for good reading. It's not that they were all false or anything, not by any means. But if you read through some, you will see some of the reasons. Some were just worded better than others and got added.  JWsArticlesOnHowCanonicalBooksWereCompleted.htm


More Resources at

How the Bible Came to Us


Re: Books around the same time the Bible was written

Highlights from the above article—are--the additional books were not included in the Bible for several reasons. They lacked apostolic or prophetic authorship, they did not claim to be the Word of God; they contain unbiblical concepts such as prayer for the dead in 2 Macc. 12:45-46; or have some serious historical inaccuracies. The "lost books" were never lost. They were known by the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christians of the New Testament times and were never considered scripture.(by The Apostles and their close Disciples )They weren't lost nor were they removed.

SBT-Note--Keep these in mind while Studying the following Articles--–Plus a few Scriptures--Paul warned Christians? What are the facts?— Verses are hyperlinked 2 Tim 3:16- 3:17 Col. 2:8. Rom 15:4 Plus Luke 8:17; and Rev 22:16-21— 22:16 Open In Context| John –The Last writer surely must have been familiar with all the other inspired writings that His fellow Apostles and Close Disciples had written. Enjoy the following articles and make your own conclusion—Open FREEasGOD.htm and PurposeOfReligion.htm


Compare Open



Luke 8:17 Jesus

"For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

ou gar estin (5748) krupton o ou faneron genhsetai, (5695) oude apokrufon o ou mh gnwsqh| (5686) kai eiv faneron elqh|. (5632

Jesus –Red Letters (ISV)Luk 8:17 From e-Sword-or

Open  [In Context] For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing secret that

will not become known and come to light.


(1) The Development of the Canon of the New Testament  With







(1) Source

(2) Source

(3) Source

(4) Source

(5) Source


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Apocrypha (from the Greek word απόκρυφα meaning "those having been hidden away"[1]) are texts of uncertain authenticity or writings where the authorship is questioned.

In Judeo-Christian theology, the term apocrypha refers to any collection of scriptural texts that falls outside the canon. Given that different denominations have different ideas about what constitutes valid scripture, there are several different versions of the apocrypha. Commonly, among Protestant Christians, the apocrypha includes (but is not limited to) those books in the Old Testament that, early in his life, Jerome described as apocryphal in the 4th Century.

During sixteenth-century controversies over the biblical canon the word "apocrypha" acquired a negative connotation, and it has become a synonym for "spurious" or "false". This usage usually involves fictitious or legendary accounts that are plausible enough to commonly be considered as truth. For example, the Parson Weems account of George Washington and the cherry tree is considered apocryphal.




Denotation and connotation

The term "apocrypha" has evolved in meaning somewhat, and its associated implications have ranged from positive to pejorative.


Esoteric writings

The word "apocryphal" (αποκρυφους) was first applied, in a positive sense, to writings which were kept secret because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed to anyone other than the initiated.

It is used in this sense to describe A Holy and Secret Book of Moses, called Eighth, or Holy (Μωυσεως ερα βιβλος αποκρυφος επικαλουμενη ογδοη για), a text taken from a Leiden papyrus of the third or fourth century CE, but which may be as old as the first century. In a similar vein, the disciples of the Gnostic Prodicus boasted that they possessed the secret (αποκρυφους) books of Zoroaster. The term in general enjoyed high consideration among the Gnostics (see Acts of Thomas, 10, 27, 44)[1].


4 Ezra is, in its author's view, a secret work whose value was greater than that of the canonical scriptures because of its transcendent revelations of the future. Gregory of Nyssa, in Oratio in suam ordinationem, labels the words of St. John in the New Testament Book of Revelation as εν αποκρυφοις [2].


Questionable writings

"Apocrypha" was also applied to writings that were hidden not because of their divinity but because of their questionable value to the church.

Origen, in Commentaries on Matthew, X. 18, XIII. 57, distingushes between writings which were read by the churches and apocryphal writings: γραφη μη φερομενη μεν εν τοις κοινοις και δεδημοσιευμενοις βιβλιοις εικος δ τι εν αποκρυφοις φερομενη. The meaning of αποκρυφος is here practically equivalent to "excluded from the public use of the church", and prepares the way for an even less favourable use of the word[3].


Spurious writings

The word "apocrypha" came finally to mean "false, spurious, bad, or heretical."

This meaning also appears in Origen's prologue to his commentary on the Song of Songs: De scripturis his, quae appellantur apocryphae, pro eo quod multa in iis corrupta et contra fidem veram inveniuntur a majoribus tradita non placuit iis dari locum nec admitti ad auctoritatem. [4] "Concerning these scriptures, which are called apocryphal, for the reason that many things are found in them corrupt and against the true faith handed down by the greater ones, it has pleased them that they not be given a place nor be admitted to authority." (Translation by a Wikipedia editor.)


Other meanings

In addition to the above, other uses of "apocrypha" developed over the history of Western Christianity.

The Gelasian Decree refers to religious works by church fathers Eusebius, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria as "apocrypha." Augustine defined the word as meaning simply "obscurity of origin," implying that any book of unknown authorship or questionable authenticity would be considered as apocrypha. On the other hand, Jerome (in Protogus Galeatus) declared that all books outside the Hebrew canon were apocryphal [5]. In practice, however, Jerome treated some books outside the Hebrew canon as if they were canonical, and the Western Church did not accept Jerome's definition of apocrypha, instead retaining the word's prior meaning (see: Deuterocanon). As a result, various church authorities labeled different books as apocrypha, and treated apocryphal books with varying levels of regard.

Many of the Greek fathers included some apocryphal books in the Septuagint with little distinction made between them and the rest of the Old Testament. Origen, Clement and others cited some apocryphal books as "scripture", "divine scripture", "inspired", and the like. On the other hand, teachers connected with Palestine and familiar with the Hebrew canon rigidly excluded all scriptures not found there. This view is reflected in the canon of Melito of Sardis, and in the prefaces and letters of Jerome [6].

A third view was that the books were not as valuable as the canonical scriptures of the Hebrew collection, but were of value for moral uses and to be read in congregations. They were referred to as "ecclesiastical" works by Rufinus [7].

These three opinions regarding the apocryphal books prevailed until the Reformation, when the idea of what constitutes canon became a matter of primary concern for Catholics and Protestants alike.

In 1546 the Catholic Council of Trent adopted the canon of Augustine, declaring "He is also to be anathema who does not receive these entire books, with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and are found in the ancient editions of the Latin Vulgate, as sacred and canonical." The whole of the books in question, with the exception of 1st and 2nd Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses, were declared canonical at Trent[8].

The Protestants, in comparison, universally held the belief that only the books in the Hebrew collection were canonical. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century reformer, had declared in his Biblical translation that "whatever book is in the Old Testament besides these twenty-five shall be set among the apocrypha, that is, without authority or belief" [9].

The respect accorded to apocryphal books varied between Protestant denominations. In both the German (1537) and English (1535) translations of the Bible, the apocrypha are published in a separate section from the other books. In some editions, (like the Westminster), readers were warned that these books were not "to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings." A milder distinction was expressed elsewhere, such as in the "argument" introducing them in the Geneva Bible, and in the Sixth Article of the Church of England, where it is said that "the other books the church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners," though not to establish doctrine [10].


Apocryphal Texts by Denomination


Jewish apocrypha

Main article: Jewish apocrypha

Although Judaism historically insisted on the exclusive canonization of the 24 books in the Tanakh, it also claimed to have an oral law handed down from Moses. Certain circles in Judaism, such as the Essenes in Palestine and the Therapeutae in Egypt, were said to have a "secret" literature (see Dead Sea scrolls). A large part of this "secret" literature consisted of the apocalypses. Based on unfulfilled prophecies, these books were not considered scripture, but rather part of a literary form that flourished from 200 BCE to 100 CE.


Biblical books sometimes called "apocrypha"

Main article: Biblical apocrypha

During the birth of Christianity, some of the Jewish apocrypha that dealt with the coming of the Messianic kingdom became popular in the rising Jewish-Christian communities. Occasionally these writings were changed, but on the whole it was found sufficient to reinterpret them as conforming to a Christian viewpoint. Christianity eventually gave birth to new apocalyptic works, some of which were derived from traditional Jewish sources.

The Jewish apocrypha were part of the ordinary religious literature of the early Christians. This was not strange, as the large majority of Old Testament references in the New Testament are taken from the Greek Septuagint, which is the source of the deuterocanonical books ("secondary canon") as they are known by many Christians. The Style Manual for the Society of Biblical Literature recommends the use of the term deuterocanonical literature instead of apocrypha in academic writing, although not all apocryphal books are properly deuterocanonical.

These books form part of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox canons. New Testament reliance on these books includes these examples: James 1:19 shows dependence on Sirach 5:11, Hebrews 1:3 on Wisdom 7:26, Hebrews 11:35 on 2 Maccabees 6, Romans 9:21 on Wisdom 15:7, 2 Cor. 5:1, 4 on Wisdom 9:15, etc.

The Book of Enoch is included in the biblical canon only of the Oriental Orthodox churches. However, the Epistle of Jude quotes the Book of Enoch by name, and use of this book appears in the four gospels and 1 Peter. The genuineness and inspiration of Enoch were believed in by the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria, and much of the early church. The epistles of Paul and the gospels also show influences from the Book of Jubilees, which is part of the Oriental Orthodox canon, as well as the Assumption of Moses and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, which are included in no biblical canon.

The high position which some apocryphal books occupied in the first two centuries was undermined by a variety of influences in the Christian church. All claims to the possession of a secret tradition (as held by many Gnostic sects) were denied by the influential theologians like Irenaeus and Tertullian, the timeframe of "true inspiration" was limited to the apostolic age, and universal acceptance by the church was required as proof of apostolic authorship. As these principles gained currency, books deemed apocryphal tended to become regarded as spurious and heretical writings, though books now considered deuterocanonical have been used in liturgy and theology from the first century to the present.


New Testament apocryphal literature

Main article: New Testament apocrypha

New Testament apocrypha — books similar to those in the New Testament but rejected by Catholics, Orthodox and/or Protestants — include several gospels and lives of apostles. Some of these were clearly produced by Gnostic authors or members of other groups later defined as heterodox. Many texts believed lost for centuries were unearthed in the 19th and 20th centuries, producing lively speculation about their importance in early Christianity among religious scholars.

The Gnostic tradition was a prolific source of apocryphal gospels. While these writings borrowed the characteristic poetic features of apocalyptic literature from Judaism, Gnostic sects largely insisted on allegorical interpretations based on a secret apostolic tradition. With them, as with most Christians of the first and second centuries, apocryphal books were highly esteemed.

Though Protestants, Catholics and, in general, Orthodox agree on the canon of the New Testament, the Ethiopian Orthodox have in the past also included I & II Clement, and Shepherd of Hermas in their New Testament canon. This is no longer the case, according to Biblical scholar R.W. Cowley.

A well-known New Testament apocryphal book is the Gospel of Thomas, the only complete text of which was found in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. The Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic gospel, also received much media attention when it was reconstructed in 2006.

Artists and theologians have drawn upon the New Testament apocrypha for such matters as the names of Dismas and Gestas and details about the Three Wise Men. The first explicit mention of the perpetual virginity of Mary is found in the pseudepigraphical Infancy Gospel of James.



·      This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Information concerning the Hellenist Jews was incorporated from the Catholic Encyclopedia at


See also

·      Biblical canon

·      Biblical apocrypha

·      Table of books of Judeo-Christian Scripture


External links

·      Ethiopian Orthodox Canon Cowley, R.W. "The Biblical Canon Of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Today." Ostkirchliche Studien, 1974, Volume 23, pp. 318-323. Accessed online via

·      Complete NT Apocrypha Claims to be the largest collection of New Testament apocrypha online

·      Major collection of pseudepigrapha Large number of NT and OT apocrypha and general pseudepigrapha

·      German Apocrypha research Scholarly research site on individual manuscripts.

·      Deuterocanonical books - Full text from Saint Takla Haymanot Church Website (also presents the full text in Arabic)

·      The Unknown Lives of Jesus and Mary from the Apocrypha and other little-known sources.

·      LDS Bible Dictionary > Apocrypha Definition & LDS POV, including brief book descriptions.

·      Read the Apocrypha

·      Noncanonical Literature

·      Epistle of the Apostles Text of the Epistle of the Apostles

·      Dark Mirrors of Heaven A look at the Biblical creation myth from non-canonical literature.

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-Early Christianity of the first three centuries

Early Christianity had no well-defined set of scriptures outside of the Septuagint[1]. The New Testament refers to the "Law and Prophets", for example the Gospel of Luke 24:44-45 records Jesus stating: "written. . .in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. . .the Scriptures" and Acts of the Apostles 24:14 records Paul of Tarsus stating: "I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets". The earliest Christian canon is found in the Bryennios manuscript, published by J.-P. Audet in JTS [3] 1950, v1, pp 135-154, dated to around 100, written in Koine Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew; it is this 27-book Old Testament list: "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth, 4 of Kings (Samuel and Kings), 2 of Chronicles, 2 of Esdras, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Minor prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel" (2 of Esdras might include 1 Esdras; Esther, Jeremiah and Daniel might include their Septuagint additions; Jesus Nave[2] is an early translation of Joshua son of Nun). Early Christianity also relied on the Sacred Oral Tradition of what Jesus had said and done, as reported by the apostles and other followers. Even after the Gospels were written and began circulating, some Christians preferred the oral Gospel as told by people they trusted (e.g. Papias, c. 125).

By the end of the 1st century, some Letters of Paul were collected and circulated, and were known to Clement of Rome (c. 95), Ignatius of Antioch (died 117), and Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 115) but they weren't usually called scripture/graphe as the Septuagint was and they weren't without critics. In the late 4th century Epiphanius of Salamis (died 402) Panarion 29 says the Nazarenes had rejected the Pauline epistles and Irenaeus Against Heresies 26.2 says the Ebionites rejected him. Acts 21:21 records a rumor that Paul aimed to subvert the Old Testament (see Romans 3:8, 31). 2 Peter 3:16 says his letters have been abused by heretics who twist them around "as they do with the other scriptures." In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 6.38 says the Elchasai "made use of texts from every part of the Old Testament and the Gospels; it rejects the Apostle (Paul) entirely"; 4.29.5 says Tatian the Assyrian rejected Paul's Letters and Acts of the Apostles; 6.25 says Origen accepted 22 canonical books of the Hebrews plus Maccabees plus the four Gospels but Paul "did not so much as write to all the churches that he taught; and even to those to which he wrote he sent but a few lines."

Bruce Metzger in his Canon of the New Testament, 1987, draws the following conclusion about Clement:

Clement's Bible is the Old Testament, to which he refers repeatedly as Scripture (graphe), quoting it with more or less exactness. Clement also makes occasional reference to certain words of Jesus; though they are authoritative for him, he does not appear to enquire how their authenticity is ensured. In two of the three instances that he speaks of remembering 'the words' of Christ or of the Lord Jesus, it seems that he has a written record in mind, but he does not call it a 'gospel'. He knows several of Paul's epistles, and values them highly for their content; the same can be said of the Epistle to the Hebrews, with which he is well acquainted. Although these writings obviously possess for Clement considerable significance, he never refers to them as authoritative 'Scripture'.

Marcion of Sinope: c. 150, was the first of record to propose a definitive, exclusive, unique canon of Christian scriptures. (Though Ignatius did address christian scripture, before Marcion, against the heresies of the Judaizers and Dociests, he did not publish a canon.) Marcion rejected the theology of the Old Testament, which he claimed was incompatible with the teaching of Jesus regarding God and morality. The Gospel of Luke, which Marcion called simply the Gospel of the Lord, he edited to remove any passages that connected Jesus with the Old Testament. This was because he believed that the god of the Jews, YHWH, who gave them the Jewish Scriptures, was an entirely different god than the Supreme God who sent Jesus and inspired the New Testament. He used ten Letters of Paul as well (excluding Hebrews and the Pastoral Epistles) assuming his Epistle to the Laodiceans referred to canonical Ephesians and not the apocryphal Epistle to the Laodiceans or another text no longer extant. He also edited these in a similar way. To these, which he called the Gospel and the Apostolicon, he added his Antithesis which contrasted the New Testament view of God and morality with the Old Testament view of God and morality. By editing he thought he was removing judaizing corruptions and recovering the original inspired words of Jesus and Paul. Marcion's canon and theology were rejected as heretical by the early church; however, he forced other Christians to consider which texts were canonical and why. He spread his beliefs widely; they became known as Marcionism. Henry Wace in his introduction [4] of 1911 stated: "A modern divine. . .could not refuse to discuss the question raised by Marcion, whether there is such opposition between different parts of what he regards as the word of God, that all cannot come from the same author." The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 stated: "they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known." Adolf von Harnack in Origin of the New Testament [5], 1914, argued that Marcion viewed the church at this time as largely an Old Testament church (one that "follows the Testament of the Creator-God") without a firmly established New Testament canon, and that it gradually formulated its New Testament canon in response to the challenge posed by Marcion. The Prologues to the Pauline Epistles (which are not a part of the text, but short introductory sentences as one might find in modern study Bibles [6]), found in several older Latin codices, are now widely believed to have been written by Marcion or one of his followers. Harnack notes [7]: "We have indeed long known that Marcionite readings found their way into the ecclesiastical text of the Pauline Epistles, but now for seven years we have known that Churches actually accepted the Marcionite prefaces to the Pauline Epistles! De Bruyne has made one of the finest discoveries of later days in proving that those prefaces, which we read first in Codex Fuldensis and then in numbers of later manuscripts, are Marcionite, and that the Churches had not noticed the cloven hoof."

Muratorian fragment [8]: this 7th Century latin manuscript is often considered to be a translation of the first non-Marcion New Testament canon, and dated at between 170 (based on an internal reference to Pope Pius I and arguments put forth by Bruce Metzger) and as late as the end of the 4th century (according to the Anchor Bible Dictionary[3]). This partial canon lists the four gospels and the Letters of Paul, as well as two books of Revelation, one of John, another of Peter (the latter of which it notes is not often read in the churches). It rejects the Epistle to the Laodiceans and Epistle to the Alexandrians both said to be forged in Paul's name to support Marcionism.

Diatessaron: c. 173, a one-volume harmony of the four Gospels, translated and compiled by Tatian the Assyrian into Syriac. In Syriac speaking churches, it effectively served as the only New Testament scripture until Paul's Letters were added during the 3rd century. Some believe that Acts was also used in Syrian churches alongside the Diatessaron, however, Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 4.29.5 states: "They, indeed, use the Law and Prophets and Gospels, but interpret in their own way the utterances of the Sacred Scriptures. And they abuse Paul the apostle and reject his epistles, and do not accept even the Acts of the Apostles." [Note also that there were many books with the title of 'Acts', written about the same time by different writers. Moreover, at one time the Gospel of Luke and the Biblical 'Acts' appear to have been one continuous document.] In the 4th century, the Doctrine of Addai lists a 17 book NT canon using the Diatessaron and Acts and 15 Pauline Epistles (including 3rd Corinthians). The Diatessaron was eventually replaced in the 5th century by the Peshitta, which contains a translation of all the books of the 27-book NT except for 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation and is the Bible of the Syriac Orthodox Church where some members believe it is the original New Testament, see Aramaic primacy.

Irenaeus of Lyons: c. 185, claimed that there were exactly four Gospels, no more and no less, as a touchstone of orthodoxy. He argued that it was illogical to reject Acts of the Apostles but accept the Gospel of Luke, as both were from the same author. In Against Heresies 3.12.12 [9] he ridiculed those who think they are wiser than the Apostles because they were still under Jewish influence. This was crucial to refuting Marcion's anti-Judaizing, as Acts gives honor to James, Peter, John and Paul alike. At the time, Jewish Christians tended to honor James (a prominent Christian in Jerusalem described in the New Testament as an apostle and pillar, and by Eusebius and other church historians as the first Bishop of Jerusalem) but not Paul, while Pauline Christianity tended to honor Paul more than James.

Codex Claromontanus canon [10]: c. 250, a page found inserted into a 6th Century copy of the Epistles of Paul and Hebrews, has the 27-book OT plus Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, 1-2,4 Maccabees, and the 27-book NT plus 3rd Corinthians, Acts of Paul, Apocalypse of Peter, Barnabas, and Hermas, but missing Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians, and Hebrews.


Era of the Seven Ecumenical Councils

Eusebius, around the year 300, recorded a New Testament canon in his Ecclesiastical History Book 3, Chapter XXV:

"1... First then must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels; following them the Acts of the Apostles... the epistles of Paul... the epistle of John... the epistle of Peter... After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings."

"3 Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name. Among the rejected [Kirsopp Lake translation: "not genuine"] writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews... And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books"

"6... such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other apostles... they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. Wherefore they are not to be placed even among the rejected writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd and impious."

The Apocalypse of John, also called Revelation, is counted as both accepted (Kirsopp Lake translation: "Recognized") and disputed, which has caused some confusion over what exactly Eusebius meant by doing so. From other writings of the Church Fathers, we know that it was disputed with several canon lists rejecting its canonicity. EH 3.3.5 adds further detail on Paul: "Paul's fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul." EH 4.29.6 mentions the Diatessaron: "But their original founder, Tatian, formed a certain combination and collection of the Gospels, I know not how, to which he gave the title Diatessaron, and which is still in the hands of some. But they say that he ventured to paraphrase certain words of the apostle [Paul], in order to improve their style."

Cheltenham Canon ([11], [12]), (also known as Mommsen's): c. 350, a page found inserted in a 10th Century manuscript, has a 24 book OT and 24 book NT which provides syllable and line counts but omits Hebrews, Jude and James, and seems to question the epistles of John and Peter beyond the first.

Synod of Laodicea: c. 363, was one of the first synods that set out to judge which books were to be read aloud in churches. The decrees issued by the thirty or so clerics attending were called canons. Canon 59 decreed that only canonical books should be read, but no list was appended in the Latin and Syriac manuscripts recording the decrees. The list of canonical books, Canon 60 [13], sometimes attributed to the Synod of Laodicea is a later addition according to most scholars and has a 22 book OT and 26-book NT (excludes Revelation).

Athanasius: in 367, in Festal Letter 39 [14] listed a 22 book OT and 27-book NT and 7 books not in the canon but to be read: Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, Didache, and the Pastor (probably Hermas). This list is the very similar to the modern Protestant canon. Other differences are his exclusion of Esther and his inclusion of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah as part of Jeremiah.

In c. 380, the redactor of the Apostolic Constitutions attributed a canon to the Twelve Apostles themselves ([15]) as the 85th of his list of such apostolic decrees:

Canon 85. Let the following books be esteemed venerable and holy by all of you, both clergy and laity. [A list of books of the Old Testament ...] And our sacred books, that is, of the New Testament, are the four Gospels, of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; the fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter; three of John; one of James; one of Jude; two Epistles of Clement; and the Constitutions dedicated to you, the bishops, by me, Clement, in eight books, which is not appropriate to make public before all, because of the mysteries contained in them; and the Acts of us, the Apostles. (From the Latin version.)

Some later Coptic and Arabic translations add Relevation and the Epistles of Clement.

Pope Damasus I: is often considered to the father of the modern Catholic canon. Though purporting to date from a "Council of Rome" under Pope Damasus I in 382, the so-called "Damasian list" appended to the pseudepigraphical Decretum Gelasianum [16] is actually a valuable though non-papal list from the early 6th century. Denziger's recension is found in the links at Decretum Gelasianum. The "Damasian Canon" was published by C.H. Turner in JTS, vol. 1, 1900, pp 554-560. In 405, Pope Innocent I in Letter #6 (to Exuperius) described a canon identical to Trent (without the distinction between protocanonicals and deuterocanonicals).

In the late 380s, Gregory of Nazianus produced a canon ([17]) in verse which agreed with that of his contemporary Athanasius, other than placing the "Catholic Epistles" after the Pauline Epistles and omitting Revelation.

Bishop Amphilocus of Iconium, in his poem Iambics for Seleucus ([18]) written some time after 394, discusses debate over the canonical inclusion of a number of books, and almost certainly rejects the later Epistles of Peter and John, Jude, and Revelation.

3rd Synod of Carthage [19]: in 397, ratified the canon accepted previously at the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa in 393 and which was purportedly endorsed by Pope Damasus I. The 27-book NT canon included the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the Epistles of Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews; one Epistle; of Peter, two; of John, apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John.

When St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, producing the Vulgate bible c. 400, he argued for the Veritas Hebraica, meaning the truth of the Jewish Bible over the Septuagint translation. At the insistence of the Pope, however, he added existing translations for what he considered doubtful books, but did not personally translate them anew. This period marks the beginning of a more widely recognized canon, although the inclusion of some books was still debated: Epistle to Hebrews, James, 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation. Grounds for debate included the question of authorship of these books (note that the so-called Damasian "Council at Rome" had already rejected John the Apostle's authorship of 2 and 3 John, while retaining the books), their suitability for use (Revelation at that time was already being interpreted in a wide variety of heretical ways), and how widely they were actually being used (2 Peter being amongst the most weakly attested of all the books in the Christian canon).

The late-5th or early-6th Century Peshitta of the Syrian Orthodox Church ([20]) includes a 22-book NT, excluding II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, and Revelation. (The Lee Peshitta of 1823 follows the Protestant canon)

List of the Sixty Books [21]: dated to the 7th century, has 34 OT books and 26-book NT (excludes Revelation) and 9 books "outside the sixty": Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, 1-4 Maccabees, Esther, Judith, Tobit and a 25 book apocrypha.

Orthodox Synod in Trullo: in 692, rejected by Pope Constantine, approved Gregory Theologus' 22 book OT and 26-book NT (excludes Revelation) and the Canons of the Apostles of the Apostolic Constitutions of which Canon #85 [22] is a list of the 27-book OT plus Judith, Sirach, 1-3Maccabees, Didache, 1-2Clement, and 26-book NT (excludes Revelation), and the Apostolic Constitutions which themselves were rejected because they were said to contain heretical interpolations.

John of Damascus: c. 654 - 749, in Exact Exposition of Orthodox Faith 4.17 accepted Didache and Apostolic Constitutions.


Medieval developments

Nicephorus: the Patriarch of Jerusalem, 806-815, in a Stichometria [23] appended to the end of his Chronography rejected Esther, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Maccabees, Psalms of Solomon, Enoch, Didache, Barnabas, Hermas, Clement, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of the Hebrews, 3rd Corinthians, Acts of Paul, Revelation, Apocalypse of Peter.


Reformation Era

Protestant Reformation: begun by Martin Luther, who made an attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon (echoing the consensus of many Christian Humanists -- such as Cardinal Ximenez, Cardinal Cajetan, and Erasmus -- and partially because they were perceivvved to go against certain Protestant doctrines such as sola gratia and sola fide), but this was not generally accepted among his followers. However, these books are ordered last in German-language Lutheran Bibles to this day. [citation needed]

Bruce Metzger's Canon of the New Testament says in 1596 Jacob Lucius published a Bible at Hamburg which labeled Luther's four as "Apocrypha"; David Wolder the pastor of Hamburg's Church of St. Peter published in the same year a triglot Bible which labeled them as "non canonical"; J. Vogt published a Bible at Goslar in 1614 similar to Lucius'; Gustavus Adolphus of Stockholm in 1618 published a Bible with them labeled as "Apocr(yphal) New Testament."

Luther also eliminated the "doubtful" books from his Old Testament, terming them "Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read". He also argued unsuccessfully for the relocation of Esther from the Canon to the Apocrypha, since without the deuterocanonical sections, it never mentions God. As a result Catholics and Protestants continue to use different canons, which differ in respect to the Old Testament.

Charles Caldwell Ryrie's Basic Theology counters in 1986 the claim that Martin Luther rejected the Book of James as being canonical. Here's what Luther wrote in his preface to the New Testament in which he ascribes to the several books of the New Testament different degrees of doctrinal value. "St. John's Gospel and his first Epistle, St. Paul's Epistles, especially those to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and St. Peter's Epistle-these are the books which show to thee Christ, and teach everything that is necessary and blessed for thee to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book of doctrine. Therefore, St. James' Epistle is a perfect straw-epistle compared with them, for it has in it nothing of an evangelic kind." Thus Luther was comparing (in his opinion) doctrinal value, not canonical validity.

There is some evidence that the first decision to omit these books entirely from the Bible was made by Protestant laity rather than clergy. Bibles dating from shortly after the Reformation have been found whose tables of contents included the entire Roman Catholic canon, but which did not actually contain the disputed books, leading some historians to think that the workers at the printing presses took it upon themselves to omit them. However, Anglican and Lutheran Bibles usually still contained these books until the 20th century, while Calvinist Bibles did not. Several reasons are proposed for the omission of these books from the canon. One is the support for Catholic doctrines such as Purgatory and prayer for the dead found in 2 Maccabees. Luther himself said he was following Jerome's teaching about the Veritas Hebraica.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Canon of the New Testament: "The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council."

Council of Trent: on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain) approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books. This is said to be the same list as produced at the Council of Florence in 1451, this list was defined as canonical in the profession of faith proposed for the Jacobite Orthodox Church. Because of its placement, the list was not considered binding for the Catholic church, and in light of Martin Luther's demands, the Catholic Church examined the question of the Canon again at the Council of Trent, which reaffirmed the Canon of the Council of Florence. The Old Testament books that had been in doubt were termed deuterocanonical, not indicating a lesser degree of inspiration, but a later time of final approval. Beyond these books, some editions of the latin Vulgate include Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Esdras (called 3 Esdras), 2 Esdras (called 4 Esdras), and the Epistle to the Laodiceans in an appendix, styled "Apogryphi".

Thirty-Nine Articles: in 1563, of the Church of England, article 6, recognized the Roman Catholic Canon including the Deuterocanonicals with the caveat "for example of life and instruction in manners ... [but not] to establish any doctrine."

King James Bible: of 1611, included deuterocanon and apocrypha from the Vulgate and Septuagint.

Westminster Confession of Faith: in 1647, of Calvinism, decreed a 39-book OT and 27-book NT, all others labelled as apocrypha [24].

Synod of Jerusalem[25]: in 1672, decreed the Greek Orthodox Canon which is the same as the Roman Catholic but includes Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Psalms of Solomon, Odes, Letter of Jeremiah. The Greek Orthodox generally consider the Septuagint to be divinely inspired.

Thomas Jefferson: in 1819, produced the Jefferson Bible, by excluding sayings of Jesus which he felt were easily determined to be inauthentic ("like picking diamonds from dunghills" -To Adams, 24 January 1814).

Vatican I: on April 24, 1870, approved the additions to Mark (v.16:9-20), Luke, (22:19b-20,43-44) and John, (7:53-8:11) which are not present in early manuscripts.

Pope Pius XI: on June 2, 1927, decreed the Comma Johanneum was open to dispute.

The Jesus Seminar in 1993 ranked sayings of Jesus for authenticity by consensus vote and published The Five Gospels : What Did Jesus Really Say? The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. In addition to the canonical four gospels, the fifth gospel is the Gospel of Thomas.

Most Christian churches accept the 27-book NT, except the Syriac Orthodox Church, which uses the Peshitta and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (which lists four books of Sinodos (church practices), two Books of Covenant, "Ethiopic Clement", and "Ethiopic Didascalia" within a broader New Testament canon, although their narrow canon is the same as that of other churches; see this webpage for much more detailed information on the Ethiopian Canon), and the Armenian Orthodox church, which includes the Third Epistle to the Corinthians. The canon of the Tewahedo Church is looser than for most other traditional Christian groups. The Ethiopian "narrow" Old Testament canon includes the books found in the Septuagint accepted by the Orthodox plus Enoch, Jubilees, 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, and Psalm 151; but their three books of the Maccabees are quite different in content from those of the other Christian churches which include them. The order of the books is somewhat different from that of other groups, as well. This Church also has a "broader canon" that includes more books.

The books that were not canonized, but that are known to have existed in antiquity, are stylistically or in subject matter similar to the New Testament, and claim apostolic authorship, are known as the New Testament apocrypha.


Modern Evangelicals

Many Evangelical Christian groups do not accept the theory that the Christian Bible was not known until various local and Ecumenical Councils, which they deem to be "Roman-dominated", made their official declarations.

These groups believe that the New Testament supports that Paul (2 Timothy 4:11-13), Peter (2 Peter 3:15-16), and ultimately John (Revelation 22:18-19) finalized the canon of the New Testament. They note that Peter, John, and Paul wrote 20 (or 21) of the 27 books of the NT and personally knew all the other NT writers. (Books not attributed to these three are: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, James, and Jude. The authorship of Hebrews has long been disputed.)

Protestants tend not to accept the Septuagint as the correct Hebrew Bible. They claim that the Masoretic text was known and used by the end of the first Century. They note that early Christians knew the Hebrew Bible since around 170 Melito of Sardis listed all the books of the Old Testament that those in the Evangelical faiths now use (except, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Book of Esther, and with the addition of the Book of Wisdom). Melito's canon is found in Eusebius EH4.26.13-14 [26]:

Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book ; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.

However, Melito's account still does not determine that the specific documentary tradition used by the Jews necessarily was that which was eventually assembled into the Masoretic text, several centuries later.


Modern interpretation of canonization

Many modern Protestants point to four "Criteria for Canonicity" to justify the books that have been included in the Old and New Testament, which are judged to have satisfied the following:

1.   Apostolic Origin — attributed to and based on the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).

2.   Universal Acceptance — acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the fourth century).

3.   Liturgical Use — read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord's Supper (their weekly worship services).

4.   Consistent Message — containing a theological outlook similar or complementary to other accepted Christian writings.

The basic factor for recognizing a book's canonicity for the New Testament was divine inspiration, and the chief test for this was apostolicity. The term apostolic as used for the test of canonicity does not necessarily mean apostolic authorship or derivation, but rather apostolic authority. Apostolic authority is never detached from the authority of the Lord. See Apostolic succession.

It is sometimes difficult to apply these criteria to all books in the accepted canon, however, and some point to books that Protestants hold as apocryphal which would fulfill these requirements. In practice, Protestants hold to the Jewish canon for the Old Testament and the Catholic canon for the New Testament.



1. ^ Assuming Koine Greek primacy, which is the majority view, however, a small minority assume Aramaic primacy, meaning an original Aramaic Gospel which would cite the Aramaic Old Testament.

2. ^ According to the Catholic Encyclopedia [1]: "In the Fathers, the book is often called "Jesus Nave". The name dates from the time of Origen, who translated the Hebrew "son of Nun" by uìòs Nauê and insisted upon the Nave as a type of a ship; hence in the name Jesus Nave many of the Fathers see the type of Jesus, the Ship wherin the world is saved."

3. ^ Hahneman, Geoffrey Mark. The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992. Sundberg, Albert C., Jr. "Canon Muratori: A Fourth Century List." Harvard Theological Review 66 (1973): 1-41.


See also

·      Books of the Bible for a side-by-side comparison of Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant canons.

·      Table of books of Judeo-Christian Scripture

·      Lost books of the Old Testament

·      Lost books of the New Testament



·      Anchor Bible Dictionary

·      Ante-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans Press

·      Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot-Harmer-Holmes, ISBN 0801056764

·      Encyclopedia of the Early Church, Oxford

·      Beckwith, R.T. OT Canon of the NT Church ISBN 0802836178

·      Brakke, David. "Canon formation and social conflict in fourth century Egypt," in Harvard Theological Review 87:4 (1994) pp 395 – 419. Athanasius' role in the formation of the N.T. canon.

·      Bruce, F.F., Canon of Scripture ISBN 083081258X

·      Davis, L.D. First Seven Ecumenical Councils ISBN 0814656161

·      Ferguson Encyclopedia of Early Christianity

·      Fox, Robin Lane. The Unauthorized Version. 1992. A classical historian dispassionately discusses the formation of the canons.

·      Gamble. NT Canon ISBN 0800704709

·      Hennecke-Schneemelcher. NT Apcrypha

·      Jurgens, W.A. Faith of the Early Fathers ISBN 0814656161

·      Metzger, Bruce. Canon of the NT ISBN 0198261802

·      John Salza, Scripture Catholic, Septuagint references

·      Sundberg. OT of the Early Church Harvard Press 1964


External links

·      Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon of the Old Testament

·      Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon of the New Testament

·      Jewish Encyclopedia: Bible Canon

·      Development of the Canon of the New Testament

·      Noncanonical Literature

·      Early Christian Writings

·      The Nag Hammadi library

·      Gnostic Society Library page on The Nag Hammadi library

·      United Bible Societies, Translation Information Clearinghouse: Canon Update Annotated bibliography of recently published research

·      Judaica Press Translation - Online Jewish translation of the Biblical canon. The Tanakh and Rashi's entire commentary.

·      OrthodoxWiki: Holy Scripture

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