Canon of the New Testament

For the edition of the Bible without chapters and verses, see The Books of the Bible.

Different religious groups include different books in their Biblical canons, in varying orders, and sometimes divide or combine books, or incorporate additional material into canonical books. Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church canon.

The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, contains twenty-four books divided into three parts; the five books of the Torah ("teaching" or "law"), the Nevi'im ("prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("writings"). The first part of Christian Bibles is the Old Testament, which contains, at minimum, the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible divided into thirty-nine books and ordered differently from the Hebrew Bible.

The Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches also hold that certain deuterocanonical books and passages are part of the Old Testament canon. The second part is the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books; the four Canonical gospels, Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one Epistles or letters and the Book of Revelation.

The Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches may have minor differences in their lists of accepted books. The list given here for these churches is the most inclusive: if at least one Eastern church accepts the book it is included here.

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Hebrew Bible

Rabbinic Judaism recognizes the 24 books of the Masoretic Text, commonly called the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, as authoritative. Evidence suggests that the process of canonization occurred between 200 BCE and 200 CE. A popular former theory is that the Torah was canonized c. 400 BCE, the Prophets c. 200 BCE, and the Writings c. 100 CE,[1] perhaps at a hypothetical Council of Jamnia, but this position is increasingly rejected by most modern scholars.

Christian Old Testament

Protestants and Catholics[2] use the Masoretic Text as the textual basis for their translations of the protocanonical books (those accepted as canonical by both Jews and all Christians), with various changes derived from a multiplicity of other ancient sources (such as the Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.), while generally using the Septuagint and Vulgate, now supplemented by the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts, as the textual basis for the deuterocanonical books.

The Eastern Orthodox use the Septuagint as the textual basis for the entire Old Testament in both protocanonical and deuteroncanonical books—to use both in the Greek for liturgical purposes, and as the basis for translations into the vernacular.[3][4] Most of the quotations (300 of 400) of the Old Testament in the New Testament, while differing more or less from the version presented by the Masoretic text, align with that of the Septuagint.[5]

Intertestamental books

The intertestamental books, largely written during the intertestamental period, are called the Biblical apocrypha ("hidden things") by Protestants, the deuterocanon ("second canon") by Catholics, and the deuterocanon or anagignoskomena ("worthy of reading") by Orthodox. These are works recognized by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches as being part of scripture (and thus deuterocanonical rather than apocryphal), but Protestants do not recognize them as divinely inspired.

Many other Christians recognize them as good, but not on the level of the other books of the Bible. Anglicanism considers the apocrypha "read for example of life" but not used "to establish any doctrine."[6] Luther made a parallel statement in calling them: "not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read."[7]

The difference in canons derives from the difference in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. Books found in both the Hebrew and the Greek are accepted by all denominations, and by Jews, these are the protocanonical books. Catholics and Orthodox also accept those books present in manuscripts of the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament with great currency among the Jews of the ancient world, with the coda that Catholics consider 3 Esdras and 3 Maccabees apocryphal.

Most quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, differing by varying degrees from the Masoretic Text, are taken from the Septuagint. When the Jews closed the Old Testament canon, two criteria were used, that the book be written in Hebrew or Aramaic, and that it be no younger than the time of Ezra. This process led to the 24/39 books of the Tanakh and Old Testament (even though Daniel was written several hundred years after the time of Ezra, and since that time several books of the Septuagint have been found in the original Hebrew, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cairo Geniza, and at Masada, including a Hebrew text of Sirach (Qumran, Masada) and an Aramaic text of Tobit (Qumran); the additions to Esther and Daniel are also in their respective Semitic languages.

The unanimous consensus of modern (and ancient) scholars consider several other books, including 1 Maccabees and Judith, to have been composed in Hebrew or Aramaic. Opinion is divided on the book of Baruch, while it is acknowledged that the Epistle of Jeremiah, the Wisdom of Solomon, and 2 Maccabees are originally Greek compositions.

  • Wisdom of Solomon

Eastern Orthodox

Additional books accepted by the Eastern Orthodox:

  • 4 Esdras (in an appendix to the Slavonic Bible)

Syrian Orthodox

Additional books accepted by the Syrian Orthodox (due to inclusion in the Peshitta):

  • 2 Baruch with the Letter of Baruch (only the letter has achieved canonical status)

Ethiopian Orthodox

The Ethiopian Tewahedo church accepts all of the deuterocanonical books of Catholicism and anagignoskomena of Eastern Orthodoxy except for the four Books of Maccabees.[10] It accepts the 24/39 books of the Masoretic Text along with the following books, called the "narrow canon".[11] The enumeration of books in the Ethiopic Bible varies greatly between different authorities and printings.[12]

  • 4 Baruch or the Paralipomena of Jeremiah
  • The Ethiopian broader Biblical Canon

Table

The table uses the spellings and names present in modern editions of the Bible, such as the New American Bible Revised Edition, Revised Standard Version and English Standard Version. The spelling and names in both the 1609–1610 Douay Old Testament (and in the 1582 Rheims New Testament) and the 1749 revision by Bishop Challoner (the edition currently in print used by many Catholics, and the source of traditional Catholic spellings in English) and in the Septuagint differ from those spellings and names used in modern editions that derive from the Hebrew Masoretic text.[13]

For the Orthodox canon, Septuagint titles are provided in parentheses when these differ from those editions. For the Catholic canon, the Douaic titles are provided in parentheses when these differ from those editions. Likewise, the King James Version references some of these books by the traditional spelling when referring to them in the New Testament, such as "Esaias" (for Isaiah).

In the spirit of ecumenism more recent Catholic translations (e.g., the New American Bible, Jerusalem Bible, and ecumenical translations used by Catholics, such as the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition) use the same "standardized" (King James Version) spellings and names as Protestant Bibles (e.g., 1 Chronicles, as opposed to the Douaic 1 Paralipomenon, 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings, instead of 1-4 Kings) in those books universally considered canonical—the protocanonicals.

The Talmud in Bava Batra 14b gives a different order for the books in Nevi'im and Ketuvim. This order is also quoted in Mishneh Torah Hilchot Sefer Torah 7:15. The order of the books of the Torah are universal through all denominations of Judaism and Christianity.

The disputed books, included in one canon but not in others, are often called the Biblical apocrypha, a term that is sometimes used specifically to describe the books in the Catholic and Orthodox canons that are absent from the Jewish Masoretic Text and most modern Protestant Bibles. Catholics, following the Canon of Trent (1546), describe these books as deuterocanonical, while Greek Orthodox Christians, following the Synod of Jerusalem (1672), use the traditional name of anagignoskomena, meaning "that which is to be read." They are present in a few historic Protestant versions; the German Luther Bible included such books, as did the English 1611 King James Version.[6]

Empty table cells indicate that a book is absent from that canon.

Tanakh
(Jewish Bible)
(24 books)[14]
Books in bold are part of the Ketuvim
Protestant
Old Testament
(39 books)
Catholic
Old Testament
(46 books)
Eastern Orthodox
Old Testament
(51 books)
Original language
Torah
Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses
Bereishit Genesis Genesis Genesis Hebrew
Shemot Exodus Exodus Exodus Hebrew
Vayikra Leviticus Leviticus Leviticus Hebrew
Bamidbar Numbers Numbers Numbers Hebrew
Devarim Deuteronomy Deuteronomy Deuteronomy Hebrew
Nevi'im (Prophets)
Yehoshua Joshua Joshua (Josue) Joshua (Iesous) Hebrew
Shofetim Judges Judges Judges Hebrew
Rut (Ruth)[15] Ruth Ruth Ruth Hebrew
Shemuel 1 Samuel 1 Samuel (1 Kings)[16] 1 Samuel (1 Kingdoms)[17] Hebrew
2 Samuel 2 Samuel (2 Kings)[16] 2 Samuel (2 Kingdoms)[17] Hebrew
Melakhim 1 Kings 1 Kings (3 Kings)[16] 1 Kings (3 Kingdoms)[17] Hebrew
2 Kings 2 Kings (4 Kings)[16] 2 Kings (4 Kingdoms)[17] Hebrew
Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles)[15] 1 Chronicles 1 Chronicles (1 Paralipomenon) 1 Chronicles (1 Paralipomenon) Hebrew
2 Chronicles 2 Chronicles (2 Paralipomenon) 2 Chronicles (2 Paralipomenon) Hebrew
1 Esdras Hebrew
Ezra-Nehemiah[15] Ezra Ezra (1 Esdras) Ezra (2 Esdras)[17][18] Hebrew and Aramaic
Nehemiah Nehemiah (2 Esdras) Nehemiah (2 Esdras)[17][18] Hebrew
Tobit (Tobias) Tobit (Tobias) Aramaic (and Hebrew?)
Judith Judith Hebrew
Esther[15] Esther Esther[19] Esther[19] Hebrew
1 Maccabees (1 Machabees)[20] 1 Maccabees Hebrew
2 Maccabees (2 Machabees)[20] 2 Maccabees Greek
3 Maccabees Greek
4 Maccabees[21] Greek
Ketuvim (Writings) Wisdom books
Iyov (Job)[15] Job Job Job Hebrew
Tehillim (Psalms)[15] Psalms Psalms Psalms[22] Hebrew
Prayer of Manasseh Greek
Mishlei (Proverbs)[15] Proverbs Proverbs Proverbs Hebrew
Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes)[15] Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes Hebrew
Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs)[15] Song of Solomon Song of Songs (Canticle of Canticles) Song of Songs (Aisma Aismaton) Hebrew
Wisdom Wisdom Greek
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) Sirach Hebrew
Nevi'im (Latter Prophets) Major prophets
Yeshayahu Isaiah Isaiah (Isaias) Isaiah Hebrew
Yirmeyahu Jeremiah Jeremiah (Jeremias) Jeremiah Hebrew and Aramaic
Eikhah (Lamentations)[15] Lamentations Lamentations Lamentations Hebrew
Baruch[23] Baruch[23] Hebrew[24]
Letter of Jeremiah[25] Greek (majority view)[26]
Yekhezqel Ezekiel Ezekiel (Ezechiel) Ezekiel Hebrew
Daniel[15] Daniel Daniel[27] Daniel[27] Hebrew and Aramaic
Twelve Minor Prophets
The Twelve
or
Trei Asar
Hosea Hosea (Osee) Hosea Hebrew
Joel Joel Joel Hebrew
Amos Amos Amos Hebrew
Obadiah Obadiah (Abdias) Obadiah Hebrew
Jonah Jonah (Jonas) Jonah Hebrew
Micah Micah (Micheas) Micah Hebrew
Nahum Nahum Nahum Hebrew
Habakkuk Habakkuk (Habacuc) Habakkuk Hebrew
Zephaniah Zephaniah (Sophonias) Zephaniah Hebrew
Haggai Haggai (Aggeus) Haggai Hebrew
Zechariah Zechariah (Zacharias) Zechariah Hebrew
Malachi Malachi (Malachias) Malachi Hebrew

Several of the books in the Eastern Orthodox canon are also found in the appendix to the Latin Vulgate, formerly the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.

Books in the Appendix to the Vulgate Bible
Name in Vulgate
Name in Eastern Orthodox use
3 Esdras 1 Esdras
4 Esdras
Prayer of Manasseh Prayer of Manasseh
Psalm of David when he slew Goliath (Psalm 151) Psalm 151

New Testament

In general, among Christian denominations, the New Testament canon is an agreed-upon list of 27 books, although book order can vary. The book order is the same in the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant tradition.[N 1] The Slavonic, Armenian and Ethiopian traditions have different New Testament book orders.

Catholic, E. Orthodox, Protestant,
and most Oriental Orthodox
Traditional
Luther Bible[N 1]
Syriac
Orthodox
[N 2]
Original language
(Koine Greek)
Canonical gospels
Matthew Matthew Matthew Greek (majority view: see note)[N 3][28][29][30]
Mark Mark Mark Greek
Luke Luke Luke Greek
John John John Greek
Apostolic History
Acts Acts Acts Greek
Pauline epistles
Romans Romans Romans Greek
1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians Greek
2 Corinthians 2 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Greek
Galatians Galatians Galatians Greek
Ephesians Ephesians Ephesians Greek
Philippians Philippians Philippians Greek
Colossians Colossians Colossians Greek
1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians Greek
2 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians Greek
1 Timothy 1 Timothy 1 Timothy Greek
2 Timothy 2 Timothy 2 Timothy Greek
Titus Titus Titus Greek
Philemon Philemon Philemon Greek
General epistles
Hebrews Hebrews[N 1] Hebrews Greek[31]
James James[N 1] James Greek
1 Peter 1 Peter 1 Peter Greek
2 Peter 2 Peter 2 Peter[N 2] Greek
1 John 1 John 1 John Greek
2 John 2 John 2 John[N 2] Greek
3 John 3 John 3 John[N 2] Greek
Jude Jude[N 1] Jude[N 2] Greek
Apocalypse
Revelation Revelation[N 1] Revelation[N 2] Greek

Chart notes

See also

Bible portal

Notes

External links

  • New Testament Reading Room: Extensive online resources for biblical studies (Tyndale Seminary)
  • The Canon of Scripture – a Catholic perspective
  • Tel Aviv University).
  • Rashi's entire commentary.
  • (Old Church Slavonic) Slavonic Bible
  • UMC)
  • Western Armenian Bible (an essay, with full official canon at the end)
  • H. Schumacher, (London 1923), pp. 84–94.
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