The Bible or Holy Scripture or Canon, that is the Old and the New Testament, is the sum of the god-inspired books, which are the source of Christian belief. The Jews, supposedly, have also the Old Testament as source of their religion, without calling it Old Testament of course, since they are not accepting a New Testament; they are calling it, without a single name, «Law Prophets and Writings» (Torah Nevi’im and Ketuvim). In addition, after 135 a.D., this «Old Testament» of them, is in its text corrupted to a such degree that is not anymore the god-inspired Bible, but essentially another book. The Orthodox Christians, the Jews along with Protestants and Anglicans, and the Papists have three different catalogs of Canon books.
The catalog of the Canon of the Christian Church was published in 367 after research by Athanasius the Great, bishop of Alexandria, who acted as an assignee exclusively for this, after delegation and mandate of the first Ecumenical council. The council assigned each bishop of Alexandria to write and send every year and forever, a circular letter, named festive letter, to all the churches of the world, first for defining the date of next's year easter and next for commenting about the principal issues of belief and confession that occurred throughout the world in christianity during the year before. So Alexander of Alexandria wrote this letter in the years 326-328, and Athanasius the Great in the years 329-373. In the year 367, Athanasius gave the catalog of the Canon in his 39th Festive Letter, which is accepted by the Christian Church.
The Jews accept one catalog of the Canon, only of the Old Testament of course, which is edited by an unknown commentator between the years 700 and 1350 and it is found at the Study (Talmud) and more precisely at the Comments (Gemara) of the Repetition (Mishnah), in the treatise Last Gate (Baba Bathra, 14b - 15a), and in my opinion originates in the years 120-135 a.D. to the infamous rabbi Shimon ben Akiva.
All the Protestants and together the Anglicans accept this late Jewish catalog of the Canon, which they, in the year 1545, propounded expressly and completely by compiling it at their dogmatic confession of Zurich.
The Papistics accept their own catalog of the Canon, that supposedly is an «infallible» doctrine (decretum) of the Pope of Rome Paul III, which in 8/4/1546, was announced and published during the fourth session of the according to them «ecumenical» council of Trent, held also that year.
Except the book difference of the three catalogs (ecclesiastic, jewish-protestant, papistic), there is another and equally essential difference, that, until today, the appearing as connoisseurs (biblical theological faculty professors etc.) did not ever realize. The difference here is that G. Athanasius and with him all the Orthodox Christian Church think that the selection of the god-inspired books of the Canon results not from some critical presumption and evaluation of any posterior prophet and apostle, but by its uninterrupted handing down, hand to hand, from the apostles to us, and that this tradition is for us a matter of historical and grammatic examination and not of a dogmatic decision; whereas the others, Jews Protestants Anglicans, think that the catalog results by the critical presumption and evaluation of the specialists that have published it – that is, they are judging by themselves about what is god-inspired and what is not – and Papistics by the alleged «infallible» doctrinal inspiration of the Pope of Rome who wrote his supposedly «infallible» decree. Athanasius relies upon the non biblical writers of Israel that lived before Christ and on the Christian ecclesiastical writers before him, mostly on Melito of Sardis (160 a.D.); whereas Akiva and the Pope of Rome rely on their own «god-inspiration» and Protestants and Anglicans on the Jewish, post-Christian, catalog.
In the four following quoted catalogs, first I cite the catalog of the Christian Church from the authentic writing of Athanasius the Great; next I translate [Translator’s Note: in Greek] the Jewish catalog from the Hebrew text through English, and its titles directly from the original Hebrew text of the Talmud; then the protestantical, from its original Latin text; and finally the papal from its original Latin text too.
1. The 39th Festive letter of G. Athanasius
Therefore of the Old Testament there are twenty-two books in number; for it has been handed down, as I heard, that so many are the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names are as follows; the first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy; following these there is Joshua – the son of Navi [Nun], and Judges, and next to it Ruth; next again the four books of Kings follow, of which the first and second count one book, and the third and fourth likewise one; next to them the first and second of the Chronicles count also one book; next Esdras first and second also one; after these the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and Job additionally to them; then from the Prophets, the Twelve count one book, then Isaiah, Jeremiah and with it Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle, and after it, Ezekiel and Daniel. And with them the Old Testament is set. As of those in the New it is not boring to say; these, indeed, are: four Gospels, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; after these, apostles’ Acts, and seven Epistles, called generic, as follows: of James one, whilst of Peter two, then three of John, and after these one of Jude; in addition, there are fourteen Epistles of apostle Paul recorded as follows; first to the Romans, then two to the Corinthians, after these to the Galatians, next to the Ephesians, then to the Philippians, and to the Colossians, and after these to the Thessalonians two, and the one to the Hebrews, and right after to Timothy two, and one to Titus, and last the one to Philemon; and another John’s Revelation.
These fountains are of salvation, so that the thirsty might be satisfied by the godly words in them; these alone are evangelizing the teaching of piousness. Let no man add to these, neither let him subtract anything from these. Concerning these, Kyrios [the Lord] put to shame the Sadducees by saying, You are deceived since you do not know the Scriptures; while he urged the Jews, Search the Scriptures, for those are that testify of me.
(I publish this text [TN: in Greek that is] out of 24 ancient manuscripts. see also PG 26,176-180; BSA 33.76-77; The Rudder, 583-5.)
2. The rabbinic catalog of Talmud
Rabbis taught us; the order of the Prophets are; Joshua of Navi, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve minor Prophets. Let us look at it. Hosea precedes, because it is written; The beginning of the word of the Lord to Hosea (Ho. 1,2). But did God speak first to Hosea? Were there not many prophets between Moses and Hosea? Rabbi Johanan however explained that he was the first of the prophets that were prophesying during that period, and whose names are Hosea, Isaiah, Amos, Micah; hence, souldn’t Hosea precede? Because his Prophecy is ‹in›scribed (=co-registered) together with Haggai Zechariah and Malachi, and Haggai Zechariah and Malachi were recorded in the end of the Prophets and he was listed with them. But why was he ‹in›scribed separately and placed first? Because this book is so small that could be lost. Let us take a look at something else. Isaiah lived before Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Then why Isaiah was non placed first? Because the book of Kings finishes by recounting the disaster, and Jeremiah speaks about the disaster from the beginning to the end, Ezekiel starts from the disaster and finish with consolation, and Isaiah is full of consolation; thus we classify consecutively the disaster after the disaster and the consolation after the consolation.
The order of the Scriptures (Ketuvim = Writings) are; Ruth, the book of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Lamentations, Daniel, and the scroll of Esther, Esdras, and Chronicles. Now, given that Job lived in the times of Moses, shouldn’t the book of Job precede? We do not start by narrating afflictions. Nevertheless even the book of Ruth narrates afflictions; but, as rabbi Johanan said, an affliction with a happy ending. And why is it named after Ruth? Because David came from her, who closes this sacred book, so she might be blessed with hymns and praises.
Who ‹in›scribed the Sacred Scriptures? Moses ‹in›scribed his book and the quotation of Balaam and Job. Joshua of Navi ‹in›scribed the book with his name and eight verses of the Pentateuch. Samuel ‹in›scribed the book with his name and the book of Judges and Ruth. David ‹in›scribed the book of Psalms and included in it the work of his precedents Adam, Melchisedec, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Idithun, Asaf, and of the three sons of Kore. Jeremiah ‹in›scribed the book with his name, the book of the Kings, and Lamentations. Hezekiah and his friends ‹in›scribed the books of Isaiah, Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the supreme Council ‹in›scribed the books of Ezekiel, the Twelve minor Prophets, Daniel, and the scroll of Esther. Esdras ‹in›scribed the book with his name and the genealogies of the book of the Chronicles up to his time. This is assured by the opinion of the rabbis, because rabbi Jude said on behalf of a rabbi; Esdras did not leave Babylon, to ascend to the land of Israel, until he ‹in›scribed his genealogy. Well who finished it? Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.
Study, Criminal Laws, Last Gate, 14b-15a
(= Talmud (Gemara), Nezikin, Bava Bathra, 14b-15a)
Publications: L. Goldshmidt, Berlin-Wien 1925 (in Hebrew-German). I. Epstein, London (in English).
3. Confession of the protestant church of Zurich of the year 1545; treatise 2
Books of the canonical Scripture
This canonical Scripture is included in the Old and the New Testament. The books of the Old Testament are; of Moses the Pentateuch, the book of Joshua, and Judges, Ruth, two books of Samuel, and of the Kings too, two books also of the Chronicles, and of Esdras and Nehemiah too, the book of Esther. To them we add the book of Job, the Psalms, and the three books of Solomon, that is Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and Four major Prophets and Twelve minor.
But for those that are counted outside of this Canon, such as Tobias, Judith, and a few others, we think that are not handed down at all, so to have them as of equal authority with those first, neither as of the same respect. However we do not condemn them, either we reject them. Because once they were reading them during gathering at the church, and they are reading them until today. When they are reading them rightly and prudently, they bring their fruit to the church. And even if it seems that they do not agree completely with the previous books, they have to be explained and expounded according to the measure (norma) of them.
And to the New Testament we count the following books. Evangel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts written by him, and Evangel of John; and fourteen Epistles of Paul, and seven of the other apostles, together with the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ that he gave to the apostle and evangelist John.
Orthodoxa Tigurinae ecclesiae, tract. 2, Tiguri 1545 (church of Zurich).
Cp. Müller E.F.K., Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformirten Kirche, Leipzig 1903, p. 155 (The identical catalog is omitted and replaced with dots).
This canonical Scripture is included in the Old and the New Testament. The books of the Old Testament are; the Pentateuch of Moses ....................................................................
But those that are counted outside of this Canon, such as Tobias, Judith, and a few others, we think that they are not handed down, so to have them as of equal authority with those first or neither as of the same respect. However we do not condemn them either we reject them. Because once they were reading them during gathering at the church, and they are reading them until today. When they are reading them rightly and prudently, they bring their fruit to the church.
4. Papal council of Trent (8 April 1546)
Papal decretum for the canonical Scriptures
published in the fourth session
The holiest ecumenical and general synod of Trent .............................., following the examples of the orthodox fathers, accepts and respects with the same reverence and equal veneration all the books of both the Old and New Testament, since the author of both is the one God, and the traditions as well, that refer inasmuch about faith as to morals, as good as being them taught by Christ himself and either by the Holy Spirit and kept in the catholic church by the continuous succession. And considered proper that it might record the table of the Sacred Books to this decretum, so no one doubts as to which are these that this council accepts. They are therefore those written immediately after.
Of the Old Testament five books of Moses, namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, of Kings four, of Chronicles two, the first of Esdras, and the second called Nehemiah, Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, David's Psalter with one hundred and fifty psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiastical, Isaiah, Jeremiah along with Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel; Twelve minor Prophets, ie Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; two of Maccabees, the first and the second.
Of the New Testament, four Evangels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts of the Apostles written by the evangelist Luke; fourteen epistles of the blessed apostle Paul, namely to Romans, to Corinthians two, to Galatians, to Ephesians, to Philippians, to Colossians, to Thessalonians two, to Timothy two, to Titus, to Philemon, to Hebrews; of the apostle Peter two, of the apostle John three, of the apostle James one, of the Apostle Jude one, and of apostle’s John the Apocalypse.
Mansi 33, 22
* * *
G. Athanasius, and with him the ancient Orthodox Church, as «Esdras first and second» has in mind the books that occur in printed versions as 2 Esdras and Nehemiah; and as «Epistle of Jeremiah» he intends, as I found out, the text that printed versions purport as Jeremiah chapters 36-38, and which is a freestanding book of prophet Jeremiah, his Epistle, that was embedded later in the position where it is found; he does not mean the Jewish Alexandrian writing of the first century b.C., which is purported as «Epistle of Jeremiah» and it is written first in Greek by an unknown Jew who did not know Hebrew. To this discovery of mine led me on one hand my faith and love of the Bible and on the other my trust on the holy tradition of the church; I mean the holy apostolic and first tradition and not the tradition of the presbyters (Ev.Matt. 15, 1-20), that Kyrios [the Lord] rejects as something that is abhorrent. My grammatical and historical conclusion about the authentic Epistle of Jeremiah, is a conclusion extracted according the way that G. Athanasius and the other ecclesiastical authors were using to extract their conclusions, and not according the jewish protestant and papal jugglery of «critical» and dogmatic evaluations, with which are also drawing their «conclusions», that is parroting for the last 200 years, the «biblical» professors of the theological schools, these fruitless trees
The Jews and the protestants deviate from the ecclesiastical Canon in two books; they do not have Baruch and add Esther. Papists deviate by twelve books; they add the books Tobias, Judith, Esther, Maccabees 1, Maccabees 2, Solomon’s Wisdom, Sirachides’ Wisdom (Ecclesiastical), «Epistle of Jeremiah» (false), which they attach to Baruch, and Sussana, Hymn of the three youths, Bel, and Dragon, which they embed or attach in the authentic book of Daniel.
After 1830, several publishers and marketers of the Bible imposed implicitly to the Orthodox Christian Church, the papal catalog of the Canon for the following reason. After the coming of typography the Orthodox Christian Church does not have its own Old Testament, like the Papists the Protestants the Anglicans and the Jews have, but takes it, as text, from the Protestants and, as book collection, from the Papists. Until 1904 it did not have indeed either its own New Testament, but was taking it from the protestants. In 1904, the modest B. Antoniades published the New Testament Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ of the Orthodox Church out of chosen ancient manuscripts.
Publishers and marketers are promoting the Old Testament into the Church as a selection of books taken from the Papists, but this fact certainly does not mean that this is the Canon of the Church. The Canon of the Church is that which G. Athanasius determined, as commissioner of the First Ecumenical Council, and which the Church had until 1830. And this is what I also mean when I say «Bible». As for the authentic text of the Bible, only the Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians of Greece and Cyprus have it. Papists and Protestants and Anglicans and the non Greek-speaking Orthodoxs have not precisely the Bible, but instead of the Bible they have in the place of the Old Testament the rabbinic fabrication, and for the New Testament a bad translation, the so-called Latin Vulgate, that Jerome made in the 4th century and passed to the five maternal Protestant translations, German French Spanish Italian English in the 16th century, and through them to all the translations of the earth.
In a case like this, Orthodoxy is not judged according to who is holding or not the tradition junk of the presbyters (Ev.Matt. 15, 2-3) in his receptacle, but according to who, holds inside it together with the few or many such junk, the integral invariable and authentic Bible too. Who is that one that, when the junk sweeps away, will stay with the real treasure of Kyrios [the Lord] in hand? That one is from now already an Orthodox; the one who has the Canon of the Bible. The others are as much Christians as the Jews and the Muslims. Criterion of Orthodoxy is the Canon of the Bible.
5. The three catalogs of the Canon in brief
|Christians||Jews – Protestants||Papistics|
|1-2Ch.||Ep.Phil.||1-2Ch.||Ep.Phil.||1-2Ch.||Hymn of youths|
Studies (Μελέτες) 1 (2008)