Canonical Lists of the Books of Scripture and Commentary on the Deuterocanonical Books



Canon LXXXV of the Holy Apostles


To all you Clergymen and Laymen let the following books be venerable and sacred: Of the Old Testament, the five of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; the one of Jesus of Nave (commonly called Joshua in English); the one of Judges; the one of Ruth; the four of the Kingdoms; two Paralipomena of the Book of Days; two of Esdras, one of Esther; three of the Maccabees; one of Job; one Psalter (commonly called the Psalms in English and also in Greek); three of Solomon, namely, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; twelve of the Prophets; one of Isaiah; one of Jeremiah; one of Ezekiel; one of Daniel; outside of these is permissible for you to recount in addition thereto also the Wisdom of very learned Sirach by way of teaching your younger folks. Our own books, that is to say, those of the New Testament, comprising four Gospels, namely, that of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke, and of John; fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter, three Epistles of John; one of James; one of Jude; two Epistles of Clement; and the Injunctions addressed to you Bishops through me, Clement, in eight books, (which ought not to be divulged to all on account of the secret matters they contain) and the Acts of us Apostles.


Canon XXXII of Carthage


It has pleased the Council to prohibit the reading of anything besides the canonical Scriptures in church under color of divine Scriptures. The canonical Scriptures are the following, to wit: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Reigns 4, Paralipomena 2 books, Job, the Psalter, the 4 books of Solomon, the 12 books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, the 2 books of Ezra; of the New Testament, the 4 Gospels, Acts of the Apostles (one book), the 14 Epistles of Paul, the 2 of Peter the Apostle, the 3 of John the Apostle, the 1 of James the Apostle, the 1 of Jude the Apostle, the Revelation of John (1 book).


The Canon of St. Gregory the Theologian


“Be not disposed to treat books with the mind of a thief,

For there are many pieces of viciousness interpolated therein.

“Accept this number, my friend, from me as the approved list:

Of historical books there are but twelve all told;

“They are the products of the most ancient, Hebrew wisdom.

The first one is Genesis, then comes Exodus, then Leviticus,

“Followed by Numbers, next by Deuteronomy, or the Second Law,

After which come Joshua, and Judges, and Ruth, which is the eighth;

“The ninth and tenth books are the Acts of the Kings;

Then come the two Chronicles, and lastly thou hast Ezra.

“The poetical books are five, of which the first is Job,

The next is David, followed by the three books of Solomon,

“Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and Proverbs.

And five likewise are of a prophetic spirit.

“One book in Scripture is formed of twelve as follows:

Hosea, and Amos, and Micah, which is the third one;

“Afterwards come Joel, then Jonah, and then Obadiah;

The next ones are Nahum, and Habakkuk, and Zephaniah;

“The last three of them are Haggai, and Zechariah, and Malachi.

These forming one book, the second book is Isaiah.

“Afterwards comes the one called Jeremiah in his infancy,

Next thereafter Ezekiel, and the grace of Daniel.

“Of the ancient Scripture I have listed twenty-two books;

These writings of the Hebrews are opposed by twenty-two others.

“Now let us count those of the New Mystery:

Matthew wrote the miracles of Christ to the Hebrews.

“Mark wrote them to Italy, Luke to Achaias,

And to all men John the great preacher who visited heaven.

“Afterwards come the Acts of the wise Apostles,

Ten books are Paul’s, and so are four Epistles.

“There are seven Epistles Catholic, of which that of James is one,

Two are those of Peter, and three are those of John again.

“The seventh is that of Jude, and thou hast them all.

if any be found outside of these, they are not genuine.”


Canon of St. Amphilochius


“Nevertheless, there is another thing thou oughtest to learn “More than anything else. That not every book is safe, “Though possessing the venerable name of Scripture. “For there are, there are indeed at times books “With a false title, some of them being middle ground and, “So to speak, neighbors bordering upon the word of truth. “Others again are spurious and exceeding misleading, “Like decorations hung on the breast and counterfeit coins “Which bear the inscription of the Emperor, true enough, “But which are proved to be counterfeit by their materials. “Since thou hast the grace to ask which books are God-inspired, “Thus shalt thou learn clearly each book in order. “I will tell thee those of the Odd Testament: “The Pentateuch, comprising Genesis, or Creation, then Exodus, “And containing the Book of Leviticus in the middle; “After which come Numbers, and then The Second Book of Laws. “Add to these Joshua and the Judges. “Afterwards Ruth and the four books of the Kings. “Following these come at least the two books of Chronicles. “Next thereafter the first and the second of Ezra. “Next I will tell thee five poetical books. “That of Job, who was crowned with achievements, suffering much, “The Book of Psalms, full of songs to benefit souls; “Three books of Solomon the Wise, comprising Proverbs, “Ecclesiastes, and another the Song of Songs. “Right now to these Prophets add the twelve I name: “Hosea first, then Amos second, “Micah, Joel, Obadiah, and the type “Of the three days’ passion called Jonah; “Nahum, and after him Habakkuk; then the ninth “Zephaniah; and nextly Haggai and Zechariah; “And finally the angel of two names Malachi. “After whom thou shalt learn the four great Prophets, “Namely, Isaiah the great speaker who speaks out boldly, “Jeremiah, who is sympathetic and mystical, “Ezekiel; and last of all of them Daniel, “The same who is wisest in deeds and words. “In addition to these some approve of Esther. “Of the New Testament now let me tell thee the books. “Accept only four Evangelists, and none other ones; “Namely: Matthew, then Mark, and third after these Luke, “Count close, take time, and add to these three “As the fourth one John, but first in sublimity of dogmas; “For I naturally and fitly call him a son of thunder, “Who in speech has sounded loudest and greatest to God. “But accept also the second book of Luke, namely, “That of the catholic Acts of the Apostles. “Thereupon add the ‘chosen vessel,’ “The preacher and Apostle to the heathen nations, “Paul, who wrote wisely to the Churches “Twice seven Epistles, and to the Romans one. “To the latter one must conjoin two to the Corinthians, “That to the Galatians, and that to the Ephesians; “After which that to the Philippians, that written “To the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, “And one each to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon; “Besides which the one wrongly called spurious “To the Hebrews, for the grace of it is genuine. “Well. What about the Epistles Catholic? “Some say there are seven of them, and some only three. “We must accept that of James as one; “That of Peter as one, of those of John one, “Though some say the three of them, and in addition thereto “They accept the two of Peter; and that of Jude as the seventh. “As for the Book of Revelation of John again, “Some approve it, but at least a majority call it spurious. “This should be a most truthful canon of the God-inspired Scriptures.”



The 3rd Canonical Epistle of St. Athanasius the Great.


But inasmuch as we have mentioned heretics as dead persons, and ourselves as having salvation in the divine Scriptures, I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians (II Cor. 11:3). some of the honest ones be led astray from simplicity and chastity by the craftiness of men, and thereafter begin relying upon other things, the so-called apocrypha, deceived by the likeness of the titles with the names of the true books, I beg you to be tolerant if what things I am writing about with a view to their necessity and usefulness to the Church are things which you already know and understand thoroughly. Since I am about to state these things, by way of excusing my boldness in doing so I shall make use of the formula of St. Luke the Evangelist, who himself says: “Forasmuch as many men have taken in hand to set forth in due order a declaration on their part (Luke 1:1) of the so-called apocrypha and to intermix these with God-inspired Scripture, concerning which we have full confidence, just as those who were eye-witnesses and servants of the Logos in the beginning have handed down the facts by tradition to the Fathers, it has seemed good to me too to set forth, at the express request of genuine brethren and after learning the following facts from above, the rules which have been laid down as canons and delivered as teachings and believed to be divine books, in order that anyone, if deceived, may lay the blame on those who deceived him, or if he has remained clean and pure, he may rejoice again in finding himself reminded thereof. Now, therefore, be it said that the total number of books in the Old Testament is twenty-two; for, as I have been told, such is precisely the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. In order and by name each of them stands as follows. First comes Genesis, then Exodus, then Leviticus, and after this Numbers, and thereupon Deuteronomy. The rest of them are: Joshua of Nun, and Judges, and after this Ruth. And again the next are Kingdoms, four books; of which the first and the second are counted together as one, and the third and the fourth likewise as one. After these come Paralipomena (or Chronicles, first and second, likewise counted as one book. The Esdras, first and second, likewise counted as one. After these comes the Book of Psalms, and thereupon Proverbs. Then Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. In addition to these there is the book of Job. This followed by the Prophets, the twelve of which are counted as one book. Then come Isaiah and Jeremiah, and together with the latter are Baruch, Lamentations, and the Epistle, and with them are also Ezekiel and Daniel. Up to this point those enumerated have been books of the Old Testament. Those of the New Testament, again, must not be left out of the reckoning. They are: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; 1 then and after these come the Acts of the Apostles and the seven so-called catholic (or general) Epistles of the Apostles, these being as follows: of James, one; of Peter, two; then of John, three; and of Jude, one. In addition to all these there are also fourteen Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle, which are found written in the following order: the first one to the Romans; then to the Corinthians, two; and after these the one to the Galatians and one to the Ephesians, then one to the Philippians, and one to the Colossians, and two to the Thessalonians; after which comes the Epistle to the Hebrews, and thereupon come two Epistles to Timothy, one to Titus, and lastly one to Philemon; 2 and, again, the Revelation of John. These are all sources of salvation, so that anyone thirsting should take pains to fill himself with the sayings and facts recorded therein. In these alone it is that one may find a teaching ground on which to proclaim the good tidings of the Gospel, and to acquire the religion of piety. Let no one superimpose anything thereon, nor delete anything therefrom. Concerning these the Lord rebuked the Sadducees by saying: “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor their powers” (Matt. 22:29; Mark 2:24, John 5:31). Nevertheless, for the sake of greater exactness, I add also this, writing as I do the fact as a matter of necessity, that, there are also other books than these outside of the list herein given, which, though not canonically sanctioned, are to be found formally prescribed by the Fathers to be read to those who have just joined and are willing to be catechized with respect to the word of piety, namely: the Wisdom of Solomon; the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther, and Judith, and Tobias; and the so-called Didache (i.e., salutary teaching) of the Apostles,1 and the Shepherd.2 And yet, dear readers, both with those canonically sanctioned and these recommended to be read, there is no mention of the Apocrypha; but, on, the contrary, the latter are an invention of heretics who were writing them as they pleased, assigning and adding to them dates and years, in order that, by offering them as ancient documents, they might have a pretext for deceiving honest persons as a consequence thereof.


The Synod of Jerusalem (1672) (from the Confession of St. Dositheus):


What Books do you call Sacred Scripture?


Following the rule of the Catholic Church, we call Sacred Scripture all those which Cyril [Lucar] collected from the Synod of Laodicea, and enumerated, adding thereto those which he foolishly, and ignorantly, or rather maliciously called Apocrypha; to wit, “The Wisdom of Solomon,” “Judith,” “Tobit,” “The History of the Dragon,” “The History of Susanna,” “The Maccabees,” and “The Wisdom of Sirach.” For we judge these also to be with the other genuine Books of Divine Scripture genuine parts of Scripture. For ancient custom, or rather the Catholic Church, which hath delivered to us as genuine the Sacred Gospels and the other Books of Scripture, hath undoubtedly delivered these also as parts of Scripture, and the denial of these is the rejection of those. And if, perhaps, it seemeth that not always have all been by all reckoned with the others, yet nevertheless these also have been counted and reckoned with the rest of Scripture, as well by Synods, as by how many of the most  ancient and eminent Theologians of the Catholic Church; all of which we also judge to be Canonical Books, and confess them to be Sacred Scripture.


The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox Catholic, Eastern Church, by St. Philaret of Moscow (1830) on the Canononical and Deuterocanonical Books:



31. How many are the books of the Old Testament?


St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Athanasius the Great, and St. John Damascene reckon them at twenty-two, agreeing therein with the Jews, who so reckon them in the original Hebrew tongue. (Athanas. Ep. xxxix. De Test.; J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. c. 17.)


32. Why should we attend to the reckoning of the Hebrews?


Because, as the Apostle Paul says, unto them were committed the oracles of God; and the sacred books of the Old Testament have been received from the Hebrew Church of that Testament by the Christian Church of the New. Rom. iii. 2.


33. How do St. Cyril and St. Athanasius enumerate the books of the Old Testament?


As follows: 1, The book of Genesis; 2, Exodus; 3, Leviticus; 4, the book of Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, the book of Jesus the son of Nun; 7, the book of Judges, and with it, as an appendix, the book of Ruth; 8, the first and second books of Kings, as two parts of one book; 9, the third and fourth books of Kings; 10, the first and second books of Paralipomena; 11, the first book of Esdras, and the second, or, as it is entitled in Greek, the book of Nehemiah; 12, the book of Esther; 13, the book of Job; 14, the Psalms; 15, the Proverbs of Solomon; 16, Ecclesiastes, also by Solomon; 17, the Song of Songs, also by Solomon; 18, the book of the Prophet Isaiah; 19, of Jeremiah; 20, of Ezekiel; 21, of Daniel; 22, of the Twelve Prophets.


34. Why is there no notice taken in this enumeration of the books of the Old Testament of the book of the Wisdom of the son of Sirach, and of certain others?


Because they do not exist in the Hebrew.


35. How are we to regard these last-named books?


Athanasius the Great says that they have been appointed of the Fathers to be read by proselytes who are preparing for admission into the Church.


Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy, The Law of God, on the Deuterocanonical books:


Besides the canonical books, a part of the Old Testament is composed of non-canonical books, sometimes called Apochrypha among non-Orthodox.  These are books which the Jews lost and which are not in the contemporary Hebrew text of the Old Testament.  They are found in the Greek translations of the Old Testament, made by the 70 translators of the Septuagint three centuries before the birth of Christ (271 B.C.).   These book have been included in the Bible from ancient times and are considered by the Church to be sacred Scripture.  The translation of the Septuagint is accorded special respect in the Orthodox Church.  The Slavonic translation of the Bible was made from it.


To the non-canonical books of the Old Testament belong:


1. Tobit

2. Judith

3. The Wisdom of Solomon

4. Ecclesiasticus,  or the Wisdom of Sirach

5. Baruch

6. Three books of Maccabees

7. The Second and Third book of Esdras

8. The additions to the (Book of Esther,) II Chronicles (The Prayer of Manasseh) and Daniel (The Song of the Youths, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon).”


(Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, The Law Of God: For Study at Home and School—Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1996, p. 423.)


Fr. Michael Pomazansky, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology on the Deuterocanonical Books:


The Church recognizes 38 books of the Old Testament. After the example of the Old Testament Church, several of these books are joined to form a single book, bringing the number to twenty-two books, according to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. These books, which were entered at some time into the Hebrew canon, are called "canonical." To them are joined a group of "non-canonical" books-that is, those which were not included in the Hebrew canon because they were written after the closing of the canon of the sacred Old Testament books. The Church accepts these latter books also as useful and instructive and in antiquity assigned them for instructive reading not only in homes but also in churches, which is why they have been called "ecclesiastical." The Church includes these books in a single volume of the Bible together with the canonical books. As a source of the teaching of the faith, the Church puts them in a secondary place and looks on them as an appendix to the canonical books. Certain of them are so close in merit to the Divinely-inspired books that, for example, in the 85th Apostolic Canon the three books of Maccabees and the book of Joshua the son of Sirach are numbered together with the canonical books, and, concerning all of them together it is said that they are "venerable and holy." However, this means only that they were respected in the ancient Church; but a distinction between the canonical and non-canonical books of the Old Testament has always been maintained in the Church.


Comparisons of Canonical Lists:


A Table Depicting Old Testament Books Recognized as Canonical By Various Christian Churches


Comparison of the Texts of the Major Versions