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Quote Archive: The Canon of Scripture

The “Becoming Catholic” series presents the biblical, philosophical, and historical evidence for why Eternal Christendom Founder, Joshua Charles, became and remains Catholic. The series table of contents is here.

This Quote Archive on the Canon of Scripture is part of the Becoming Catholic series. Each archive of quotes is intended to serve as a reference source on the various topics addressed in the articles. They are periodically updated as more research is completed.

Apostolic Era Documents

The Didache (§4) (c. 50)

(§4) …Be not a stretcher forth of the hands to receive and a drawer of them back to give. [Sir. 4:31]

Barnabas (possibly)

Barnabas, Letter of Barnabas (§6) (c. 75)

(§6) …Since, therefore, He was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, His suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against Israel, “Woe to their soul, because they have counselled an evil counsel against themselves,” [Isa. 3:9] saying, “Let us bind the just one, because he is displeasing to us.” [Wis. 2:12]

St. Pope Clement I (died 99) (WEST)

St. Pope Clement, Letter to the Corinthians (Ch. 27) (c. 80)

(Ch. 27) …By the word of His might He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them. “Who shall say unto Him, ‘What have you done?’ or, ‘Who shall resist the power of His strength?’” [Wis. 12:12]

St. Polycarp (69-155) (EAST)

St. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians (Ch. 10) (c. 135)

(Ch. 10) Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, [1 Pet. 2:17] and being attached to one another, joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your intercourse with one another, and despising no one. When you can do good, defer it not, because “alms deliver from death.” [Tob. 4:10, 12:9] “Be all of you subject one to another” [1 Pet. 5:5] “having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles,” [1 Pet. 2:12] that you may both receive praise for your good works, and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. “But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed!” [Isa. 52:5] Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.

St. Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 130-c. 202) (EAST/WEST)

St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies (Book 4, Ch. 26, §3; Book 5, Ch. 35, §1) (c. 189)

(Book 4, Ch. 26, §3)

(§3) Those, however, who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts, and, do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt towards others, and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat [Matt. 23:6], and work evil deeds in secret, saying, “No man sees us,” shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance (secundum gloriam), nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart; and they shall hear those words, to be found in Daniel the prophet: “O you seed of Canaan, and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you, and lust perverted your heart.” [Dan. 13:56] You that are waxen old in wicked days, now your sins which you have committed aforetime have come to light; for you have pronounced false judgments, and have been accustomed to condemn the innocent, and to let the guilty go free, albeit the Lord says, “The innocent and the righteous shall you not slay.” [Dan. 13:52, citing Ex. 23:7; Daniel 13 is not in the protestant canon]

(Book 5, Ch. 35, §1)

(§1) …Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out, that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left upon earth, should both be under the rule of the saints to minister to this Jerusalem, and that [His] kingdom shall be in it, saying, “Look around Jerusalem towards the east, and behold the joy which comes to you from God Himself. Behold, your sons shall come whom you have sent forth: they shall come in a band from the east even unto the west, by the word of that Holy One, rejoicing in that splendor which is from your God. O Jerusalem, put off your robe of mourning and of affliction, and put on that beauty of eternal splendor from your God. Gird yourself with the double garment of that righteousness proceeding from your God; place the miter of eternal glory upon your head. For God will show your glory to the whole earth under heaven. For your name shall forever be called by God Himself, the peace of righteousness and glory to him that worships God. Arise, Jerusalem, stand on high, and look towards the east, and behold your sons from the rising of the sun, even to the west, by the Word of that Holy One, rejoicing in the very remembrance of God. For the footmen have gone forth from you, while they were drawn away by the enemy. God shall bring them in to you, being borne with glory as the throne of a kingdom. For God has decreed that every high mountain shall be brought low, and the eternal hills, and that the valleys be filled, so that the surface of the earth be rendered smooth, that Israel, the glory of God, may walk in safety. The woods, too, shall make shady places, and every sweet-smelling tree shall be for Israel itself by the command of God. For God shall go before with joy in the light of His splendor, with the pity and righteousness which proceeds from Him.” [Bar. 4:36-5:9; the book of Baruch was often considered part of Jeremiah]

St. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-235) (WEST)

St. Hippolytus of Rome, Commentary on Daniel (fragment) (c. 204)

What is narrated here [the story of Susannah], happened at a later time, although it is placed before the first book (at the beginning of the book). For it was a custom with the writers to narrate many things in an inverted order in their writings…To all these things, therefore, we ought to give heed, beloved, fearing lest anyone be overtaken in any transgression, and risk the loss of his soul, knowing as we do that God is the Judge of all; and the Word Himself is the Eye which nothing that is done in the world escapes. Therefore, always watchful in heart and pure in life, let us imitate Susannah. [The story of Susannah is part of the book of Daniel not included in the protestant canon]

St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 210-258) (WEST)

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Testimonies Concerning the Jews (Book 3, Ch. 15) (248)

(Ch. 15) In Genesis [it says]: “And God, tempted Abraham, and said to him, Take thy only son whom thou lovest, Isaac, and go into the high land, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell thee.” [Gen. 22:1-2] Of this same thing in Deuteronomy: “The Lord your God proveth you, that He may know if ye love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.” [Deut. 13:3] Of this same thing in the Wisdom of Solomon: “Although in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality; and having been in few things distressed, yet in many things they shall be happily ordered, because God tried them, and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace He proved them, and as a burnt-offering He received them. And in their time there shall be respect of them; they shall judge the nations, and shall rule over the people; and their Lord shall reign forever.” [Wis. 3:4-8] Of this same thing in the Maccabees: “Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness?” [1 Mac. 2:52]

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 55 (§5) (c. 253)

(§5) …So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honor of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, “I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth.” [Dan. 14:5; from a portion of Daniel not contained in the protestant canon, the story of Bel and the Dragon]

St. Jerome (c. 342/347-420) (EAST/WEST)

St. Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus (Book 2, §33) (401)

(§33) …What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna [Dan. 13; not in protestant canon] and the Hymn of the Three Children [Dan. 3:29-68; not in protestant canon], and the fables of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14; not in protestant canon], which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, “As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion.”…

St. Pope Innocent I (died 417) (WEST)

St. Pope Innocent I, Letter “Consulenti tibi” to Bishop Exsuperius of Toulouse (February 20, 405) (Ch. 7)1

(Ch. 7) A brief addition shows what books really are received in the canon. These are the desiderata of which you wished to be informed verbally:

Of Moses, five books, that is, of Genesis, of Exodus, of Leviticus, of Numbers, of Deuteronomy, and of Joshua one book, of Judges one book, of Kings four books [two books of Samuel, two books of Kings], and also Ruth, of the prophets sixteen books, of Solomon five books [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach], the Psalms.

Likewise of the histories: Job one book, of Tobit one book, Esther one, Judith one, of the Maccabees two, of Esdras two [Ezra one, Nehemiah one], of Chronicles two books.

St. Augustine (354-430) (WEST)

St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine (Book 2, Ch. 8, §13) (397)

(§13) Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books: Five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one short book called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of Kings; next, four books of Kings, and two of Chronicles—these last not following one another, but running parallel, so to speak, and going over the same ground. The books now mentioned are history, which contains a connected narrative of the times, and follows the order of the events. There are other books which seem to follow no regular order, and are connected neither with the order of the preceding books nor with one another, such as Job, and Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Ezra, [Ezra and Nehemiah] which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles. Next are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, viz., Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach. [St. Augustine corrected his opinion about the authorship of Wisdom in Retractions (Book 2, Ch. 4)] Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative. The remainder are the books which are strictly called the Prophets: twelve separate books of the prophets which are connected with one another, and having never been disjoined, are reckoned as one book; the names of these prophets are as follows: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then there are the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books.

St. Augustine, Care to be Had for the Dead (§3) (421)

(§3) …In the books of the Maccabees we read of sacrifice offered for the dead. [2 Mac. 12:43] But even if it were nowhere at all read in the Old Scriptures, not small is the authority, which in this usage is clear, of the whole Church, namely, that in the prayers of the priest which are offered to the Lord God at His altar, the Commendation of the dead hath also its place…

Councils

Council of Rome (Decree of St. Pope Damasus) (382)2

Now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she must avoid.

At the beginning, the order of the Old Testament. Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book; Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Joshua, one book; Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; Kings, four books [two books of Samuel, two books of Kings]; Chronicles, two books; 150 Psalms [Psalter], one book; three books of Solomon, Proverbs, one book; Ecclesiastes, one book; Song of Songs, one book; likewise, Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus [Sirach], one book.

Likewise, the order of the prophets. Isaiah, one book; Jeremiah, one book; along with the Qinoth, that is, his Lamentations; Ezekiel, one book; Daniel, one book; Hosea, one book; Amos, one book; Micah, one book; Joel, one book; Obadiah, one book; Jonah, one book; Nahum, one bok; Habakkuk, one book; Zephaniah, one book; Haggai, one book; Zechariah, one book; Malachi, one book.

Likewise, the order of the histories. Job, one book; Tobit, one book; Ezra, two books [Ezra, Nehemiah], Esther, one book; Judith, one book; of the Maccabees, two books.

Likewise, the order of the Scriptures of the New and eternal Testament, which the holy and Catholic [Roman] Church accepts [and venerates]. [New Testament canon]

Council of Hippo (Can. 36) (393), Council of Carthage (Can. 47) (397)3

(Can. 36/47) [It has been decided] that, in the Church, nothing should be read except the canonical writings under the name of the “divine Scriptures.” These canonical writings are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings [two of Samuel, two of Kings], the two books of Chronicles, Job, the Davidic Psalter, the five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach], the twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras [Ezra, Nehemiah], two books of Maccabees

[In one codex, it is added] that the Church beyond the sea [Rome, etc.] should be consulted for the confirmation of this canon.

Council of Carthage (Can. 24/27 in Greek) (419)

(Can. 24/27 in Greek) [T]hat besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture.

But the Canonical Scriptures are as follows: Genesis. Exodus. Leviticus. Numbers. Deuteronomy. Joshua the Son of Nun. The Judges. Ruth. The Kings, four books. The Chronicles, two books. Job. The Psalter. The Five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach]. The Twelve Books of the Prophets. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Ezekiel. Daniel. Tobit. Judith. Esther. Ezra, two books [Ezra and Nehemiah]. Maccabees, two books

Let this be sent to our brother and fellow bishop, Boniface [St. Pope Boniface], and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in church.

Other Documents

Apostolic Constitutions (Book 8, Sec. 1, §2) (c. 400)

(§2) …Now women prophesied also. Of old, Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron, and after her Deborah, and after these Huldah and Judith—the former under Josiah, the latter under Darius…

Footnotes

  1. Heinrich Denzinger, Peter Hünermann, ed., Robert Fastiggi and Anne Englund Nash, eds., Heinrich Denzinger: Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals, 43rd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), 78. (DS, 213) ↩︎
  2. Heinrich Denzinger, Peter Hünermann, ed., Robert Fastiggi and Anne Englund Nash, eds., Heinrich Denzinger: Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals, 43rd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), 70-71. (DS, 179-80) ↩︎
  3. Heinrich Denzinger, Peter Hünermann, ed., Robert Fastiggi and Anne Englund Nash, eds., Heinrich Denzinger: Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals, 43rd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), 73-74. (DS, 186) ↩︎
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