The deuterocanonical books are books and passages considered by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East to be canonical books of the Old Testament but which are considered non-canonical by Protestant denominations. They date from the period 300 BC–AD 100 approximately. While the New Testament never quotes from or ascribes canonical authority to these books, some say there is a correspondence of thought, while others see texts from these books being paraphrased, referred or alluded to many times in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline Epistles depending in large measure on what is counted as a reference.
Though there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed, some scholars hold that the Hebrew canon was established well before the first century AD – even as early as the fourth century BC, or by the Hasmonean dynasty. The Hebrew canon does not include the seven deuterocanonical books and this formed the basis for their exclusion from the Protestant Old Testament.
The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which the early church used as its Old Testament, included all of the deuterocanonical books. The term distinguished these books both from those that were termed protocanonical books, which were the books of the Hebrew canon; and from the apocryphal books, which were those books of Jewish origin that were known sometimes to have been read in church as scripture but which were considered not to be canonical.
The Council of Rome defined a list of books of Scripture presented as having been made canonical. It included most of the deuterocanonical books.
Since the 16th century, most Protestant Churches have accepted only works in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible as canonical books of the Old Testament, and hence classify all deuterocanonical texts with the Apocrypha.
The deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament are:
Canonical by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church:
- Baruch including the Letter of Jeremiah as the 6th chapter or standalone book
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- Wisdom of Solomon
- Additions to Esther
- Additions to Daniel:
- * The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children
- * Susanna and the Elders
- * Bel and the Dragon
Sixtus of Siena, who had converted to Catholicism from Judaism, to describe scriptural texts considered canonical by the Catholic Church, but which recognition was considered "secondary". For Sixtus, this term included portions of both Old and New Testaments ; and he also applies the term to the Book of Esther from the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The term was then taken up by other writers to apply specifically to those books of the Old Testament which had been recognised as canonical by the Councils of Rome of Hippo, Carthage, Council of Florence and Council of Trent, but which were not in the Hebrew canon.
Forms of the term "deuterocanonical" were adopted after the 16th century by the Eastern Orthodox Church to denote canonical books of the Septuagint not in the Hebrew Bible, and also by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to apply to works believed to be of Jewish origin translated in the Old Testament of the Ethiopic Bible; a wider selection still.
The acceptance of some of these books among early Christians was widespread, though not universal, and surviving Bibles from the early Church always include, with varying degrees of recognition, books now called deuterocanonical. Some say that their canonicity seems not to have been doubted in the Church until it was challenged by Jews after AD 100, sometimes postulating a hypothetical Council of Jamnia. Regional councils in the West published official canons that included these books as early as the 4th and 5th centuries.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states that:
Meanwhile, "the protocanonical books of the Old Testament correspond with those of the Bible of the Hebrews, and the Old Testament as received by Protestants. The deuterocanonical are those whose Scriptural character was contested in some quarters, but which long ago gained a secure footing in the Bible of the Catholic Church, though those of the Old Testament are classed by Protestants as the "Apocrypha". These consist of seven books: Tobias, Judith, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, First and Second Machabees; also certain additions to Esther and Daniel."
Dead Sea scrollsFragments of three deuterocanonical books have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, in addition to several partial copies of I Enoch and Jubilees from the Ethiopic deuterocanon, and Psalm 151 from the Eastern Orthodox Church deuterocanon.
Sirach, whose Hebrew text was already known from the Cairo Geniza, has been found in two scrolls in Hebrew. Another Hebrew scroll of Sirach has been found in Masada. Five fragments from the Book of Tobit have been found in Qumran written in Aramaic and in one written in Hebrew. The Letter of Jeremiah has been found in cave 7 in Greek. It has been theorized by recent scholars that the Qumran library was not entirely produced at Qumran, but may have included part of the library of the Jerusalem Temple, that may have been hidden in the caves for safekeeping at the time the Temple was destroyed by Romans in AD 70.
Influence of the SeptuagintDeuterocanonical and Apocryphal books included in the Septuagint
The large majority of Old Testament references in the New Testament are taken from the Koine Greek Septuagint, editions of which include the deuterocanonical books, as well as apocrypha – both of which are called collectively anagignoskomena. No two Septuagint codices contain the same apocrypha, and the three earliest manuscripts of the LXX show uncertainty as to which books constitute the complete list of biblical books. Codex Vaticanus lacks any of the books of Maccabees, while Codex Sinaiticus omits Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah, but includes 1 and 4 Maccabees. Codex Alexandrinus includes the Psalms of Solomon and Maccabees 1–4. All three codices include Psalm 151 in addition to the canonical 150 Psalms; and all three codices include Greek Esdras as 'Esdras A', with the canonical Ezra–Nehemiah counted as 'Esdras B'.
Greek Psalm manuscripts from the fifth century contain three New Testament "psalms": the Magnificat, the Benedictus, the Nunc dimittis from Luke's birth narrative, and the conclusion of the hymn that begins with the "Gloria in Excelsis". Beckwith states that manuscripts of anything like the capacity of Codex Alexandrinus were not used in the first centuries of the Christian era, and believes that the comprehensive codices of the Septuagint, which start appearing in the fourth century AD, are all of Christian origin.
Some deuterocanonicals appear to have been written originally in Hebrew, but the original text has long been lost. Archaeological finds discovered both Psalm 151 and the Book of Tobit in Hebrew among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Septuagint was widely accepted and used by Greek-speaking Jews in the 1st century, even in the region of Roman Judea, and therefore naturally became the text most widely used by early Christians, who were predominantly Greek speaking.
In the New Testament, Hebrews 11:35 is understood by some as referring to an event that was recorded in one of the deuterocanonical books, 2 Maccabees. For instance, the author of Hebrews references oral tradition which spoke of an Old Testament prophet who was sawn in half in Hebrews 11:37, two verses after the 2nd Maccabees reference. Other New Testament authors such as Paul also reference or quote period literature which was familiar to the audience but that was not included in the deuterocanonical or the protocanonical Old Testament books.
Influence of early authorsThe Jewish historian Josephus speaks of there being 22 books in the canon of the Hebrew Bible, reported also by the Christian bishop Athanasius.
Origen of Alexandria also records 22 canonical books of the Hebrew Bible cited by Eusebius; among them are the Epistle of Jeremiah and the Maccabees as canonical books.
In the 7th century Latin document the Muratorian fragment, which some scholars actually believe to be a copy of an earlier AD 170 Greek original, the book of the Wisdom of Solomon is counted by the church.
Eusebius wrote in his Church History that Bishop Melito of Sardis in the 2nd century AD considered the deuterocanonical Wisdom of Solomon as part of the Old Testament and that it was considered canonical by Jews and Christians. On the other hand, the contrary claim has been made: "In the catalogue of Melito, presented by Eusebius, after Proverbs, the word Wisdom occurs, which nearly all commentators have been of opinion is only another name for the same book, and not the name of the book now called 'The Wisdom of Solomon'."
Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catechetical Lectures cites as canonical books "Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle ".
In Athanasius's canonical books list the Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah are included and Esther is omitted. At the same time, he mentioned that certain other books, including four deuterocanonical books, the book of Esther and also the Didache and The Shepherd of Hermas, while not being part of the Canon, "were appointed by the Fathers to be read". He excluded what he called "apocryphal writings" entirely.
Epiphanius of Salamis mentions that "there are 27 books given the Jews by God, but they are counted as 22, however, like the letters of their Hebrew alphabet, because ten books are doubled and reckoned as five". He wrote in his Panarion that Jews had in their books the deuterocanonical Epistle of Jeremiah and Baruch, both combined with Jeremiah and Lamentations in only one book. While Wisdom of Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon were books of disputed canonicity.
Augustine writes in his book On Christian Doctrine that two books of Maccabees, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus are canonical books.
According to the monk Rufinus of Aquileia the deuterocanonical books were not called canonical but ecclesiastical books. In this category Rufinus includes the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Judith, Tobit and two books of Maccabees. Rufinus makes no mention of Baruch or the Epistle of Jeremiah.
Pope Innocent I sent a letter to the bishop of Toulouse citing deuterocanonical books as a part of the Old Testament Canon.
SynodsIn later copyings of the canons of the Council of Laodicea a canon list became appended to Canon 59, likely before the mid fifth century, which affirmed that Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle were canonical, while excluding the other deuterocanonical books.
According to Decretum Gelasianum, which is a work written by an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553, the Council of Rome cites a list of books of Scripture presented as having been made canonical. This list mentions all the deuterocanonical books except Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah as a part of the Old Testament Canon.
The Synod of Hippo, followed by the Council of Carthage and the Council of Carthage, may be the first councils that explicitly accepted the first canon which includes a selection of books that did not appear in the Hebrew Bible; the councils were under significant influence of Augustine of Hippo, who regarded the canon as already closed. Canon XXIV from the Synod of Hippo records the Scriptures which are considered canonical; the Old Testament books as follows:
On 28 August 397, the Council of Carthage confirmed the canon issued at Hippo; the recurrence of the Old Testament part is stated:
The Council of Carthage in its canon 24 lists the deuterocanonical books except Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah as Canonical Scripture.
The Apostolic Canons approved by the Eastern Council in Trullo in AD 692 states as venerable and sacred the first three books of Maccabees and Wisdom of Sirach.
The Roman Catholic Council of Florence promulgated a list of the books of the Bible, including the books of Judith, Esther, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and two books of the Maccabees as Canonical books.
The Roman Catholic Council of Trent adopted an understanding of the canons of these previous councils as corresponding to its own list of deuterocanonical books.
Influence of Jeromein one of his Vulgate prologues describes a canon which excludes the deuterocanonical books. In these prologues, Jerome mentions all of the deuterocanonical and apocryphal works by name as being apocryphal or "not in the canon" except for Prayer of Manasses and Baruch. He mentions Baruch by name in his Prologue to Jeremiah and notes that it is neither read nor held among the Hebrews, but does not explicitly call it apocryphal or "not in the canon". The inferior status to which the deuterocanonical books were relegated by authorities like Jerome is seen by some as being due to a rigid conception of canonicity, one demanding that a book, to be entitled to this supreme dignity, must be received by all, must have the sanction of Jewish antiquity, and must moreover be adapted not only to edification, but also to the "confirmation of the doctrine of the Church".
J. N. D. Kelly states that "Jerome, conscious of the difficulty of arguing with Jews on the basis of books they spurned and anyhow regarding the Hebrew original as authoritative, was adamant that anything not found in it was 'to be classed among the apocrypha', not in the canon; later he grudgingly conceded that the Church read some of these books for edification, but not to support doctrine."
Eventually however, Jerome's Vulgate did include the deuterocanonical books as well as apocrypha. Jerome referenced and quoted from some as scripture despite describing them as "not in the canon". Michael Barber asserts that, although Jerome was once suspicious of the apocrypha, he later viewed them as Scripture. Barber argues that this is clear from Jerome's epistles; he cites Jerome's letter to Eustochium, in which Jerome quotes Sirach 13:2. Elsewhere Jerome apparently also refers to Baruch, the Story of Susannah and Wisdom as scripture. Henry Barker states that Jerome quotes the Apocrypha with marked respect, and even as "Scripture", giving them an ecclesiastical if not a canonical position and use. Luther also wrote introductions to the books of the Apocrypha, and occasionally quoted from some to support an argument.
In his prologue to Judith, without using the word canon, Jerome mentioned that Judith was held to be scriptural by the First Council of Nicaea.
In his reply to Rufinus, Jerome affirmed that he was consistent with the choice of the church regarding which version of the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel to use, which the Jews of his day did not include:
Thus Jerome acknowledged the principle by which the canon would be settled – the judgment of the Church rather than his own judgment or the judgment of Jews; though concerning translation of Daniel to Greek, he wondered why one should use the version of a translator whom he regarded as a heretic and judaizer.
The Vulgate is also important as the touchstone of the canon concerning which parts of books are canonical. When the Council of Trent listed the books included in the canon, it qualified the books as being "entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition". This decree was clarified somewhat by Pope Pius XI on 2 June 1927, who allowed that the Comma Johanneum was open to dispute, and it was further explicated by Pope Pius XII's Divino afflante Spiritu.
The Council of Trent also promulgated the Vulgate Bible as the official Latin version of the Bible for the Roman Catholic Church.
Deuterocanonical and Apocryphal books included in the Latin Vulgate
In the Catholic Churchsays that "the Council of Hippo in 393, and the third Council of Carthage in 397, under the influence of Augustine, who attended both, fixed the catholic canon of the Holy Scriptures, including the Apocrypha of the Old Testament,...This decision of the transmarine church, however, was subject to ratification; and the concurrence of the Roman see it received when Innocent I and Gelasius I repeated the same index of biblical books." Schaff says that this canon remained undisturbed till the sixteenth century, and was sanctioned by the Council of Trent at its fourth session, although as the Catholic Encyclopedia reports, "in the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals.... Few are found to unequivocally acknowledge their canonicity," but that the countless manuscript copies of the Vulgate produced by these ages, with a slight, probably accidental, exception, uniformly embrace the complete Roman Catholic Old Testament. Subsequent research qualifies this latter statement, in that a distinct tradition of large format pandect bibles has been identified as having been promoted by the 11th and 12th century reforming Papacy for presentation to monasteries in Italy; and now commonly termed 'Atlantic Bibles' on account of their very great size. While not all these bibles present a consistent reformed Vulgate text, they generally exclude the deuterocanonical books.
Exceptions to this narrative are Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah, which appear in the Greek canon lists of the Council of Laodicea, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis but are not separately listed as canonical in the Latin accounts of the Canons of Laodicea or any other Western synods and councils, nor are specified as canonical by Innocent I and Gelasius I, nor are present in any complete Vulgate Bibles earlier than the 9th century; and even after that date, do not become common in the Vulgate Old Testament until the 13th century. In the Old Latin version of the Bible, these two works appear to have been incorporated into the Book of Jeremiah, and Latin Fathers of the 4th century and earlier always cite their texts as being from that book. However, when Jerome translated Jeremiah afresh from the Hebrew text, which is considerably longer than the Greek Septuagint text and with chapters in a different order, he steadfastly refused to incorporate either Baruch or the Letter of Jeremiah from the Greek. As the Vulgate Bible supplanted the Old Latin in Western church use in subsequent centuries, so Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah are no longer treated as canonical in the works of Fathers who favoured the Vulgate, Gregory the Great, Isidore of Seville and Bede. In the 9th century these two works were reintroduced into the Vulgate Bibles produced under the influence of Theodulf of Orleans, originally as additional chapters to the Vulgate book of Jeremiah. Subsequently, and especially in the Paris Bibles of the 13th century, they are found together as a single, combined book after Lamentations.
Greek EsdrasFor the Roman Catholic Church Greek Esdras is apocryphal, while the Orthodox Church considers it as canonical. The canonical status of this book in the Western church is less easy to track, as references to Esdras in canon lists may refer either to this book, or to Greek Ezra–Nehemiah, or both. In the surviving Greek pandect Bibles of the 4th and 5th centuries, Greek Esdras always stands as 'Esdras A' while the Greek translation of the whole of canonical Ezra–Nehemiah stands as 'Esdras B'; and the same is found in the surviving witness of the Old Latin Bible. When Latin fathers of the early church cite quotations from the biblical 'Book of Ezra' it is overwhelmingly 'First Ezra/Esdras A' to which they refer, as in Augustine 'City of God' 18:36. Citations of the 'Nehemiah' sections of Old Latin Second Ezra/'Esdras B' are much rarer; and no Old Latin citations from the 'Ezra' sections of Second Ezra/'Esdras B' are known before Bede in the 8th century. In Jerome's Vulgate Bible however, there is only one Book of Ezra, translating Hebrew Ezra–Nehemiah but corresponding to Greek Esdras B; Esdras A is stated by Jerome to be a variant version, of the same Hebrew original. In the prologue to Ezra Jerome states that 3 Esdras and 4 Esdras are apocryphal.
From the 9th century, occasional Latin Vulgate manuscripts are found in which Jerome's single Ezra text is split to form the separate books of Ezra and Nehemiah; and in the Paris Bibles of the 13th century this split has become universal, with Esdras A being reintroduced as '3 Esdras' and Latin Esdras being added as '4 Esdras'. At the Council of Trent neither '3 Esdras' nor '4 Esdras' were accepted as canonical books, but were eventually printed in the section of 'Apocrypha' in the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate, along with the Prayer of Manasses.
The Council of Trent in 1546 stated the list of books included in the canon as it had been set out in the Council of Florence. In respect to the deuterocanonical books this list conformed with the canon lists of Western synods of the late 4th century, other than including Baruch with the Letter of Jeremiah as a separate book, and in excluding Greek Esdras. While the majority at Trent supported this decision there were participants in the minority who disagreed with accepting any other than the protocanonical books in the canon. Among the minority, at Trent, were Cardinals Seripando and Cajetan, the latter an opponent of Luther at Augsburg.
In Orthodox ChristianityOutside the Roman Catholic Church, the term deuterocanonical is sometimes used, by way of analogy, to describe books that Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy included in the Old Testament that are not part of the Jewish Tanakh, nor the Protestant Old Testament. Among Orthodox, the term is understood to mean that they were compiled separately from the primary canon, as explained in 2 Esdras, where Esdras is instructed to keep certain books separate and hidden.
Eastern OrthodoxyThe Eastern Orthodox Churches have traditionally included all the books of the Septuagint in their Old Testaments. The Greeks use the word :Category:Anagignoskomena|Anagignoskomena to describe the books of the Greek Septuagint that are not present in the Hebrew Bible. When E. Orthodox theologians use the term "deuterocanonical", it is important to note that the meaning is not identical to the Roman Catholic usage. In E. Orthodox Christianity, deuterocanonical means that a book is part of the corpus of the Old Testament but has secondary authority. In other words, deutero applies to authority or witnessing power, whereas in Roman Catholicism, deutero applies to chronology, not to authority.
The Eastern Orthodox canon includes the deuterocanonical books accepted by Roman Catholics plus Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees and 1 Esdras, while Baruch is divided from the Epistle of Jeremiah, making a total of 49 Old Testament books in contrast with the Protestant 39-book canon.
Like the Roman Catholic deuterocanonical books, these texts are integrated with the rest of the Old Testament, not printed in a separate section.
Other texts printed in Orthodox Bibles are included as an appendix, which is not the same in all churches; the appendix contains 4 Maccabees in Greek-language bibles, while it contains 2 Esdras in Slavonic-language and Russian-language bibles.
Ethiopian OrthodoxyIn the Ethiopic Bible used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, those books of the Old Testament that are still counted as canonical, but which are not agreed upon by all other Churches, are often set in a separate section titled "Deeyutrokanoneekal", which is the same word as "Deuterocanonical". The Ethiopian Orthodox Deuterocanon, in addition to the standard set listed above, and with the books of Esdras and Prayer of Minasse, also includes some books that are still held canonical by only the Ethiopian Church, including Enoch or Henok, Kufale and 1, 2 and 3 Meqabyan.
In Christian Churches having their origins in the ReformationKing James Bible and the Catholic deuterocanon, but the two are distinct. The Apocrypha section of the original 1611 King James Bible includes, in addition to the deuterocanonical books, the following three books, which were not included in the list of the canonical books by the Council of Trent:
- 1 Esdras
- 2 Esdras
- Prayer of Manasseh
Using the word apocrypha to describe texts, although not necessarily pejorative, implies to some people that the writings in question should not be included in the canon of the Bible. This classification commingles them with certain non-canonical gospels and New Testament apocrypha. The Society of Biblical Literature recommends the use of the term deuterocanonical books instead of Apocrypha in academic writing.
The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England lists the deuterocanonical books as suitable to be read for "example of life and instruction of manners, but yet doth not apply them to establish any doctrine". The early lectionaries of the Anglican Church included the deuterocanonical books amongst the cycle of readings, and passages from them were used regularly in services.
Readings from the deuterocanonical books are now included in most, if not all, of the modern lectionaries in the Anglican Communion, based on the Revised Common Lectionary, though alternative readings from protocanonical books are also provided.
Lutheran ChurchesLuther did not accept deuterocanonical books in his Old Testament, terming them "Apocrypha, that is, books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read."
Methodist Churches and Moravian ChurchesThe first Methodist liturgical book, The Sunday Service of the Methodists, employs verses from the biblical apocrypha, such as in the Eucharistic liturgy.
The Revised Common Lectionary, in use by most mainline Protestants including Methodists and Moravians, lists readings from the biblical apocrypha in the liturgical kalendar, although alternate Old Testament scripture lessons are provided.
Presbyterian ChurchesThe Westminster Confession of Faith, a Calvinist document that serves as a systematic summary of doctrine for the Church of Scotland and other Presbyterian Churches worldwide, recognizes only the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon as authentic Scripture. Chapter 1, Article 3 of the Confession reads: "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings."
Reformed ChurchesThe Belgic Confession, used in Reformed churches, devotes a section to "the difference between the canonical and apocryphal books" and says of them: "All which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith or of the Christian religion; much less to detract from the authority of the other sacred books."
The Jewish positionJudaism excludes these books. It is commonly said that Judaism officially excluded the deuterocanonicals and the additional Greek texts listed here from their Scripture in the Council of Jamnia, but this claim is disputed.
New Testament deuterocanonicalsThe term deuterocanonical is sometimes used to describe the canonical antilegomena, those books of the New Testament which, like the deuterocanonicals of the Old Testament, were not universally accepted by the early Church. These books may be called the "New Testament deuterocanonicals", which are now included in the 27 books of the New Testament recognized by almost all Christians. The deuterocanonicals of the New Testament are as follows:
- The Epistle to the Hebrews
- The Epistle of James
- The Second Epistle of Peter
- The Second Epistle of John
- The Third Epistle of John
- The Epistle of Jude
- The Apocalypse of John