Hello, this is the response I got from a protestant pastor when I questioned how to know what makes up the NT and OT canons and what authority those people have. I am trying to come up with an educated response and would appreciate any help refuting his arguments.
The canon that Protestants champion was established incredibly early during the Councils of Jamnia (between AD 90-118).
As to the OT, the criteria is much the same [as NT], except the authorship needs to be by a recognized prophet, instead of an apostle. Also, just as we Americans know the difference between something written by a forefather and something written by a friend of a forefather, early Jews knew what writing stood the test of legitimacy and what writing had no clear tie to the prophetic line. Accepted books had authority because they were written by those appointed by God, and were recognized as such. Also, canonical books cohered to truth from other canonical books. They were quoted in the NT, used by the early church, universally recognized as being from God. The deutero books don’t share those privileges. They weren’t universally seen as authoritative. They weren’t used by early Christians as normative for faith and life.
The criteria for canonicity is twofold, I’d say, one informal and one formal process. Informally, the canon was agreed upon by the apostles through use and universal recognition. When an entire community adopts and relies on a text because of its ties to the prophets, apostles, or Christ himself, then that book is half way there to canonization. Formally, the process was implemented by dozens of church leaders over several years. The church assumed authority in deciding what books were canonical, but they did so by the precedent set by the NT authors and their treatment of the OT.
Why do the non-canonical books like Baruch contain pseudopigraphal books (like the Letters of Jeremiah) that attest to authorship wholly rejected by scholars? They’re deutero because they don’t merit the labels inerrant or infallible.
The “deutero” books are ripe with incoherent theology, and in many cases, heresy.
Take these two, and there are many more, examples:
Ecclesiasticus 3:30, Water will quench a flaming fire, and alms maketh atonement for sin.
Tobit 12:8-9, 17, It is better to give alms than to lay up gold; for alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin.
If anything is clear in scripture, it’s that alms do nothing for the atonement of sin. That’s Catholic, not biblical, doctrine. These notions or alms/sin are rejected by the entire counsel of scripture, so they pose a real problem to those who want to include the respective books in the canon.