How did we know the Early Christian Church used the Deuterocanonical Books?

Greetings folks. I have been in a discussion/debate with a close friend who is somewhat assertive in his Bible interpretation.
Tthe subject of our Bible having seven more books than the St. James version has been something we are having a tough time working through.

I have investigated some of the research on the Deuterocanonical but a couple of points appear vague or unclear. So I was hoping someone here in the Forums might be able to shine a light for me.

#1 Is there any tangible way of proving that the early Christian Church (from the time of Christ to the Council of Javneh around 90 A.D) used the seven Deuterocanical Books.

#2 When did the Old Testament first appear without these books? Who or what made the decision to exclude the Deuterocanical Books. Did these individuals accept or reject the Divinity of Jesus Christ?

Many Thanks in advance.

Reall quick and basic.

the cannon of the old testament is based on the spetuigent ( sorry if miss spelled) it was widely used compulation of scripture for the Jewish people translated into greek around the 3 century bc. The jews had no set cannon for their scripture up to 90 AD when they aliminated all that a could not be orignally found in Hebrew (seven Deuterocanical Books).

Why did they do this. lets look at what was going on.

Many Jews were following Jesus. whom they thought had been dealt with 60 years earilier.
their Holy city had just been saced and their temple destroyed 18 to 20 years prior. They were in need draw deep lines between being a Hebrew / or not. Anything not Jewish or connected to the Genitles in any way was being rejected.

The Old testament as it appears in the spetuigent / with the seven Deuterocanical Books was in use by all Christains up untill the Reofrmation in the 1500’s and even then was still for the most part there just in their own section. It was not till the 1700’s that Protestants started removing them.

Mark Shea has just the information you are looking for at

Hope that you will check it out.

At the time of Christ Israel certainly had scriptures: the Torah, Prophets, and Psalms were universally considered to be inspired and authoritative. However, Israel did not have a canon understood as a fixed, closed list of inspired scriptures.

A key researcher, the Protestant scholar Albert C. Sundberg, Jr., writes that “the church received ‘scriptures’ from Judaism but not a canon.” “The Bible and the Christian Doctrine of Inspiration.” Interpretation 29 (1975):356, 358.] He goes on, based on evidence amassed in this article and his works below, “we now know that the Jewish canon [post-90 AD] was not the scriptures of Jesus and the apostles.” (358) Further, he notes elsewhere, “Two different communities [the Jewish and Christian] were involved in defining canons out of the common material of pre-70 Judaism.” “The Old Testament of the Early Church,” CBQ 28 (1966):201] “In the days of Jesus and the apostles, the status of the Jewish canon (and this prevailed throughout Judaism) was that of a closed collection of Law, a closed collection of Prophets, and a large undifferentiated number of Jewish religious writings consisting of a later defined collection of ‘Writings,’ the books later called Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, other books known to us only by name, and perhaps other books unknown and lost. And it was this canonical situation that passed from Judaism to Christianity as the Scriptures of the early Church.” (199)

See also Sundberg’s The Old Testament of the Early Church. Harvard Theological Studies 20, Cambridge Mass., Harvard University, 1964.
**A good summary of his work is a short address he gave available on the web and this might be a good place to start.

Regarding historical scholarship, the majority opinion with access to the primary sources for the past fifty years rejects the idea of a distinct Palestinian Hebrew canon and a distinct Alexandrian Greek canon at the time of Jesus. There were many Greek-speaking Jews living in Palestine at this time and they used the Septuagint as a collection of undifferentiated religious writings. There was even a Palestinian revision of the Septuagint. (Sundberg, 1975, p. 353, 355-6.)

Regarding Alexandria and the Septuagint, we do not find a clearly defined list here either. The manuscripts we have of the Septuagint mix the so called apocryphal books (“deuterocanonical” from now on) with the Prophets and the writings indicating no awareness of a hard and fast assignment of these writings to a category either way. Scholarship in recent decades has concluded that many of the deuterocanonicals in the Septuagint, rather than being composed in Greek at Alexandria, were actually composed in Hebrew (Ecclesiasticus, Judith, 1 Macc) or Aramaic (Tobit) in Palestine. A Hebrew text of Sirach was found in Egypt.

On the Hebrew side the Qumran community (Dead Sea Scrolls) came from Palestine. Esther was not included among the scrolls which did include every other book in the remaining 38. I should also point out the Esther was not included in Christian lists of OT books up until Gregory of Ansus (380 AD). In addition, some deuterocanonical books in Hebrew are among Dead Sea scrolls with no distinction made between them and others later included in the Jewish canon. This shows that at least some of the deuterocanonical books were in circulation in Palestine and accepted by Jewish groups there.

Sirach is a good case in point. The 1st century BC Jewish community at Masada had a Hebrew copy of Sirach as did the Pre-Christian Qumran community. In both cases it was written out one verse per line in the same manner as the Law and Prophets. Likewise in Palestine from the early 1st century BC the book underwent a series of critical revisions in both Hebrew and Greek. There is no doubt that at the time of Christ Jews in Palestine considered Sirach to be one of their sacred writings. Nonetheless it was ultimately excluded from the Jewish canon. Albert C. Sundberg, Jr., again, is good on this.

Some early usage:

The Epistle of Barnabas 6 written about 74 AD quotes Wisdom (2:12).

The Didache 4,5 (~90 AD) quotes Sirach (4:31).

Clement of Rome (+101) quotes Wisdom (12:12 then 11:21) in (To the Corinthians 27).

Hermas (+155) in The Shepherd draws upon Tobit in (II,6,2) and Sirach in (II,8; II,9,24).

Polycarp (+156) in To the Phillipians 10 quotes Tobit 4:10; 12:9.

Irenaeus (~180 AD) cites Susanna (Against Heresies IV,26,3) and Baruch 4:36-5:9 (Against Heresies V,35,1).

The Muratorian Canon (170-210 AD) includes Wisdom in its canon of the New Testament!

Clement of Alexandria (150 – 215) quotes Sirach and referred to it as “Scripture” twice (The Instructor 1,8; 3,4), quotes Tobit (12:8) calling it “Scripture” (Stromata 6,12); also quotes Wisdom (7:17-18; 16:26) in (The Instructor 2,1) and Baruch (4:4; 3:9) in (The Instructor 1,10).

The list goes on . . .

One thing we know is that some of the Deuters were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in their original Hebrew and Aramaic form, which means that Jews were using them right before and right around the time of Christ. Also you have the Apostolic Fathers use of them. Here are some links to the the citations of the Fathers on the Deuters, and you will find among them the Apostolic Fathers







Bel and the Dragon

Was the Book of Wisdom found in the Dead Sea scrolls?

Ive heard that there were a few books in the Septuagint that neither Catholics or Protestants accept. Is that true and if so, what are we to make of it? Just a quick question, I don’t want to steal the OP’s thread.

Post #4 and #5 is a very good resource.

If you want to go back before 90 AD, one might consider the Apostolic Constitutions. There seems to be some writing that may go back to the apostles or to their disciples. There is a distinct element of Jewish Christianity to many portions within the eight books of the Constitutions.

Tobit 4:16 is quoted on pgs. 391,431,465.

Judith is mentioned on pgs.428,449,475,481.

Maccabeus is mentioned on pg.475.

Susanna is mentioned on pgs .418,419

Wisdom seems to be quoted several times
(you can access these through the sites that #5 have…they are more direct.)

Actually all bibles, including the original 1611 King James (it’s not St. James but King James) had the Deuterocanon in it until the 1800’s when, they were removed.

My question would be, by what authority did they remove books that had been part of the bible for over 1800 years!

Hi Rob,

being an Avid reader of new King James (at one time) and a Catholic I can tell you that it was Martin Luther that took the seven blessed Books away. I dont approve of what he did - see rev. what Christ says regarding this kind of behaviour. Not that God uses my Judgements… ! But dont forget we are living during a time of the Apostacy, this is a teaching of the Catholic Church if Im not mistaken…

Had he got his own way the Protestants would not have Revelation and Hebrews Either…! I dont know what caused this man (a Catholic Priest to start with) to break from the Church… but all this happened around the 16CE its the famous Council of Trent which looked into the details I think - Wikipedia should have it documented… try both martin Luther and “Council of trent”.

These books have never stopped being used by the @Catholic Faith, which I am glad to say is the right way of doing things…

Luther rejected the Authority of the Church, He belittled the Pope and started saying things like Marrige is a matter for the State is therefore nolonger to be considered a Sacrament of the Church. He did many things contrary to the Church of God, most of Which I have forgotten Im sorry to say.

This again was around the time that King Henry the VIIIth wanted to Marry another women, (I think) and the Catholic Church was against it… King Henry rebelled against Rome, and took a whole country with him, England after having being Catholic for 900 years broke off from the One true faith. They accepted Christ and His Divinity but had issues with the Magisterium of the Church and Mary and Infant Baptism all these areas, which make them a ‘Heretical sect’…


much love xx

Well first off, I think it would seem to prove your case more if the Church used the Deuteros after the supposed council of Jamnia, rather than before. That being said…

The Great codices used liturgically by the Church (earliest versions of the codices date to fourth century) all contain Wisdom.

Vaticanus (B) contained Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, and Baruch, and is dated to the fourth century.

Codex Alexandrinus (A) contained Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, and 1-4 Maccabees, and is dated to the fifth century.

Codex Sinaiticus (aleph) contained Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, 1 and 4 Maccabees, dated to the fourth century.

Ephramei Rescriptus (C1), was once a complete copy of Septuagint but was taken apart, partially erased and used over again. It survives only in parts, and contains only the Proverbs, Eccl/Song/Job, Wisdom and Sirach. Dated to the fifth century.

N+V2 (Codex Basilano-Vaticanus and Codex Venetus) appear to be two halves of one codex compiled in the eighth century. It contains Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, and 1-4 Maccabees.

Protestant translations, if you do a bit of digging, rely on these codices for their NT book translations, but then refer to the Hebrew Masoretic Texts for the OT.

I will include early Church Citation up to Polycarp:

** I Epistle to Corinthians by 1 Clement** (Ironically found in codex A) Ch. 3: “For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith, neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian, but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of** an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world**.”

The above is not a direct quote, but strongly alludes to Wisdom 2:24: But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.

1 Epistle to the Corinthians by Clement I, ch 27: By the word of His might He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them. “Who shall say to Him, What have you done? or, Who shall resist the power of His strength?” When and as He pleases He will do all things, and none of the things determined by Him shall pass away?

This has a few possible allusions:

Daniel 4:35: All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What doest thou?”

Wisdom 11:21: For with you great strength abides always; who can resist the might of your arm?

**Wisdom 12:12: **For who can say to you, “What have you done?” or who can oppose your decree? Or when peoples perish, who can challenge you, their maker; or who can come into your presence as vindicator of unjust men?

The allusions above are immediately followed by Psalm 19, so he apparently views Wisdom highly enough to juxtapose it with “canonical” Scripture. Of the three possible allusions above, I believe it most strongly parallels Wisdom 12:12.

1 Epistle to Corinthians Clement 1 ch 55: To bring forward some examples from among the heathen: Many kings and princes, in times of pestilence, when they had been instructed by an oracle, have given themselves up to death, in order that by their own blood they might deliver their fellow-citizens [from destruction]. Many have gone forth from their own cities, that so sedition might be brought to an end within them. We know many among ourselves who have given themselves up to bonds, in order that they might ransom others. Many, too, have surrendered themselves to slavery, that with the price which they received for themselves, they might provide food for others. Many women also, being strengthened by the grace of God, have performed numerous manly exploits. The blessed Judith, when her city was besieged, asked of the elders permission to go forth into the camp of the strangers; and, exposing herself to danger, she went out for the love which she bare to her country and people then besieged; and the Lord delivered Holofernes into the hands of a woman. Esther also, being perfect in faith, exposed herself to no less danger, in order to deliver the twelve tribes of Israel from impending destruction. For with fasting and humiliation she entreated the everlasting God, who sees all things; and He, perceiving the humility of her spirit, delivered the people for whose sake she had encountered peril.

In the above, “Blessed” Judith is compared with another “canonical” figure, Esther as an example of being strengthened by the grace of God, as an example to the Corinthians. Interesting. This is a bit more than just an “historical allusion.” The “Blessed” is also significant since the only other times in his epistle that Clement uses “blessed” is regarding “Blessed Paul” and “Blessed Moses.”

Epistle to the Phillipians Ch 10 Polycarp of Smyrna: Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, 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 delivers from death.”" **Be all of you subject one to another? (1 Peter 5:5) having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles," (1 Peter 2:12) that ye 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! (Is. 52:5) Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.

The passage in bold is an allusion to the following passages:

Tobias 4:10: Almsgiving frees one from death, and keeps one from going into the dark abode.

Tobias 12:9: for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life

Notice that the allusions to Tobias are juxtaposed among allsuions to “canonical” Scripture. There’s alot more, but like I said, this is just up to Polycarp, and does not include the episle of Barnabas, or any of the NT allusions. The Didache also contains allusions, but I have not included it since I am giving you the earliest material possible per your request, and while the Didache has been dated as early as 70 AD by some, it is sometimes dated as late as 140 AD by others.

Here are some statistics that you might find interesting.

**Irenaeus **(120-200 AD) quotes approximately 1300 scriptures within the 260 pages of his writings. He is the most prolific quoter of scriptures.

The O.T. books that he did not quote are 1 &2 Chronicles, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Obadiah, Haggai, Nahum, Zephaniah. He also quotes form Wisdom, Sirach and Susanna.

The N.T. books that he did not quote are Philemon, and 3 John.

Approximately one third of his quotes are from the O.T., two thirds from the N.T.

Now, why do I think the **Apostolic Constitutions **have some value?
More scriptures are quoted in this writing than in any other Ante-Nicene writing.

More than 1400 scriptures are quoted within 130 pages.

The O.T. books not quoted in the Apostolic Constitutions are Ruth, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Haggai, and Micah. They also quote from 1 Maccabees, 4 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and Susanna.

The N.T. books not quoted in the Apostolic Constitutions are 2 John, 3 John.

Of the scriptures quoted more than half of them are quoted from O.T.

This would be an indication that these writings were either partly composed by the apostles or by Jewish disciples of the apostles who new the Tanakh.

I have to correct myself. Tertullian (145-220 A.D.) was more prolific in his use of scripture than Irenaeus. He quoted scriptures 4300 times within 820 pages of his writings.

The books he did not quote from the O.T. are: Ezra, Nehemiah, Ruth, Esther, Obadiah, and Zephaniah. (No deutercanonical quotations that I know of)

The books he did not quote from the N.T. are: Philemon, 2 & 3 John.
He quoted approximately one third from O.T. and two thirds from the N.T.

(These statistics are not exact, but nearly, as I gathered them from the appendixes of these writings.)

The Septuagint version came from Alexandria, Egypt, about 200BC. 72 Jewish scholars planned on making a definitive translation of generally accepted Jewish scripture into Greek for use by the Greek-speaking Jewish communities. (“Septuagint” is Greek for 70, and is easier to say than the Greek word for “72”!) Each scholar took a year and translated each book individually. When all the books were translated, the scholars planned to compare their translations and hash out the best translation.

When the scholars re-assembled, they found that all 72 scholars had translated all the books exactly the same. Since that could only have happened under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the translations were released as they were, and were used by the Jewish communities outside of Israel.

At the time of Jesus, there as another translation of what we call Old Testament scripture into Greek that had been done by the Temple scribes and was used within Israel. The key is that when the Gospels were written down in Greek, when they have Jesus quoting from the Prophets or other scripture, they have him using the Septuagint Greek version of the scripture rather than the Greek one used by the Temple. Because of this, and because the Septuagint was used by the majority of Jewish communities, when the Christian canon was settled upon, the Septuagint canon was included as the Old Testament.

I think more important than who used the deuteros AFTER the death of Christ, is the fact that CHRIST HIMSELF and the Apostles, by virtue of the wording they used when citing the OT in the 23 NT canon, were using Septuagint OT.

Although this may sound simplistic, it is very convincing for me: why would “God made man” choose the Septuagint to preach and and teach from if HE had not decided this “version” of the OT was not a valid one?

If you search this site, you will find several references and linkes to sites devoted solely to the topic of the use of Jesus and his Apostles quoting scripture that had to come from the Septuagint, based on the wording.

Not only is the Septuagint wording quite different in some verses than those found in the Masoretic text adopted by the Jews for their OT (and later relied upon by Luther in his ilk), but one must remember that the Jews who HAD rejected Christ and had not become Christian were definitely not inclinded to use the same OT text that was being used by converted Jews and to convert even more Jews.

Amen, Salvatore123. Jesus and the Apostles quoted from the Deutercanon:

Matt. 2:16 - Herod’s decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.

Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus’ statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.

Matt… 7:12 - Jesus’ golden rule “do unto others” is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others.

Matt. 7:16,20 - Jesus’ statement “you will know them by their fruits” follows Sirach 27:6 - the fruit discloses the cultivation.
…followed by a long list of citations, …followed by a long list of ECF quotes:

Very helpful. VERY! The information on the different Codex’s will require more work on my part to get to a decent understanding of them. My understanding through research tells me they are the oldest actual real manuscript from that time. The individual I am in debate with has used this term Codex a number of times and tries to explain that is how we got our “Catholic Bible” but he somehow got his from “Textus recettus” which is Latin for receiving the text. He tries to explain his bible has noting to do with Martin Luther, but has been around since the time of Christ.
He says simply for the purpose of this debate, he will accept our bible to move on to an actual bible study. As a Catholic, one who gets educated both by scipture and tradition, I am cationed about getting into a debate using the bible as its only source.

Thanks again.

Individual books of the Bible were written on scrolls. Codices are simply compilations of scrolls into book form. They are closest thing in the ancient world to an actual Bible, and they were quite large, and so only used in liturgical worship to be read in the Churches. The earliest ones found, as shown, were from the fourth century and contained the Deuteros, so it appears that your friend has some explaining to do.

Another little side note on his “Textus Receptus,” is that it is simply a collection of Greek texts originally used as the basis for the German Luther Bible, for the translation of the NT into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other Reformation-era NT translations throughout Western and Central Europe… The series originated with the first printed Greek New Testament to be published; a work undertaken in Basel by the Dutch Catholic scholar and humanist Desiderius Erasmus in 1516, on the basis of some six manuscripts, containing between them not quite the whole of the New Testament. The lacking text was translated from Vulgate. Hardly the stunning pedigree he seems to claim for it. Ask him why his Bible is using pared down Catholic sources. You asked for specific early Church usage, but the fact is you can be given quote after quote all the way down through every single generation of the last 2,000 years. More than that, Septuagint usage in the NT. Ever wonder where James gets practically his entire argument on the dangers of the tongue? Only a Catholic will ever know…

It seems you have moved past this part of the debate, at any rate, since he is accepting usage of your canon. That being said, there will be certain arguments you will have on interpretation of a specific passage, and he would be a fool to ignore early Christian understanding. That is terrible historical methodology, and Christianity is at its root an historical religion. If he tries to impose his 21 century, denominational understanding on a given text, and mere logic isn’t enough (which is often), pound him with quote after quote of Early Church fathers from an early date. He most likely will not concede the point, but at the very least it should gnaw at him, wondering why the heroes that got eaten by lions don’t think very protestant thoughts. God be with you in your discussion, stay charitable, and if you don’t know something admit it, and get back to him with the answer later. If you try to bluster through and he catches you, you’ve lost ground you will never re-cover.

James 1:13: No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one.
**Sirach 15:11-13:**Say not: “It was God’s doing that I fell away”; for what he hates he does not do. Say not: “It was he who set me astray”; for he has no need of wicked man. Abominable wickedness the LORD hates, he does not let it befall those who fear him.

James 1:19: Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath
Sirach 5:11: Be swift to hear, but slow to answer.

James 3:5: In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.
Sirach 28:12: If you blow upon a spark, it quickens into flame, if you spit on it, it dies out; yet both you do with your mouth!

In the above, both passages use the distinct imagery of the kindling of a potentially destructive fire.

James 3:10: From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers.
Sirach 5:15: Honor and dishonor through talking! A man’s tongue can be his downfall.

James 5:3: your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Sirach 12:11: Even though he acts humbly and peaceably toward you, take care to be on your guard against him. Rub him as one polishes a brazen mirror, and you will find that there is still corrosion.
Sirach 29:9-10: Because of the precept, help the needy, and in their want, do not send them away empty-handed. Spend your money for your brother and friend, and hide it not under a stone to perish;

In this final section of allusions, the verb that the NAB translates as “have corroded,” is used in the Greek OT only in Sirach 12:11. The noun translated “corrosion” ( ho ios) in James 5:3 is not found anywhere else in the NT, yet the same word in its verbal form is found in Sirach 29. The illustration of rust corroding gold and silver appears nowhere else in the Greek OT or the NT except these two books. Protestant scholars such as Metzger and Edersheim have acknowledged that James borrowed heavily from Sirach. You may ignore one or two allusions, but so many in a five chapter epistle? Read through Sirach, the many passages on the tongue. They are virtually indistinguishable from James.

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