The Old Testament Canon before christ


we catholics say that an infallible authority was needed to produce the 27 book new testament canon but protestants would counter by saying that the old testament jews did not have a defined canon and they did just fine. Do we just respond by saying that God chose the early 4th century for the church to use its authority to give us the complete old and new testaments?


I have never heard a Protestant claim this…only that God spoke through men to decide what was ALREADY His Word…

The OT Jews ended up with the LXX and later a shortened version…

Prayers and Petitions,


A feast day we all celebrate this Sunday.


Before Jesus came, the Holy Spirit had not descended.

The Jews, before Pentecost, did not have the ability to determine “infallibly” what could have been infalibly defined by the Church when an infallible decree was needed [from Trent].



Watch out, there. The OT Jews did not have a strictly defined Canon.

The Sadducees used just the first five books of the OT, called the Pentateuch. In your study of the Bible, you’ll find that they do not believe in the Resurrection of the Body. This is a belief that developed in later books of the OT. When Jesus discusses Scripture with the Sadducees, He only uses Scripture from the Pentateuch.

Incidentally, I believe the Samaritans also used just the Pentateuch. Something about books about a bunch of prophets telling you that you are evil and have turned to idolatry didn’t strike the Samaritans as very inspiring!

The Pharisees used the LXX, which included the Deuterocanonicals and several other books, which were later rejected both by the Catholic Church and the Jewish. There were 4 Esdras (where now we have two, called Ezra and Nehemiah). I believe 3 Maccabees was also in there, as well as a couple of others. Jesus will quote from the Septuagint (LXX) when “discussing” Scriptures with the Pharisees.

I also think the Essenes (who hid out in the wilderness, and probably were eyewitnesses to John’s baptizing at the Jordan) had even a few more books in their Scriptures.


Yes. The canon idea is a little bit silly in that you can’t draw a line between “inspired” and “worthy” texts any more than you can divide novels into “classics” and “readable”. On the other hand if you are stocking a library you’ve got to decide what to put on the shelves. “Wuthering Heights” would be an essential. No eyebrows raised at, say, “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins, but no one too surprised if you don’t have it either. “A Lovers’ Birthday” by Mills and Boons obviously has no place in the serious literature shelf.

Similarly there was an need for a list of texts from which to select readings. The people start investing all sorts of other significance in the fact that a text is included.


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