Which books of the OT do you consider historical (orthodox Catholics only)


Hi CAF community,

This is a question I have for orthodox Catholics only, namely those, who hold firmly to the inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.

I am aware that the historical nature of some of the narrative books of the Old Testament are disputed, and others are pretty unanimously held to. So just for a loose poll, I decided I’d ask here:

Here’s what I gather as being generally the case:

Pentateuch - historical without doubt
Joshua - historical without doubt
Judges - historical without doubt
Ruth - historical, but disputed
1/2 Samuel - historical without doubt
1/2 Kings - historical without doubt
Ezra - historical without doubt
Nehemiah - historical without doubt
Tobit - disputed
Judith - disputed
Esther - historical, but disputed
Jonah - probably not historical, but disputed
1 Maccabees - historical without doubt
2 Maccabees - historical, but disputed

My opinion:
Those which are historical without doubt I accept as historical. I also firmly hold that Ruth, Esther, 2 Maccabee are historical. Jonah, Tobit and Judith are probably historical. I guess that makes me more conservative than many, but I’m interested to see others’ opinions. Reasons are also welcome.

Also, I encourage debate (obviously within CAF rules), but please don’t derail this thread.

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your posts,
Benedicat Deus,


Jonah is historical without a doubt. Jesus spoke of the men of Nineveh.


You mentioned the Pentateuch.

Regarding Genesis 1-11, the Pontifical Biblical Commission opined in 1948:

The question of the literary forms of the first eleven chapters of Genesis is far more obscure and complex. These literary forms do not correspond to any of our classical categories and cannot be judged in the light of the Greco-Latin or modern literary types. It is therefore impossible to deny or to affirm their historicity as a whole without unduly applying to them norms of a literary type under which they cannot be classed. . . . To declare a priori that these narratives do not contain history in the modern sense of the word might easily be understood to mean that they do not contain history in any sense, whereas they relate in simple and figurative language, adapted to the understanding f mankind at a lower stage of development, the fundamental truths underlying the divine scheme of salvation, as well as a popular description of the origins of the human race and of the chosen people. In the meantime it is necessary to practise patience which is part of prudence and the wisdom of life.

If you disagree with the above, then you’re adopting a literalistic understanding of those chapters, which is certainly not the view of orthodox, Catholic scholarship, and hasn’t been for many, many, many decades now. Indeed, some would even argue such a literalistic perspective was neither the view of the Patristics or even the Scholastics.

To take texts literally is not to take them literalistically.


True, I was thinking about mentioning this. But do be careful in too free of an interpretation of this. The Church does regard the first 11 chapters of Genesis as historical, but they use more or less figurative language in describing this.

I should have been clearer on this.

Benedicat Deus,


Which is why I incline on the historical side with regards to Jonah. I’m just saying where faithful scholars stand on the question, which seems not to regard Jonah as historical today.

Benedicat Deus,


Orthodox Catholic?


I think the OP is using “small o” orthodox here, as in to be in line with Catholic teaching, and not “big o”, as in the denomination.


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