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The meaning of Divine Inspiration of the Holy Bible and the sources that confirm its canonicity
Classification of the books of the Holy Bible
Hundreds of canons on the books of the Holy Bible have been recorded throughout history, by Christians and by others. In fact, the Christians’ canons have numbered more than one hundred differing ones between them, given that the process of canonizing of the books of the Holy Bible lasted over centuries. However, of all these canons, there are 6 Canons that stand out, following the rulings of Ecumenical Councils (Synods). It is on the basis of these Canons, that we are listing the classifications of the various books of the Holy Bible in the charts below.
The Christian Canon of the Holy Bible can validate its books only through Synodic decisions, with a validity that is accepted by all Christians. In a previous article, we elaborated that there are 6 such Canons, all validated by the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, and we also presented their individual characteristics. We also explained and discerned in this article the various categories of canons and books of the Holy Bible.
In this article, we shall provide certain charts that are based on those 6 canons. These are charts that indicate the various “qualitative” classifications of the books of the Holy Bible, as surmised from those Ecumenically approved canons. The charts below have been taken from the remarkable book by Mr. Panagiotis Boumis, “The Canons of the Church pertaining to the Canon of the Holy Bible”.
In the first chart below, you will find the abbreviations that appear in the remaining three charts, what these abbreviations signify, and in the last column, a short description of the meaning of each classification (wherever necessary). In the second column titled “Signifies:”, there are links that will take you to a fuller explanation of that item, which we have expounded in another article.
You should take note of this chart, because it will prove helpful when assessing the three pursuant charts:
In the next two charts you will notice that a book is not usually characterized unilaterally. In other words, a book may have more than one classification, and indeed, certain classifications may even presuppose certain others. For example, a Divinely Inspired book is also classified as Divine; however a Divine book may not necessarily be classified as a Divinely Inspired one. Similarly, a Divinely Inspired book of the Holy Bible or a Divine book of the Holy Bible are also Canonized books.
Thus, you will find below the two charts that respectively list the books of the Old and the New Testaments, each one appropriately classified, in accordance with the validated canons of the 6 Ecumenical Councils:
Books of the New Testament
By taking into account the information of the 6 validated canons (85th Apostolic, 60th Laodicean, 24th / 32nd Carthaginian, Athanasios the Great, Gregory the Theologian and Amphilochios of Ikonion, and combining the information that they give us, we can conclude that the following books are either Divine (D) or Divinely Inspired (DI):
From the above, it is evident that for us Christians, the rough-cut Protestant distinction between “the divinely inspired Holy Scriptures” and “the other, non-divinely inspired writings” does not apply. Even in the Holy Bible itself, there are writings that not only are not divinely inspired, but are not even slightly divine, (just as there are Divinely Inspired writings which do not belong in the Holy Bible). The Holy Bible itself is an “amalgam” of books, of assorted “qualities” and characteristics, hence, the phrase that we use: “the Divinely Inspired Holy Scriptures”, is an over-simplification. The only reason that we refer to it in this way is because it contains books of Divine revelation, and not because it is Divinely Inspired in its entirety.
This can be ascertained in the preceding chart, where you can see that of the 76 books of the Holy Scriptures, only the 73 of them are Divine, and of these 73 books, only the 68 are Divinely Inspired. Thus, we have 3 books that are not Divinely Inspired, and 6 books that are not even Divine.
Given the incorrect use by Protestant groups of the above terms with respect to the Holy Scriptures and its characteristic books, it is wiser to be aware of these distinctions, so that we can discern properly and make proper use of the Holy Bible.
The information was borrowed from the excellent book by the esteemed Professor of the Athens University, Mr. Panayiotis Boumis, Dr of Theology, titled: "The Canons of the Church regarding the Canons of the Holy Bible". Áthens 1986.
Translation by A.N.
Article published in English on: 28-7-2005.
Last update: 4-8-2005.