Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Holy Bible

Classification of the books of the Holy Bible

The meaning of Divine Inspiration of the Holy Bible and the sources that confirm its canonicity

Part 1:  The 6 Canons

The majority of Protestants acknowledges 10 Biblical Books fewer than those accepted by Christians.  These have been either arbitrarily acknowledged by Protestantism - without realizing that there are sources that guarantee and acknowledge the canonicity of the Holy Bible - or, attempts are made to support the Protestant belief, with the use of the wrong kind of arguments, with incorrect assertions and unfounded allegations.  In this study, we shall not only examine the unfounded Protestant allegations, but also the real reason that we Christians acknowledge all the Books of the Holy Bible, as well as certain basic information regarding Divine Inspiration.


The basis for acceptance of the Canonical Books

The majority of Protestants blindly accepts a Regulation (Canon) that includes (only) the 66 Books of the Holy Bible, because SOMEONE TOLD THEM that those are the only Books that comprise the entire Holy Bible.  They were “told” that there are the regulation (Canonical) Books and the secondary (Deuterocanonical) Books, and that only the 66 are Canonical, while the other 10 are apparently Deuterocanonical and therefore not “divinely inspired”.  In fact, they have even confused the Deuterocanonical Books with the “Apocrypha”, which is an entirely different category of Books.  We Christians on the other hand acknowledge the other 10 Books as Canonical Books and naturally we accept them as the product of a decision issued by an Ecumenical Synod, unlike the arbitrary Protestant acceptance.

In order to justify this arbitrary decision, Protestants have concocted a fake statement, which, out of ignorance, the followers have accepted without question. They claim that:

“The Lord and the Apostles completely disregarded the “Deuterocanonical” Books that the Orthodox have accepted, and did not use them as references.  On the contrary, they make references only to the other Books that we have acknowledged, therefore those only are the books that are Divinely inspired and Canonical (regulation) Books.”

Of course this statement is not only unfounded, it is positively false.  We shall immediately present here an example proving that the Apostles (and naturally the Lord) profusely referred to the so-called “Deuterocanonic” Books (which are actually Canonical). Our question is: When we prove this point, are Protestant believers willing to acknowledge these 10 other Books, just as the Apostles had acknowledged them?

We need not mention here the hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of examples found in the New Testament that are also mentioned in these ten, gravely misjudged Books. One, VERY CHARACTERISTIC example will be enough:

Let’s present just a few of the references that the Apostle Paul mentioned in his Epistle to Romans, and compare them (for instance) to the Book of Solomon’s Wisdom. (Imagine how many similar examples we can extract in the same way, from the entire New Testament!)

Solomon’s Wisdom 13:1: «They became defeated, through their own deliberations»
Romans 1:21: «They became defeated, through their own deliberations».
Solomon’s Wisdom 13: 5: «From the grandeur of the creations’ beauty, their creator is recognized»
Romans 1:18-32: «…since the creation of the world, invisible though they may be, they are comprehended and visible through the things that He created … ».
Solomon’s Wisdom 11:22: « who can withstand the might of Your arm ? »
Romans 9:19-23: « who has ever withstood His will? »
Solomon’s Wisdom 15:7: «doesn’t the potter create fine vessels as well as lesser ones from the same clay?»
Romans 9:21: « Doesn’t the clay potter have the authority to create (vessels), some of which are for ceremonial use and some for baser use?»

As you can see, the above selection of extracts is just a VERY SMALL example of how the Apostles not only accepted the Books of the Holy Bible that the Protestants have rejected, but they actually quoted from them.  This fully proves that the Protestant claim that such verses were apparently “completely disregarded” by the Apostles, is altogether untrue.

But we would like to ask the Protestant believer the following:  Why is it, that they have acknowledged (for example) the Book of Esther as a Canonical (regulation) Book of the Bible?   Can they tell us exactly where the Lord or His Apostles have quoted references from this Book?  Because, if they have considered it imperative that the New Testament refers to extracts in the Old Testament - in order for that Book to be acknowledged as a Canonical (regulation) Book - they must present an example of such a referencing from the Book of Esther, which they have claimed as Canonical. Therefore, we ask, exactly why has this Book been accepted as Canonical? 

Could it be, that the “quoting of verses” by the New Testament has nothing to do with the Books being Canonical? Therefore, we ask again :  On what grounds have the Protestants decided that the Books which have been acknowledged by them are truly Canonical (regulation) Books?


Delicate distinctions in the matter of Divine Inspiration and Regularity

It is time that we made certain clarifications and a few delicate distinctions:

As you may know, the Church expresses itself Synodically, from the first Apostolic Synod (Acts 15), to this day.  It is therefore necessary to find the decisions of the Church that pertain to the Regularity of the Holy Bible, as expressed in the Ecumenical Synods, in order to validate a Canon regarding the Holy Bible.   As proven above by the references found in the Book of Solomon’s Wisdom, the Protestant isolation of Biblical Books on the basis of New Testament usage is neither sufficient nor correct.  Without the approval of the Church, nothing can be declared Canonical.

We therefore must turn to the Quinisext Ecumenical Synod, which validated six of the numerous Canons (regulations) that had been formulated at the time.  These Canons are as follows: Of Laodicea, of Carthage,  the 85th Apostolic canon, of Saint Athanasius, of Gregory the Theologian and Amphilochius of Ikonion.  Thus, although no canon has been given directly by an Ecumenical Council concerning the Books of the Holy Bible, we do have 6 validated canons based on conciliar decisions that are guidelines for the acceptance of the Books of the Holy Bible.

1. Of the above canons, the Synod of Laodicea  issued a broad canon regarding the Regulation and Proposed Reading books.

2. The Synod of Carthage  issued a fixed canon regarding the Regulation, Divine and Proposed Reading books.

3. The 85th Apostolic Canon  issued a canon regarding Venerable and Holy books.

4. Saint Athanasius issued a canon regarding Divine Books for Canonization and another canon for Proposed Reading Books for the newly catechized.

5. Saint Gregory the Theologian issued a canon for the Genuine Books,

6. and Saint Amphilochius of Ikonion issued a canon of the Divinely Inspired Books.

The fact that the books in these canons are not exactly identical to each other is attributed to the fact that each one of these canons has different “characteristics”.  Given that one canon speaks of “divine” books and another canon speaks of “divinely inspired” books of the Holy Bible, we cannot confuse the one with the other kind.

There is a difference between the terms “Divine” and “Divinely Inspired”.   Not every Book in the Holy Bible is Divine and Divinely Inspired.   Nor are all the “Venerable” books “Divine”.  We Christians make very careful distinctions in our expressions, which is something that Protestants do not perceive, hence their assertion that all the books in the Holy Bible are Divinely Inspired.  But the Bible does not contain only Divinely Inspired Books.

The Books of the Bible are referred to in the Canonizing sources either as Divine, or Divinely Inspired, or Canonical (Regulation), or Proposed Reading, or Beneficial, or Venerable, or Canonized.   These characterizations are not incidental.  Differences do exist, hence, all books do not belong to every category.  In the Church of Christ we speak with precision and make very delicate distinctions; we do not resort to coarse distinctions such as “Canonic” (Regulation) and “Deuterocanonic” (Secondary).

Summarizing the above, we could say that :  The Holy Bible contains books ( such as the three Books of the Maccabees ) which are only Venerable, but not Divinely Inspired or Divine or Canonical.  The Bible contains books ( such as Judith and Tobit ) which are Canonical, but not Divinely Inspired or Divine.   And the Bible also contains Divine books ( such as Solomon’s Wisdom ) which are not however Divinely Inspired.

We have listed below a number of important clarifications, because we shall encounter these phrases during our further study of the Church’s canons that relate to the Canon on the Holy Bible:

Venerable is a book that Christians have a duty to respect.

Proposed Reading  is a book that can be read by all.

Church Text  is that which can be read in Churches.

Newcomer Reading  is that which is useful for the newly catechized.

Canonical   is that which belongs to a Canon (regulation).

Canonized  refers to those texts that may belong to a canon, but for which the final decision on their selection has not yet been reached, in order to validate the canon.

Reputable canon   is a canon worthy of acceptance.

Holy is a book that is merely beneficial and not necessarily infallible or Divine or Divinely Inspired. In other words, it can be used as an aid, but it cannot be used to support dogmatic or canonical truths.

Divine is the book that has bee written under the supervision of the Holy Spirit, and possibly even by human wisdom.  Divine books are infallible in matters pertaining to salvation, but are not necessarily Divinely Inspired.

Divinely Inspired is the book that contains a REVELATION of the Holy Spirit.  It is also considered Divine and infallible in matters of salvation, as presented by that revelation of course.

We shall deal with the deeper analysis of these 6 validated canons in other, separate studies, where we will examine and analyze them, one by one.


The 6 validated canons:

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.

Text: Í.Ì.

Greek text

Article published in English on: 18-7-2005.

Last update: 4-8-2005.