Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Holy Bible


Sources that verify the Canonicity of the Holy Bible


Part 3: The Canon of the Council of Carthage


This Canon was validated by the Quinisext Ecumenical Council. It is therefore one of the six Canons that the Church has acknowledged, as definitive of the Canon pertaining to the Holy Bible.

The Council of Carthage that took place in 419 A.D., provided a closed Canon pertaining to the Canonical, Divine and Proposed Reading Books. This Council took place 60 years AFTER the preceding Council of Laodicea. Thus, the previous Council had left a Canon open, because the Holy Bible was still being configured, but the Council of Carthage closed this canon.

General (on the 6 Canons)

The 6 accepted canons:


Herebelow is the Synod’s text and alongside it, is the translation of the Canon:

Synod text1


Ομοίως ήρεσεν, ίνα, εκτός των  κανονικών  Γραφων , μηδέν εν τη εκκλησία αναγινώσκηται επ’ ονόματι  θείων  Γραφών. Εισί δε οι κανονικαί Γραφαί αύται2.


Γένεσις, Έξοδος, Λευϊτικόν, Αριθμοί, Δευτερονόμιον, Ιησούς ο του Ναυή, Κριταί, Ρούθ, των Βασιλειών βίβλοι τέσσαρες, των Παραλειπομένων βίβλοι δύο, Ιώβ, Ψαλτήριον, Σολομώντος βίβλοι πέντε, των Προφητών βίβλοι δώδεκα, Ησαΐας, Ιερεμίας, Ιεζεκιήλ, Δανιήλ, Τωβίας, Ιουδήθ, Εσθήρ, Έσδρα βίβλοι δύο.


Της Νέας Διαθήκης: Ευαγγέλια τέσσαρα, Πράξεων των Αποστόλων βίβλος μία, επιστολαί Παύλου δεκατέσσαρες, Πέτρου Αποστόλου δύο, Ιωάννου Αποστόλου τρείς, Ιακώβου Αποστόλου μία, Ιούδα Αποστόλου μία, Αποκαλύψεως Ιωάννου βίβλος μία.


Τούτο δε τω αδελφώ και συλλειτουργώ ημών Βονιφατίω, και τοις άλλοις των αυτών μερών επισκόποις, προς βεβαίωσιν του προκειμένου κανόνος γνωρισθή, επειδή παρά των Πατέρων εν τη εκκλησία ταύτα  αναγνωστέα  παρελάβομεν.


  1. Ρ ά λ λ η – Π ο τ λ ή , τόμ. Γ΄, σελ. 368-369.

  2. Ή, τουτέστι:

It was also decided that, apart from the Canonical Scriptures, nothing else is to be read in the Church, in the name of divine Scriptures.  Canonical Scriptures are therefore the following:………..”.


Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, of Kings the four books, of Chronicles the two books, Job, Psalms, of Solomon five books, of the Prophets twelve books, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, of Ezdra two books.



Of the New Testament:  Gospels four, Acts of the Apostles one book, fourteen epistles by Apostle Paul, two by Apostle Peter, three by Apostle John, one by Apostle Jacob (James), one by Apostle Judas, one Book of Revelations by John.


And may our brother and co-minister Bonifatio, as well as all other bishops of our regions, become acquainted with this Canon, in acknowledgement thereof, given that we have received these (books) from the Fathers, within the Church, as Proposed Reading (books).




Commentary on the text

We see here that there is no distinction whatsoever between Canonical and Deuterocanonical books, as the Protestants prefer to claim.  Actually, if we accepted this as a true fact, then we would observe the following, interesting points:

1. The canonical books now include the Wisdom of Solomon (which the Protestants claim to be Deuterocanonical), as well as Tobias and Judith (which they likewise claim to be Deuterocanonical)!                 

2. The book of “Beel” is included in the book of Daniel, so this observation does not apply here.  .

3. Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah are definitely included, under the general title of “Jeremiah”.  (See point No.5 in the Commentary of the Laodicean Council, for proof).

4. The fourth book of Maccabees is not included in the Holy Bible, thus, only the three other books of the Maccabees and the Wisdom of Sirah are not found in the Canon of Carthage.

5. It does not prohibit the reading of books by the Church, but (observe the wording) it clearly prohibits the reading of these books ‘in the name of divine scriptures’.  So, there is no actual prohibition on reading, but a clarification that the books mentioned therein are acceptable and Canonical (including quite a number of books that Protestants do not accept as Canonical and Divine)

6. This Council DOES NOT REMOVE the Books of the Maccabees and the Wisdom of Sirah from the Bible altogether; it just doesn’t include them in its Divine books.

7. We should also mention that in the Latin text of this Council are included the two first books of the Maccabees, given that the Latin text is older than the Greek text, where they are not found.  Nevertheless, because the Quinisext Council validated this Council on the basis of the Greek text, we shall concur that the books of the Maccabees, albeit THEY COMPRISE A PART OF THE HOLY BIBLE, are not included in the “divine” and “proposed reading” books.

8. The text of the Council mentions “the five books of Solomon”; naturally, if we count the books of Solomon, i.e., Proverbs, Song of Songs, Solomon’s Wisdom and Ecclesiastes, we have four books, not five.  It is speculated therefore, that NEITHER THE BOOK OF SIRAH is excluded, but has been attributed conventionally to Solomon. Of course, we are obliged for the sake of precision to also exclude this book from the “divine and proposed reading” books; but not from the Holy Bible.

9. The difference between the two Councils (Carthage and Laodicea) is attributed to the fact that the Canon of the preceding Council was not yet closed, because the selection of the Bible’s books was not yet finalized.  The most antique Canon of Laodicea specifies “Those books of the Old Testament that should be read”, NOT EXEMPTING OTHER BOOKS THAT THE CHURCH MIGHT WISH TO ADD IN A LATER COUNCIL, while the Council of Carthage 60 years later is categorical that the selection (of books) was finalized: It was also decided that, apart from the Canonical Scriptures, nothing else is to be read in the Church, in the name of divine Scriptures.  Canonical Scriptures are therefore the following:………..”. 

The information was taken from the exceptional book by the reserve professor of the Athens University Mr. Panagiotis Boumis, Dr. of Theology titled:”The Canons of the Church pertaining to the Canon of the Holy Bible” Athens 1986. 

Text: Ν.Μ.

Greek text

Translation by A.N.

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

Last update: 4-8-2005.