Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Holy Bible


Sources that verify the Canonicity of the Holy Bible


Part 4: The 85th Apostolic Canon

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 85th Apostolic Canon provided a Canon pertaining to “Venerable” and “Holy” Books.  These books should not be confused with the “Divine” or the “Divinely Inspired” books that are provided in other validated Canons.


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


Έστω υμίν πάσι2 κληρικοίς και λαικοίς βιβλία σεβάσμια και άγια, της μέν Παλαιάς Διαθήκης,

Μωυσέως, πέντε:

Γένεσις, Έξοδος, Λευϊτικόν, Αριθμοί, Δευτερονόμιον. Ιησού3 Ναυή, έν. Κριτών, έν. Ρούθ, έν. Βασιλειών, τέσσαρα.

Παραλειπομένων, της βίβλου των ημερών, δύο. ‘Εσδρα, δύο. Εσθήρ, έν. Μακκαβαίων τρία. Ιώβ,έν. Ψαλτηρίου, έν. Σολομόντως, τρία. Παροιμοίαι, Εκκλησιαστής, Άσμα Ασμάτων. Προφητών, δώδεκα. Ησαΐου, έν. Ιερεμίου, έν. Ιεζεκιήλ, έν. Δανιήλ, έν. Έξωθεν δε υμίν προσιστορείσθω μανθάνειν υμών τους νέους την Σοφίαν του πολυμαθούς Σειράχ.

Ημέτερα δε (τουτέστι, της Καινής Διαθήκης), Ευαγγέλια τέσσαρα. Ματθαίου, Μάρκου, Λουκά, Ιωάννου. Παύλου επιστολαί δεκατέσσαρες. Πέτρου επιστολαί, δύο. Ιωάννου, τρεις. Ιακώβου, μία. Ιούδα, μία. Κλήμεντος επιστολαί, δύο. και αι Διαταγαί υμίν τοις επισκόποις δι’ εμού Κλήμεντος, εν οκτώ βιβλίοις προσπεφωνημέναι. άς ου χρη δημοσιεύειν επί πάντων δια τα εν αυταίς μυστικά4. και αι Πράξεις ημών των Αποστόλων.


1. Ρ ά λ λ η – Π ο τ λ ή , τόμ. Β΄, σελ. 109-110. Οι παρατιθέμενες στις υποσημειώσεις διαφορές, λαμβάνονται από την έκδοση τού P. P. Joannou, Discipline.

2. Εκκλησιαστικοίς

3. Υιού

4. Ή Μυστήρια

Let these books be unto all you clergymen and laymen as “venerable” and “holy” books; of the Old Testament they are:


By Moses, five books:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua – one book; Judges – one book; Ruth – one book; Kings – four books;


Chronicles, the bible of days5 - two books; Ezra – two books; Esther – one book; Maccabees – three books; Job – one book; Psalms – one book; Solomon – three books: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; Prophets (minor ones) - twelve: Isaiah one, Jeremiah one, Ezekiel one, Daniel one.   Outside of you, let it be suggested that your youngsters learn the Wisdom of the very learned Sirah.



Let ours (that is, the New Testament’s “Venerable” and “holy” books) be:  Gospels – four; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.  Paul’s Epistles – fourteen; Peter’s Epistles – two; John’s – three;  Jacob’s (James’) – one; Judas’ one.   Clement’s epistles – two; and the directives that are addressed to you bishops through me, Clement, in eight books (These we must not publicize to everyone, because of the secrets that are in them); and the Acts of the Apostles.





  5. The two books of “Chronicles” are denoted in this canon as “book of days”, because according to the Hebrews, it was acknowledged as one book and from the “Seventy” translation onwards, it was divided into two books.  Ref.: Ath. Hastoupis,  Introduction, page 426.



Commentary on the text

1. The Canon does not speak of “Divinely inspired” or “Divine” books, only of “Venerable” and “Holy” ones.  This means it is not contradicting the other 5 Canons that we are examining, where reference is made to various “qualities” of books.


2. This is not a closed Canon, because it doesn’t mention anywhere that only these books are included in the “Venerable’ and “Holy” books. They are simply books proposed by this Canon. It allows for future additions of other books, which is precisely what happened.


3. Some of these books are only “Venerable” and “Holy”, which means that on their own, they do not comprise a safe and unerring guide on Christian dogmas.  This is the reason that the other Canons do not include all of them in their “Divinely Inspired” or “Divine” books.

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.