During the Reformation, for largely doctrinal reasons Protestants removed seven books from the Old Testament (1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith) and parts of two others (Daniel and Esther), even though these books had been regarded as canonical since the beginning of Church history.
The deuterocanonical books (from the Greek meaning “belonging to the second canon”) are books and passages considered by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and/or the Assyrian Church of the East to be canonical books of the Old Testament, but which Jews and Protestant denominations regard as apocrypha. They date from 300 BC to 100 AD, mostly from 200 BC to 70 AD, before the definite separation of the Christian church from Judaism. While the New Testament never directly quotes from or names these books, the apostles most frequently used and quoted the Septuagint, which includes them. Some say there is a correspondence of thought, and others see texts from these books being paraphrased, referred, or alluded to many times in the New Testament, depending in large measure on what is counted as a reference.
Although there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed, some scholars hold that the Hebrew canon was established well before the 1st century AD – even as early as the 4th century BC,or by the Hasmonean dynasty (140–40 BC).
The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which the early Christian church used as its Old Testament, included all of the deuterocanonical books. The term distinguished these books from both the protocanonical books (the books of the Hebrew canon) and the biblical apocrypha (books of Jewish origin that were sometimes read in Christian churches as scripture but which were not regarded as canonical).
The Council of Rome (382 AD) defined a list of books of scripture as canonical. It included most of the deuterocanonical books
Hebrew Bible canon
The canon of modern Rabbinic Judaism excludes the deuterocanonical books. Albert J. Sundberg writes that Judaism did not exclude from their scriptures the deuterocanonicals and the additional Greek texts listed here.
The early Christian church largely relied upon the Septuagint in the canonization of the Christian Bible. However, in the 16th century, Martin Luther argued that many of the received texts of the New Testament lacked the authority of the Gospels, and therefore proposed removing a number of books from the New Testament, including Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. While this proposal was never widely accepted among Protestants, he did nonetheless succeed in removing the Deuterocanonical books, which had previously been deprecated by Jewish scholars.
List of deuterocanonicals
The deuterocanonical texts held as canonical for the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church are:
- Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus)
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- Additions to Esther, Daniel, and Baruch:
- Fulfillment of Mordecai’s Dream (Esther 10:4–13)
- Interpretation of Mordecai’s Dream (Vulgate Esther 11)
- Conspiracy of the Two Eunuchs (Vulgate Esther 12)
- Letter of Aman and the Prayer of Mordecai to the Jews (Vulgate Esther 13)
- The Prayer of Esther (Vulgate Esther 14)
- Esther Comes into the King’s Presence (Vulgate Esther 15)
- Letter of King Artaxerxes (Vulgate Esther 16)
- The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Septuagint Daniel 3:24–90)
- Susanna and the Elders (Septuagint prologue, Vulgate Daniel 13)
- Bel and the Dragon (Septuagint epilogue, Vulgate Daniel 14)
- Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch 6)
- There is a different numbering of Psalms, but otherwise the Catholic Psalms are the same as the Protestant and Jewish Psalms
Canonical only for the Eastern Orthodox Church:
- Prayer of Manasseh
- 1 Esdras
- 2 Esdras
- 3 Maccabees
- 4 Maccabees as an appendix
- Additions to Psalms:
- Psalm 151
Dates of composition
Deuterocanonical books composition Book Dating Original language (and location) Letter of Jeremiah c. 300 BC Oldest versions Greek, probably originally Hebrew or Aramaic Psalm 151 c. 300–200 BC Hebrew (Psalms 151a+b), later merged into Koine Greek Psalm 151 1 Esdras c. 200–140 BC Probably Greek in Egypt, possibly from a 3rd-century Semitic original Sirach c. 180–175 BC Hebrew in Jerusalem Tobit c. 225–175 or 175–164 BC Probably Aramaic, possibly Hebrew,possibly in Antioch Wisdom of Solomon c. 150 BC Most probably Koine Greek in Alexandria Judith c. 150–100 BC: 26 Oldest versions Greek, originally probably Hebrew, possibly Greek: 25 2 Maccabees c. 150–120 BC Koine Greek 1 Maccabees c. 135–103 BC Oldest versions Greek, original probably Hebrew, probably in Jerusalem Additions to Daniel c. 100 BC Oldest versions Greek, originally Semitic or Greek Prayer of Manasseh c. 200 BC – AD 50 Oldest versions Greek, originally probably Greek, possibly Semitic Baruch c. 200–100 BC (1:1–3:38)
c. 100 BC – AD 100 (3:39–5:9)
(1:1–3:38) Koine Greek, probably originally Hebrew
(3:39–5:9) Koine Greek, possibly originally Hebrew or Aramaic
3 Maccabees c. 100–50 BC Koine Greek, probably in Alexandria Additions to Esther c. 100–1 BC Koine Greek in Alexandria 4 Maccabees c. AD 18–55 Koine Greek, probably outside Palestine 2 Esdras c. AD 90–100 (4 Ezra)
c. AD 100–300 (5 Ezra)
c. AD 200–300 (6 Ezra)
4 Ezra (2 Esdras 3–14): probably Hebrew by a Palestinian Jew
5 Ezra (2 Esdras 1–2): probably Latin by a Christian
6 Ezra (2 Esdras 15–16): probably Greek by a Levantine Christian
Odes c. AD 400–440 Codex Alexandrinus is the oldest version. Medieval Greek, prior history unknown
- Additions to Psalms: