How Did We Get The Old Testament?

Today I will address briefly the history of the Old Testament canon and the presence or lack thereof of the apocrypha in different translations.

The Old Testament was written over long period of time and covers history from the beginning (Genesis 1:1) until about 400 BC (the prophet Malachi). These were written in Hebrew, and were passed down much like the New Testament books were (see yesterday’s article). The books were accepted and considered authoritative by the Jews from the time of their writing, and were passed down as such.

Between the third and first centuries BC, the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) was translated into Koine Greek, and is known as the Septuagint (LXX). This was completed around 180BC, and contains all the books that appear in the Old Testament in our Bibles today. This shows us that the books of the Hebrew Bible were agreed upon by that time. Officially, the Hebrew canon was closed at the Council of Jamnia around AD 90.

The LXX contains books that the Hebrew version of the Old Testament (known as the Masoretic text) does not. These are the books of the apocrypha. The apocrypha are books that the authority of was questioned. The Jews did not accept these as Scripture, but did view them as historically important.

As far as the Christian church went, some important texts included the apocrypha, including Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate. The Catholic church formally accepted the apocrypha as part of the canon at the Council of Trent in 1549.

To answer the question that was asked yesterday, the apocrypha was never accepted as Scripture by the Jews, and thus was never “un-decided” by the church. It was formally included in the canon by the Catholic church in 1549, a decision that was subsequently rejected by many Protestant churches after the Reformation.

I do not accept the books of the apocrypha as Scripture because they were not accepted as Scripture at the time they were written, a fact that is true of all the other 66 books of the Bible. These books were never in question, and if discussion was taken up over some of them, did not last long. The apocrypha has been understood to be interesting historically, but not God-inspired since the time of its writing.

We at Acts 20:24 Ministries accept the 66 books of the Holy Bible as the inspired Word of God.


3 Responses to How Did We Get The Old Testament?

  1. timglass says:

    The Council of Trent only” formally accepted” thoes books because it was challenged. They had always been contained in the LXX. By whose authority was it challenged? It wasn’t the same authorities who had declared the “scriptures” at the Council of Carthage. That was the Catholic Church. The Council of Jamnia didn’t want to include greek written (with no hebrew original) over hebrew written scripture. But the Dead Sea Scrolls contained many of the deuterocanonical books. The first printing of the KJV, contained thoes books as well. So I guess my question is “Who gave Luther or Calvin the authority to over-ride the Council of Carthage?

  2. Luther included the apocrypha in his translation, but in a separate section. The reformers rejected the books’ authority for the reasons already mentioned. There is an interesting section on the subject here, containing some of the points I’ve already made. I’m not going to get into any other issues about the apocrypha at this time, including the authority, or lack thereof, of the Catholic church.

  3. timglass says:

    “or lack thereof”…. that’s a good one!

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