The Old Testament Canon

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By James M. Rochford

The term canon goes back to the ancient Greeks, where they used the term to describe a measuring rod. This is probably a loan word from the ancient Hebrew kaneh (or “reed”), which was used as a measuring rod (Ezek. 40:3; 42:16).[1] Theologians use this term to refer to the books that belong in the Bible; thus, canonicity is the study of the inspired books.

What is the common critical view of canonicity?

Critical theologians assert that the Jewish community gradually recognized the Old Testament (OT) books in three stages that match the three-fold division of the Hebrew Bible. Their historical explanation is as follows:

Stage 1: The Pentateuch accepted as scripture by 400 B.C.

While the Bible asserts that Moses wrote the Pentateuch in ~1440 BC, critics argue that it wasn’t accepted as Scripture until a thousand years later. Critic Stephen Harris writes, “By about 400 B.C.E. the Jews regarded the first five books of the Bible (the Penteteuch) as authoritative and binding.”[2]

Stage 2: The Prophets accepted as scripture by 200 B.C.

Some of the prophets wrote before the exile in 587 BC, and all of them wrote before 450 BC. However, critics argue that these books weren’t accepted as Scripture until 200 BC. Harris writes, “Next to be accepted were the prophetic books, which form the second major division of the Hebrew canon. By about 200 BC the former prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 minor prophets) were regarded as sacred.”[3] Because the prophetic books were not closed until 200 BC, this explains how Isaiah could “predict” the Babylonian captivity and return. All of these “predictions” would be history—not prophecy.

Stage 3: The Writings accepted as scripture by 90 AD

According to modern critics, the OT wasn’t specifically canonized until after the time of Christ. Harris concludes, “As early as the mid-second century BCE a third category of Scripture was recognized… these ‘other volumes’ are the Writings (in Hebrew, the Kethuvim), whose contents were not clearly defined for many generations. Not until after the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E. did the Jewish community attempt to set a precise limit on the number of books comprising the Writings… Following the Roman destruction of the Jewish state, a group of distinguished rabbis… assembled at Jamnia on the Palestinian coast to define and consolidate the essential teachings of the Jewish religion, including a statement on which books of the Hebrew Bible were to be accepted as sacred and authoritative.”[4]

Since Daniel was placed in the Kethuvim, this would also make Daniel history—not prophecy.

Conclusion

Are these critical scholars right? Was the OT canonized as Scripture centuries after its completion? Were religious councils responsible for canonizing the biblical books?

Propheticity determines canonicity

The OT canon was not determined on the basis of any religious council or synod. In order for a book to be considered inspired, it needed to be written by a prophet. Propheticity (i.e. prophetic authorship) was the basis upon which the OT books were deemed canonical. We discover this principle from the pages of Scripture itself:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Moses was the first prophet in Israel’s history, and he wrote the original five books ascribed to him (see “Authorship of the Pentateuch”; Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:2; Deut. 31:9, 22, 24). These books claim to be written based on direct encounters with God: “With [Moses] I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings” (Num. 12:7).

Various prophets confirm Mosaic authorship (Ezra 3:2; 6:18; 7:6; Ps. 103:7; Josh. 8:31, 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3). Proverbs 30:2-3 cites Deuteronomy 4:2. In fact, all other prophets were measured against Moses’ initial role as a prophet (Deut. 18:15; Hos. 12:13; Num. 11:29). The canon began with him, and prophetic succession began with him, as well.

Joshua. He viewed Moses’ writings as inspired (Josh. 1:8; 23:6), and he added to the existing canon (Josh. 24:26). Moses told his successors not to add or take away from Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:32), so Joshua must have understood his book as genuine Scripture. Joshua references Deuteronomy 27:5 (Josh. 8:31), and he mentions Numbers 32:20-33 (Josh. 22:1-8).

Judges & Ruth. The books of Judges and Ruth both mention Joshua before them (Judg. 1:1, 20, 21; 2:8; Ruth 1:1).

The Historical books. Various prophets wrote the historical books (1 Chron. 29:29; 2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 32:32; 33:19). The prophet Jehu (1 Kin. 16:7) wrote about the life of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:34).

1 & 2 Samuel. Samuel was a prophet or “seer” (1 Sam. 9:9). We read, “All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1 Sam. 3:20-21). Samuel continues the history of Israel after the Judges, and he added writings to the canon (1 Sam. 10:25). This history of David was written by the prophets Samuel, Nathan, and Gad (1 Chron. 29:29).

1 & 2 Kings. These books refer to the “law of Moses” (2 Kings 14:6), and they repeatedly refer back to David (1 Kings 3:14; 5:7; 8:16; 9:5). These historical references must come from 1 and 2 Samuel. Moreover, Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo recorded Solomon’s history (2 Chron. 9:29). Shemaiah and Iddo recorded the history of Rehoboam (2 Chron. 12:15). Jehu the prophet recorded Jehoshaphat’s history (2 Chron. 20:34). In this period, the prophet Micaiah said, “What the Lord says to me, that I shall speak” (1 Kings 22:14).

1 & 2 Chronicles. These books are parallel accounts to Samuel and Kings. They contain genealogies that come from Genesis (1 Chron. 1) and Ruth (1 Chron. 2:12-13). Harris observes, “Ezra has often been called the author of Chronicles and he certainly was in a position to write such a book. The book ends, as has been noted above, with a catchline identical with the beginning of Ezra. Ezra, at least knew the book and attached his writing to it.”

Ezra & Nehemiah. These books open with the closing verses of 2 Chronicles (36:22-23), which implies that they were in prophetic succession to the other historical books. They refer to the “the law of Moses” (Ezra 3:2; Neh. 13:1). Moreover, Nehemiah recounts Israel’s history as found in the rest of the Bible, going back to the book of Genesis (Neh. 9).

Esther. Harris writes, “We do not know the author of Esther, Chronicles, or Job, but they are found among the Prophets, and there is no reason to object to claiming their authors also as prophets.”[5]

Job. Job spoke directly with God (Job 38-42). Ezekiel placed Job alongside Daniel the prophet and Noah, who spoke directly with God (Ezek. 14:14, 20). James cites from the story of Job (Jas. 5:11). Moreover, Job is “reckoned among the prophets” in the Apocrypha (Ecclesiasticus 49:9).[6]

Psalms. King David believed that God had spoken to him directly, and he said, “His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). David was a prophet according to the OT (1 Chron. 28:9) and the NT (Acts 2:30). Asaph is also called a prophet or “seer” (2 Chron. 29:30). Ezra believed that David had written two of the psalms (Ezra 3:10-11; Ps. 106:1; 107:1). The Chronicler tells us that David got the plans for the Temple directly from God (1 Chron. 28:19).

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. These books were written by Solomon. Solomon wrote “3,000 proverbs” (1 Kings 4:32).

Isaiah wrote about the life of king Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:22) and the life of Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:32). Moreover, he was divinely commissioned to write his book (Isa. 8:1). Micah accepted Isaiah as Scripture (compare Isaiah 2:2-4 with Micah 4:1-3).

Jeremiah & Lamentations. Jeremiah wrote both books, and he was divinely commissioned by God to write his book (Jer. 30:2). Daniel confirmed Jeremiah as divinely inspired (Dan. 9:2), and Ezra also believed that Jeremiah was a prophet (Ezra 1:1), citing his fulfilled prophecy (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10-14; c.f. 2 Chron. 36:21).

Ezekiel. He was divinely commissioned by God to write his book (Ezek. 43:11).

Daniel. Daniel is called a prophet by Jesus (Mt. 24:15), and he was placed alongside other known prophets by Ezekiel, who was his contemporary (Ezek. 14:14, 20; 28:3).

The twelve Minor Prophets all referred to themselves “prophets” (e.g. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).

Amos didn’t hold the office of prophet (Amos 7:14). Yet God called him to prophesy (Amos 7:15-16).

Micah was a contemporary with Isaiah, and they viewed each other’s work as Scripture (again, compare Isaiah 2:2-4 with Micah 4:1-3). It’s difficult to know who copied from whom.[7] Furthermore, Jeremiah regarded Micah’s writings (125 years earlier) as being from God (Jer. 26:18), citing Micah 3:12-4:1.

Haggai and Zechariah were confirmed as real and historical prophets by Ezra, who places them in their historical setting (Ezra 5:1; 6:14).

This is not an exhaustive list. However, it shows that the OT books were viewed as authoritative based on their prophetic authorship (For more data supporting traditional authorship, see our introductions to each book in our “Old Testament Survey”).

How could the Jewish people identify a true prophet?

There were two tests for discerning true from false prophets. Jewish prophets needed to have (1) correct doctrine and (2) accurate short term predictions. Moses—the first prophet—outlined these two crucial tests:

1. Doctrinal Test (Deut. 13:1-5)

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death” (Deut. 13:1-5).

God would not contradict himself throughout the Scriptures (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2). Therefore, even if a prophet could predict signs and wonders (v.2), they could still be discerned by their doctrine. That is, if what they said contradicted existing Scripture (“Let us go after other gods… and let us serve them”), then this would disqualify them immediately.

2. Accurate Predictions (Deut. 18:21-22)

“You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:21-22).

False prophets were not given a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Instead, if they simply made one false prophecy, they were faced with capital punishment (Deut. 13:5). We see this test in practice throughout the prophets of Israel’s history. R. Laird Harris notes that these sort of predictions occur throughout the OT. He writes, “These are but a few of the hundreds of predictions—some short range, some long range—which dot the pages of the Old Testament.”[8]

Moses predicted the 40 year exodus in the wilderness (Num. 14:33).

Samuel predicted the demise of Saul’s kingdom (1 Sam. 15:28).

David knew the future of his kingdom (2 Sam. 7:11-16).

Solomon knew the future of his kingdom from a dream (1 Kings 3:13-14).

Isaiah predicted the coming of King Cyrus a couple of hundred years in advance (Isa. 44:28-45:1), and he predicted that Ephraim would be destroyed in 65 years (Isa. 7:8).

Jeremiah predicted the doom of Jerusalem (Jer. 26:8-15) and its 70 year exile (Jer. 25:11). He criticized the false prophets in his day for their false prophecies. He writes, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 23:16). Regarding the bogus prediction of the false prophet Hananiah,[9] Jeremiah writes, “The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, then that prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (Jer. 28:9).

Jeremiah predicted that Hananiah would die within the year (Jer. 28:16). Two months later, Hananiah dropped dead (Jer. 28:17). Jeremiah gives the correct prediction that it will take 70 years instead (Jer. 29:10).

Ezekiel recorded God saying, “My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord God” (Ezek. 13:9). He adds, “If the prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the Lord, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel” (Ezek. 14:9). Later, when the people reject the words of Ezekiel, God tells him that they will later see their own mistake because of Ezekiel’s predictions: “When it comes to pass—as surely it will—then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst” (Ezek. 33:33).

Ezekiel predicted the destruction of Tyre (Ezek. 26:3-11), which Alexander the Great fulfilled a couple of hundred years later (see Endless Hope or Hopeless End, chapter 4).

Daniel predicted the correct succession of world empires after Babylon (see Endless Hope or Hopeless End, chapter 5).

Zechariah predicted Alexander the Great’s conquest of the ancient Near East. It is so accurate that critics date his book after Alexander’s life.

Micah predicted that “Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins” (Micah 3:12) over 100 years in advance.

Nehemiah discerned the false prophets in his day (Neh. 6:10-14).

Was age or antiquity the determiner of Canonicity?

Some critics argue that age was the determining factor for canonicity. For instance, critic Stephen L. Harris writes,

As centuries passed, Israel’s legal and prophetic writings grew ever more venerable and were quoted, debated, and read publically in the synagogues until familiarity with their teaching and their recognized consistency with the Mosaic tradition made them by use and habit part of the Hebrew Bible.[10]

However, such a view contradicts the biblical account. In fact, the Bible itself refers to other ancient books that were not considered canonical:

(Josh. 10:13) Is not this written in the Book of Jasher?”

(2 Sam. 1:18) “Behold it is written in the Book of Jasher.”

(Num. 21:14) The Book of the Wars of the Lord

(1 Kings 11:41) The Acts of Solomon

(1 Chron. 27:24) The Annals of King David

(2 Chron. 12:15) Shemaiah the prophet wrote the “acts of Rehoboam.”

By contrast, more recent books were included as Scripture. For instance, Daniel considered Jeremiah Scripture mere years after he wrote his book (Dan. 9:2). If we take the biblical account seriously, these books were Scripture even while the ink was wet on the scroll.

Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls (~150 BC)

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) only confirms the view that the Jewish people understood their canon long before any councils could confirm these books.

The Manual of Discipline. This was a monk rulebook for the Jewish men at Qumran. R. Laird Harris writes, “The Dead Sea Manual of Discipline apparently dates from the late second century BC. It is therefore of great historical value. It refers to what ‘God commanded through Moses and through all his servants the prophets.’ There are other references to the law of Moses and two quotations from Isaiah with the introductory phrase ‘it is written.’”[11]

The Zadokite Document. Another document in the DSS was the Zadokite Document. Harris writes, “The Zadokite Document is longer and adds considerably to our information. It also refers twice to the Law and the Prophets. There are many references such as ‘The Book of the Law,’ ‘Moses said,’ etc. The formula ‘It is written’ is applied to Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Numbers, Leviticus, and even to Proverbs. Other references to Scripture books as authoritative, with the phrase ‘God said,’ etc. referring to a Scripture citation, include passages from Isaiah, Malachi, Amos, Zechariah, Hosea, Deuteronomy, Numbers, and Micah.”[12]

Assorted DSS commentaries. In addition to these texts, archaeologists have discovered various biblical commentaries in the DSS. Harris writes, “The fact that a commentary on the text of Habakkuk, chapters 1 and 2, appears is an evidence in the same direction. Fragments of commentaries on Micah and Isaiah also are found.”[13] This only further supports the notion that these books were venerated by the Jewish community.

Non-Canonical Books were treated differently. The Jewish community at Qumran viewed other books as non-canonical and uninspired. Harris writes, “Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature is found and is referred to, but is never quoted as authoritative. Jubilees is mentioned by name in the Zadokite Document, but not with any formula that would designate it as authoritative.”[14] In other words, the non-canonical books were known and named, but they are not treated the same way. Harris concludes, “So, it appears, the non-canonical books of the sect do not make a claim of inspiration for themselves, but they fully support the inspiration of the books of the Old Testament—except only for Esther which is not mentioned.”[15] Beckwith concurs, “Texts of all the books of the Hebrew Bible have been found at Qumran, with the exception of Esther.”[16]

Evidence from Josephus (AD 75-99)

The Jewish historian Josephus only confirms our canon. The Roman general Titus had given Josephus a gift of the complete OT scrolls (Josephus, The Life, 75; 418). Therefore, he is an especially credible witness on the Hebrew canon because he had the actual Temple scrolls in his possession. He writes in Against Apion:

For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another (as the Greeks have), but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them, five belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind until his death. This interval of time is little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artexerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. From Artexerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets. We have given practical proof of our reverence for our own scriptures. For, although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured to add, or to remove, or to alter anything, and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as decrees of God…[17]

From this, we can learn a number of things about Josephus’ view of the OT canon: First, Josephus did not believe that the Word of God would disagree or contradict itself. Second, he believed that these documents were “divine.” Third, he believed in Mosaic authorship. Fourth, he believed that the histories from Artaxerxes until AD 70 were not of “equal credit” with the canonical books, because of the “failure of the exact succession of prophets.” In other words, the prophets stopped speaking around the time of Artaxerxes in 465 to 425 B.C. Fifth, the historical work from 425 B.C. to the present time (AD 70) was not considered canonical. Sixth, he didn’t think that the Jews had the freedom to “add” or “remove” anything from the canon (c.f. Deut. 4:2). Seventh, he claimed that “every Jew” had this perspective on the Hebrew Bible. Eighth, and finally, he believed that the canon consisted of 22 books. Of course, while our modern Bible has 39 books—not 22—this is not a difference in the books themselves. Instead, this is just an issue of how we number the same canonical books:

 

Comparison of Book Divisions[18]

Modern Division (39 Books)

Josephus’ Division (22 Books)

Jeremiah and Lamentations are two books.

Jeremiah and Lamentations is one book. They were both written by the same author, so Josephus combines them.
Judges and Ruth are two separate books.

Judges and Ruth is one book. The book of Judges is a general history of Israel before their King. Ruth is a specific history of a woman living at that time. It’s not strange to see Josephus combining these two books.

1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles are two books.

Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are one book.
Ezra and Nehemiah are two books.

Ezra and Nehemiah are one book.

The 12 Minor Prophets are each labeled separately.

Josephus recognized these twelve as one book called “The Book of the Twelve.” Regarding the Twelve Minor Prophets, it “was standard practice at Qumran to copy them on a single scroll.”[19] Sirach 49:10 speaks of the unity of the Twelve Prophets.

 

Evidence from extrabiblical Jewish sources

Baba Bathra (~AD 200). The Babylonian Talmud was a collection of the rabbi’s writings.[20] In a section referred to as Baba Bathra, we read:

The rabbans taught: The order of the Prophets is Joshua (and) Judges, Samuel (and) Kings, Jeremiah (and) Ezekiel, Isaiah (And) the Twelve… (The rabbans taught:) The order of the Hagiographa is Ruth and (the Book of) Psalms and Job (and) Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (and) the Song of Songs and Lamentations, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles (Baba Bathra 14b).[21]

Regarding this passage, R. Laird Harris writes, “It lists the sacred Hebrew books which are accepted as canonical in our Hebrew and Protestant English Bibles—and no others.”[22]

Roger Beckwith claims that this is a very early rabbinical tradition, probably dating to before the time of Christ. He writes, “This passage is more significant in that it is a baraita—an ancient tradition, similar in date to those in the Mishnah, though quoted from a different compilation—and can therefore be relied upon, probably, to take us back to a much earlier stage in rabbinical teaching than the bulk of the Talmud can.”[23]

Regularly, we discover that the Jewish people refer to the canon as containing only 22 books. Roger Beckwith goes so far as to say that “this is the number always used in the rabbinical literature.”[24] Regarding the 22 numeration in Jubilees and Josephus, Beckwith writes, “Only if the numeration were already well known in the first century BC would so brief an allusion be intelligible.”[25]

Evidence from the New Testament (NT)

The NT claims that the Jewish people knew which books were inspired by God, and therefore, in the canon. Paul writes that Jewish believers were “entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2). The NT authors quote the OT at least 250 times.[26] In Luke 11:49-51, Jesus referred to all the prophets from Abel (Gen. 4) to Zechariah (2 Chron. 24). Paul spoke of “the Scriptures of the prophets” (Rom. 16:26). Peter spoke of the OT “prophets” (1 Pet. 1:10) who “made the prophetic word more sure” (2 Pet. 1:19).

The only books that the NT authors do not cite are Judges, Chronicles, Esther, and Song of Solomon. However, the NT does cite events in Judges (Heb. 11:32) and Chronicles (Mt. 23:35; 2 Chron. 24:20). Geisler and Nix hold out that Jesus’ reference to the “living water” could be an allusion to Song of Solomon (Jn. 4:10; Song 4:15), and John 5:1 may refer to the festival of Purim (Esther 9; cf. Rev. 11:10 and Esther 9:22).[27] But even if these allusion are legitimate, they would fall short of attributing as inspired.

Conclusion

In summarizing the Jewish and NT evidence, Roger Beckwith writes, “It is very striking that, over a period ranging from the second century BC (at latest) to the first century AD, so many writers, of so many classes (Semitic, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Essene, Christian), show such agreement about the canon—agreement both with each other and with the present Hebrew Bible.”[28]

Further Objections Considered

Is the Apocrypha Scripture? The term “Apocrypha” comes from a Greek term which means “hidden away.” When referring to the many books included, we call these the Apocrypha (plural), rather than Apocryphon (singular). Protestants reject all of the Apocrypha, while Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Coptic Christians accept some of them. Do the Apocrypha belong in the Bible?

Why did Augustine accept the Apocrypha? Roman Catholic theologians point out that Augustine believed in the inspiration of the Apocrypha. But others do not find this the authority of Augustine strong enough to overturn the other church fathers for several reasons

Why did some of the early Church Fathers cite the Apocrypha? Many early Christian leaders cite the Apocrypha as Scripture. However, this evidence carries little weight when examined closely.

Why are the Apocrypha in the Septuagint?

Wasn’t the OT canon determined at the Council of Jamnia in AD 90? In 1871, H.H. Graetz propounded the theory that the Jewish canon closed at Jamnia in AD 90. Since then, critical scholars have claimed that the Hebrew canon was not closed until this time.

Didn’t the Sadducees deny the Hebrew canon? Doesn’t this mean that the Jewish people didn’t have a uniform canon?

Further Reading

Beckwith, Roger T. The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986.

This is by far the most exhaustive scholarly treatment of OT canonicity from a Protestant perspective. The difficulty of reading the book is that it seems to us to be disorganized. Beckwith constantly quotes pages from his own book in order to remind the reader of his case.

Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995.

This book is very scholarly, but much more organized and readable than Beckwith. Harris also addresses both the Old and New Testaments.

Unlike F.F. Bruce’s view (see The Canon of Scripture), Harris holds that inspiration and canonicity was predicated authorship: propheticity and apostolicity. Bruce holds that the canon wasn’t “officially” held until the lists were created by the church fathers. Harris offers a careful critique of Bruce, and he shows good evidence for his case based on the authorship of the books.

Geisler, Norman & Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL. Moody Press. 1986.

Geisler and Nix’s treatment is a far easier text to read than Harris. These authors clearly explain the evidence for the canon, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Bible. It is not as in-depth as Harris or Beckwith,

[1] Geisler, Norman & Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL. Moody Press. 1986. 202-204.

[2] Harris, Stephen. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto, California: Mayfield Publishing Company 1985. 9-10.

[3] Harris, Stephen. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto, California: Mayfield Publishing Company 1985. 10.

[4] Harris, Stephen. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto, California: Mayfield Publishing Company. 1985. 10.

[5] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 169.

[6] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 172.

[7] Gleason Archer writes, “Micah’s ministry was contemporary with the earlier career of Isaiah.” Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody, 1998. 361.

[8] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 161.

[9] Hananiah predicted that the stolen article from Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem would be returned to Israel within two years (Jer. 28:3).

[10] Harris, Stephen. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto, California: Mayfield Publishing Company. 1985. 9.

[11] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 140-141.

[12] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 141.

[13] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 141.

[14] Emphasis mine. Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 141.

[15] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 142.

[16] Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 291.

[17] Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, book 1, paragraph 8.

[18] See Beckwith’s explanation of this in Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 79-80.

[19] Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 244.

[20] The Mishnah was collected about two centuries after Jesus. The Gemara was the commentary on the Mishnah. When they are put together, it creates the Talmud.

[21] Cited in Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 122.

[22] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 130.

[23] Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 122.

[24] Emphasis mine. Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 240.

[25] Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 240.

[26] Harris writes, “There are more than 600 allusions and about 250 strict quotations. He lists no strict quotations in the books of Judges-Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, Esslesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. Also there are none from Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah, but these books were counted as part of the “Book of the Twelve,” the Minor Prophets, which is quoted many times.” Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 316.

[27] Geisler, Norman L., and William E. Nix. From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible. Chicago: Moody, 1974. 37.

[28] Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1986), 76-77.