Nov 20, 2008

Athanasius Canon List

Athanasius on the Canon

Or, more particularly, "Concerning the Divine Scriptures."

"In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the evangelist, saying on my own account, Forasmuch as some have taken in hand to reduce into order for themselves the books termed Apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the Fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as divine; to the end that anyone who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led them astray; and that he who has continued steadfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance."

"There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the Twelve [minor prophets] being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations and the Epistle, one book; afterwards Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament."

See here for the above citation

Notice how the "canon" of Athanasius excludes the Book of Esther and all the Apocryphal books, except for Baruch and "the Epistle" of Jeremiah, which he adds to the one book of Jeremiah and Lamentations.

Notice that Athanasius shows how his "canon" had great authority in the Christian world at the time of his writing it (A.D. 367), being what had a long tradition, and what must have been the majority opinion during his time. It is as much a snapshot of his times as is his "creed" on the Trinity ("Athanasian creed").

Thus, it is false to say that the Book of Esther has always been accepted by Christians (or Jews for that matter) for the first centuries!

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