Protocanonical books

Protocanonical books

The Protocanonical books are those books of the Old Testament which were coextensive with the Hebrew Bible and which have always been considered canonical by almost all Christians throughout history. The term "protocanonical" is often used to contrast these books to the deuterocanonical books or apocrypha, which "were sometimes doubted" ["Old Testament of Douay", Vol. 1, Proemial Annotations, 1635] in the early church.


These books are typically 39 in number in most English bibles. Based on the Jewish tradition of the Tanakh, these same books may be counted as 24 books, counting the twelve minor prophets together as one book, one book each for 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles, as well as a single book for Ezra and Nehemiah. In his prologues, Jerome [ "Prologus Galeatus"] , English translation] counted the same content as 22 books, combining Jeremiah with Lamentations and Judges with Ruth. The list given in Codex Hierosolymitanus numbers the same books at 27. [published by J.-P. Audet in [ "JTS"] 1950, v1, pp. 135–154, cited in [ "The Council of Jamnia and the Old Testament Canon"] , Robert C. Newman, 1983.] [ [ "The Old Testament of the Early Church" Revisited"] , Albert C. Sundberg, Jr., 1997.]

These enumerations were sometimes given a numerological significance. [ [ "Prologues of St. Jerome"] , Latin text] The 22-book enumeration was said to represent the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet; the 5 double books (Judges/Ruth, 1/2 Samuel, 1/2 Kings, 1/2 Chronicles, Ezra/Nehemiah, and Jeremiah/Lamentations) representing the five Hebrew letters that have double forms, chaph, mem, nun, phe, and sade. The 24-book enumeration was said to be represented by the 24 elders who throw their crowns before the Lamb in the Book of Revelation. The 27-book enumeration balances one-for-one the 27 canonical books of the New Testament.


The protocanonical books were widely but not universally accepted by Christians as being in the canon. Athanasius omitted Esther [ [ "Letter 39"] , Athanasius of Alexandria, English translation] from his list. He may have been following an early 22-book Jewish canon, possibly the same one mentioned but not specified by Josephus. Theodore of Mopsuestia omitted Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Ezra-Nehemiah to obtain a listing of 22 books. [ [ "Theodore of Mopsuestia"] , article from the Catholic Encyclopedia] Most famously, Marcion rejected all of the protocanonical books, preferring a Bible consisting only of a restricted New Testament.


The list of protocanonical books is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

New Testament

By analogy with the early and broad acceptance of the Hebrew scriptural texts, the term "protocanonical" is also sometimes used to describe those books of the New Testament which were more widely accepted by the early Church than some of the other 27 books recognized today by almost all Christians. For more information concerning the development of the New Testament canon, see the article Biblical canon.


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  • protocanonical books — protocanonical books, the books of the Bible whose canonicity has always been universally acknowledged in the church …   Useful english dictionary

  • Protocanonical — Pro to*ca*non ic*al, a. Of or pertaining to the first canon, or that which contains the authorized collection of the books of Scripture; opposed to {deutero canonical}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • protocanonical — |prōd.(ˌ)ō+ adjective Etymology: New Latin protocanonicus protocanonical (from prot + Late Latin canonicus belonging to the canon of Scripture) + English al more at canonic : of, relating to, or constituting those books of the Bible accepted… …   Useful english dictionary

  • protocanonical — adjective Describing the first (authorized) canon of books of scripture …   Wiktionary

  • Deuterocanonical books — Part of a series on The Bible …   Wikipedia

  • Non-canonical books referenced in the Bible — The non canonical books in this article include Biblical apocrypha and Deuterocanonical books (which are accepted as part of the Biblical canon by most non Protestant Christians), Pseudepigrapha, writings from Hellenistic and other non Biblical… …   Wikipedia

  • Canon of the Old Testament — • Signifies the authoritative list or closed number of the writings composed under Divine inspiration, and destined for the well being of the Church Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Canon of the Old Testament      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Scripture — • Sacred Scripture is one of the several names denoting the inspired writings which make up the Old and New Testament Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Scripture     Scripture    …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Biblical apocrypha — This article is about a class of books included in some Bibles. For other books generally excluded from Bibles, see Apocrypha. Part of a series on The Bible …   Wikipedia

  • Versions of the Bible — • Article on versions of the Bible in the original languages and in translation. Grouped by source Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Versions of the Bible     Versions of the Bible …   Catholic encyclopedia

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