Saturday, April 12, 2008

Two Categories of Books

Beyond the positive evidence for the content of the current Hebrew and Protestant canon’s inspirational status, there is also indication that the Jews had two categories of books: those inspired and those merely considered historically valuable. While many of those in the Eastern Orthodox Church view these writings as Holy Scripture, the Jews didn’t and this is supported by other sources as well.

Representing popular Jewish understanding, Josephus explains to his uninformed Gentile readers, “It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but has not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers…” These uninspired books stand quite apart from those books Josephus believes “to contain divine doctrines,” and believes the Jews should persist in, “and if occasion be, willing to die for...” Josephus is clear that there are books considered inspired and those that are just highly regarded, but not as Scripture. Since he has already given us a time frame for when God stopped speaking through the prophets, none of the Apocryphal books accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church fit into the inspired list.

More Info:
1. See 2Esdras 14:44-45 and Origen’s distinction after his list of canonical books previously mentioned.

2 Esdras