Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Holy Bible

The meaning of Divine Inspiration of the Holy Bible and the sources that confirm its canonicity

Classification of the books of the Holy Bible

Hundreds of canons on the books of the Holy Bible have been recorded throughout history, by Christians and by others. In fact, the Christians canons have numbered more than one hundred differing ones between them, given that the process of canonizing of the books of the Holy Bible lasted over centuries. However, of all these canons, there are 6 Canons that stand out, following the rulings of Ecumenical Councils (Synods).  It is on the basis of these Canons, that we are listing the classifications of the various books of the Holy Bible in the charts below.

 

Foreword

The Christian Canon of the Holy Bible can validate its books only through Synodic decisions, with a validity that is accepted by all Christians.  In a previous article, we elaborated that there are 6 such Canons, all validated by the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, and we also presented their individual characteristics. We also explained and discerned in this article the various categories of canons and books of the Holy Bible.

In this article, we shall provide certain charts that are based on those 6 canons. These are charts that indicate the various qualitative classifications of the books of the Holy Bible, as surmised from those Ecumenically approved canons. The charts below have been taken from the remarkable book by Mr. Panagiotis Boumis, The Canons of the Church pertaining to the Canon of the Holy Bible.

In the first chart below, you will find the abbreviations that appear in the remaining three charts, what these abbreviations signify, and in the last column, a short description of the meaning of each classification (wherever necessary). In the second column titled Signifies:, there are links that will take you to a fuller explanation of that item, which we have expounded in another article.

You should take note of this chart, because it will prove helpful when assessing the three pursuant charts:

Abbreviations

Signifies:

Short description of what it signifies

H

= Holy

Auxilliary, beneficial books, not containing anything of dogmatic importance.

CR

= Church Reading

 Books that can be read in Church.

PR

= Proposed Reading

 Books that are proposed as useful reading.

V

= Venerable

 Books that Christians have a duty to respect.

D

= Divine

 Books written under the supervision of the Holy Spirit.

DI

= Divinely Inspired

 Books that contain a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

C

= Canonized

 Books that belong to a Canon, but have not yet been validated.

VC

= Canonical

 That which is Validated and irrevocably belongs to a Canon.

G

= Genuine

 

( )

= accepted by some

 

]

= possibly found in

 

[ ]

= definitely found in

 

= This also applies further down

 

= Indication that the remaining parts of the first book do not follow.

 

In the next two charts you will notice that a book is not usually characterized unilaterally. In other words, a book may have more than one classification, and indeed, certain classifications may even presuppose certain others. For example, a Divinely Inspired book is also classified as Divine; however a Divine book may not necessarily be classified as a Divinely Inspired one.  Similarly, a Divinely Inspired book of the Holy Bible or a Divine book of the Holy Bible are also Canonized books.

Thus, you will find below the two charts that respectively list the books of the Old and the New Testaments, each one appropriately classified, in accordance with the validated canons of the 6 Ecumenical Councils:

Books of the Old Testament

 

 

85th Apostolic Canon

59th and 50th of Laodicea

24th and 32nd of Carthage

Athanasius the Great

Gregory the Theologian

Amphilochius of Ikonion

1

Genesis

V + H

PR+ VC

VC + D + PR

C + D + DI

G

DI

2

Exodus

V

PR  ↓

VC ↓

C ↓

G

DI

3

Leviticus

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

4

Numbers

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

5

Deuteronomy

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

6

Joshua

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

7

Judges

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

8

Ruth

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

9

Kings I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

10

Kings II

V

PR

VC

C

[G]

DI

11

Kings III

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

12

Kings IV

V

PR

VC

C

[G]

DI

13

Chronicles I 

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

14

Chronicles II 

V

PR

VC

C

[G]

DI

15

Ezra I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

16

Ezra  II

V

PR

VC

C

[G]

DI

17

Nehemiah

V]

PR]

VC]

C]

G]

[DI]

18

Esther

V

PR

VC

CR

 

(DI)

19

Judith

 

 

VC

CR

 

 

20

Tobit

 

 

VC

CR

 

 

21

Maccabees I

V

 

(Lat. VC.)

 

 

 

22

Maccabees II

V

 

(Lat. VC.)

 

 

 

23

Maccabees III

V

 

 

 

 

 

24

Psalms

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

25

Job

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

26

Proverbs of Solomon

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

27

Ecclesiastes

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

28

Song of Solomon

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

29

Wisdom of Solomon

 

 

VC

CR

 

 

30

Wisdom of Sirah

(V)

 

 

CR

 

 

31

Hosea

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

32

Amos

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

33

Micah

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

34

Joel

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

35

Obadiah

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

36

Jonah

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

37

Nahum

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

38

Habakkuk

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

39

Zephaniah

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

40

Haggai

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

41

Zacharias

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

42

Malachias

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

43

Isaiah

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

44

Jeremiah

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

45

Baruch

 

PR

[VC]

C

[G]

DI]

46

Lamentations

 

PR

[VC]

C

[G]

DI]

47

Jeremiah Epistle

 

PR

[VC]

C

[G]

DI]

48

Ezekiel

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

49

Daniel

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

 

Books of the New Testament

 

 

85th Apostolic Canon

59th and 50th of Laodicea

24th and 32nd of Carthage

Athanasius the Great

Gregory the Theologian

Amphilochius of Ikonion

50

Gospel according to Matthew

V + H

PR+ VC

VC + D + PR

C + D + DI

G

DI

51

Gospel according to Mark

V

PR ↓

VC ↓

C ↓

G

DI

52

Gospel according to Luke

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

53

Gospel according to John

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

54

Acts of the Apostles

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

55

Romans

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

56

Corinthians I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

57

Corinthians II

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

58

Galatians

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

59

Ephesians

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

60

Philippians

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

61

Colossians

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

62

Thessalonians I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

63

Thessalonians II

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

64

Timothy I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

65

Timothy II

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

66

Titus

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

67

Philemon

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

68

Hebrews

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

69

James (Jacob)

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

70

Peter I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

71

Peter II

V

PR

VC

C

G

(DI)

72

John I

V

PR

VC

C

G

DI

73

John II

V

PR

VC

C

G

(DI)

74

John III

V

PR

VC

C

G

(DI)

75

Judas

V

PR

VC

C

G

(DI)

76

Revelations

 

 

VC

C

 

(DI)

 

2 Epistles of Clement

V

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions of Clement

V (?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachings of the Apostles

 

 

 

CR

 

 

 

Poemen (Hermas

 

 

 

CR

 

 

 

Comparative Canon of Divinely Inspired and Divine Books

By taking into account the information of the 6 validated canons (85th Apostolic, 60th Laodicean, 24th / 32nd Carthaginian, Athanasios the Great, Gregory the Theologian and Amphilochios of Ikonion, and combining the information that they give us, we can conclude that the following books are either Divine (D) or Divinely Inspired (DI):

Old Testament

New Testament

1

Genesis

D, DI

28

Hosiah

D, DI

47

Matthew

D, DI

2

Exodus

D, DI

29

Amos

D, DI

48

Mark

D, DI

3

Leviticus

D, DI

30

Mica

D, DI

49

Luke

D, DI

4

Numbers

D, DI

31

Joel

D, DI

50

John

D, DI

5

Deuteronomy

D, DI

32

Obadiah

D, DI

51

Acts of the Apostles

D, DI

6

Joshua

D, DI

33

Jonah

D, DI

52

Romans

D, DI

7

Judges

D, DI

34

Nahum

D, DI

53

Corinthians I

D, DI

8

Ruth

D, DI

35

Abakkuk

D, DI

54

Corinthians II

D, DI

9

Kings I

D, DI

36

Zephonias

D, DI

55

Galatians

D, DI

10

Kings II

D, DI

37

Haggai

D, DI

56

Ephesians

D, DI

11

Kings III

D, DI

38

Zacharias

D, DI

57

Philippians

D, DI

12

Kings IV

D, DI

39

Malachias

D, DI

58

Colossians

D, DI

13

Chronicles I  

D, DI

40

Isaiah

D, DI

59

Thessalonians I

D, DI

14

Chronicles II  

D, DI

41

Jeremiah

D, DI

60

Thessalonians II

D, DI

15

Ezra I

D, DI

42

Baruch

D, DI

61

Timothy I

D, DI

16

Ezra II

D, DI

43

Lamentations

D, DI

62

Timothy II

D, DI

17

Nehemiah

D, DI

44

Epistle

D, DI

63

Titus

D, DI

18

Esther

D

45

Ezekiel

D, DI

64

Philemon

D, DI

19

Judith

D

46

Daniel

D, DI

65

Hebrews

D, DI

20

Tobit

D

 

 

 

66

James (Jacob)

D, DI

21

Psalms

D, DI

 

 

 

67

Peter I

D, DI

22

Job

D, DI

 

 

 

68

Peter II

D, DI

23

Proverbs

D, DI

 

 

 

69

John I

D, DI

24

Ecclesiastes

D, DI

 

 

 

70

John II

D, DI

25

Song of Songs

D, DI

 

 

 

71

John III

D, DI

26

Wisdom of Solomon

D

 

 

 

72

Judas

D, DI

27

Wisdom of Sirah

D

 

 

 

73

Revelations

D, DI

From the above, it is evident that for us Christians, the rough-cut Protestant distinction between the divinely inspired Holy Scriptures and the other, non-divinely inspired writings does not apply. Even in the Holy Bible itself, there are writings that not only are not divinely inspired, but are not even slightly divine, (just as there are Divinely Inspired writings which do not belong in the Holy Bible). The Holy Bible itself is an amalgam of books, of assorted qualities and characteristics, hence, the phrase that we use: the Divinely Inspired Holy Scriptures, is an over-simplification. The only reason that we refer to it in this way is because it contains books of Divine revelation, and not because it is Divinely Inspired in its entirety.

This can be ascertained in the preceding chart, where you can see that of the 76 books of the Holy Scriptures, only the 73 of them are Divine, and of these 73  books, only the 68 are Divinely Inspired. Thus, we have 3 books that are not Divinely Inspired, and 6 books that are not even Divine.

Given the incorrect use by Protestant groups of the above terms with respect to the Holy Scriptures and its characteristic books, it is wiser to be aware of these distinctions, so that we can discern properly and make proper use of the Holy Bible.

The information was borrowed from the excellent book by the esteemed Professor of the Athens University, Mr. Panayiotis Boumis, Dr of Theology, titled: "The Canons of the Church regarding the Canons of the Holy Bible".  thens  1986.

 

 

Translation by A.N.

Text: ..

Greek text

Article published in English on: 28-7-2005.

Last update: 4-8-2005.

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