OceanSide church of Christ
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Biblical Canon Part 1: The Old Testament
by: Dalton Gilreath
The Bible is the only book that contains the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Through the pen of man God has given us sixty six books which claim to compromise everything mankind needs in order to be saved (2 Tim 3:16-17). Some of these books give warnings about adding or taking away from the entirety of the scriptures (Deut 4:2, Rev 22:18-19). Can we really be certain we haven’t added or left out books in our standard Bibles? After all, to add or take away from His words would mean eternal condemnation. Fortunately, God has given us ample evidence to answer this question with confidence. To begin, consider the evidences for the Old Testament canon.
There are thirty nine books compromising the Old Testament scriptures. Here are a few reasons man can be sure the Jews got the canon correct. First of all, these thirty nine books are the only books found written in the ancient Hebrew language. Hebrew is the sole language God used to write down the scriptures of old through the hands of men. Interestingly, have you ever noticed how every eight verses in Psalm 119 begin with a Hebrew word? These twenty two words compromise the Hebrew alphabet God used to pen the Old Testament.
Secondly, the Greek Septuagint includes these exact thirty nine books as well. When Alexander the Great began his military conquests many nations were placed under his control and became heavily influenced with Greek culture. Therefore, requests for a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures were in popular demand. This led to the Greek Septuagint which became the first translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into any other language. Once again these thirty nine books and no others were accepted as the Old Testament canon.
Finally, Christ endorsed what the Jews classified as the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44). This is arguably the greatest evidence of all. The Jews categorized the Old Testament into three sections. The first section was the Law of Moses comprising the first five books of the Bible. The second was the prophets which they divided into two sub categories. They called Joshua, Judges, the Samuels, and the Kings the “Former Prophets and Isaiah through Malachi, with the exception of Lamentations, the “Latter Prophets”. The final section was the Psalms which consisted of Ruth, the Chronicles, Ezra through Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. Therefore, Jesus authenticated all three categories as compromising the Old Testament.
For these reasons and many more we can be sure that the Old Testament is perfectly complete. God is so good to leave us without concern or doubt. Lord willing, the next article will reveal His evidences for the New Testament canon as well.