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Dan Beuscher wrote:

Hi, guys —

Could you please:

  • give a definitive and authoritative list of the Canon of Sacred Scripture
  • explain when this list was first compiled, and
  • reference any of the Early Church Fathers who wrote concerning this subject?

There are many at my parish who insist that there are but 66 books in the Bible. I know better, but I do not have the credibility they desire.

Please give me a list of un-refutable, credible sources to reference from.

Thank you and may God bless your efforts!

Dan Beuscher

  { Could you please give a definitive and authoritative list of the Canon of Sacred Scripture? }

Eric replied:

Hi Dan,

The definitive and authoritative list of the Canon of Sacred Scripture of the Old Testament was given by the Ecumenical (and hence infallible) Council of Trent in 1546. It is:

  • The five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  • Josue
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • the four books of Kings
  • two books of Paralipomenon (Chronicles)
  • the first and second books of Esdras (which latter is called Nehemias)
  • Tobias
  • Judith
  • Esther
  • Job
  • the Davidic Psalter (in number one hundred and fifty Psalms)
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • the Canticle of Canticles
  • Wisdom
  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremias
  • Baruch
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • the twelve minor Prophets (Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habakkuk, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zechariah, Malachias) and
  • the two books of Machabees, the first and second

The names here differ from modern conventions, and the list omits the fact that there are sections to Daniel and Esther which are not in Protestant Bibles, but the list matches the books in a New American Bible (NAB). See the list at:

It's fair to say that this list was first compiled by Pope Damascus in 382 A.D. His list of the Old Testament contained all of the Deuterocanonicals — that's the term for the disputed books beyond the count of 66. It was also the first definitive list of the New Testament books.

The definitive and authoritative list of the Canon of Sacred Scripture of the New Testament is:

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts of the Apostles
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

All our separated brethren accept the decision that Roman Catholic bishops made, guided by the Holy Spirit, on what books make up the New Testament canon. There is no disagreement between what Catholics and Protestants use for the canon of the New Testament.

If you want great detail on this question, including patristic references, see the Catholic Encyclopedia article at:

<Canon of the Old Testament from New Advent>.

More patristic references and a wealth of other valuable information (more readable than the previous article) are available at:

<Questions and answers on the Canon of Scripture> from the Nazareth Resource Library; see the second set of articles.

These are excellent articles I highly recommend from a respected Catholic author and speaker. Even more authoritative than me, and perfect for printing out and handing to the members of your church.

There is really no question whatsoever that Catholics accept more than 66 books in their canon. Otherwise, the volume of Protestants attempting to refute our canon would be silent! They would have nothing to object to. I mean, it's rather simple: Go to any bookstore, look for a Bible labeled "Catholic", and examine the table of contents. That's all there is to it.

Hope this helps,

Eric Ewanco

John replied:

Hi Dan,

To add to what Eric said, the canon was long accepted dating back to the Councils of Hippo and Carthage when the New Testament was dogmatically canonized. However, the universal Magisterium has maintained the same Old Testament canon since that time.

The Council of Trent simply restated what the Church already held in a formal way.

Besides the canon compiled by Pope Damascus, which Eric mentioned, you will also find the identical canon listed in some of the writings of St. Augustine. The very first canon was compiled at the Council of Rome in 382 A.D.

Hope this helps,

John DiMascio

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