Deuterocanonical Books in Canon of Scripture

Author: Fr. William Most

Deuterocanonical Books in Canon of Scripture

by Fr. William Most

The Rabbis meeting at Jamnia in 90 AD., after the ruin of Jerusalem and trying to decide how to go on, did not accept Sirach as canonical, even though it was originally written in Hebrew.

It is not in the canonical list of Melito of Sardes (c.280AD) or Origen (321.AD) of the Council of Laodicea (360AD). But it is in the list of the Apostolic Constitione (middle of 3rd century, of Gelasius (382AD) and the African Councils of Hippo 393) and Carthage (397AD). But doubts about its canonicity lasted into the Middle Ages, especially under the influence of St. Jerome, who preferred the Palestinian Canon, such doubts lasted even after the Council of Florence (1441) which included it in the list of sacred books without denying its canonicity. It's canonicity was finally defined at the Council of Trent.

Yet is was used for devout reading, and was considered as inspired not only by those Fathers who adopted the longer Alexandrian Canon, but also by those who held only the shorter Palestinian. They include even St. Jerome (In Epist. ad Jul. PL 22.961 and On Is 3.13:PL 24.67, and against Pelagians 2.5, PL 23.541. It was also accepted as inspired by Clement of Alexandria, in Paidagogos 1.1 and Stromata 10.3; by Origen Peri archon 2.8; Against Celsus 6.7.12; On John 32.14; by St. Athanasius Paschal Letter 39,and Against Arians 2.79; by St. Cyril of Jerusalem 6.3; by St. Epiphanius, Against Heresies 3.1.76;and by St. Cyprian, Epistle 5.45.60; by Tertullian, Against Marcion 1.16, and by St. Augustine, Speculum de Scriptura sacra, PL 34.948ss.

Outline: Unlike Proverbs, which is so very miscellaneous, Some think that Sirach does have some organization:

I. Nature, precepts and benefits of Wisdom: 1.1 - 23.37. II. Excellence and social characteristics of wisdom: 24.1 - 42.14.

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