John of Damascus Affirms the Same Old Testament Canon as Protestants

John Damascene, in The Orthodox Faith 4.17, bears witness to the same canonical reckoning of the inspired Old Testament books as the Protestants:

One must know that there are twenty-two books of the Old Testament, corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, for the Hebrews have twenty-two letters, of which five are doubled so as to make twenty-seven. Thus, kaph, mem, nun, pe, and sade are double. For this reason the books, too, are numbered this way and are found to be twenty-seven, because five of them are doubled. Ruth is combined with Judges and counted as one book by the Hebrews. Kings 1 and 2 make one book; 3 and 4 Kings, one book; 1 and 2 Paralipomenon, one book; and 1 and 2 Esdras, one book. Thus, the books fall into four groups of five, as follows. There are five books of the Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This first group of five is also called the Law. Then, another group of five books called the Writings, or, by some, the Sacred Books, which are as follows: Josue, son of Nave; Judges, together with Ruth; 1 and 2 Kings [i.e., 1 and 2 Samuel for Protestants] making one book; 3 and 4 Kings [i.e., 1 and 2 Kings for Protestants] making one book; and the two Paralipomenons [i.e., 1 and 2 Chronicles] making one book. This is the second group of five books. A third group of five is made up of the poetical books, namely: Job, the Psalter, the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of the same, and the Canticle of Canticles of the same. A fourth group of five books is the prophetic, which is made up of the twelve minor Prophets, making one book, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, and then the two books of Esdras [i.e., Ezra and Nehemiah for Protestants] combined into one, and Esther. The All-Virtuous Wisdom, however, that is to say, the Wisdom of Solomon – and the Wisdom of Jesus, which the father of Sirach composed in Hebrew but which was translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus son of Sirach – these are indeed admirable and full of virtue, but they are not counted, nor were they placed in the Ark.

Expressly does he exclude the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach) from his count, while he includes all the books that Protestant reckon within the Old Testament canon.

I wonder how today’s Byzantine apologists against the Protestant churches, in order to attack the catholic canon of Scripture as ‘incomplete’ – not knowing that in so doing they join in an invention of the Council of Trent with the Jesuits – explain away these words from the very Church father by whom they say their doctrine of images is established. Shall they also attack John Damascene for truncating and mutilating the canon of Scripture, or shall they acknowledge that Anglicans in excluding the Apocrypha from the canonical books have merely upheld the judgement of the Church catholic?

2 responses to “John of Damascus Affirms the Same Old Testament Canon as Protestants

  1. As far as I can tell, this comes out to 38 books, leaving out Lamentations. Did they count it and Jeremiah as one book?

    Liked by 1 person

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