Were the Deuterocanonicals Ever a Part of the Jewish Canon of Scripture?

Isaiah in Greek

The biblical canonization process within Judaism is quite complicated. It is frequent for Protestant scholars to take Josephus’ use and list of Scriptures as representative of the basic canon of Pharisaic Judaism–which led to rabbinic, and eventually modern Judaism–arguing that the canonization process within Judaism predates the time of Jesus. Although the Council of Jamnia (or Yavneh) [end of the first century A.D.] is NOT likely the place where the Jewish biblical canon reaches its final form, that meeting did address the canonical status of certain books—Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.1 Scholars remain divided about the closing of the Jewish biblical canon. In my opinion, it seems likely that it is even later that the canon becomes more fixed within Judaism.

 What complicates matters further is that different groups within Second Temple Judaism apparently considered different books canonical. Although the biblical books used by the Pharisees is likely identical to Josephus’, which looks like the Old Testament of most Protestants, and, it should be noted, the Hebrew Bible (Tanak) of the majority of contemporary Judaism, this is not for certain. Sadducees, on the other hand, had a much smaller list of biblical books (only including the Penateuch, according to New Testament evidence). It is difficult to determine what canon was in

Sirach from the Cairo Genizah

use among the Jews at Qumran—where Esther has not been discovered but Tobit and Sirach from the deuterocanon have been found (in Aramaic and Hebrew no less)—but it appears they likely considered some of their own community’s texts as canonical.2 The question of canon at such an early stage, however, is complicated by the fact that we are not even sure what a canon would mean at that point within Judaism. Would they have understood those texts as divinely revealed, as inspired? And what would inspiration mean for them? Would there have been a canon-within-a-canon? These questions remain unresolved.

We do know, however, that certain Jewish communities did in fact use the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Bible, and that they included the deuterocanonicals as Scripture. Although far from certain, the Book of Sirach appears to have been according canonical status among some of the early rabbis (more on this in a future post). A recent discovery of medieval manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah has shown that Jews in the medieval period in Africa, and throughout the Byzantine Empire, continued to use the LXX (more on this in a future post). To this day, Ethiopian Jews use the LXX as their Bible, including the deuterocanonicals. Some Jews in antiquity used, and some Jews today continue to include the deuterocanonicals in their Scripture. More on this in future posts.

Fragment from the Cairo Genizah

For Further Reading:

Blenkinsopp, Joseph. “The Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective.” In The Canon Debate, ed. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, 53-67. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

Davies, Philip R. “The Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective.” In The Canon Debate, ed. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, 36-52. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

Mason, Steve. “Josephus and His Twenty-Two Book Canon.” In The Canon Debate, ed. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, 110-127. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

Sundberg, Albert C., Jr. “The Septuagint: The Bible of Hellenistic Judaism.” In The Canon Debate, ed. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, 68-90. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

VanderKam, James C. “Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In The Canon Debate, ed. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, 91-109. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

Yamauchi, Edwin M. “Josephus and the Scriptures.” Fides et Historia 13 (1980): 42-63.

  1. If we trust the later rabbinic sources on the matter, which I think are generally trustworthy. []
  2. At Qumran, copies of Tobit were found in both Aramaic and Hebrew, and Hebrew fragments of Sirach were present there. Hebrew portions of Sirach were also found at Masada and in the Cairo Genizah. []

52 thoughts on “Were the Deuterocanonicals Ever a Part of the Jewish Canon of Scripture?”

  1. Excellent post, Jeff. I’m not very familiar with divergent Jewish canons, so this is helpful.

    It’s fascinating and frightening how a lack of established authority leads different groups into their own ghettos of isolation as to what Scriptures they’re being molded by. This lack of visible unity in the canon is a partial illustration (of course some of the disunity is due to historical accident) of how sin fragments the family of God from the moment Adam and Eve denied God’s Fatherhood in Eden.

    Keep it coming!

  2. “the Book of Sirach appears to have been according canonical status among some”

    Did you mean “accorded”?

  3. Thanks for taking free time to write “Were the Deuterocanonicals
    Ever a Part of the Jewish Canon of Scripture? | Caritas et Veritas”.
    Thanks once again, Ofelia

  4. I was very pleased to discover this web site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!!

    I definitely loved every little bit of it and I have you saved
    to fav to check out new things in your website.

    my web site … sbobet

  5. Victoria Beckham said in a recent interview with Allure magazine that she has a
    few preferences in life – She doesn’t self-tan, she would rather have sex than sleep and it’s
    okay if you call her ‘Posh’. Be careful when engaging in oral sex
    Oral sex is safe during pregnancy, however, there are
    certain things that should never be done during oral sex, whether you’re pregnant or
    not. To her, giving of herself means that she loves you.

    Take a look at my homepage :: god michet (liber.hse.perm.ru)

  6. I have learned newer and more effective things as a result of your blog site.

    One other thing I’d really like to say is always that newer laptop
    operating systems tend to allow extra memory to be
    played with, but they in addition demand more
    ram simply to run. If one’s computer could not handle extra memory and
    the newest program requires that ram increase, it can be the time to
    buy a new Personal computer. Thanks

    Here is my blog post … skin surface

  7. Afte going over a few of the blog posts on your website, I honestly like our way of blogging.

    Iadded it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back iin the near future.
    Take a look at my web site as well and let me know your opinion.

    Here is mmy site – m88

  8. What they don’t expect is for you to go that one percent extra to solve their issue or needs.
    This lets the client choose a server with more powerful hardware for much less cost.
    Unless you can find some way to turn the ads off, you might as well invest some good money on paid
    business hosting packages.

    Also visit my weblog :: hosting cpanel

  9. We absolutely love your blog and find nearly all
    of your post’s to be exactly I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content
    for you personally? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write with regards to here.
    Again, awesome website!

    My website; breast augmentation

  10. No matter if some one searches for his essential thing,
    thus he/she wishes to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

    Here is my web site :: website (Pablo)

  11. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed
    reading it, you will be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the future.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great
    writing, have a nice afternoon!

  12. Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if
    you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or
    anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  13. โว้ววว ! ฉันจริงๆ รัก แม่แบบ / รูปแบบของ เว็บไซต์ นี้ บล็อก มันง่าย แต่มีประสิทธิภาพ
    หลายครั้งมันเป็นเรื่อง ยากมาก ยาก ที่จะได้รับ ว่า ” สมดุลที่สมบูรณ์แบบ ” ระหว่าง การใช้งาน ที่ยอดเยี่ยม มิตรต่อผู้ใช้ การใช้งาน และ ลักษณะที่ปรากฏ
    ลักษณะ ต้องบอกว่า คุณได้ ทำ
    ดี งาน นี้ นอกจากนี้ โหลด บล็อก มาก รวดเร็ว สำหรับฉันใน Firefox
    ดี บล็อก !

  14. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this
    website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.


  15. I’m not sure why but this site is loading very slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end?

    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  16. I drop a comment each time I appreciate a post on a site or
    I have something to valuable to contribute to the discussion.
    Usually it is caused by the passion displayed in the post I browsed.
    And after this article Were the Deuterocanonicals Ever
    a Part of the Jewish Canon of Scripture? | Caritas et
    Veritas. I was actually moved enough to leave a leave
    a responsea response 😛 I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s okay.
    Could it be only me or do a few of these responses look as if they are
    written by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I’d like to follow
    you. Would you make a list all of your social sites like
    your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  17. ใครบางคน สำคัญ เกื้อ วิกฤต กระทู้ ฉันอาจ ฉัน ต้องการ รัฐ .
    นี้เป็น นั่นคือ แรก ทุกครั้งที่ผม แวะเวียน
    หน้าเว็บ ป่านนี้ ?
    ฉัน ประหลาดใจ ประหลาดใจ กับ การวิจัย
    การวิเคราะห์ ที่คุณ ทำเพื่อ สร้าง นี้โดยเฉพาะ ส่ง
    พิเศษ ดี งาน

  18. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was
    conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that
    I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this topic here on your web site.

  19. Hi, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Chrome, it looks
    fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

  20. Hello There. I found your blog the use of msn.
    That is a really neatly written article. I will
    make sure to bookmark it and come back to read extra
    of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will definitely comeback.

  21. Unquestionably believe that that you stated.
    Your favourite justification appeared to be on the internet the
    easiest factor to take into accout of. I say to you,
    I definitely get annoyed while folks consider worries
    that they just do not recognize about. You
    managed to hit the nail upon the top as neatly as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , folks could take a signal.

    Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

  22. Among these gadgets will depend on them and theyre tablets food
    themed gift is the knowledge of wildlife from television and full physique excess fat
    in the market. This device will maintain its good looks and feels beautiful and elegant pieces of matter.
    There are so many things such as what one is nitrox
    dive computer so that you can take to maximize the coolness appeal: electronic card that can be
    costly possibly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe without commenting