Systematic Theology 3.a Canon of Scripture OT


For those worried about my commitment to finishing Grudem’s book – peace. I’m almost there – just another 1,100 odd pages before I’m at the appendixes (will I do those? Hmmm, you’ll have to wait and see!)

So who knew studying S.T would be like studying pirate ships with canons. Ha. Ha. Ha. Really pants joke. On with the show!

This chapter is basically explaining why we have the books in the Bible that we do, not more like the (apocrypha) or less (and only have 1 gospel in or miss out James etc). For me, I learnt the term ‘Canon’ when disney bought star wars, and the New Jedi Order series was no longer considered ‘Canon’, meaning that the Yuuzhan Vong alien (alien because they’re from another galaxy!) invasion resulting in Chewbacca’s death and a whole ton of biological weapons NEVER HAPPENED! Why? Because those books aren’t considered Star Wars Canon.

But unlike the Disney-turned franchise, the Bible’s canonising process wasn’t down to money or artistic freedom. Grudem explains.

The concept of Canon, being encouraged by God is in the Old Testament. God writes the 10 commandments with His own finger and then stores them in the Ark of the Covenant (think Indiana Jones! See – Deut 10:5) Then, Moses goes about – after spending 40 days with God face2face up a mountain and writes the first 5 books of the Bible. Although, they probably weren’t in books, and were probably not in King James English. When he’s written these – guess where they go? (Deut 31:24-26)

The Ark again. Now, given that in the law – it says over and over – “don’t add to these” (Deut 4:2, 12:32)…Either Moses is disobeying God by adding new words into the ark, OR the words he’s “adding” are from God? The fact that he puts them in the Ark with the tablets indicated what side of the argument Moses and his men came down on.

So now, we have a canon of 5 books. Gen, Ex, Lev, Num, Deut.

Moses dies and Josh takes over. What does Joshua do?? He goes and writes more. Now we know that Josh spent some solid time face2face with God as well, there were times he was with God and Moses in a tent, Moses would leave, Josh would stay (Exodus 33:11). (So He knows God pretty well too!) Anyway, Josh is writing things down and what does he do? Only add them to the  Law of God Josh 24:26. So now we have the book of Joshua.

Then the prophets get busy. Now, a Prophet is someone who speaks for God. So by definition they’re words are from God. So we take their books in. That’s like a mass addition. Not only now do we get the Major and Minor Prophets. But because Samuel writes Samuel (1 Sam 10:25 & 1 Chron 29:29) and Jehu writes Kings and Chronicles (2 Chron 20:34 & 1 Kings 16:7 – this one says he was a prophet) , we also get the History books.

Admittedly, Grudem is a little vauge on why we have Psalms, Provebs, Ecc, SoS and Ezr, Neh, Ester & Job. What he does say about them is that the Jews, and the Jews of Jesus’ day, believed them to be Spirit inspired words. And that they were written within the time frame of God inspiring words. (435 BC). For a more in depth look at canon please check this series of Seminars by John Piper. (He covers in a lot more ground – what Grudem’s book is supposed to be only an introduction on.)

So why not Apocrypha. 

  1. The NT quotes the OT 255 referring to it as ‘God says’, ‘Scripture says’ or ‘It is written’. But it doesn’t quote the apocrypha once in this way. (Grudem explains that the apcrypha is quoted twice but is never introduced in the way the OT is.) Paul also quotes greek literature at one point – but again doesn’t introduce it like it’s God’s word.
  2. There are doctrinal and historical inconsistencies with the apocrypha.
  3. The books of the apocrypha do not claim for themselves to be God’s word. Grudem actually spends a fair amount of page time exploring various passages from Maccabes and other Jewish literature at the time. (I’ve taken him at his word on this – but for those interested in further study go for it! (1 Macc 4.45-46, 9:27, 14.41 as a starting place)
  4. This wasn’t in Grudem, but I remember from a while back when I watched the Piper seminars on this the most convincing argument for me: was that Jesus himself didn’t read the apocrypha – when He was on earth. (Luke 11.51) This is the time frame of God word for Jesus. But I will be watching the Piper stuff again soon to re-jog my memory on it all.

Man, long post! Good thing the last was short! We’ll do NT next time and then response to questions/application on from that!

On the difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the protestant Church (because the two have different views on the apocrypha). Grudem writes:

For the Catholics “The church has the authority to constitute a literary work as “Scripture”. But Protestants have held the view that the church cannot make something to be scripture, but can only recognise what God has already caused to be written as His own words.

So the core belief is, I think, down to the authority of the Church in relation to Scripture.

Analogy: Does the Church function like the treasury or a police inspector detecting counterfeit money?


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