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This Volume One of a three volume set studies the books included in the Old Testament (OT) and considers other books that could have been included in it but were not. Each of the 39 books in the OT are reviewed in detail, and it is explained why they were included in the OT. Then the debate about the “extra” books found in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles as compared to Protestant and Jewish Bibles is addressed. Lastly, other books that some wonder why they are not included in the OT are discussed. It is explained why these books were rejected.
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The Three Volumes
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?: Volume One - A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the Old Testament
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?: Volume Two - A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the New Testament
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?: Volume Three - The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament Apocrypha
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Table of Contents
[Page numbers refer to the hardcopy versions]
Introductory Pages: ……………….……………….. 5
Preface ………...…………………...……..…………. 7
Analytical-Literal Translation ………………..………… 8
Old Testament Texts …………………...……………... 9
Hebrews, Israelites, Jews ……………….……………. 10
Terminology Notes ………………………..………… 11
Biblical Chronology …………..……………..………. 12
Abbreviations and Other Notes ……………………… 13
Books in the Old Testament: ……………………… 19
1 – Overview of the Old Testament Canon ...…....…… 21
2 – The Torah ...…………………………………..…. 39
3 – The Historical Books ………………………..…..... 73
4 – The Poetic Books ..……………………………… 131
5 – The Major Prophetic Books ……………………... 159
6 – The Minor Prophetic Books ……………………... 193
7 – Summary So Far ………………………………... 219
Books Not in the Old Testament: ………………… 221
8 – Introduction to A/D Books ...…………………… 223
9 – Catholic A/D Books ...…………………………... 237
10 – Eastern Orthodox A/D Books …………………. 287
11 – OT Orthodox Pseudepigraphal Books ………… 313
12 – OT Heretical Pseudepigraphal Books …………. 357
13 – Conclusion to the Canon of the OT ……………. 379
Appendixes ………………………………………. 381
1 – Bibliography ……………………………....….... 383
2 – Current Books by the Author ………………….... 391
3 – Proposed Books by the Author ………………..... 399
4 – Author’s Websites, Newsletters, and Social Sites/
Contacting the Author ………………………..... 407
Christians claim the Bible is the Word of God, that it is the final authority in all matters relating to Christian faith and practice, and that it is absolutely reliable in all that it teaches. But to put such confidence in the Bible requires that the correct books are in the Bible. But is there? Why are the 66 books in the Bible in the Bible, and why were other books that could have been included not included?
This subject is very important but also complicated, so complicated that it will take three volumes to fully cover it. This Volume One will study the books included in the Old Testament (OT) and consider other books that could have been included in it but were not. Volume Two will cover the books included in the New Testament (NT). Volume Three will look at the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, some of which were seriously considered for inclusion in the NT. It will also investigate other writings that many wonder why they are not included in the NT.
In this first volume, each of the 39 books included in the OT will be reviewed in detail. Who wrote them and when, their theology, and other pertinent background information will be discussed to explain why they are included in the OT.
Then the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books will be considered. These are the “extra” books found in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles as compared to Protestant and Jewish Bibles. The debate over them will be addressed in detail.
Lastly, other books that some wonder why they are not included in the OT will be addressed. It will be explained why these books were rejected.
The author is the translator of the Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible. The ALT consists of translations of the Old Testament Greek Septuagint, the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books, the New Testament Greek Majority Text, and the Apostolic Fathers. He is thus very familiar with all of the books to be discussed in this three volume set, having translated most of them. He is also the author of many other books related to the Bible. Working on this distinct translation of the Bible and these other Bible-based books gives the author a unique perspective on these topics.
This chronology is based on Biblical statements and correlation of Biblical events with the known dates for secular historical events. It also includes other important events for this study. Some dates are approximate.
2166 – Birth of Abram/ Abraham
2066 – Birth of Isaac
2006 – Birth of Jacob/ Israel and Esau
1991 – Death of Abraham
1916 – Birth of Joseph
1899 – Joseph sold into slavery into Egypt
1876 – Jacob/ Israel and his family migrate to Egypt
1806 – Death of Joseph
1526 – Birth of Moses
1446 – The Exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt
1406 – Entrance of the Hebrews into the Promised Land
1400-1100 – Period of the Judges
1100 – Beginning of Samuel’s ministry
1052 – Reign of Saul begins
1010 – Reign of David begins
970 – Reign of Solomon begins
931 – Split into Northern and Southern Kingdoms
722 – Fall of Israel to Assyria
605 – Daniel and other Jews taken captive to Babylon
597 – Zedekiah and other Jews taken captive to Babylon
586 – Destruction of the temple and Jerusalem
537 – Cyrus’ decree for Jews for return to Jerusalem
430 – End of Nehemiah and thus of the OT narrative
420 – Malachi; last book of the Old Testament
336-323 – Reign of Alexander the Great
300-200 – Translation of the Septuagint
250 BC to 70 AD – Dead Sea Scrolls written
175-134 – Maccabean period
146 – Greece made into a province of the Roman Empire
63 – Romans under Pompey conquer Jerusalem/ occupy Judea
4 – Birth of Jesus
Chapter One: Overview of the Old Testament Canon
The Bible consists of 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament (OT) and 27 in the New Testament (NT). This first volume of this three volume set will discuss the OT and why these 39 books were included in the OT and not others. We will begin by overviewing the canon of the OT.
Note: In general, the word “canon” means “a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.” In reference to the Bible, it means, “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine” (Oxford). More specifically, it means “The books of the Bible officially accepted as Holy Scripture” (YourDictionary).
As used in this book, the canon of Scripture is the list of books considered to be inspired by God and thus authoritative. As such, they are fully reliable, so doctrine, spiritual practice, and ethics can be based upon them….
Start with the Nature of God
Why these 39 books? It all starts with Genesis and its portrayal of the nature of God. The most important points are the following:
1In [the] beginning God made the heaven and the earth…. And God saw all, as many [things] as He made, and behold, [it was] very good (Genesis 1:1,31).
These verses are teaching one God directly created the material universe and that universe was very good at its creation. This might not sound that profound today, but it was earthshaking at the time. The idea of there being only one God was not very common in ancient times. Most people at that time believed in many gods (polytheism). But the Hebrew religion has at its root the belief that there is only one true God (monotheism). …
Putting all of this together, the Hebrew conception of God and His creation is there is only one true God, that this one true God directly created the real physical universe and thus this one true God is sovereign over and intimately involved with His creation and especially with human beings, who are the pinnacle of His creation, that this universe as it was created was good, but it is fallen, and thus suffering and death now exist in it, but there is secure hope of a future Redeemer and thus of a better world, as God is still sovereign over His creation.
The point of all of this in regards to the canon of the OT is this conception of God and His creation is foundational to the Hebrew religion. As such, any and all books that would be included in the canon had to present this conception of God and His creation. This doesn’t me a book had to present all of these points to be accepted, but that it could not contain anything contrary to them, and any books presenting a different viewpoint would be rejected. Thus Genesis and its presentation of the nature of God and creation is the starting point for the OT canon....
Chapter Two: The Torah
The Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These five books are also called the Pentateuch. The latter four books of the Torah present the same viewpoint of God and His relationship to His creation as Genesis. This can be seen in the following passages.
God in the Rest of the Torah
The traditional view is that Moses wrote the Torah. The idea is he wrote Genesis through a revelation of the events from God and the other four books by his own experience of being an eye-witness of the events. This viewpoint can be seen throughout the Torah itself and elsewhere in the Bible. It is seen in the Torah in the following verses …
Despite this overwhelming Scriptural evidence that Moses was the primary author of the Torah, liberal critics today deny its Mosaic authorship. They claim the Torah consists of four different documents written by four different people over a period of many years, all written centuries after the events, and that these different documents were woven together in their current form sometime in the sixth century BC. This is known as the Documentary Hypothesis or the JEPD theory….
An Alternative Theory for Genesis
It has been argued so far that Moses is the primary author of the Torah, with Scripture quotes demonstrating that positon. But if you go back and look over those quotes, you will see later Scripture passages quoting from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and attributing the material to Moses. But in none of those verses is a quotation from Genesis attributed to Moses. In fact, there are a couple of passages where mention of Moses in connection with Genesis seems to be deliberately avoided. Consider Matthew 19:3-9 …
This theory is Moses translated Genesis; he did not write it. The idea is the narratives of Genesis were written down by the principals involved in each narrative in ancient cuneiform script on stone tablets (or maybe later sections in other ancient languages on other ancient writing materials). These individual tablets and/ or documents were then combined together to form the book of Genesis.
The division between the original documents is the phrase, “This [is] the scroll of generation” as it is rendered in the ALT in Genesis 2:4….
If the theory is true, that Moses translated Genesis from ancient documents and that Moses is the primary author of the other four books of the Torah, then there are several important implications….
We thus have several standards for a book to be included in the OT. First and foremost, its theology of God and of nature must concur with the previously stated essential doctrines. Second, it must be written by an eyewitness or at by least someone who received his information from eyewitnesses, either directly or through written sources. Third, the book must be written in Hebrew by a Hebrew and have significant for all Hebrews and by extension for all peoples. There will be other standards that will be mentioned as we proceed, but these are the essentials. In the following chapters, these standards will be applied to the other books included in the OT.
Chapter Five: The Major Prophetic Books
The previous chapter discussed the Poetic Books. This chapter will begin our discussion of the Prophetic Books. They are often divided into the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. This chapter will study the former and the next the latter. But first, a general point that applies to all of these prophetic books needs to be mentioned.
With the Prophetic Books, we will add one more standard for a book to be included in the canon of Scripture to the ones discussed previously. This new standard also comes from the Torah [Deut 18:21,22 is quoted]:
The point is, if a prophet predicts something is going to happen and it does not happen, then that prophet is a false prophet. Thus any writings by that prophet would be rejected for inclusion in the Bible.
This standard became very important in Israel prior to the Assyrian captivity and in Judah prior to the Babylonian captivity. There were many prophets who were proclaiming that Israel and Judah would not be conquered by Assyria and Babylon, respectively. But when Israel and Judah were so conquered, Jerusalem and the temple destroyed, and the people taken in captivity, then those prophets were exposed as being false prophets. Thus any of their writings would be rejected for inclusion in the OT.
Conversely, there were many prophets who were predicting these destructions and captivities. Thus after their predictions came to pass, the Israelites and Jews now understood they were speaking for God. As a result, these once detested prophets were now accepted as being true prophets of God, and their writings were included in the canon of the OT.
However, this new standard does not negate the previous ones, especially the one about there being only one true God (Deut 13:1-4 is quoted].…
Chapter Eight: Introduction to Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books
The 39 books discussed in the previous chapters are all included in the Septuagint (LXX). Along with these books, the LXX also includes several additional books. Since these books are included in the LXX, I translated them and included them in Volume Five of my Analytical Literal Translation. Following is the Preface from that volume, modified somewhat for inclusion here.
[This Preface is posted on the Preview page for that volume on my Christian website. Also on that page is the Table of Contents, which lists these Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical (A/D) books.]....
The preceding order is the most common and logical order that I found for these books and the one that I use in my translation. It will also be the order in which these books will be discussed in the next two chapters. But the order of these books will differ elsewhere as there is no standard order for them….
The numbering of verses might also differ between Bibles. I have followed the numbering of the Greek text I translated or the most common numbering.
The lack of standards for the order of the books and verse numberings shows the confusion surrounding these books and that they do not have the same respect as the proto OT books.
The next point to note is the statement in the Preface as to the original language of these books. Some of them were written in Hebrew as with all of the proto OT books, but most were written in Greek. This means these books do not fit the standard of OT books being written in Hebrew. For the ones written in Hebrew, only the Greek texts of the LXX are extant, showing again the lack of respect for them….
History of Usage
The Church Fathers after the apostles often used the A/D books and even quoted them as Scripture. But that is because they only knew Greek, not Hebrew, and thus used the LXX….
However, Paul’s statement quoted in Chapter One that Jews “were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2) is important in this regard. Hebrew-speaking Jews who used the Hebrew Bible have never considered these books to be canonical. This is reported by first century Jewish historian Josephus…
This is the background to an often heated debate today as to whether the Protestant Reformers “removed” the A/D books from the Bible or if the Roman Catholic Church “added” them. In a way, both are correct. The A/D books were never part of the Hebrew Bible; thus the Roman Catholic Church can be said to have added them by way of the Vulgate and the Council of Trent.
However, the Reformers did not use the Vulgate when they translated the Bible into their native languages. They instead translated the Hebrew text, which does not contain the A/D books; thus, they did not include them, or they put in in a separate section to indicate they were not Scripture. As such, as compared to the Vulgate, yes, they removed them, but as compared to the Hebrew text, they did not, as they were never a part of the Hebrew Bible….
Another difficult issue for the average person to understand is the quality of the Greek of these books, but I will try to make it as easy as possible. I mentioned in the Summary in the previous chapter that by and large translating the OT was not that difficult, and it was similar with the NT, as will be discussed in Volume Two. But many of these books were incredibly difficult to translate, as I will relate as we proceed….
A somewhat easier issue is the use by the NT of these books. In my translation I included many cross-references within brackets to the proto OT and NT books within the A/D books. Most importantly, I included references to where a NT passage might in some way be dependent on an A/D passage, and some of those will be discussed as we proceed….
With that background, we will proceed to a discussion of each book in turn in the next chapter.
Chapter Nine: Catholic Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books
I will start this discussion of the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical (A/D) books with those books included in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canons. But I am calling these “Catholic A/D books” to distinguish them for those books that are only considered canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which will be discussed in the next chapter….
Wisdom of Solomon
The next A/D book to be considered is the Wisdom of Solomon, or simply Wisdom for short.
Author and Dating:
The Wisdom of Solomon was probably written in the second century BC, between 220 and 100 BC (ISBE; Jewish; Wisdom), so it could not have been written by Solomon, despite the name….
Confirming that this book could not have been written by Solomon is that it was originally written in Greek, not Hebrew, despite some early Church Fathers believing it was written in Hebrew by Solomon. This is even admitted by a Catholic website…
Difficulty of the Text:
This book differs from the protocanonical Poetic Books in that the Greek text is rather unintelligible. Tobit, Judith, and first half of the Wisdom of Solomon were relatively easy to translate, but it is starting with the second half of Wisdom that the difficulty of the Greek text of these books that was discussed previously becomes very noticeable, at least to those who are dealing with the Greek text. English readers will not notice this problem with the A/D books so it will be good to investigate this issue a bit further….
In the Wisdom of Solomon, wisdom is personified as a woman. That is also done in the Book of Proverbs, especially chapters 8-9. But the Wisdom goes beyond Proverbs in exalting this personified Wisdom to sounding like a goddess equal to the LORD…
Appeal and Conclusion:
As for the appeal of this book, it does have sound advice in terms of the importance of living a righteous life versus an unrighteous one. But for this writer, that gets lost in the midst of the extremely hard to translate Greek and the problematic theology. For these reasons, the Book of Wisdom should not be part of the canon of Scripture….
Conclusion to Catholic Deuterocanonical Books
1Maccabees would probably be the Catholic A/D book for which the best argument could be made that it should be a part of the OT canon. Baruch (without Chapter 6/ The Epistle of Jeremiah) would probably be second in that regard. Both of those books were most likely originally written in Hebrew and not too long after the time period addressed. The former is straightforward history, while the latter is theologically sound and fits with the general themes of the Book of Jeremiah that it is associated with. There are also possible allusions to these two books in the NT.
However, there is little to commend the rest of the Catholic A/D books and many sound arguments against their canonicity. And even for 1Maccabees and Baruch, there are reasons why they were excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons.
Chapter Eleven: Old Testament Orthodox Pseudepigraphal Books
We have now covered all of the books and other material that have ever been seriously considered for inclusion in the canon of the Old Testament (OT). But for completeness sake, we will now take a look at other Jewish writings that some wonder why they are not canonical.
These books could be called apocryphal. But to distinguish them from the books in the preceding two chapters, they are classified as being pseudepigraphal….
This Greek word means pseud- (false) + epi-(upon) + grapha- (writing) in other words it was a writing that purported to have come from the pen of someone else, and usually someone important, so as to give the writing a form of importance and authority which might have been denied to the actual author (The Prophetic Telegraph; “Apocalypse of Abraham”).
We would call these books forgeries today. On that basis alone, any pseudepigraphical (PEG) works would be excluded from the canon of Scripture, as “Any pretense or falsehood in a book naturally negates its claim of truthfulness” (GotQuestions.org; pseudepigrapha)…
Life of Adam and Eve/ Apocalypse of Moses…
Some people today seem to have a need to know everything possible about celebrities. This can be seen in the popularity of magazines and websites devoted to celebrity gossip, and PEG books like this one show this is nothing new. Such a need seems to have existed in ancient times as well, but back then it was not movie, TV, and rock stars but Bible “stars” that people wanted to know everything possible about. And books like this one probably filled that need. But like gossip today, none of these stories are reliable.
However, this and similar books about Adam and Eve do serve a purpose. They show that the idea of the human race originating from one couple and of evil and suffering originating from that couple’s sin was long believed by many people. This was not only in Hebrew circles but in other cultures as well….
Conclusion on PEG Books
There really is not much to commend these PEG books. As such, they were rightly never considered for inclusion in the OT canon. There were no “conspiracies” and no books were “lost” as some today try to claim. Even if we only recently found out about some of these books, they were not “lost” to ancient Jews. They knew about them but excluded them from the canon for the logical reasons stated. These books also add little to the study of the OT. Their only value is for historical, literary, and curiosity reasons, for those who are interested in such.
It should also be noted that by rejecting these books, it shows the Jews were not gullible, accepting as genuine any book that claimed to be written by a prominent Jewish figure or to record Jewish history. They were instead meticulous in checking out the claims of books to be considered for inclusion in their Scriptures. They rejected ones that were spurious, forgeries, and/ unreliable while accepting those for which the authorship, dating, and reliability could be determined and were theologically orthodox….
Chapter Twelve: Conclusion to the Canon of the Old Testament
Readers of the Old Testament can rest assured they are reading the correct books. The Jews had been appointed by God to be the custodians of the canon, and they carried out this privilege in a faithful, meticulous, and logical manner. The choosing or rejection of books to be included in the canon was not arbitrary but done for sound reasons. This book detailed those reasons and showed that the 39 books in the OT belong in the OT as they met all of the standards for a book to be so included.
This book also showed that the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical books do not belong in the OT, as they do not meet those standards. None of the many pseudepigraphical books, whether orthodox or heretical, met those standards either, so they were all rightly excluded.
Thus based on every human standard, the 39 books in the OT should be in the OT, and no books were excluded that should have been included. We thus can read the OT with confidence it is God’s Word, knowing the correct books are included in it….
The above Book Preview was posted on this site October 29, 2016.
It was updated June 4, 2018.
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