Canon of Scripture

The canon of scripture are the accepted books of the Bible.  The Protestant church has 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 on the New Testament.  The Catholic, Anglican, Ethiopian, and Greek Orthodox churches all have additional books that they consider scriptural.  These books are considered apocryphal as they are not unanimously supported but instead questioned by different sects of Christianity.

While many factors decided what ultimately is considered scripture some of it simply comes down to tradition.  The early church recognized from the beginning that certain books and letters carried important significance and thus circulated books as such.  Paul recognized that he was writing scripture but certainly not all of his writings were scripture.  His letters to the Corinthians reference additional letters that he wrote that are not a part of the Bible and have not survived.

By the 400’s AD the canon of scripture was relatively settled with the 27 accepted books of the New Testament.  All Christian churches agree on these books although different churches have the books in a slightly different order.  The apocryphal books are all in the Old Testament of each church’s Bible.

Apocrypha

The word is taken from the Greek language and means something that is hidden.  As it relates to the Bible it is in reference to certain books of the Bible that are questioned by some Christians.  The most common example of this are the books of the Catholic church that the Protestant church rejects.

The reason some books are rejected has to do with many factors.  The canon of scripture left these books out however.  Part of the apocrypha is the pseudepigrapha (which means false writings).  These writings are rejected as they claim to be by a person who didn’t write it such as the Gospel of Thomas which is believed to have been written several centuries after the apostle Thomas.