The Old Testament Canon

For some time now, the list of books in the Old Testament has confused me.  Why is it that the Roman Catholic (Western) and Orthodox (Eastern) Churches accept the Apocrypha, while protestants don’t?

It seems that I slightly misunderstood the Orthodox view, or that they have retracted a view previously held.  Whilst the Orthodox church accepts the Apocrypha as useful, they do not appear to consider it as scripture in a similar way to how it is viewed by Roman Catholics today.  I could be wrong, but the following seems to give a better indication of their understanding.

Quoting from ‘The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church’ (Source:

31. How many are the books of the Old Testament?
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Athanasius the Great, and St. John Damascene reckon them at twenty-two, agreeing therein with the Jews, who so reckon them in the original Hebrew tongue. (Athanas. Ep. xxxix. De Test.; J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. c. 17.)
32. Why should we attend to the reckoning of the Hebrews?
Because, as the Apostle Paul says, unto them were committed the oracles of God; and the sacred books of the Old Testament have been received from the Hebrew Church of that Testament by the Christian Church of the New. Rom. iii. 2.
33. How do St. Cyril and St. Athanasius enumerate the books of the Old Testament?
As follows: 1, The book of Genesis; 2, Exodus; 3, Leviticus; 4, the book of Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, the book of Jesus the son of Nun; 7, the book of Judges, and with it, as an appendix, the book of Ruth; 8, the first and second books of Kings, as two parts of one book; 9, the third and fourth books of Kings; 10, the first and second books of Paralipomena; 11, the first book of Esdras, and the second, or, as it is entitled in Greek, the book of Nehemiah; 12, the book of Esther; 13, the book of Job; 14, the Psalms; 15, the Proverbs of Solomon; 16, Ecclesiastes, also by Solomon; 17, the Song of Songs, also by Solomon; 18, the book of the Prophet Isaiah; 19, of Jeremiah; 20, of Ezekiel; 21, of Daniel; 22, of the Twelve Prophets.
34. Why is there no notice taken in this enumeration of the books of the Old Testament of the book of the Wisdom of the son of Sirach, and of certain others?
Because they do not exist in the Hebrew.
35. How are we to regard these last-named books?
Athanasius the Great says that they have been appointed of the Fathers to be read by proselytes who are preparing for admission into the Church.
This gives me a much more comfortable understanding as to why our Protestant canon is different.  Sure, it is wise to use these books to give us a better understanding (just as a history of the church or a commentary on the Bible is useful), but they should not be our guide for making doctrinal decisions, as they are not a part of the scriptures preserved by the Jews and passed on to the Church.

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