Biblical Canon

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The word ‘canon’ is derived from the Greek word kanon (‘measuring stick’, ‘rule’ or ‘standard’). The biblical canon is the body of sacred literature acknowledged by Judaism (the Jewish canon) and Christianity (the Christian canon).

The Jewish canon, also known as the Hebrew Bible, consists of 35 books in three main divisions: Law, Prophets, and Writings. (Christians count 39 books, but in the Hebrew Bible 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah each comprise one book.) The Jewish canon is also known as Tanakh, which is derived from the initial letters of the names of the three divisions: Torah, Nebiim (Former Prophets, Latter Prophets, and the Twelve), and Ketubim (Writings or Hagiographa).

The Protestant canon includes all the books of the Jewish canon but set in a different order, plus the New Testament. The Roman Catholic tradition and the Eastern Orthodox tradition include also the Apocrypha / Deuterocanon.