Question Number 39:

What is the Old Testament canon of the Orthodox Church? Is the Apocrypha recognized as canonical?


The Orthodox Old Testament includes both canonical (or protocanonical) books and supplemental books which are not considered canonical (i.e. protocanonical) but deuterocanonical or in Greek Anaginoskomena ("to be read").

Deuterocanonical is used here in a sense that is different than the Roman Catholic sense. In Roman Catholic terminology, "deuterocanonical" means approved later but with the same canonical authority. In the Orthodox use, "deuterocanonical" means having secondary authority, but useful and part of the Biblical library (no Orthodox Bible would not contain them). The Scriptures testify to Jesus Christ and since neither Protestants nor Jews recognize these Scriptures, their power to serve as witness is inferior. However, they are read in the Orthodox churches and have great value.

This view is faithful to the position of the earliest Christians (i.e. Justin, Origen) as well as the distinction connected with Athanasius and other important Fathers.

Answered on 4/13/2009 by Fr Laurent

Find similar questions with the keywords: Apocrypha, Canon, Deuterocanonical


  • Laffiteau said on November 21, 2011:

    I would like to confirm a few things.
    1. What books do Eastern Orthodox consider Apocryphal books?(I know Gospel of Judas and some other supposedly fraudulent Gospels)
    2. What books do you call Deuterocannonical books?
    3. When were these Deuterocannonical books authorized and was there anytime that the bible did not have these books?

  • Grant Nerove said on September 23, 2012:

    You say they have a secondary authority. What does this mean? Namely, are you saying that they are not infallible? If they are infallible, then what about their nature, or subject matter makes them secondary?

  • Phillip Johnson said on October 8, 2013:

    Anytime this topic is discussed, the books in question are OT inter-testamental period plus some additions to other OT books. There is no debate among Christian sects regarding the NT canonicity.
    A list of those referenced in the question are:
    1-4 Maccabees
    Additions to Daniel
    Additions to Esther
    Epistle of Jeremiah
    The Prayer of Manasseh

Add your comment to this answer here.