The protocanonical books are those books of the Old Testament that are also included in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) and that came to be considered Biblical canon, canonical during the Proto-orthodox Christianity, formational period of orthodox Christianity. The Old Testament is entirely rejected by some forms of Gnostic Christianity, but the Hebrew Bible was adhered to even more tightly by Jewish Christians than Gentile Christians. The term ''protocanonical'' is often used to contrast these books to the deuterocanonical books or Biblical apocrypha, apocrypha, which "were sometimes doubted" by some in the early church, and are considered non-canonical by most Protestantism, Protestants. There are typically 39 protocanonical books in most Christian bibles, which correspond to the 24 books in the Jewish Tanakh.


The list of protocanonical books is Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Book of Joshua, Joshua, Book of Judges, Judges, Book of Ruth, Ruth, Books of Samuel, 1–2 Samuel, Books of Kings, 1–2 Kings, Books of Chronicles, 1–2 Chronicles, Book of Ezra, Ezra, Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah, Book of Esther, Esther, Book of Job, Job, Psalms, Book of Proverbs, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Book of Isaiah, Isaiah, Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Book of Lamentations, Lamentations, Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel, Book of Daniel, Daniel, Book of Hosea, Hosea, Book of Joel, Joel, Book of Amos, Amos, Book of Obadiah, Obadiah, Book of Jonah, Jonah, Book of Micah, Micah, Book of Nahum, Nahum, Book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk, Book of Zephaniah, Zephaniah, Book of Haggai, Haggai, Book of Zechariah, Zechariah, and Book of Malachi, Malachi.


These books are typically 39 in number in most English-language bibles. Based on the Jewish tradition of the Tanakh, these same books may be counted as 24 books, counting the twelve minor prophets together as one book, one book each for 1 and 2 Books of Samuel, Samuel, 1 and 2 Books of Kings, Kings, and 1 and 2 Books of Chronicles, Chronicles, as well as a Ezra–Nehemiah, single book for Book of Ezra, Ezra and Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah. In his prologues, Jerome counted the same content as 22 books, combining Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah with Book of Lamentations, Lamentations and Book of Judges, Judges with Book of Ruth, Ruth. The list given in Codex Hierosolymitanus numbers the same books at 27. These enumerations were sometimes given a numerological significance. The 22-book enumeration was said to represent the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet; the 5 double books (Book of Judges, Judges/Book of Ruth, Ruth, Books of Samuel, 1/2 Samuel, Books of Kings, 1/2 Kings, Books of Chronicles, 1/2 Chronicles, Book of Ezra, Ezra/Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah, and Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah/Book of Lamentations, Lamentations) representing the five Hebrew letters that have double forms, Kaph, chaph, mem, Nun (letter), nun, Pe (Semitic letter), phe, and Tsade, sade. The 24-book enumeration was said to be represented by the 24 elders who cast down their crowns before the Lamb of God, Lamb in the Book of Revelation. The 27-book enumeration balances one-for-one the New Testament canon, 27 canonical books of the New Testament.

Early variants

Most of the protocanonical books were broadly accepted among early Christians. However, some were omitted by a few of the earliest Biblical canon, canons, The Marcionites, an early Christian sect that was dominant in some parts of the Roman Empire, recognised a Marcionites#Marcionite canon, reduced canon excluding the entire Hebrew Bible in favor of a modified version of Gospel of Luke, Luke and ten of the Pauline epistles. Apart from the extreme example of the Marcionites, isolated disagreements over certain books' canonicity continued for centuries. Athanasius, a fourth-century bishop of Alexandria, omitted Book of Esther, Esther from his list, potentially having been influenced by an early 22-book Canon of the Hebrew Bible, Jewish canon, possibly the one mentioned but not specified by Josephus. Theodore of Mopsuestia omitted Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Book of Job, Job, and Ezra–Nehemiah to obtain a listing of 22 books.

New Testament

By analogy with the early and broad acceptance of many of the Hebrew and Septuagint, Greek scriptural texts, the term ''protocanonical'' is also sometimes used to describe those works of the 27 book New Testament which were the most widely accepted by the early Church (the Homologoumena, a Greek term meaning "confessed and undisputed"), as distinguished from the remaining books (the Antilegomena, "spoken against"). Some of the Antilegomena, such as the Book of Revelation, later joined the protocanonical books in the canon. It may also be used to refer to all 27 books in their entirety, since they all have been recognized for 1500 years by almost all Christianity, Christians, especially when making a distinction between them and uncanonical writings of the early Church.



* {{Books of the Bible Old Testament books