Canonicity of The Old Testamant

Canonicity is attributed to sources that are considered accurate and authoritative. It's further reinforced by having strong relevance and reliability in a collection of material. In the case of Old Testament books, canonicity is of chief concern. For people to simply believe the Old Testament is God's Word without having due diligence is to build one's faith on uncertain terrain. One can have a child's faith to believe in the finished work of Christ but would betray additional commands to:


"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." -2nd Timothy 2:15


Or as Hebrews 5:12-14 reasons:


"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."


These 'powers of discernment' come from having a firm understanding of why the Old Testament is God's Word manifested in written form. Answers for why people believe the Bible to be true are simply not acceptable to say "Because God says so". While God's Sovereignty is indeed made universally plain (Romans 1:20), He has given everyone the ability to reason (Isaiah 1:18) whether His Word is true or not.


Therefore, we begin by examining the 66 books that make up the Old Testament which are:

    1 Samuel
    2 Samuel
    1 Kings
    2 Kings
    1 Chronicles
    2 Chronicles
    Song of Solomon


I. Composition


The first five books of the Old Testament (OT) are called the 'Torah' or 'Pentateuch', which were written by Moses. Moses was the only man to have received God's Word in written form on two stone tablets that are widely known to be the Ten Commandments (Exodus 31:18). The Torah is part of the Tanakh, which is sectioned in three ways: the Torah (Law), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings).


Additionally, throughout the OT, various authors refer back to the Torah (McDonald 2020), which establishes the credibility and authority of Moses by God (Deut. 4:14; 5:1–2; 1 Kings. 2:3; 8:9; 2 Kings. 14:6 Ezra 7:6; Neh. 1:7; 8:1; Ps. 103:7; Dan. 9:13; 2 Chron. 23:18; 25:4; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 19:7–8; 22:24; Acts 3:22; 7:37–38; Rom. 10:19; 1 Cor. 9:9; Heb. 9:19; Rev. 15:3).


In 170 AD (Eusebius and Oulton 2000) , Melito, bishop of Sardis wrote about the OT composition saying


"When I came to the east and reached the place where these things were preached and done, and learnt accurately the books of the Old Testament, I set down the facts and sent them to you. These are their names: five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kingdoms, two books of Chronicles, the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon and his Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Twelve in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra."


II. Consistency


We see Christ and New Testament (NT) authors quote heavily from OT Scripture over 295 times (Nicole 1959, 137-41). This includes all sections of the Tanakh.


III. Centeredness


The entirety of Scripture is centered on Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-4). When determining what is truly from God's Word, we must look at that work's centeredness to the Gospel of Christ. Any deviation from this center should throw a red flag to its agreeableness, authenticity, and authority.





Eusebius, and John E. Oulton. The Ecclesiastical History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 2000.


McDonald, Richard. “Did Moses Write All of the Pentateuch? (Even His Own Obituary?).” Southern Equip. Last modified June 26, 2020.


Roger Nicole, "New Testament Use of the Old Testament," in Revelation and the Bible, ed. Carl F.H. (London: Tyndale Press, 1959, pp. 137-41.