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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Holy Scriptures.


  • The Catechism Today
  • All the Church Fathers
  • From The Scriptures



This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


The entire section from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacred Scriptures can be read on this page, while the other two aspects of the Scriptures have been duplicated on their corresponding pages:

        • The Church, as the Expounder
        • Private Interpretation, and
        • Apostolic Tradition.

Article 3: Sacred Scripture

  1. Christ — The Unique Word Of Sacred Scripture
  2. Inspiration And Truth Of Sacred Scripture
  3. The Holy Spirit, Interpreter Of Scripture
  4. The Canon Of Scripture
  5. Sacred Scripture In The Life Of The Church

I. Christ — The Unique Word Of Sacred Scripture

101 In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 13)

102 Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely: (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3)

You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.


(St. Augustine, En. in Psalm 103,4,1:PL 37,1378; cf. Psalm 104; John 1:1)

103 For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 21)

104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God". (1 Thessalonians 2:13; cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 24) "In the sacred books, the Father who is in Heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 21)

II. Inspiration And Truth Of Sacred Scripture

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11; cf. John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:15-16)

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

108 Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living". (St. Bernard, S. missus est hom. 4,11:PL 183,86) If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures." (cf. Luke 24:45)


III. The Holy Spirit, Interpreter Of Scripture


109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 1)


110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 2)


(111 — 114) But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 3)


The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 4)

  1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.

    (cf. Luke 24:25-27,44-46)

    The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.

    (St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in Psalm 21,11; cf. Psalm 22:14)

  2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture.

    (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church." Origen, Homily in Leviticus 5,5:PG 12,454D)

  3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. (cf. Romans 12:6) By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The senses of Scripture


(115 — 117) According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

  1. The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal." (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 1, 10, ad I)

  2. The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

    • The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2)

    • The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction". (1 Corinthians 10:11; cf. Hebrews 3:1-4:11)

    • The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem. (cf. Revelation 21:1-22:5)

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.


(Lettera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria, moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia; Augustine of Dacia, Rotulus pugillaris, I: ed. A. Walz: Angelicum 6 (1929) 256)

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 3)

But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.


(St. Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei, 5,6:PL 42,176)

IV. The Canon Of Scripture


120 It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 8 § 3) This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New. (cf. Denzinger-Schonmetzer 179; 1334-1336; 1501-1504)


The Old Testament:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.

The New Testament:

The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of St. Paul to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letters of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, and Revelation (the Apocalypse).

The Old Testament


121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 14) for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.


122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 15) "Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional," (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 15) the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God's saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 15)


123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism).


The New Testament


124 "The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament"
(Vatican II, Dei Verbum 17; cf. Romans 1:16) which hand on the ultimate truth of God's Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit's guidance. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 20)


125 The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures "because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior". (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 18)


126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

  1. The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, "whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 19; cf. Acts 1:1-2)

  2. The oral tradition. "For, after the ascension of the Lord, the apostles handed on to their hearers what he had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 19)

  3. The written Gospels. "The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 19)

127 The fourfold Gospel holds a unique place in the Church, as is evident both in the veneration which the liturgy accords it and in the surpassing attraction it has exercised on the saints at all times:

There is no doctrine which could be better, more precious and more splendid than the text of the Gospel. Behold and retain what our Lord and Master, Christ, has taught by his words and accomplished by his deeds.


(St. Caesaria the Younger to St. Richildis and St. Radegunde, SCh 345, 480)

But above all it's the gospels that occupy my mind when I'm at prayer; my poor soul has so many needs, and yet this is the one thing needful. I'm always finding fresh lights there; hidden meanings which had meant nothing to me hitherto.


(St. Thérèse of Lisieux, ms. autobiography A 83v.)

The unity of the Old and New Testaments


128 The Church, as early as apostolic times, (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6,11; Hebrews 10:l; l Peter 3:21) and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God's works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.


129 Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself. (cf. Mark 12:29-31) Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament. (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; 10:1-11) As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New. (cf. St. Augustine, Quaest. in Hept. 2,73:PL 34,623; cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 16)


130 Typology indicates the dynamic movement toward the fulfillment of the divine plan when "God [will] be everything to everyone." (1 Corinthians 15:28) Nor do the calling of the patriarchs and the exodus from Egypt, for example, lose their own value in God's plan, from the mere fact that they were intermediate stages.


V. Sacred Scripture In The Life Of The Church


131 "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 21) Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 22)


132 "Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 24)


133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 25; cf. Phil 3:8 and St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Isaiam libri xviii prol.:PL 24,17B)


In Brief


134 All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ,

"because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ."


(Hugh of St. Victor, De arca Noe 2,8:PL 176,642: cf. ibid. 2,9:PL 176,642-643)

135 "The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 24)


136 God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)


137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully "understood except by the Spirit's action'. (cf. Origen, Hom. in Exodus. 4, 5: PG 12, 320)


138 The Church accepts and venerates as inspired the 46 books of the Old Testament and the
27 books of the New.


139 The four Gospels occupy a central place because Christ Jesus is their center.


140 The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of God's plan and his Revelation. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old; the two shed light on each other; both are true Word of God.


141 "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord" (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105; cf. Isaiah 50:4)



  1. St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    St. Serapion of Alexandria, (A.D. 190-211)
    St. Dionysius of Alexandria, (A.D. c. late second century-264)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    Council of Carthage, (A.D. 345-419)
    Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496)
    Andrew of Cæsarea, (A.D. 563 - 637)
    Councils of Toledo, (from the 5th to 7th century)

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

"(This is) true knowledge, the teaching of the Apostles, and the long-established (ancient) system of the Church throughout the whole world; and the mark of Christ's body according to the successions of the bishops, to whom they (the Apostles) delivered that Church, which is in every place; the most perfect treatment of the Scriptures which has come down even to us without deception in the guardianship, admitting neither addition nor diminution; both the reading unfalsified, and the exposition according to (as regards) the Scriptures legitimate and careful, and without danger, and without blasphemy."

Adv. Hæres. l. iv. c. 33. n. 7,8 page 272
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 127

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

The following is part of a valuable defense of the genuineness of St. Luke's Gospel, against Marcion:

"To sum up:

    • if it is certain that the truest is the most ancient
    • that most ancient is that which is from the beginning, and
    • that the beginning is that which comes from the Apostles

it will, in like manner, also be certain that, what has been handed down by the Apostles, shall have been held sacred by the churches of the Apostles. Let us see what milk the Corinthians drained from Paul; what the Philippians, the Thessalonians, the Ephesians read; also what the Romans close at hand trumpet forth, to whom both Peter and Paul left the Gospel sealed also with their blood. We have also the churches taught by John. For although Marcion rejects his Apocalypse, nevertheless the succession of bishops, counted up to their origin, will stand by John as the author. Thus also is the noble origin of the other churches recognized. I say, therefore, that the Gospel of Luke which we are principally defending, holds its place, from the first of its publication, amongst the churches, not the apostolic alone, but all which are covenanted with them by the fellowship of religion; whilst that of Marcion is to most not known, and known to none except to be therefore condemned. That Gospel too has churches, but its own; as of later date, as they are false, whose origin if you seek for, you will more easily find it apostate than apostolical; with Marcion, to wit the founder, or some one from Marcion's hive. Wasps, too, form nests; Marcionites, too, form churches. The same authority of the apostolic churches will defend the other Gospels also, which accordingly we have through those churches, and according to those churches, I mean the Gospel of John and Matthew. It is some such compendious arguments as these that we make use of, when we are arguing on the genuineness of the Gospel against heretics, defending both the order of time which rules against the posterior date of the falsifiers, and the authority of the churches which takes under its guardianship the tradition of the Apostles; because the truth must needs precede what is false, and proceed from those by whom it has been handed down."

Adv. Marcion, l. iv. n. 5, pp. 415, 416.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 25-26

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

"As I have learned by tradition regarding the four Gospels, which also are the only undisputed ones in the Church of God which is under Heaven, that the first was written, etc."

T. iii. Comm. in Matthew p. 4440; Euseb. II. E. I. vi. c. xxv.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 327

"If therefore any church holds this epistle as Paul's (Hebrews), let it receive praise on this account. For the ancients have not rashly transmitted it as Paul's."

T. iv. Frag, in Ep. ad Hebr. p. 698.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 327

St. Serapion of Alexandria, eighth bishop of Antioch, (A.D. 190-211), known principally through his theological writings.

"We receive, even as Christ, both Peter and the rest of the Apostles; but writings which falsely bear their names, as experienced men we reject, since we know that we have no such books transmitted to us."

Euseb. II E. l. vi c. 12
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 399

St. Dionysius of Alexandria (c. late second century-264 A.D.) Catechist of the church of Alexandria, in which see he succeeded Heraclas in the year A.D. 247. Of his numerous works but a few fragments remain. The best edition is that published at Rome in 1796. He flourished in A.D 258.

"Some indeed of those before us have utterly repudiated and refuted this book (the Apocalypse), examining it chapter by chapter, and showing it to be both unintelligible and inconsistent (or, unconnected), and that the title is false. For they say that it is not John's; nay, that it is not a revelation, wrapped up as it is in so exceeding and thick a covering of ignorance; and that the composer of the work is not only not any one of the Apostles, but not even any one of the saints at all, or any member of the Church; but that it was Cerinthus, — he who set up the heresy called from him the Cerinthian, — who wished to affix to his system a name that carried with it credit. . . . But I would not venture to repudiate this book; many of the brethren holding it in esteem. And conceiving this opinion concerning it, that it is above my comprehension, I suppose it to contain in each part a hidden and very admirable meaning. . . . That the writer is called John; and that this is the writing of John, I do not gainsay; and I also admit, that it is the work of some holy and divinely-inspired individual; but I would not readily acknowledge that this is the Apostle, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of James, he from whom are the gospel entitled according to John, and also the Catholic epistle."

Euseb. II. E. l. vii. c. xxv. pp. 352-3.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 327

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

The heading of the twenty-fifth chapter of the third book of his Ecclesiastical History, is as follows:

"Concerning the divine writings that are acknowledged, and those that are not such."

"It is proper, now that we have reached this place, to name briefly the writings already alluded to of the New Testament, and we must set in the first place the four Holy Gospels; which are followed by the Acts of the Apostles; and after this are to be reckoned the epistles of Paul. After these, that called the first Epistle of John, and also the Epistle of Peter, are to be received. After these, is to be placed, if it be thought fit, the Apocalypse of John, the opinions concerning which will be stated at a proper season. And these are indeed amongst the acknowledged Scriptures. Of the controverted, but which are nevertheless well known (or, approved of) by many, are that called the Epistle of James, and that of Jude, and the second Epistle of Peter, and the second and third of John, whether they are the evangelist's, or of some other person of the same name. Amongst the spurious are to be placed the book of the acts of Paul, and that called the Pastor, and the apocalypse of Peter; add to these the epistle circulated as by Barnabas, and the so-called instructions of the Apostles; and likewise, as I have said, the apocalypse of John, if it seem meet, which some, as I have remarked, repudiate; but others reckon amongst the acknowledged Scriptures. Some have also now classed amongst the spurious the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which those who from amongst the Jews have received Christ especially delight in. All the above writings are controverted. And yet I have of necessity given a catalogue of them, distinguishing, according to the tradition of the Church, those writings which are true, genuine and acknowledged, from the other writings in addition to these, which are not put into the body of the New Testament, and are even controverted, but which still are acknowledged by the greater number of ecclesiastical writers; that thus we may be able to know both what writings are of this character, and also those which are circulated by heretics under the name of the Apostles, as containing the Gospels of Peter, and of Thomas, and of Matthias, and even of others besides these, and the acts of John and of the other Apostles."

Hist. Eccles. 1. iii. c. xxv. pp. 118-9.
See also I b. l. iii. c. iii. pp. 89, 90.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 328-329

St. Dionysius of Alexandria (c. late second century-264 A.D.) Catechist of the church of Alexandria, in which see he succeeded Heraclas in the year A.D. 247. Of his numerous works but a few fragments remain. The best edition is that published at Rome in 1796. He flourished in A.D 258.

Imitating the introduction to St. Luke's Gospel, he says:

"For as much as certain persons have taken in hand to set forth in order the books, called Apocrypha, and to mix them with the divinely inspired writings, concerning which we have full assurance, according as they, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, have delivered to the fathers, it has seemed good to me also, at the exhortation of certain brethren, and having attained to this knowledge from the beginning, to set forth in order the books that are canonized, and are handed down, and believed to be divine."

[Then follows the well-known canon.]

Epist. Festal t.1, par. ii. p. 767.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 413

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

The thirty-third section of [his] fourth Catechetical Instruction is headed,

"Of the Holy Scriptures."

Having made a remark against a heresy of long standing, he says,

"Learn also diligently, and from the Church, which are the books of the Old Testament, and which of the New, and read not to me anything of the uncertain books. For why shouldest thou, that knowest not those which are acknowledged by all, take useless trouble about those which are questioned? Read the divine Scriptures, those twenty-two books of the Old Testament which were interpreted by the seventy-two interpreters."

Then follows a well-known account of that translation, which seems to assert a species of divine inspiration in its favor.

"Read the twenty-two books of these men (or of these Scriptures), but have nothing to do with the uncertain books (Apocryphal). (*) Those only meditate on earnestly, which we read confidently even in the Church. Far wiser than thou, and more devout, were the Apostles and the ancient bishops, the rulers (presidents) of the Church, who have handed these down. Thou, therefore, who art a child of the Church, do not falsify what has been settled."

Catech. iv. n. 33,35, pages 67,68 ed. Bened. Venet. 1763
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 51-52

(*) Apocryphal, a term which then seems only to have signified a work not canonical. The canon of the church of Jerusalem, as specified by St. Cyril, is neither as regards the Old nor the New Testament, that of any church now in existence. But this is not the place to enter on a question of such magnitude and difficulty as that of the canon of Scripture. The passage is merely adduced to show whence, according to St. Cyril, the canon is to be derived.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"Where has our Saviour said in the Gospels, that we are to believe on one only true God? They cannot show us this, unless they have a new Gospel amongst them. For such as are, from the ancients by succession even unto this present time, read in the churches, furnish not any such declaration as this which says that we are to believe, and to baptize, into the one and only true God, as these men pretend, but into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

[From the section on Sacred Tradition:]

"Let Eunomius tell us whence he derives this assurance? From what inspired declaration? Which of the evangelists, which of the Apostles has uttered any such declaration? What prophet, or lawgiver, or patriarch, or which amongst the others whom the Holy Ghost has inspired, whose declarations are unwritten, 1 introduced any such term. Whether have we learned in the tradition of the faith from the truth that we ought to believe Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, or that He is a creature? How happened it that the Truth, whilst transmitting to us the mystery, gave as a law faith on the Son, and not on the creature?" *

* The question treated of in this book against Eunomius, and in the immediate context, is that Christ is the only-begotten Son of God,

T. ii. l.ii. Adv. Eunom. p. 435.
T. ii. l.ii. Adv. Eunom. p. 461.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 413-414

Council of Carthage, (A.D. 345-419), one of sixteen Catholic councils or synods held at Cathage called in the earliest times of the Church in Africa. These synods past many canon that regulated matters of church doctrine and discipline.

Information about the source of this quote: The third council of Carthage, or, according to another computation, the sixth, was held in the year 397, and was presided over by Aurelius, bishop of Carthage. St. Augustine, with other bishops, amounting in number to forty-four, were present.

"Moreover, it hath seemed good that, besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing be read in the Church under the name of canonical Scriptures. But the canonical Scriptures are, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of the kingdoms, two books of Paralipomenon, Job, the Psaltery of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the Prophets, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Machabees.(*) But of the New Testament, four books of the Gospels, etc. (as in our Catalogue)."

(*) In some of the Greek translations the Machabees are omitted, but they are in all the Latin copies, and in the code of Cresconius, himself an African bishop.

Condi. Carthag. in. Can. xlvii. col. 1177; t. ii. Labi. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 329-330

Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417) was pope from (A.D. 401 to 417), he lost no opportunity in maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman See as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes.

In his letter to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, we have the Roman catalogue of the books of the Old and New Testament, as follows:

"What books are received in the canon of the Holy Scriptures, this brief addition shows. These, therefore, are the writings which you have with your beloved voice desired to be informed of. Five books of Moses, that is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; and one book of Joshua the son of Nun, of Judges one; of the Kingdoms four books, together also with Ruth. Of the prophets sixteen books: of Solomon five books: the Psalter. Of histories: of Job one book; of Tobias one; of Esther one; of Judith one; of the Machabees two; of Esdras two; of Paralipomenon two. Likewise of the New Testament, the four books of the Gospels, etc. . . .

[Having given our catalogue of the New Testament, he adds :]

But the other books, which are (circulated), whether under the name of Matthias, or of James the less, or under the name of Peter and of John, which were written by one Leucius, or under the name of Andrew, which are by the philosophers Xenocharis and Leonidas, or under the name of Thomas, and if there be any other such, they are not only to be repudiated, but know that they are even to be condemned."

Ep. ad Exuper. n. 7, p. 1256, t. ii. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 332

St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"In (receiving) the Scriptures (as) canonical, let him follow the authority of the greater number of Catholic churches, amongst which churches assuredly let those be which have merited to have apostolic sees, and to receive epistles from Apostles, He will adhere to this method as regards canonical Scriptures, — he will prefer those Scriptures which are received by all Catholic churches, to those which some churches do not receive: whilst, as regards those which are not received by all, he will prefer those which the greater number and the more eminent of the churches receive, to those which are received by the smaller number, and by churches of less authority. But if he should find some received by the greater number of churches, others by the more eminent, — though he cannot easily meet with this, — I think that such Scriptures are to be accounted of equal authority. Now, the entire canon of the Scriptures, in regard of which we say that the above considerations are to be applied, is comprised in these books: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one small tract called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of the Kingdoms; next, the four books of the Kingdoms, and two of the Paralipomenon. These books are a history, which contains a connected account of the times, and of the order of the events. There are other books, which seem of a different class, and are neither connected with the preceding class, nor with each other; such is Job, such Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Machabees, and two of Esdras, which seem rather more to follow up that regular course of history, which closed with the Kingdoms, or the Paralipomenon: next follow the prophetical writings, amongst which are one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, the Proverbs, the Canticle of Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. For those two books, one entitled Wisdom, and the other Ecclesiasticus, are said to be Solomon's, on account of a certain resemblance (to his writings); but they are very uniformly declared to have been written by Jesus, the son of Sirach, which books, however, since they have merited to be received into authority, are to be reckoned amongst the prophetical writings. The rest are the books of those who are properly called prophets: the several books of the twelve prophets, which, connected with each other, as they are never separated, are reckoned one book: the names of these prophets are, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Michaeas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachy: next are the four prophets who have left us volumes of greater length; Isaias, Jeremias, Daniel, Ezechiel. In these forty-four books is comprised the authority of the Old Testament.

[Then follows a list of the usual books of the New Testamert.]

In all these books the God-fearing and the pious seek the will of God."

T. iii. l.ii. De Doctrina Christiana, n. 12-14, (al. 8-9), col. 47-49.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 330-331

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"The book of the Apocalypse which John the wise wrote, and which has been honored by the approval of the fathers."

T. 1, I. v. De Ador. in Sp. et Ver. p. 188.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 437

St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

"The sacred volumes which contain the testimonies of the divine writings, are steps whereby to ascend to God. All these books, therefore, that are set before thee in the Church of God, receive as tried gold, they having been tried in the fire by the divine Spirit of the truth. But leave aside those which are scattered about without the Church,"

L. 1, Ep. ccclxix. Gyro, p. 96, Paris. 1638.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 33

Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496) was pope from A.D. 492 until his death in A.D. 496; prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. His reign was characterized by a call for strict orthodoxy.

In the first council of Rome, held in A.D. 494, there is a canon of the Old and New Testament, which is prefaced as follows:

"The order of the books of the Old Testament, which the holy and Catholic Roman Church receives and venerates, arranged by blessed Gelasius I, Pope, together with seventy bishops."

[Then follows the list of the books of the old law, as in our canon, with the exception that in some manuscripts one book only of the Machabees is named, in others two books are given. The catalogue of the writings of the New Testament is the same, in every respect, as that used in our Church.]

Thus was the canon of Scripture finally determined in the churches of Africa and of Rome. Nearly a similar canon was also eventually received in all the churches, whether orthodox or schismatical, in the east; and, in the other portions of the Western Church, the Roman canon was gradually accepted as authoritative. By the labors, especially of Origen in the east, and of St. Jerome in the west, encouraged by St. Damasus, as also by the learned expositions of others among the fathers, those of St. Chrysostom and of St. Augustine particularly, was the purity of the sacred text preserved, or restored, and its meaning elucidated: and by their labors, and those of their successors, have authentic copies of the Scriptures, in the great points of faith and morality, been transmitted to us in, and by, the Church, which applauded and sanctioned the successful efforts of those learned men in the cause of religious truth.

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 332-333

Andrew of Cæsarea, (A.D. 563 - 637), Greek; theological writer and bishop of Cæsarea, known for his commentary on the Book of Revelation which is the oldest Greek patristic commentary on that book of the Bible. He succeeded St. Basil.

"Now I think it superfluous to treat at length of the credibility and authority of this book (the Apocalypse). For it is well known that those blessed men and fathers of ours, Gregory the Theologian, Cyril of Alexandria, and others more ancient than they, as Papias, Irenseus, Methodius, and Hippolytus, have, on more than one occasion, declared it to be divine and deserving of credit, and we have, on account of what is contained in their works, come to the same conclusion."

Comm. in Apoc. Proaem. p. 590, col. 2, Bib. Max. PP.t.v.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 436-437

Councils of Toledo (from the 5th to 7th century). about thirty synods or councils were held at Toledo in what would come to be part of Spain. The earliest, directed against Priscilianism, assembled in 400. The "third" synod of 589 marked the epoch-making conversion of King Reccared from Arianism to orthodox Catholicism. The "fourth," in 633, probably under the presidency of St. Isidore of Seville, regulated many matters of discipline, decreed uniformity of liturgy throughout the kingdom.

This council, which was held in the year A.D. 400, thus defines:

"If any one shall say, or shall believe, that other Scriptures, besides those which the Catholic Church has received, are to be esteemed of authority, or to be venerated, let him be anathema."

Can. xii. col. 1228; t. ii. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 330



From the testimony and authority of the Catholic Church all Christians receive the Sacred Scriptures, and believe them to contain the revealed Word of God.

From the Jews, who had preserved them with religions care, the Christian Church received the books of the Old Testament, but it would not be until latter that the canon would be fixed.
Only after mature deliberation, and a collation of the scattered evidences, was the Canon of Sacred Scriptures canonized and universally acknowledged at the Council of Rome in A.D. 382.


Old Testament New Testament
Genesis Proverbs Matthew
Exodus Ecclesiastes Mark
Leviticus Song of Songs Luke
Numbers Wisdom John
Deuteronomy Sirach Acts
Joshua Isaiah Romans
Judges Jeremiah 1 Corinthians
Ruth Lamentations 2 Corinthians
1 Samuel Baruch Galatians
2 Samuel Ezekiel Ephesians
1 Kings Daniel Philippians
2 Kings Hosea Colossians
1 Chronicles Joel 1 Thessalonians
2 Chronicles Amos 2 Thessalonians
Ezra Obadiah 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy
Nehemiah Jonah Titus
Tobit Micah Philemon
Judith Nahum Hebrews
Esther Habakkuk James
1 Maccabees Zephaniah 1 Peter, 2 Peter
2 Maccabees Haggai 1 John, 2 John, 3 John
Job Zechariah Jude
Psalms Malachi Revelation



The books of the New Testament, after the ascension of our Savior, were written under various, often accidental, circumstances, and on various occasions: the Gospels, principally:

      • to satisfy the laudable wishes of many, who were naturally desirous to be informed of the facts of our Savior's life;
      • to impress His admirable lessons on their minds;
      • to perpetuate His words; and
      • to oppose the wild conceptions of some dissatisfied men.

The Acts of the Apostles were written to record the first preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles, and the interesting events of the labors of St. Paul; and


The Epistles, for the further instruction, generally, of those who had been converted to Christianity, and to strengthen them in the arduous duties of their new calling.


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