The Canon of Scripture

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

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Seventy-three Inspired Books (120)

Based upon the apostolic Tradition, the Church discerned 73 inspired books (46 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books). The list of these books is in the Appendix.

Permanent Value of Old Testament (121-123)

The Old Testament books are divinely inspired and have permanent value.

The Old Testament was oriented to prepare for Christ and the books are a storehouse of sublime teaching and sound wisdom.

The Church always venerated the Old Testament books and condemned Marcionism (a heresy claiming that the Old Testament was void).

Gospels - The Heart of the New Testament (124-125)

The central object of the New Testament is the acts, passion, and glorification of Jesus Christ and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit.

The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures and the principle source of Christ's life and teachings.

Three Stages of Formation (126-127)

The Gospel's formation had three stages:

  1. What Jesus did while living among us
  2. What the Church, under the Spirit's power, taught orally about Jesus after his Ascension
  3. What the four authors selected to be written and which was shaped according to the situation of their churches

The Gospels have a unique place in the lives of the saints. "There is no doctrine which could be better than the text of the Gospel" (St. Caesarea the Younger). "Mainly the Gospels occupy my mind. I am always finding fresh lights, hidden and enthralling meanings" (St. Therese of Lisieux).

Old and New - Light for Each Other (128-130)

The Church has shown the unity of God's plan by seeing Old Testament "types" which prefigure what Christ accomplished.

Because the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value, the New Testament must be read in light of the Old (as the early Christians always did). "The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old is unveiled in the New" (St. Augustine).

Old Testament events (such as the call of the Patriarchs and the Exodus) have value in God's plan even though they were intermediate stages.

Life in God's Word (131-133)

Everyone must have access to the Bible. The Word of God must be the soul of theology (in all its forms) and of the ministry of the Word.

Especially, the homily must be nourished by Scripture.

By reading Scripture, the faithful learn the "surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ." "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ" (St. Jerome).

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