The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 168 of 202
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The witness of Josephus.
Flavius Josephus, a Jew of a distinguished priestly line, was born in A.D.37.  He
wrote "The Wars of the Jews", "The Antiquities of the Jews", an Autobiography, and a
treatise against Apion. The following is the weighty opinion of Bishops Porteous and
"The fidelity, the veracity and the probity of Josephus are universally allowed; and
Scaliger in particular declares that, not only in the affairs of the Jews, but even of foreign
nations, he deserves more credit than all the Greek and Roman writers put together."
Here is the testimony of Josephus concerning the Old Testament Scriptures:--
"For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and
contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all
the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them, five belong to Moses
. . . . . the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in
thirteen books. The remaining of four books contain Hymns to God, and precepts for the
conduct of human life.
How firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what
we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either
to add anything to them or take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but
it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately, and from their birth, to esteem those books to
contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willing to die for
them" (Apion, Bk. 1, Par. 8).
Here is the testimony of a man who most evidently expresses his deep conviction, and
not his own only, but that of the national mind as well. We draw attention moreover to
the fact that this man, who would sooner die than add to or take away from the sacred
Scriptures, declares that the Hebrew canon consists of twenty-two books only. Most
readers are aware that the English O.T. contains 39 books, but this is because the twelve
minor prophets are reckoned separately, and double books like I and II Chronicles are
counted as two. In the Hebrew canon Ruth is reckoned with Judges, Nehemiah with
Ezra, Lamentations with Jeremiah, and as we have said, the twelve minor prophets are
treated as one.
Some reader may object that The Companion Bible gives in Appendix 1 a list of
24 books of the O.T., but this is only true if Ruth and Lamentations be considered as
separate books.  Josephus and others deal with the books as they were associated
together, and the placing of Ruth and Lamentations with larger books makes the
We would supplement Josephus by one or two other authorities of high standing.
ORIGEN enumerates the books of the O.T. and says the Hebrew canonical books
number "Two and twenty, according to the number of the (Hebrew) Alphabet."