"The canon of scripture is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible"
The word canon comes from a word referring to a measuring rod. The canon of scripture determines what's out and what's in when it comes to what should be included in the Bible or excluded from the Bible.
The Old Testament Canon (Grudem, ch.3., pp.54-59)
The Origins of the canon - the ten commandments
The Old Testament really began with the ten commandments, written by God on tablets of stone and given to Moses for the people of Israel (Exodus 31.18, 32.16)
Moses and others wrote additional words
Moses added to what the ten commandments (31.24-26). This scripture indicates that Moses wrote Deuteronomy and in the light of other references reveal that he wrote the first four books of the Bible as well.
Joshua contributed to the scriptures. As did the prophets (e.g. Isaiah, Jeremiah), kings (e.g David), along with others.
Their writings make up the Old Testament as we know it today.
The close of the Old Testament canon
After 435 B.C. - when Malachi was written - there were no further additions to the Old Testament scriptures. The rebbinic tradition, Josephus and the religious leaders of Jesus day were unanimous that the Old Testament canon closed at the time of Malachi.
The Old Testament Apocrypha - Jewish literature outside of the Old Testament which is not recognised as the Word of God.
- The apocrypha is never quoted in the New Testament as authoritative
- No record of any dispute between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders about the Old Testament canon
- Early Christian leaders - Melito, Origen, Eusebius and Athanasius excluded the apocrypha from the canon
Roman Catholic Church includes the apocrypha in the canon of scripture. The protestant church excluded the Old Testament apocrypha from the canon of scripture because:
- It wasn't included in the Jewish canon
- It wasn't included by early Christian leaders
- It is of dubious doctrinal value
The above is a brief explanation as to why we accept the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament as we have it today as God's Word and why we don't accept other writings of that era.