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( Continued from p . 248 . )
3 . From the testimony adduced under the first head of our inquiry , \ % appears that all the books of the Old Testament which are now deemed prophetical , were recognized as sacred by the authors of the Jewish Talmud ,
and consequently formed part of the canon of the Old Testament as early as the fourth or fifth century after Christ ; and from the additional testimony brought forward under the second head , and supplied by the catalogues of Jerome , Origen and Melito , who flourished in the fourth , third and second centuries of the Christian era respectively , we learn that these books were regarded as authentic , and that no doubt was entertained as to their credibility by these learned Fathers of the Christian church . *
The next step in our inquiry will carry us back to the celebrated Jewish writers , Josephus and Philo ; the former of whom flourished towards the close , and the latter about the middle , of the first century . No formal enumeration of the books of the Old Testament is contained in the works of either of these writers ; but the testimony which each of them bears to the authenticity and credibility of the prophetical books is highly important , and demands the attentive consideration of all who feel anxious respecting the issue of the present inquiry .
There is in Josephus ' s Treatise against Apion , f a passage in which he speaks of the sacred books of the Jews collectively as not exceeding twentytwo in number , and thirteen of these he ascribes to the prophets : buttle terms in which he alludes to these books are so vague , that it is impossible to ascertain , from the passage itself , either by what particular individuals he supposes them to have been written , or what was the exact nature of their contents . We are enabled , however , to identify them with the books contained in the Jewish canon of the present day , by a reference to the catalogues of the Talmudists and the Christian Fathers . The actual number of
books contained in the Old Testament , according to the division adopted in our printed Bibles , is thirty-nine . These are reduced by Origen and Jerome to twenty-two , by considering Ruth as a supplement to the book of Judges , Nehemiah as a continuation of Ezra , Lamentations as an appendix to Jeremiah , and the two books of Samuel , those of * Kings , those of Chronicles , and the twelve minor prophets , as each one book . The
Talmud makes the number of books twenty-four , by detaching Ruth from Judges , and Lamentations from Jeremiah ; but its enumeration does not differ in other respects from those of Origen and Jerome . It is morally certain , therefore , that the " twenty-two books , which , " according to Josephus , " contain the records of all past times , and are justly believed to be divine , " were in substance the same as the twenty-two enumerated by Origen and Jerome , the twenty-four specified by the Talmudists , and the
* Similar testimonies occur in the writings of other Christian Fathers ; but Jerome and Origen have been selected on account of their pre-eminence as biblical scholars , and Melito on account of his great antiquity . The reader who wishes for further evidence may cousult Hody de Text . Bibl . ( Ox < m . Fol . 1705 ) L . iv . C . 4 , p . 644 , and Doederlein , Institutio Theologi Christiaui , ( Ed . Sexta , Norimoerga et Altorfii , 1787 , ) Proleg . C . in . Sect . ii . § 40 , pp . 160—164 . f Lib . i . C . vili .
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CANONICAL AUTHORITY OP THE BOOKS OP THE PROPHETS /
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), May 2, 1827, page 332, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1796/page/20/