Thursday, August 16, 2007

Early Canon Witness: Melito, Bishop of Sardis

Melito, Bishop of Sardis, identified the Old Testament canon around 180 AD as not including the deuterocanonicals (and also Esther). An extract of Melito’s letter regarding the OT canon was recorded by Eusebius, Bishop Caeserea in his Church History (IV, 22;).

“ ‘Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: Since you have often, in your zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavored to perform the task, knowing your zeal for the faith, and your desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou, in your yearning after God, esteemest these things above all else, struggling to attain eternal salvation.

Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to you as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.’ Such are the words of Melito.”

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