4 This canon contains the legend, refuted by St. Jerome, that St John the Baptist was taken by St. Elizabeth away from tbe danger of Herod's edicts against the Innocents and escaped by flight, his father, Zacharlas, the meanwhile. being slain between the temple and the altar.
1 Johnson says this was about the vear of grace 240, after the Goths had ravaged Asia, duriug the reign of Gallienus. The letter. he thinks, was an Encyclical sent to every bishop of his province, by Euphrosynus. who was one of these bishops and whom he calls his "old friend." In the beginning of the letter he addresses each one of the bishops as "most holy pope."
1 Johnson says: "This contains the Canon of Scripture as we now receive it in all respects, save that the Epistle of Baruch is reckoned in the Canon, but Esther is not. He tells us, there are other books never reckoned in the Canon but authorized by the fathers to be read by the Catechumens, viz. : Wisdom of Solomon. of Sirach, Esther, Judith, and Tobias, and that which is called The Doctrine of the Apostles, and Pastor. These (says he) are read, the other reckoned of the Cenons: Apocryphal books are the invention of heretics." To this Johnson appends a note, to wit: "It is the common opinion of learned men that the reason why some of the ancients reckoned the book of Esther not to belong to the Canon. was the Apocryphal chapters added to it by anotber hand. That The Doctrine of the Apostles is a book now lost, see Dr. Grabe's Essay on this subject."
Who these "learned men" may be, I do not know, but at the time of the writing of St. Athanasius the position of the Hebrew Esther was not well assured in the restricted Palestinian Jewish Canon. On this point the reader should make himself familiar with The Canon of the Old Testament by the Rt. Rev. Tobias Mullen, Roman Catholic Bishop of Erie, U.S. A.
1 These canons of St. Basil's are annotated by Zonaras, Balsamon and Aristenus, and of them there is also the Ancient Epitome whicb will he found in Beveridge (Synod., Tom. II.. p.47). Johnson gives the date of these canons as later than the year 370.