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The Epistle of the Same Athanasius Taken from the XXXIX. Festal Epistle.


The Epistle of the Same Athanasius Taken from the XXXIX. Festal Epistle.

(Found translated in Vol. IV, of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (2d series), pp. 551 and 552.)

[Johnson's epitome is so unsatisfactory that I hate been compelled to relegate it to a footnote and to make one in its room of my own.1 ]

As the heretics are quoting apocryphal writings, an evil which was rife even as early as when St. Luke wrote his gospel, therefore I have thought good to set forth clearly what books have been received by us through tradition as belonging to the Canon, and which we believe to be divine. For there are in all twenty-two books of the Old Testament. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. After this comes Joshua, and Judges, and Ruth. The four books of the Kings, counted as two. Then Chronicles, counted the two as one. Then First and Second Esdras [i.e. Ezra and Nehemiah]. After these Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Cantica. To these follow Job, and the Twelve Prophets, counted as one book. Then Isaiah, Jeremiah together with the Epistle of Baruch, the Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

Of the New Testament these are the books [then follows the complete list ending with "the Apocalypse of John"]. These are the fountains of salvation, that whoso thirsteth, may be satisfied by the eloquence which is in them. In them alone (en toutoij monoij) is set forth the doctrine of piety. Let no one add to them, nor take aught therefrom.

I also add for further accuracy that there are certain other books, not edited in the Canon, but established by the Fathers, to be read by those who have just come to us and wish to be instructed in the doctrine of piety. The Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, the Doctrine (Didakh) of the Apostles and the Pastor. And let none of the Apocrypha of the heretics be read among you.

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