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« on: May 22, 2014, 10:49:59 PM »

What is the basis by which you decide whether a book of the bible is canonical or not? .. Why are some books missing? ... Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 10:52:37 PM »

What is the basis by which you decide whether a book of the bible is canonical or not? .. Why are some books missing? ... Thanks

That decision was made in a council a long time ago.  When the Protestant Reformation took place, they decided what books to keep and what to exclude.
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2014, 10:55:53 PM »

Christians used spiritual discernment, and continue to do so. It is helpful to look to the comments and usage among orthodox Christians, especially as it relates to books still in dispute.
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 11:05:44 PM »

Before the council that Sol mentioned (the Council of Carthage), it was tradition that determined which books were 'okay' and which ones were not.

If you look, you can find the listings of the early Fathers. Almost every one of them say that the Four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul are authentic. They usually differ on the books other than those.
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 11:09:50 PM »

No such council establishing a fixed canon for the entire church exists.
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 11:24:26 PM »

Ok, .. so what about works such as the Gospel of St. Thomas or even the Gnostic Gospel of Judas? ..
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 11:27:12 PM »

We're not Gnostics. We don't use Gnostic books.
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 11:32:54 PM »

Ok, .. so what about works such as the Gospel of St. Thomas or even the Gnostic Gospel of Judas? ..

Those two in particular are not ever included. There is a fairly stable group of books that are always in, and also a long list of books that are always out, including the two you mention. The only wiggle room is for a small group of books that many have long accepted and used but many others have long excluded, such as Tobit, 3 Maccabees, and books like that. (Though with Oriental Orthodoxy even more diversity must be allowed for ).
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 11:37:45 PM »

Ok, .. so what about works such as the Gospel of St. Thomas or even the Gnostic Gospel of Judas? ..

I believe Thomas was mentioned by St. Irenaeus as heretical.

Anyway, those two are not in any early listing.
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2014, 12:21:44 AM »

Many of the books included in the bible were often read out loud in the early church. 

I believe the post above mine is correct about St. Irenaeus mentioning the heretical nature of the book of Thomas.   The book of Jude (in the Bible) speaks against the Gnostics.
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2014, 10:20:22 PM »

How have Jews then and now understood Apocryphal literature? Speaking with those in my interfaith council, the literature is not in the canon. Any idea how the councils determined to include the texts? Are they considered a somehow lesser form of Scripture, similar in function to Hadiths in Islam?
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« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2014, 10:28:05 PM »

How have Jews then and now understood Apocryphal literature? Speaking with those in my interfaith council, the literature is not in the canon. Any idea how the councils determined to include the texts? Are they considered a somehow lesser form of Scripture, similar in function to Hadiths in Islam?

The Deuterocanonical books such as the Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, etc are indeed part of the Orthodox biblical canon. Some of these are the source of liturgical readings, further cementing their place as canonical scripture. The Reformed churches rejected them.

There are other works which the Church has firmly rejected, such as various Gnostic "gospels". The two groups of writings should not be confused.
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2014, 10:32:37 PM »

How have Jews then and now understood Apocryphal literature? ...

I don't think copying the Jews' ideas of canonicity was done until the Renaissance humanists got the idea. Remember Orthodoxy also does not use the Masoretic text.
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2014, 10:53:25 PM »

How have Jews then and now understood Apocryphal literature? Speaking with those in my interfaith council, the literature is not in the canon. Any idea how the councils determined to include the texts? Are they considered a somehow lesser form of Scripture, similar in function to Hadiths in Islam?

Such books being added to the Septuagint in the centuries before Christ helped, but another main factor was simply discerning that they were inspired and deserving of a place (not everything inspired deserved a spot). The criteria were often fairly vague and subjective, that's why you had different Christians coming to different conclusions. There was a fair degree of stability reached by the early 5th century among those able to communicate in Greek or Latin, though disagreement about a dozen texts continued till today in Orthodoxy. Even Catholics, who had a more settled and rigid view for about a thousand years, did not simply reaffirm previous councils or canons at the time of the counter-reformation, but assigned theologians to examine the issue.
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