Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent/Session IV/Canonical Scriptures

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Celebrated on the eighth day of the month of April, 1546.


The sacred and holy, œcumenical and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same three legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein,—keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which [Gospel], before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures,[1] our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached[2] by His apostles to every creature, as the fountain both of every saving truth, and discipline of morals; and perceiving that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the apostles themselves,[3] the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; [the synod] following the examples of the orthodox fathers, receives and venerates with equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament,—seeing that one God is the author of both, as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved by a continuous succession in the Catholic Church. And it has thought it meet that a catalogue of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest doubt arise in any one's mind as to which are the books that are received by this synod. They are as set down here below: of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josuah, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomena,[4] the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, [containing] a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osea, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggæus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second. Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, [one] to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, [one] to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, [one] to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the Apostle. But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, these same books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately despise the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.[5] Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, this said synod, after haying laid the foundation of the confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and defences it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.

  1. Jerem. xxxi. 22 (qy. 33?).
  2. Matt. xxviii. 19, sq.; Mark xvi. 15.
  3. 2 Thess. ii. 14.
  4. I. e. chronicles; lit. "things omitted," these books forming a kind of supplement to the books of Kings.
  5. I. e. accursed, denoting the "absolute, irrevocable, and entire separation of a person from the communion of the faithful."—Calmet, s. v., p. 59 of my edition. See Bishop Tomline on Art. viii. p. 185, sqq. whose temperate language on this subject deserves the highest commendation.