The Orthodox Church believed and affirm that there was not a set canon during the church, thus is why they have an unmodified canon. But the Orthodox church has a much more larger canon than both the Roman Catholics and the Protestant, believing that books like 3 Maccabees were scripture, but did any of the Early Church Fathers use the Orthodox canon and did they ever quote form this? (This can be any Church Fathers from 300-400 AD onwards.)

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Mar 17, 2023 at 13:23
  • Onwards = backwards towards 1 A.D., right? Mar 18, 2023 at 20:17
  • I was a happy to see St. Patrick quote Tobit when I was doing a little research for his feast last week, but that probably just misses the cut for an answer to this question on two points.
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 23, 2023 at 5:10
  • Are you asking if they used books that are part of the Orthodox canon (and are not part of the Roman Catholic canon), or are you asking if they had a defined canon that matched the Orthodox canon? (I ask because they definitely used & quoted books found in the Orthodox canon, but the early church had no universally-defined canon) Mar 24, 2023 at 4:00
  • When you say "Did any of the Early Church Fathers use the Orthodox canon?" do you mean books that are in the Orthodox canon but not in the Protestant (or Catholic) canon?
    – guest37
    Apr 24, 2023 at 23:15

3 Answers 3


Being one of the only Eastern Catholic saints I know St. Gregory of Nazianzus (4th century, so on the upper end of the spectrum) references something that is technically (there weren't chapters in those days) in the 38th chapter of 2nd Chronicles.


and this one is far more august than all the others, inasmuch as it cannot be defiled by after-stains. Yes, and I know of a Fifth also, which is that of tears, and is much more laborious, received by him who washes his bed every night and his couch with tears; whose bruises stink through his wickedness; and who goes mourning and of a sad countenance; who imitates the repentance of Manasseh 2 Chronicles 38:12

I think that might be a misprint and they meant 2 Chronichles:33 (3's being easy to OCR into 8's when you're not paying attention)

But even 2 Chronicles:33 doesn't really talk about Manasseh's repentance, especially not as much as the Prayer of Manasseh, which is in the Orthodox Canon and clearly referenced as something that was kept somewhere (Except not in the scriptures for some reason unbeknownst to me)

I think it's reasonable to think that St. Gregory was referring to the prayer itself rather than the account in Chronicles and therefore an example of a Church father referencing the Orthodox canon.


Did any of the Early Church Fathers use the Orthodox canon?

The short answer seems to be yes. Some quoted these books and were favourable to them prior to the Biblical Canon being established.

The Book of Enoch is considered part of the Biblical Canon in Ethiopian Orthodox Churches.

It is part of the biblical canon used by the Ethiopian Jewish community Beta Israel, as well as the Christian Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Other Jewish and Christian groups generally regard it as non-canonical or non-inspired, but may accept it as having some historical or theological

By the fifth century, the Book of Enoch was mostly excluded from Christian biblical canons, and it is now regarded as scripture only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. - Book of Enoch

This same Book of Enoch was known by many Early Church Fathers.

The Greek text was known to, and quoted favorably by many Church Fathers: references can be found in Justin Martyr, Minucius Felix, Irenaeus, Origen, Cyprian, Hippolytus, Commodianus, Lactantius and Cassian. - Reception of the Book of Enoch in premodernity

Seeing that the Biblical Canon was definitely passed in the West at the Council of Rome in 382 by Pope Damasus I, many of these Early Church Fathers predate the any known Christian Canons.


The answer is no, but we should also understand that no early church Fathers used the Roman Catholic canon either. The first time we know of all the current New Testament books being listed anywhere was the Festal Letter of Athanasius in 367 a.d.

Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.

Athanasius' list of OT books is quite close to the Jewish and Protestant lists. However, he adds the Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah, and he excludes the Book of Esther.

There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book.

So the answer is no. No early church Father used the Orthodox Canon. Nor is there solid evident that they used what would become the Catholic or Protestant versions either. Athanasius was the first to list what eventually became the New Testament books, and he came close to the Protestant and Jewish versions of the OT. Since this came well after the Council of Nicaea, it should probably not be considered part of "Early Church" in my opinion.

  • 2
    I don't think this is the point of the question. It's not whether they used the Canon as a set of books, but whether they referenced books in the Canon.
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 23, 2023 at 5:07
  • In that case the answer is still no. Mar 23, 2023 at 14:03
  • 1
    If this doesn’t answer the question, that is a lack of question asking. It does answer the actual question asked.
    – TacoBlayno
    Mar 23, 2023 at 15:23
  • @taco the question asked was if there were references to books in the Orthodox canon, not whether there was a reference to the existence of an Orthodox canon.
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 23, 2023 at 15:44
  • 1
    "...but did any of the Early Church Fathers use the Orthodox canon and did they ever quote form this?" Peter Turner, that is not what he said. I directly quoted his question, and it does not ask if he used the books in it. He did talk a little about the size of that canon compared to Roman Catholics and Protestants, and he gave some examples of books in it, but it is far different to quote books that are in the canon, than it is to quote books as part of the canon. Judaists quote and use nearly all books included in the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches, but they never quote our canons.
    – TacoBlayno
    Mar 23, 2023 at 16:11

You must log in to answer this question.