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The English word canon comes from the Greek κανών kanōn, meaning "rule" or "measuring stick". The use of the word "canon" to refer to a set of religious scriptures was first used by David Ruhnken, in the 18th century.
Various biblical canons have developed through debate and agreement on the part of the religious authorities of their respective faiths and denominations. Some books, such as the Jewish–Christian gospels, have been excluded from various canons altogether, but many disputed books are considered to be biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical by many, while some denominations may consider them fully canonical. Differences exist between the Hebrew Bible and Christian biblical canons, although the majority of manuscripts are shared in common.
Different religious groups include different books in their biblical canons, in varying orders, and sometimes divide or combine books. The Jewish Tanakh (sometimes called the Hebrew Bible) contains 24 books divided into three parts: the five books of the Torah ("teaching"); the eight books of the Nevi'im ("prophets"); and the eleven books of Ketuvim ("writings"). It is composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with portions in Aramaic. The Septuagint (in Koine Greek), which closely resembles the Hebrew Bible but includes additional texts, is used as the Christian Greek Old Testament, at least in some liturgical contexts. The first part of Christian Bibles is the Old Testament, which contains, at minimum, the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible but divided into 39 (Protestant) or 46 (Catholic) books (including deuterocanonical works) and ordered differently. The second part is the New Testament, almost always containing 27 books: the four canonical gospels, Acts of the Apostles, 21 Epistles or letters and the Book of Revelation. The Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches hold that certain deuterocanonical books and passages are part of the Old Testament canon. The Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian churches may have differences in their lists of accepted books.
Some Christian groups have other canonical books which are considered holy scripture but not part of the Bible.
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