It now seems more probable that at the time of Christianity’s birth, closed collections of the Law and the Prophets existed in a textual form substantially identical with the Old Testament. Towards the end of the first century A.D., it seems that 2422 books were generally accepted by Jews as sacred, 32 but it is only much later that the list became exclusive. 33 When the limits of the Hebrew canon were fixed, the deuterocanonical books were not included.
Many of the books belonging to the third group of religious texts, not yet fixed, were regularly read in Jewish communities during the first century A.D. They were translated into Greek and circulated among Hellenistic Jews, both in Palestine and in the diaspora.
The collection of “Writings”, on the other hand, was not as well defined either in Palestine or in the Jewish diaspora, with regard to the number of books and their textual form
17. Since the first Christians were for the most part Palestinian Jews, either “Hebrew” or “Hellenistic” (cf. Ac 6:1), their views on Scripture would have reflected those of their environment, but we are poorly informed on the subject. Nevertheless, the writings of the New Testament suggest that a sacred literature wider than the Hebrew canon circulated in Christian communities. Generally, the authors of the New Testament manifest a knowledge of the deuterocanonical books and other non-canonical ones since the number of books cited in the New Testament exceeds not only the Hebrew canon, but also the so-called Alexandrian canon. 34 When Christianity spread into the Greek world, it continued useful link to use sacred books received from Hellenistic Judaism. 35 Although Hellenistic Christians received their Scriptures from the Jews in the form of the Septuagint, we do not know the precise form, because the Septuagint has come down to us only in Christian writings. When Judaism came to close its own canon, the Christian Church was sufficiently independent from Judaism not to be immediately affected. It was only at a later period that a closed Hebrew canon began to exert influence on how Christians viewed it.
18. The Old Testament of the early Church took different shapes in different regions as the diverse lists from Patristic times show. The majority of Christian writings from the second century, as well as manuscripts of the Bible from the fourth century onwards, made use of or contain a great number of Jewish sacred books, including those which were not admitted into the Hebrew canon. It was only after the Jews had defined their canon that the Church thought of closing its own Old Testament canon. But we are lacking information on the procedure adopted and the reasons given for the inclusion of this or that book in the canon. It is possible, nevertheless, to trace in a general way the evolution of the canon in the Church, both in the East and in the West.
What the Church seems to have received was a body of Sacred Scripture which, within Judaism, was in the process of becoming canonical
In the East from Origen’s time (c. 185-253) there was an attempt to conform Christian usage to the Hebrew canon of 24-22 books using various combinations and stratagems. Origen himself knew of the existence of numerous textual differences, which were often considerable, between the Hebrew and the Greek Bible. To this was added the problem of different listings of books. The attempt to conform to the Hebrew text of the Hebrew canon did not prevent Christian authors in the East from utilising in their writings books that were never admitted into the Hebrew canon, or from following the Septuagint text. The notion that the Hebrew canon should be preferred by Christians does not seem to have produced in the Eastern Church either a profound or long-lasting impression.