I was asked to identify the original 20 books of the Tanach as they appear in the Masoretic Text but everything I found listed 24 books.
I understand that the collective name for the original books of the Masoretic Text is TANACH, an acronym derived from the names of the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (Instruction, or Law, also called the Pentateuch), Neviʾim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings).
During my research I found this entry in The Encyclopaedia of World Faiths:
"...some of its books were not declared sacred by the Jewish sages until the first centuries of the Christian era. From that time, however, the Tanakh has consisted of twenty-four books comprising the sacred scriptures of Judaism... The twenty-four books of the Tanakh are -
The Torah (in its original sense) - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
The Neviʾim - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Book of the Twelve Prophets.
The Ketuvim - Psalms, Proverbs, Job, The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, Chronicles."
The entry in the Encyclopaedia of World Faiths does not say which books were not declared sacred until the first centurys of the Christian era.
My problem is time - my answer to this question is due by Monday 13 April and I simply don't know where to start looking. I need reliable links/sources of information (preferably Jewish) to show what those 20 books were prior to the acceptance of the 24 books. Can you help me, please?
EDIT: This question asks 'What is the timeline of the 24 books of Tanach?' What is the timeline of the 24 books of Tanach?
Very useful information.