A Basic Explanation Of The Canon Of Scripture
While taking Professor Scot Keens Bibliology course here at Ethnos 360 Bible Institute, I began to realize that even though I had grown up in a solid church and had had Christian education, there was a lot I didnt know about the history of the Bible and how its come to us today. When Professor Keen started throwing around the phrase canon of Scripture I had only a very vague idea of what he meant, and it wasnt a topic that sounded too riveting. But the rest of my Bibliology class had surprised me with its relevance and importance, and when we began discussing the canon of Scripture more in depth I found myself pleasantly surprised once again.
Having at least a basic understanding of the canon of Scripture can bring us a lot of confidence about the Bible, as were about to see.
Eusebius On Melito And Origen
The first list of Old Testament books compiled by a Christian source is recorded by the 4th century historian Eusebius. Eusebius describes the collection of a 2nd century bishop, Melito of Sardis.Melito’s list, dated to circa 170, the result of a trip to the Holy Land to determine both the order and number of books in the Hebrew Bible, instead seems to follow the order of the books presented in the Septuagint. Melito’s list, as cited by Eusebius, as follows:
- Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth of Kings, four books of Chronicles, two the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah of the twelve prophets, one book Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras.
According to Archibald Alexander, “Wisdom” in Melito’s list is thought by many to be referring to the Book of Wisdom, which is part of the Deuterocanon, but which others dispute.Book of Esther does not appear in the list.
Eusebius also records 22 canonical books of the Hebrews given by Origen of Alexandria:
Stories You Didn’t Learn In Sunday School
Many of the New Testament texts familiar to Christians today were being used authoritatively already in the second century, but different congregations preferred some texts over others and included some texts that don’t appear in the New Testament. Here are a few:
The Gospel of Peter: Only a fragment of this text was recovered in 1886 in Egypt, but it includes the only narrative account of the resurrected Jesus leaving his tomb. According to Peter’s version, two giant angels descended to the tomb and escorted the resurrected Jesus out, who was also suddenly gigantic. But the oddest note was that the three figures were followed by a floating cross that could talk.
“And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, ‘Thou hast preached to them that sleep.’ And a response was heard from the cross, ‘Yea.'”
The Gospel of Mary: Combs says that some apocryphal texts reflected theological and doctrinal debates going on within the early church, such as the role of women. In the Gospel of Mary , is not only referred to as one of Jesus’s disciples, but perhaps his favorite one. In this text, after Jesus is resurrected, he relays esoteric teachings to Mary, who then tells the other disciples. Peter asks why they should listen to a woman, to which another disciple Levi responds:
“If the Savior made her worthy, who are you then, for your part, to cast her aside? Surely the Savior knows her full well. That is why he has loved her more than us.”
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The Synod Of Laodicea
The authenticity of the 60th canon is doubtful as it is missing from various manuscripts and may have been added later to specify the extent of the preceding 59th canon. Nevertheless, given that the Book of Revelation is excluded from the New Testament in this list, it is taken by scholars such as Gallagher and Meade to transmit a genuine canon list of 4th century date.
Did God Or Man Chose The Bibles Contents
In our last two blog posts in this series we talked about 1) aspects of the Bible that make it unique among world literature, and 2) the physical materials used by ancient scribes to produce copies of Scripture. Now lets dive into a question that many people ask: Who got to decide which scriptures were included in the Bible?
Its a great question for you to ask, as it shows that youre truly interested in having a solid understanding of church history.
To answer this question, we have to look at the biblical canon. The word canon comes from the root word reed, which was used as a measuring rod and came to mean standard. As applied to Scripture, canon means an officially accepted list of books. But what has made each book acceptable and others not?
As I mentioned in last weeks post, some mistakenly think the Roman emperor Constantine simply made the decision of what to include when he commissioned 50 copies of the Bible for churches in his capitol city, Constantinople. But Constantine played no role in the Bibles formation, despite what Dan Brown asserts as historical fact in his novel, The DaVinci Code. The 39 books of the Old Testament form the Bible of Judaism the Christian Bible adds the additional 27 books of the New Testament. This complete list of books was found acceptable because the church deemed them to be divinely inspired books. They possess, simply, the stamp of Gods authority.
Sean McDowell succinctly explains this:
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King James 1611 Bible And Apocrypha
If you want a bible equipped with many of the Apocrypha books and the Old and New Testament books a king James 1611 bible is perfect. It has 14 apocrypha books that were originally a part of the King James bible.
Alternatively if you already have a Bible with 66 books you can by an Apocrypha separately.
We recommend the New standard revised version because it has hidden verses found in the book of Esdras about the after life. You can read about that here.
Establishing The New Testament Canon
on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 at 7:00 AM
When the apostles were alive and operating in the first century, no great need existed for a canon to be defined. Certain developments, however, prompted the need for defining a canon of New Testament Scripture.
This article originally appeared in Biblical Illustrator Magazine.
The Word “canon originally meant “measuring reed,” but eventually developed the meaning “standard.” Pertaining to the New Testament, the term refers to those books the church accepted as the standard that governs Christian belief and conduct.
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The Poetry And Wisdom Books Of The Bible
The writing of the Poetry and Wisdom Books spanned from the time of Abraham through the end of the Old Testament. Possibly the oldest of the books, Job, is of unknown authorship. The Psalms have many different writers, King David being the most notable and others remaining anonymous. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs are primarily attributed to Solomon. Also referred to as “wisdom literature,” these books deal precisely with our human struggles and real-life experiences.
Why Was The Book Of Enoch Removed
The Book of Enoch was considered as scripture in the Epistle of Barnabas and by many of the early Church Fathers, such as Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Tertullian, who wrote c. 200 that the Book of Enoch had been rejected by the Jews because it contained prophecies pertaining to Christ.
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Disputed Spurious And Downright Heretical
Luther had issues with the book of James, which emphasized the role of “works” alongside faith, so he stuck James and Hebrews in the back of the Bible alongside Jude and Revelation, which he also thought were questionable. Combs says that in Luther’s original Bible, those four books don’t even appear in the table of contents.
Eusebius was a Christian historian writing in the early 300s who provided one of the early lists of which books were considered legit and which were borderline bogus.
Eusebius broke his list down into different categories: recognized, disputed, spurious and heretical. Among the “recognized” were the four gospels , Acts and Paul’s epistles. Under “disputed,” Eusebius included James and Jude the same books Luther didn’t like plus a few others that are now considered canon, like 2 Peter, 2 John and 3 John.
When Eusebius turns to the “spurious” and “heretical” categories, we get a glimpse into just how many other texts were in circulation in the second and third century C.E. Have you ever heard of the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas or the Gospel of Thomas? Combs says that there were hundreds of texts similar to those found in the New Testament and Old Testament that didn’t make it into the canon.
Questions On The Canon Of Scripture
An introduction to the study of the New Testament Canon and how the issue of Canon applies to us today
Some of the most important questions Christians need to wrestle with are about the Bible: what it is, where it came from, and whether or not we can trust it. Rather than letting fictitious books like The DaVinci Code inform our understanding of the Bible, we would do well to consider what the church has taught. The good news is, this is something that the church has spent a considerable amount of time and effort wrestling with, and there are answers to sufficiently handle any and all objections thrown at the Bible. The following series of short-answer questions are a brief introduction to issues of the New Testament Canon, the canonicity and reliability of the four Gospels, and how the issue of Canon applies to us today. Additionally, there are several recommended resources at the end of this article provided for further study.
1. What does the word canonrefer to as it pertains to New Testament thought?
The word canon refers to the collection of authoritative or normative writings that were deemed by the church to be inspired by God and therefore belonging to an exclusive set of Scriptures permanently given for the life of the church. The New Testament Canon, containing a total of twenty-seven books, is received in addition to the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament to comprise the Evangelical Canon of Scripture.
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Canonicity Of The New Testament
Factors Leading to the Recognition of the New Testament Canon
What were the factors that led to the recognition of a New Testament canon as we have it today? For almost twenty years after the ascension of Christ none of the books of the New Testament were even written and about sixty-five years elapsed before the last New Testament book was written. James was undoubtedly the first, being written between 45-50 A.D., and Revelation was most surely the last, being written about 90 A.D. But several things began to happen that promoted the formation of the New Testament canon. Enns summarizes these:
Spurious writings as well as attacks on genuine writings were a factor. Marcion, for example, rejected the Old Testament and New Testament writings apart from the Pauline letters . The content of the New Testament writings testified to their authenticity and they naturally were collected, being recognized as canonical. Apostolic writings were used in public worship, hence, it was necessary to determine which of those writings were canonical. Ultimately, the edict by Emperor Diocletian in A.D. 303, demanding that all sacred books be burned, resulted in the New Testament collection.69
The Process of Recognition of the New Testament Canon
In the Post-Apostolic Era.
Ryrie has an important note in connection with Martin Luthers opinion of the epistle of James.
The Tests For Canonicity
The Reliability of the New Testament
Just how reliable are the New Testament documents?
61 Enns, p. 170.
The Canonization Of Scripture
Have you ever wondered how we got the Bible that we have? One of the steps by which we got the Bible we have is called the canonization of Scripture.
Did you ever hear that there were other books, letters, and documents that were written near the time the books of the Bible were written, claiming to be by authors like the Apostles Andrew, Thomas, Peter, and Paul, but which are not found in our Bible?
I own several of these other books and have read them. Many of these books are found in the New Testament Apocrypha. They make for interesting reading. While some of them sound very similar to what we read in the New Testament, most do not, especially some of the stories about the childhood years of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Thomas.
The reason these books were not included in the Bible is because of something called the Canonization of Scripture. No, we are not talking about putting the Bible in a cannon and shooting it at the walls of a city.
We will look below at the the need for Canonization, what it is, and how it was done.
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Did Martin Luther Remove Books From The Bible
Luther included the deuterocanonical books in his translation of the German Bible, but he did relocate them to after the Old Testament, calling them Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read. He also considered the relocation of the Book of Esther
Why Was Apocrypha Removed
The Confession provided the rationale for the exclusion: The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings .
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Jerome And The Vulgate
Pope Damasus I‘s Council of Rome in 382, if the is correctly associated with it, issued a biblical canon identical with the list given at Trent, or if not the list is at least a 6th-century compilation claiming a 4th-century imprimatur. He was encouraged his personal secretary, Jerome, in the Vulgate translation of the Bible. Damasus’s commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible was instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West. This list, given below, was purportedly endorsed by Pope Damasus I:
- The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis, one book Exodus, one book Leviticus, one book Numbers, one book Deuteronomy, one book Joshua Nave, one book Judges, one book Ruth, one book Kings, four books Paralipomenon , two books Psalms, one book Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book Ecclesiastes, one book Canticle of Canticles, one book likewise Wisdom, one book Ecclesiasticus, one book. Likewise the order of the prophets: … . Likewise the order of the histories: Job, one book Tobit, one book Esdras, two books Esther, one book Judith, one book Maccabees, two books.
Michael Barber asserts that, although Jerome was once suspicious of the apocrypha, he later viewed them as Scripture. Barber argues that this is clear from Jerome’s epistles. As an example, he cites Jerome’s letter to Eustochium, in which Jerome quotes Sirach 13:2., elsewhere Jerome also refers to Baruch, the Story of Susannah and Wisdom as scripture.
Responses To The Edition
In its 2007 “Bible and Bible Reference Survey,” Preaching.com called The Books of The Bible “one of the most interesting this year,” and predicted that the format changes would “aid reading and seeing the more natural divisions in the text which are often obscured by the chapter and verse divisions.” A review in the journal Themelios stated, “The way presents the Bible as a library of literature is unique, simple, and elegant” the reviewer anticipated that “some other translations” might “follow suit.”Bible Design and Binding described the edition as “a new approach both to the design and organization of the biblical text” that would “serve as an example to others.” One of the contributors to the Better Bibles Blog expected that “the new format will bring increased understanding” and noted that “the format can be used with any version of the Bible.”
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The History Of Canonization
Because no explicit or reliable traditions concerning the criteria of canonicity, the canonizing authorities, the periods in which they lived, or the procedure adopted have been preserved, no more than a plausible reconstruction of the successive stages involved can be provided. First, it must be observed that sanctity and canonization are not synonymous terms. The first condition must have existed before the second could have been formally conferred. Next, the collection and organization of a number of sacred texts into a canonized corpus is quite a different problem from that of the growth and formation of the individual books themselves.
What Happened To The Book Of Enoch In The Bible
The text of the Book of Genesis says Enoch lived 365 years before he was taken by God. The text reads that Enoch walked with God: and he was no more for God took him , which is interpreted as Enochs entering heaven alive in some Jewish and Christian traditions, and interpreted differently in others.