Since when do we have the Bible cannon? Was it established through church decrees some centuries after the death of the apostles, or can we trace it back at an earlier time? The implications of these answers are quite important. If the cannon was established by the authority of the official RC church, than she must be entitled to change the content of the Bible as well. If the cannon was established by Christ's apostles under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, that God alone has this authority to change the sacred text. But we know that God doesn't change. Moreover, He promised that He will preserve His sacred text, so that not one of His words will pass away.
The 2nd episode of the documentary at the link bellow deals especially with this topic: the formation of the Bible cannon. It is entitled Reformation's Fountain of Life and it's in Romanian with English subtitles.
The Old Testament
A brief survey of the history of the Old Testament canon leads to the conclusion that the collection of books we call the Old Testament took place in the 5th century BC., with Ezra and Nehemiah, (who both have books in the Old Testament) the two great leaders of that restoration period, most probably the leading spirits in this work. The basis of this conclusion is the fact that the Old Testament does not contain any later books. Jewish tradition of the 1st century BC. confirms this conclusion.
The production of the Septuagint,(the Old Testament translated in to Greek by the Masoretes.) beginning in the 3rd century BC., is evidence for the existence of an Old Testament canon. And mentioning the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible and the existence of its Greek translation in his time.
Jesus Christ and the apostles definitely believed in the authority and inspiration of the Hebrew Bible, as is seen from numerous testimonies witnessing to this fact. Their Bible had the same threefold division and probably the same sequence of books as found in the present Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, hundreds of quotations taken from at least 30 Old Testament books show the high esteem in which these writings were held by Jesus the founder of the Christian faith and His immediate followers.
The history of the Old Testament canon in the Christian church following the apostolic age centres in the question about the acceptance or rejection of the Jewish Apocrypha. (The Books found between the old and the new testaments) Though these books were rejected by the apostles and the Christian writers up to the middle of the 2nd century, and indeed, even by the Jews themselves, these spurious writings unfortunately found a welcome in the Christian church toward the end of the 2nd century. From that time on they were never banned from the Catholic Church (because the teachings found in those suited the Catholic Church). The Reformers took a firm stand in rejecting the Apocrypha, but after their death the Apocryphal books found entrance once more into some Protestant churches, although they were finally ejected from most of them in the nineteenth century.
So we can see there has been arguments about which books should be included for a long time to my mind the safest approach would be to follow what Jesus and the Apostles taught.
The Masoretes also established exact and detailed rules to be followed in the production of new Bible copies. Nothing was left to the decision of the scribes, neither the length of lines and columns, nor the color of the ink to be used. The words of each book were counted, and its middle word established, to provide means for checking the accuracy of new copies. At the end of each book a statement was attached giving the number of words the book contained, and also telling which was the middle word, besides some other statistical information.
By this we can see that there was a meticulous order in how the Bible was produced and this is confirmed by the finding of the Dead sea Scrolls. These documents was contemporary with Jesus. The differences you will find between these is so minuscule that it will have no meaning.
The New Testament Canon P1
In regard to the meaning of the word canon, and its use as technical term to designate the collection of sacred books of the Old and New Testaments,
Although the roots of canon formation go back to the apostolic age, a uniform recognition of all New Testament books throughout Christendom was not achieved for several centuries.
It may be said at the outset that the New Testament canon came into being neither by a papal decree nor by the decision of an ecumenical church council. Neither was it the result of a miracle, although this claim is made in the following legendary story: The delegates to the Council of Nicaea, desirous to know which books were canonical and which not, are said to have placed under the communion table all books for which a place in the canon was claimed. Then they prayed that the Lord would show them which books were canonical by miraculously placing them on top of the stack. According to the story, this miracle happened during the prayer, and thus the New Testament canon was established. This story, which is of obscure origin, has not the slightest credibility. (So you can see this is going to be a long and involved project.)
The collection of sacred writings in the New Testament found its prototype in the canon of the Old Testament. With it Christians accepted the Jewish doctrine of divine inspiration, so that in the books of the Old Testament they did not see the words of Samuel, David, or Isaiah merely, but rather the Word of God, the product of a divine spirit and wisdom. Since the Christians believed that the Jews, by their rejection of Christ, had lost their privileges and had been rejected by God, the Christian church considered itself the only rightful owner and interpreter of this Word of God. The Old Testament contained prophecies pointing to Christ and also many glorious promises for the true people of God, whom the Christians believed themselves to be. All of this made the Old Testament dear to the early church.
Besides the Old Testament the early church possessed the “Words of the Lord” as received from Jesus Himself or from the apostles, who had been eye-witnesses. The church considered the words and prophecies of Jesus as on the same inspired level as the sayings of the Old Testament. Thus Paul could quote the Pentateuch as “scripture” (1 Tim. 5:181For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.) and couple this with it a statement of Jesus (Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. ). It was only natural that as the apostles carried the gospel throughout the world, many of the Lord’s words and much reminiscence about Him circulated orally. An evidence of this is the instance where Paul, in speaking to the elders of Ephesus, used a saying of Jesus that appears nowhere in the Gospels (Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.) That oral tradition concerning the words of Jesus existed into the 2d century.
At the same time, however, certain initial steps in the formation of the New Testament canon are recognizable in the earliest Christian period. Already during the first generation of Christians there appeared written records of the life of Christ. Luke, in the prologue to his Gospel (1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.) testifies that several works describing the life and teachings of Jesus existed in his time. He goes on to assure his readers that he tells his story in reliable form.
It can be assumed that the majority of churches possessed the written Gospel before the end of the 1st century. The acquaintance of the early Church Fathers with these writings is apparent from their quotations of them. The word “gospel” appears in the New Testament only as a singular term designating the glad tidings of Jesus.
There is many other examples of how writings was known to the early church in the 1st and 2nd century
The New Testament Canon When Where and Who
The first man to establish a canon was the heretic Marcion about the middle of the 2d century. He was a thorough anti-Semitist who held that Jehovah in the Old Testament was the Jewish God of wrath and justice, and that He had nothing in common with the Christian God of love. Marcion claimed to be a true interpreter of the Christian theology of Paul, and being an excellent organizer, he fixed for his own sectarian church a Bible canon that conformed to his ideas. He eliminated entirely the Old Testament and also certain books of the apostolic age. Consequently his Bible consisted only of the Gospel of Luke, the writings of the apostle Paul, and a book of his own, called the Antithesis, in which he presented his arguments for rejecting the Old Testament. His collection of Paul’s epistles, called the Apostolikon, consisted of ten letters of Paul: Galatians, First and Second Corinthians, Romans, First and Second Thessalonians, “Laodiceans” (Ephesians), Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. He rejected 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, and also changed the text of those books that he accepted, to agree with his theology.
(This is a bit of a concern but as we will see it will be sorted out Just imagine the whole old testament discarded as irrelevant. And changing of the books kept to suit himself.)
Marcion’s activity forced the church to take a stand with regard to what books could justly claim the status of Scripture. Unfortunately few sources are available that clearly show how the Christian church acted in regard to this matter in the middle of the 2d century. A clear picture of the New Testament canon does not emerge until about a.d. 200. The meager sources that are available on this subject from the period under consideration are the following.
Justin Martyr, a contemporary of Marcion, wrote several works at Rome about a.d. 150, in which he treated the Gospels as Holy Scripture on a par with the Old Testament. Describing the Christian church service, he says that in their gatherings Christians read the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets (that is, the Old Testament) before the sermon. Writing for pagan readers, Justin used a literary word, apomnēmoneumata, “memoirs,” to refer to the Gospels. In mentioning the Gospels before the Old Testament in describing Christian Scripture reading, he indicates that the church accorded the Gospels a position at least as high as that of the Old Testament. Justin also declares that the Gospels had been composed by the apostles or the disciples of the apostles. He sometimes introduces quotations from the Gospels with some such formula as, “Christ has said”, and sometimes with the phrase, “It is written”.
While it has been debated how many Gospels Justin knew, the evidence is strong that he used all four of them. Some of his quotations are not found in the exact form in which they appear in the canonical Gospels, and may have been taken from extra-Biblical sources. Since about the same time 2 Clement uses sayings of Jesus not found in the canonical Gospels.
(As you may have noticed there is evidence of writings not existing any more this is most likely not a problem because the theory is that the gospel was based on some writings that preceded the gospels.)
It would not be surprising to find Justin doing the same. Justin’s writings reflect acquaintance not only with the Gospels but also with Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and Acts. He quotes the Revelation between a statement from the Old Testament and a saying of the Lord.
Tatian, a pupil of Justin, made a harmony of the four canonical Gospels, which would seem to indicate that he considered these books as apart from apocryphal works. This harmony, known as the Diatessaron (literally, “Through four”), appears to have been the standard form in which the gospel story circulated in the Syriac-speaking church for some two centuries. Theophilus of Antioch (died c. a.d. 181) puts the Gospels on a level with the prophetic books of the Old Testament, and declares that they were written by pneumatophoroi, “spirit-bearing [men]” That the book of Revelation was highly valued at this time is indicated by Justin Martyr Theophilus and Apollonius.
New Testament Canon at End of 2d Century.—The existence of a canon, in the sense of a generally recognized group of books constituting the New Testament, becomes apparent near the end of the 2d century. Witnesses to such a canon are extant from various parts of the Roman world. From Rome itself comes a document called the Muratorian Fragment; from Gaul, the testimony of Irenaeus of Lyons; from Africa, Tertullian of Carthage; and from Egypt, Clement of Alexandria. The earliest known systematic list of New Testament books is the Muratorian Fragment, named after its discoverer, L. A. Muratori, who found it in the library of a monastery at Milan in 1740. The beginning and end of the document are missing, and its Latin is barbarous and poorly spelled. Scholars generally have concluded that this fragment originally was written in Rome toward the end of the 2d century. It furnishes a list of books that might be read publicly in church, and also mentions several books that should not be read.
In the missing portion at the beginning of the Muratorian Fragment there was evidently a remark about Matthew; this was followed by a notation on Mark, of which only one line is preserved. Since Luke is called the third, and John the fourth Gospel, there is no doubt that Matthew headed the list. The Acts of the Apostles come next, and following them the epistles in this order: 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Romans, Philemon, Titus, 1 and 2 Timothy. He also includes Jude and 1 and 2 John. Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and 3 John are omitted. Certain other books are either called in question or rejected outright. Thus of the Apocalypse of Peter (not to be confused with the epistles of Peter), the Fragment declares that although some accepted it, others thought it should not be read in church. The epistles to the Laodiceans and Alexandrians and the Shepherd of Hermas are denied a place in the canon at all. Concerning Revelation, the Fragment states that although John wrote to the seven churches, he spoke to all.
Irenaeus’ New Testament canon can easily be reconstructed on the basis of his numerous Biblical quotations. He recognized the four Gospels as the only canonical ones and characterized them as the four pillars of the church. He also accepted 13 epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 John, Acts, and Revelation. Irenaeus does not quote from Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter, and they may have been absent from his collection of New Testament books. Neither does he mention 3 John and Jude, but this may have been accidental, since both are very short. On the other hand, Irenaeus apparently considered the Shepherd of Hermas to be canonical, as he introduces a quotation from that work with the words, “The Scripture declared” (ibid. iv. 20.2).
A study of Tertullian’s writings reveals much the same picture with regard to his New Testament canon. Although he quoted the Epistle to the Hebrews, he did not consider it to be canonical, thinking that it had been written by Barnabas. Tertullian accepted the Shepherd of Hermas during his earlier years, but rejected it later.
Clement of Alexandria, a representative of the Eastern Church, showed a more liberal attitude toward sacred writings than was common in the West. Besides the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, he used also—although as somewhat lesser authorities—the apocryphal gospels of the Hebrews and the Egyptians. His New Testament canon contained also 14 books of Paul, including Hebrews, which the Eastern Church accepted as Pauline without hesitation, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 John, Jude, Acts, and Revelation, as well as the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and other noncanonical writings. Whether he knew James, 3 John, and 2 Peter is not certain. Clement’s writings clearly show that books already rejected in the Western Church as noncanonical were still used without scruple in the East. A clear distinction between the apostolic and the nonapostolic writings was made at this time only in the West.
A study of the principal witnesses to the New Testament canon at the end of the 2d century shows that the four Gospels, 13 epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 John, Jude, Acts, and Revelation were generally recognized as canonical. While some in the West still doubted James, 2 Peter, 3 John, and Hebrews there were those in the East who felt free to use certain apocryphal writings as authentic.
This brief survey of the evidence shows that the New Testament canon during the 2d century did not develop so much through a process of collecting apostolic writings as through a process of rejecting those whose apostolic origin was not established. In the course of the first hundred years of the Christian church many books had been written. Every Christian sect and province had produced writings, especially so-called Gospels. These were copied and distributed, with the result that the body of Christian literature grew to formidable size. It was soon noticed that gall had been mixed with honey, to use an expression of the Muratorian Fragment that describes works that claimed apostolic origin yet propounded Gnostic teaching. A clear stand regarding these spurious books became necessary.
A trend in the opposite direction, which intensified the need for a canon, was emphasized by the heretic Marcion. In order to have support for his anti-Jewish teachings, he rejected not only all spurious works but also several books of undisputedly apostolic origin. His rejection of such genuinely apostolic works, together with the widespread use of nonapostolic writings, forced Christians to decide what to accept and what to reject.
One principle that Christians adopted in determining the validity of a book was the status of the author. Whatever was not clearly of apostolic origin, they rejected. The only exceptions made were the works of Mark and Luke, who were the associates of venerated apostles. Another basis of canonicity was the contents of books for which a place was claimed in the New Testament. Even books purporting to be of apostolic origin were rejected when they were found to contain Gnostic elements. One example of such works is the so-called Gospel of Peter.
Eusebius records an incident that illustrates how church leaders gave counsel in the choice of a canon. About a.d. 200 the church at Rhosus, near Antioch, seems to have been divided over the use of the Gospel of Peter. The church members there submitted their dispute to Serapion, bishop of Antioch. He was not familiar with this work, and thinking that all the Christians at Rhosus were orthodox, he allowed its use. Later, however, when he became aware of the Gnostic character of this gospel, he wrote a letter to Rhosus and retracted the permit he previously had given. It is most interesting to note that a bishop allowed a book unknown to him to be read in church, apparently because it carried an apostle’s name as author, but that he prohibited it as soon as he recognized by its contents its spurious character and authorship. Similar cases may frequently have occurred, although no further records of such decisions have been preserved.
As you may have noted the bishops had a great deal to say about which books was acceptable to be read in the church. It must be said that most of these Bishop was Godly men who loved their Lord even to death as in Justin Martyr case. Now we will continue with the Canon After A.D. 200 in the East.
The first evidence after a.d. 200 concerning the New Testament canon in the East comes from Origen (died c. a.d. 254). He observed that differences existed among the various churches in regard to the content of the New Testament, and he differentiated between generally recognized writings and contested ones. Eusebius presents a record of Origen’s views, according to which the four Gospels, the epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, and the Revelation were generally accepted. Although Eusebius seems to have forgotten it, Acts should be added, because Origen clearly shows that he considered it as belonging to the same group. According to Eusebius’ testimony, Origen lists as still contested 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Hebrews. That he also placed Jude in this category is apparent from his own remarks. Although the Shepherd of Hermas, Barnabas, and the Didache stood on the borders of the canon, Origen was convinced that they were not apostolic.
You can see here there was some books that was not considered being Apostolic, like Shepherd of Hermas the book of Barnabas and the Apocalypse of Peter as mentioned in the last instalment.
A controversy over the Revelation took place in the Eastern Church during the 3d century. Orthodox Christians had not previously questioned the authenticity of this book. They had always accepted it as inspired and apostolic. Origen had expressed no doubts about the authority of Revelation, but his followers attacked it vehemently. Particularly notable in this regard was Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria (died c. a.d. 265), who wrote a treatise in which he sought to disprove the apostolic authorship of the book. The Alexandrian theologians seem to have turned against the Revelation because its vivid picture of the reality of the judgment and the heavenly kingdom did not agree with their allegorical and spiritualized theology. As a result of this controversy, the faith of many Christians in the book of Revelation was shaken, and for more than a century the Eastern Church was not sure whether the book was acceptable or not.
By the time Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire (a.d. 313), the line of demarcation between recognized and rejected books already had been drawn. Thus Eusebius, writing about a.d. 325 (ibid. iii. 25, Loeb ed., vol. I, pp. 257, 259), divided into three classes the New Testament books claiming canonicity. His first class consisted of the “Recognized Books”: the four Gospels, Acts, 14 epistles of Paul (including Hebrews), 1 John, 1 Peter, and Revelation. His second class was made up of “Disputed Books,” which he divided again into those that were “known to most” Christians: James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and works that were “not genuine”: the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Didache.
In his third class Eusebius placed “altogether wicked and impious” writings, such as the Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthias.
Hope you note these spurious books above
Eusebius’ discussion reveals clearly that Christians definitely had separated the chaff from the wheat of New Testament scripture before Christianity became a recognized state religion early in the 4th century. The books he classifies as “Recognized Books” and “Disputed Books which are nevertheless known to most” are the same 27 New Testament books recognized as canonical by all Christians today. All others he rejected.
An important factor in settling the question of the canon in the Greek Church was the declaration of Athanasius of Alexandria, in his 39th Festal Letter (a.d. 367). As the leading man of his time, Athanasius told his bishops and their people that the canon of the New Testament consists of 27 books. He made no criticism of any book, nor any differentiation between books. Of all the apocryphal works, he mentioned only the Didache and the Shepherd, and stated that although these two books do not belong to the canon, they might be used for the edification of candidates in baptismal classes.
Although Athanasius’ directives were binding legally only in Egypt where he was the recognized spiritual leader, yet his personality was so strong that the whole Greek-speaking church was influenced by his verdict. Although some theologians of the East rejected Revelation as late as the 5th century, his canon of 27 books came to be the recognized standard.
The formation of the canon experienced a different course in the Syriac-speaking church, which lay east of the imperial Roman borders in the area of the Upper Euphrates, Mesopotamia, and Persia. During the 2d century, Christianity took strong root in this area, and the Gospels probably were translated into Syriac before a.d. 200, as is indicated by the Curetonian and Sinaitic Gospel manuscripts. However, these Gospels seem to have been used much less than the Diatessaron, the Gospel harmony prepared by Tatian probably a few years earlier. During the 3d and 4th centuries the Syrian church knew the Gospel almost exclusively in this latter form. In the 5th century, leaders of the Syrian church, such as Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Rabbula of Edessa, made strong efforts to eliminate the Diatessaron in favor of “the Gospel of the Separated,” as the four individual Gospels were called.
Little is known concerning the early use of other New Testament books among the Syrians. From the Doctrina Addai, written about a.d. 350, it appears that the epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles were in use in the Syriac-speaking churches along with the Old Testament and the Diatessaron. However, it is not known how early the Syrian churches had become acquainted with these books, or whether they had the general epistles and the book of Revelation. A list of New Testament books in Syriac from the 3d century found in the monastery at Mt. Sinai lists only the four Gospels, the Acts, and the epistles of Paul, including Hebrews.
A new Syriac translation, the Peshitta (see p. 122), appeared with strong ecclesiastical support in the early 5th century. It replaced the Diatessaron with the four Separate Gospels, and contained also the Acts, 14 epistles of Paul, and 1 Peter, 1 John, and James. Thus the Syriac New Testament canon consisted of 22 books, and so remained for many years. As a result of the Christological controversies of the 5th century, some elements of Syriac-speaking Christianity, under pressure from the West, accepted the canon of 27 books, while others retained only the 22.
And by now I hope you can see that the canon was not arrived at by any one person but by concensus of many Godly men over many years, I like to add that I believe that The Holy Spirit had a lot to do with how it all came together
The New Testament Canon P2
We will now continue with the last instalment in this series on the canon of the Bible and this deals in particular with Canon After A.D. 200 in the West.
The testimony of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and the Muratorian Fragment shows that at the turn of the 3d century, the New Testament canon had reached a rather fixed form in the West. The four Gospels, the Acts, 13 epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, Revelation, and perhaps also 2 John and Jude were generally recognized as belonging to the canon. Second Peter, James, 3 John, and Hebrews had not yet achieved this recognition, although some apocryphal works were still at times accepted.
The history of the canon after a.d. 200 therefore involves chiefly the acceptance of three general epistles and Hebrews, and the rejection of some questionable apocrypha.
The Western Church did not have so many notable scholars as the East, but its church discipline was stronger, and consequently the development of the canon in the West did not involve as much vacillation as in the East. The Western Church finally followed the East in accepting Hebrews, while at the same time it strongly defended the Revelation, a book the East did not favor during the 3d century and part of the 4th. Finally, the Greek theologians reversed their attitude and accepted Revelation into their canon.
The general epistles still were little used in the Latin Church during the whole 3d century. Quotations from these books hardly ever appear in the Latin Fathers of this period, and when they do, they are taken from 1 John and 1 Peter. In the 4th century, however, the general epistles received wide acceptance. Two canon lists witness to this. One, a list discovered by Theodor Mommsen, probably from Africa, lists five general epistles: three letters of John, two letters of Peter. However, a later hand has added to one of the two extant copies of this canon the remark, una sola, “one only,” to both entries, perhaps indicating that while the original author of this list reckoned three letters of John and two of Peter as canonical, a later reader voiced his opposition to this view. The second canon list from the 4th century is the Catalogus Claromontanus, found between Philemon and Hebrews in the uncial manuscript D at Paris. It lists all seven general epistles in the following sequence: 1 and 2 Peter, James, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude.
The final decision concerning the New Testament canon was taken by the Latin Church in a.d. 382, when the Synod of Rome, under Pope Damascus, decreed officially that the seven general epistles form an integral part of the New Testament. This decree attributed the First Epistle of John to the apostle and the other two to another John, supposed to have been a presbyter. The church of North Africa followed suit, when during the council of Hippo (a.d. 393) and the 3d council of Carthage (a.d. 397) decrees were voted similar to that made at Rome in a.d. 382.
The Epistle to the Hebrews likewise did not find complete acceptance in the Western Church until the second half of the 4th century. The main reason for this lay in its disputed authorship. The Latin Fathers of the 3d and 4th centuries either did not mention Hebrews or rejected its Pauline authorship.
Consequently it is also absent from the Catalogus Claromontanus, unless it is indicated there under the entry “Epistle of Barnabas,” which is possible, but improbable. However, the great Latin theologians and ecclesiastical leaders of the latter part of the 4th century stood strongly under the influence of the Greek theology of the East, where the Pauline authorship of Hebrews had never been doubted.
Hence, Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, Lucifer of Cagliari, Vigilius of Thapsus, Ambrose, Augustine, and other Western leaders began to accept Hebrews as canonical. This trend was legalized at the Synod of Rome in a.d. 382, which declared the canon to possess 14 letters of Paul. The subsequent African councils of Hippo and Carthage also accepted Hebrews as Pauline. Augustine, in his New Testament canon, as presented in his work, does not vary in any way from the canon of Athanasius of Alexandria contained in his 39th Easter Letter (see p. 129). From this time on the Latin and Greek churches had the same New Testament canon of 27 books.
The apocryphal books of the New Testament were rejected earlier and more resolutely in the Western Church than among the Christians of the East. By a.d. 200 a clear stand was taken in the West with regard to books whose apostolic origin was questionable, as is attested by Tertullian and the Muratorian Fragment, while at the same time some of these same books were used by Clement of Alexandria with no scruples. Apocryphal books were still part of the Eastern Church literature in the 3d and 4th centuries as Origen’s and Eusebius’ works testify. At that time these books were unanimously rejected by the Latin Church Fathers. However, later Bible manuscripts reveal that in some circles apocryphal books remained in use until the Middle Ages. Twenty of these manuscripts are known to contain a Latin translation of the Shepherd of Hermas, and more than 100 of them have the so-called Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans.
It is a remarkable fact that not one of the ecumenical church councils of the early centuries attempted to fix the canon. The first ecumenical council (though recognized as such only by the Roman Catholic Church) to deal with the canon was the Council of Trent (1545–64), which for the first time established by decree a canon of Scripture binding upon all members of the Catholic Church. Although earlier councils had dealt with the canon, as mentioned, they were not ecumenical, and had jurisdiction only over certain ecclesiastical provinces.
A study of the development of the New Testament canon provides convincing evidence that the hand of Providence led in the formation of God’s written Word. As has been seen in the foregoing survey, the decisions that brought into being the canon of 27 books were not essentially the work of an organized church expressing its will through either a pope or a general council. Rather, the canon of Scripture developed gradually over a period of some four centuries as many Christian men under the guidance of the Spirit of God recognized that certain works had been inspired by that same Spirit, and that other works had not.
In this divinely directed work of selection, certain standards aided the early Christians in deciding which books merited a place in Scripture and which did not. One of these standards was authorship. The New Testament was the good news concerning Jesus Christ, and Christians naturally believed that the most authentic presentations of this message were those written by men who had been with Jesus. Consequently only those works were accepted finally concerning which Christians were clearly convinced that they were the products of an apostle or of a companion of an apostle writing in the apostolic period.
Thus the books of Mark and Luke were admitted because every Christian was convinced that they had been written in the time of the apostles Peter and Paul, and perhaps under their supervision. On the other hand, the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, although widely accepted in the 2d century, was ultimately dropped from the canon because its contents showed that it could not have been written by that apostle. Similarly, the Shepherd of Hermas, a book favored by some early Christians, did not finally achieve a place in the canon because it originated in the postapostolic period.
Another standard which guided the early church in the selection of the canon was that of content. This sometimes involved more subtle judgment than did the question of authorship. It necessitated the evaluation of a book in terms of its inner consistency, its agreement with the rest of Scripture, and its conformity with Christian experience. It was doubtless largely by this principle that the early Christians rejected the many Gnostic gospels and apocalypses.
Essential to the successful accomplishment of all of this was the guidance of the Spirit of God, the Spirit who led the minds of the prophets and apostles as they wrote, and who has brought conviction to the heart of every true believer in Jesus Christ, as he has read the Scripture, that it is truly the Word of God.
How can the Canon by established by the apostles when they were they ones who wrote the new testament it ?
I don't think that the apostle John had anything to do with establishing the canon of Scriptures. Remember that most of the Fathers especially of the East rejected the Revelation and 2nd and 3rd John. There were many books being used by the fathers which are not canonical.
I agree with you that Revelation with the other 26 books of the New Testament were always scripture ,in addition to the old testament; but what i don't support is you saying that the apostle John was responsible for putting the New Testament together.
zafer seems to me that you do not believe in the Holy Spirit and God's ability to put the Bible together in the way He wants?
He is always getting strange ideas about people from "somewhere?"
zafer, Just looking at your post not one mention of God or Jesus or The Holy Spirit, who was overseeing the affairs of God here on earth.
Yes in particular if they are happy clappers who speaks in tongues, Like you James.
Several problems: All Asia turned away from Paul, causing the loss of the understanding of Paul's writings and the musterion (or mysterion) (transliterated (taking words from one language into another) as mystery, but Greek should have been translated as "divine or sacred secrets.) Corruptions entered by Gnosticism into the body of Christ, as well as many false teachers and further degradation by Constantine forcing the two gods doctrine on the church by the sword of the Emperor in 325 AD at Council of Nicea, later added the holy spirit as the third god in 381 AD, Council of Constantine.
There have been some errors by scribes both innocently and intentionally in a few places in the manuscripts, but God has protected His Word for the most part (99 plus percent) and the majority of it is accurate.
We also cannot trust most of the so-called Early Fathers of the Church, as they were already corrupted.
I know most are believers in the Trinity so called, but history is clear, this was never a doctrine of the Hebrews, of Jesus, or of the first century church. Even the Catholic Encylopedia admits that!
The taking the Book of Enoch out of the Canon was also a big mistake. Enoch was a great man of God and he elaborates on the details of the giants of Genesis 6. There is also mention in the scriptures of the Book of Jasher etc.