Development of the Christian biblical canon

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The Christian biblical canons are the books Christians regard as divinely inspired and which constitute a Christian Bible. Which books constituted the Christian biblical canons of both the Old and New Testament was generally established by the 5th century, despite some scholarly disagreements, [1] for the ancient undivided Church (the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, before the East–West Schism).

Christian biblical canons The set of books that a particular Christian denomination or denominational family regards as being divinely inspired and thus constituting an authorised Christian Bible

A Christian biblical canon is the set of books that a particular Christian denomination or denominational family regards as being divinely inspired and thus constituting an authorised Christian Bible. Such bibles are always divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Early Church primarily used the Greek Septuagint as its source for the Old Testament. Among Aramaic speakers, the Targum was also widely used. The apostles did not leave a defined set of scriptures; instead the canon of both the Old Testament and the New Testament developed over time.

Christians people who adhere to Christianity

Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).

Biblical inspiration The doctrine that the human authors and editors of Bible were led or influenced by God

Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology that the human authors and editors of Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings may be designated in some sense the word of God.

Contents

In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic canon was reaffirmed by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1546), which provided "the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon" by the Roman Catholic Church. [2] The canons of the Church of England and English Presbyterians were decided definitively by the Thirty-Nine Articles (1563) and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), respectively. The Synod of Jerusalem (1672) established additional canons that are widely accepted throughout the Orthodox Church.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Council of Trent Synod

The Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent, was the 19th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. Prompted by the Protestant Reformation, it has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation.

Church of England Anglican state church of England

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

The Old and New Testament canons did not develop independently of each other and most primary sources for the canon specify both Old and New Testament books. For the biblical scripture for both Testaments, canonically accepted in major traditions of Christendom, see Biblical canon § Canons of various Christian traditions.

Primary source Original source of information created at the time under study

In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source is an artifact, document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. Similar definitions can be used in library science, and other areas of scholarship, although different fields have somewhat different definitions. In journalism, a primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document written by such a person.

Christendom

Christendom has several meanings. In one contemporary sense, as used in a secular or Protestant context, it may refer to the "Christian world": Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity dominates or prevails, or, in the historic, Catholic sense of the word, the nations in which Catholic Christianity is the established religion, having a Catholic Christian polity.

Development of the Old Testament canon

The Old Testament includes the books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) or protocanon, and in various Christian denominations also includes deuterocanonical books. Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants use different canons, which differ with respect to the texts that are included in the Old Testament.

Hebrew Bible Canonical collection of Hebrew scripture

The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh or sometimes the Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, except for some Biblical Aramaic passages in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The Hebrew Bible is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible.

Deuterocanonical books Books that Catholics and Orthodox accept as part of the canon, but which Protestants do not accept

The deuterocanonical books are books and passages considered by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Assyrian Church of the East to be canonical books of the Old Testament but which are considered non-canonical by Protestant denominations. They are books from the Septuagint, the standard translation of the Hebrew Bible in the Hellenistic period, written during the reign of Ptolemy II and referenced extensively in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline Epistles. With the rise of Rabbinic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple Period, the Hebrew Canon was in flux, until the Masoretic Text, compiled between the 7th and 10th centuries, became the authoritative text of the mainstream Rabbinic Judaism. The Masoretic Text excluded the seven deuterocanonical books and formed the basis for their exclusion in the Protestant Old Testament. The term distinguished these texts both from those that were termed protocanonical books, which were the books of the Hebrew canon; and from the apocryphal books, which were those books of Jewish origin that were known sometimes to have been read in church as scripture but which were considered not to be canonical.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Martin Luther, holding to Jewish and other ancient precedent, [3] excluded the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament of his translation of the Bible, placing them in a section he labeled "Apocrypha" ("hidden"). To counter Luther's "heresy", the fourth session of the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 confirmed that the deuterocanonical books were equally authoritative as the protocanonical in the Canon of Trent [4] in the year Luther died, [5] reconfirming the inclusion of the deuterocanonical books made almost a century earlier at the Council of Florence. [6] Following Jerome's Veritas Hebraica (truth of the Hebrew) principle, the Protestant Old Testament consists of the same books as the Hebrew Bible, but the order and division of the books are different. Protestants number the Old Testament books at 39, while the Hebrew Bible numbers the same books as 24. The Hebrew Bible counts Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles as one book each, and the 12 minor prophets are one book, and also Ezra and Nehemiah form a single book.

Martin Luther Saxon priest, monk and theologian, seminal figure in Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther,, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Luther Bible German-language translation of the Bible by Martin Luther

The Luther Bible is a German language Bible translation from Hebrew and ancient Greek by Martin Luther. The New Testament was first published in 1522 and the complete Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha, in 1534. It was the first full translation of the Bible into German based mainly on the original Hebrew and Greek texts and not the Latin Vulgate translation.

Biblical apocrypha Collection of ancient books found in some editions of Christian Bibles

The biblical apocrypha denotes the collection of apocryphal ancient books found in some editions of Christian Bibles in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments or as an appendix after the New Testament. Some Christian Churches include some or all of the same texts within the body of their version of the Old Testament.

The differences between the Hebrew Bible and other versions of the Old Testament such as the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint, the Ethiopian Bible and other canons, are more substantial. Many of these canons include books and sections of books that the others do not. For a more comprehensive discussion of these differences, see Books of the Bible.

Samaritan Pentateuch text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, written in the Samaritan alphabet and used as a scripture by the Samaritans

The Samaritan Pentateuch, also known as the Samaritan Torah, is a text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, written in the Samaritan alphabet and used as scripture by the Samaritans. It constitutes their entire biblical canon.

Peshitta standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition

The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.

Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible

The Vulgate is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible that was to become the Catholic Church's officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible during the 16th century, and is still used fundamentally in the Latin Church to this day. The translation was largely the work of Jerome, who in 382 had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Vetus Latina Gospels then in use by the Roman Church. Jerome, on his own initiative, extended this work of revision and translation to include most of the books of the Bible; and once published, the new version became widely adopted; and over succeeding centuries eventually eclipsed the Vetus Latina, so that by the 13th century it had taken over from the former version the appellation of versio vulgata or vulgata for short.

Table of books

Books of the Old Testament
The Pentateuch or Torah

Common to Judaism, Samaritanism and Christianity (excepting the minority of Protestant denominations sometimes called New Testament only Christians which reject the "Old Testament")

Common to Judaism and Christianity but excluded by Samaritans
Included by Catholics, Orthodox, but excluded by Jews and most Protestants
Included by Orthodox (Synod of Jerusalem):
Included by Russian and Ethiopian Orthodox:
Included by Ethiopian Orthodox:
Included by Syriac Peshitta Bible:

Development of the New Testament canon

The development of the New Testament canon was, like that of the Old Testament, a gradual process.

Irenaeus (died c. 202) quotes and cites 21 books that would end up as part of the New Testament, but does not use Philemon, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 3 John and Jude. [8] By the early 3rd century Origen of Alexandria may have been using the same 27 books as in the modern New Testament, though there were still disputes over the canonicity of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation [9] (see also Antilegomena). Likewise by 200 the Muratorian fragment shows that there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the New Testament, which included four gospels and argued against objections to them. [10] Thus, while there was plenty of discussion in the Early Church over the New Testament canon, the "major" writings were accepted by almost all Christian authorities by the middle of the second century. [11]

The next two hundred years followed a similar process of continual discussion throughout the entire Church, and localized refinements of acceptance. This process was not yet complete at the time of the First Council of Nicaea in 325, though substantial progress had been made by then. Though a list was clearly necessary to fulfill Constantine's commission in 331 of fifty copies of the Bible for the Church at Constantinople, no concrete evidence exists to indicate that it was considered to be a formal canon. In the absence of a canonical list, the resolution of questions would normally have been directed through the see of Constantinople, in consultation with Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (who was given the commission), and perhaps other bishops who were available locally.

In his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of exactly the same books that would formally become the New Testament canon, [12] and he used the word "canonized" (kanonizomena) in regard to them. [13] The first council that accepted the present Catholic canon (the Canon of Trent) was the Council of Rome, held by Pope Damasus I (382). A second council was held at the Council of Hippo (393) reaffirming the previous council list. A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the Council of Carthage (397) and the Council of Carthage (419). [14] These councils took place under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed. [15] Pope Damasus I's Council of Rome in 382, if the Decretum Gelasianum is correctly associated with it, issued a biblical canon identical to that mentioned above, [12] or if not the list is at least a 6th-century compilation [16] claiming a 4th-century imprimatur. [17] Likewise, Damasus's commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible, c. 383, was instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West. [18] In 405, Pope Innocent I sent a list of the sacred books to a Gallic bishop, Exsuperius of Toulouse. When these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, however, they were not defining something new, but instead "were ratifying what had already become the mind of the church." [19] Thus, from the 5th century onward, the Western Church was unanimous concerning the New Testament canon. [20]

The last book to be accepted universally was the Book of Revelation, though with time all the Eastern Church also agreed. Thus, by the 5th century, both the Western and Eastern churches had come into agreement on the matter of the New Testament canon. [21] The Council of Trent of 1546 reaffirmed that finalization for Catholicism in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. [22] The Thirty-Nine Articles of 1563 for the Church of England and the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647 for English presbyterians established the official finalizations for those new branches of Christianity in light of the Reformed faith. The Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 made no changes to the New Testament canon for any Orthodox, but resolved some questions about some of the minor Old Testament books for the Greek Orthodox and most other Orthodox jurisdictions (who chose to accept it).

Table of books

Books of the New Testament

Related Research Articles

Apocrypha Works of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin

Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. Biblical apocrypha are a set of texts included in the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. While Catholic tradition considers some of these texts to be deuterocanonical, Protestants consider them apocryphal. Thus, Protestant bibles do not include the books within the Old Testament but have sometimes included them in a separate section, usually called the Apocrypha. Other non-canonical apocryphal texts are generally called pseudepigrapha, a term that means "false attribution".

Bible Collection of religious texts in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

Books of the Bible Wikimedia list article

Different religious groups include different books in their biblical canons, in varying orders, and sometimes divide or combine books. The Jewish Tanakh 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, and its Septuagint is the main textual source for the Christian Greek Old Testament.

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.

This article distinguishes the various terms used to describe Jewish and Christian scripture. Several terms refer to the same material, although sometimes rearranged.

2 Maccabees Deuterocanonical book which focuses on the Maccabean Revolt

2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book which focuses on the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Seleucid empire general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the hard work.

New Revised Standard Version Modern English translation of the Bible

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is an English translation of the Bible published in 1989 by the National Council of Churches. It is a revision of the Revised Standard Version, which was itself an update of the American Standard Version. The NRSV was intended as a translation to serve devotional, liturgical and scholarly needs of the broadest possible range of religious adherents. The full translation includes the books of the standard Protestant canon as well as the Deuterocanonical books traditionally included in the canons of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

The Decretum Gelasianum or the Gelasian Decree is so named because it was traditionally thought to be a Decretal of the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496. The work reached its final form in a five-chapter text written by an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553, the second chapter of which is a list of books of Scripture presented as having been made Canonical by a Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome 366–383. This list, known as the Damasine List, represents the same canon as shown in the Council of Carthage Canon 24, 419 AD.

The intertestamental period is the Protestant term and deuterocanonical period is the Catholic and Orthodox Christian term for the gap of time between the period covered by the Hebrew Bible and the period covered by the Christian New Testament. Traditionally, it is considered to cover roughly four hundred years, spanning the ministry of Malachi to the appearance of John the Baptist in the early 1st century AD, almost the same period as the Second Temple period.

Development of the Old Testament canon

The Old Testament is the first section of the two-part Christian biblical canon; the second section is the New Testament. The Old Testament includes the books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) or protocanon, and in various Christian denominations also includes deuterocanonical books. Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants use different canons, which differ with respect to the texts that are included in the Old Testament.

Catholic Bible Bible authorized for Catholic use

A Catholic Bible includes the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church, including the deuterocanonical books.

The Canon of Trent is the list of books officially considered canonical at the Council of Trent. A decree, the De Canonicis Scripturis, from the Council's fourth session, issued an anathema on dissenters of the books affirmed in Trent. The Council confirmed an identical list already locally approved in 1442 by the Council of Florence, which had existed in the earliest canonical lists from the synods of Carthage and Rome in the fourth century.

Luthers canon Biblical canon attributed to Martin Luther

Luther's canon is the biblical canon attributed to Martin Luther, which has influenced Protestants since the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. While the Lutheran Confessions specifically did not define a canon, it is widely regarded as the canon of the Lutheran Church. It differs from the 1546 Roman Catholic canon of the Council of Trent in that it rejects the Deuterocanonical books and questions the seven New Testament books, called "Luther's Antilegomena", four of which are still ordered last in German-language Luther Bibles to this day.

Biblical canon A set of texts which a particular religious community regards as authoritative scripture

A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts which a particular religious community regards as authoritative scripture. The English word "canon" comes from the Greek κανών, meaning "rule" or "measuring stick". Christians became the first to use the term in reference to scripture, but Eugene Ulrich regards the idea as Jewish.

Development of the New Testament canon Development of the New Testament canon

The canon of the New Testament is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the Canonical Gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation. The books of the canon of the New Testament were written before 120 AD.

Protestant Bible A Christian Bible whose translation or revision was produced by Protestants

A Protestant Bible is a Christian Bible whose translation or revision was produced by Protestants. Such Bibles comprise 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament for a total of 66 books. Some Protestants use Bibles which also include 14 additional books in a section known as the Apocrypha bringing the total to 80 books. This is often contrasted with the 73 books of the Catholic Bible, which includes seven deuterocanonical books as a part of the Old Testament. The division between protocanonical and deuterocanonical books is not accepted by all Protestants who simply view books as being canonical or not and therefore classify the seven Catholic deuterocanonical books as part of the Apocrypha. Sometimes the term "Protestant Bible" is used as a shorthand for a bible which only contains the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

While the Old Testament portion of the Bible was written in Hebrew, the New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek. The Greek language however, has several different dialects or denominations. This required several different translations done by several different individuals and groups of people. These translations can be categorized into translations done before and after 1500 A.D.

References

  1. Reid, George J. (1908). "Canon". In Herbermann, Charles George (ed.). The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. pp. 272, 273. ISBN   978-1174601828 . Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  2. Reid, George (1908). Canon of the Old Testament. Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  3. Reig, George. "Canon of the Old Testament." The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908).
  4. Crawford Howell Toy; Israel Lévi (1906). "Sirach, The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of". Jewish Encyclopedia.
  5. Samuel Fallows et al., eds. (1910) [1901]. The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopædia and Scriptural Dictionary, Fully Defining and Explaining All Religious Terms, Including Biographical, Geographical, Historical, Archæological and Doctrinal Themes. The Howard-Severance company. p. 521.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. These are one book in the Jewish Bible, called "Trei Asar" or "Twelve".
  7. Bruce, F. F. The Books and the Parchments. (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963) p. 109.
  8. Both points taken from Mark A. Noll's Turning Points, (Baker Academic, 1997) pp. 36–37.
  9. H. J. De Jonge, "The New Testament Canon", in The Biblical Canons. eds. de Jonge & J. M. Auwers (Leuven University Press, 2003) p. 315.
  10. The Cambridge History of the Bible (volume 1) eds. P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans (Cambridge University Press, 1970) p. 308.
  11. 1 2 Lindberg, Carter (2006). A Brief History of Christianity. Blackwell Publishing. p. 15. ISBN   1-4051-1078-3.
  12. Brakke, David (October 1994). "Canon Formation and Social Conflict in Fourth-Century Egypt: Athanasius of Alexandria's Thirty-Ninth 'Festal Letter'". The Harvard Theological Review. 87 (4): 395–419. JSTOR   1509966.
  13. McDonald & Sanders' The Canon Debate, Appendix D-2, note 19: "Revelation was added later in 419 at the subsequent synod of Carthage."
  14. Everett Ferguson, "Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon", in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320; F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 230; cf. Augustine, De Civitate Dei 22.8
  15. F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 234
  16. Burkitt, F. C. (1913). "The Decretum Gelasianum". Journal of Theological Studies. 14: 469–471. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  17. F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 225
  18. Everett Ferguson, "Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon", in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320, which cites: Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origins, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987) pp. 237–238, and F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 97
  19. F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 215
  20. The Cambridge History of the Bible (volume 1) eds. P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans (Cambridge University Press, 1970) p. 305; cf. the Catholic Encyclopedia, "Canon of the New Testament"
  21. Catholic Encyclopedia, "Canon of the New Testament"

Further reading