Development of the Biblical Canon adapted from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/canon.html. Canon (a closed collection of community-forming writings) Not this: (different spelling). Development of the Tanak.
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(a closed collection of community-forming writings)
1000-50 BCE: The books of the Tanak (Christian Old Testament) are written.
ca. 200 BCE: Rabbis translate the Jewish Bible from Hebrew to Greek, a translation called the "Septuagint" (abbreviation: "LXX"). The LXX ultimately includes 46 books.
30-100 CE: Christians use the LXX as their scriptures (because most cannot read Hebrew).
90-400 CE: Rabbis begin to discuss the extent of the canon and, over time, include in their canon only 39 books, since only these can be found in Hebrew (scholars are no longer sure when or how a final decision was reached).
The Former Prophets
The Latter Prophets
The Twelve (Minor Prophets)
Song of Solomon
1546: The Roman Catholic Council of Trent reaffirms the canonicity of all 46 books.
Where NOT to look for a reliable account:
But during this same period other early Christian writings are produced:
Marcion’s Canon written.
Gospel according to Luke
ca. 140: Marcion, a businessman in Rome, teaches that there were two Gods:
So Marcion eliminates the Old Testament as scripture and, since he is anti-Semitic, includes in the New Testament only 10 letters of Paul and 2/3 of Luke's gospel (he deletes references to Jesus' Jewishness).
Marcion's "New Testament"—the first to be compiled—forces other Christian leaders, like Irenaeus, to decide on a core canon: the four gospels, letters of Paul, other letters, but not Philemon, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John or Jude; it also includes the Shepherd of Hermas.
Irenaeus’ Canon ca. 180 CE
Revelation of John
Shepherd of Hermas
But the periphery of the canon is not yet determined. compiled—forces other Christian leaders, like Irenaeus, to decide on a core canon: the four gospels, letters of Paul, other letters, but not Philemon, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John or Jude; it also includes the Shepherd of Hermas.
According to one list, compiled at Rome around 200 (the Muratorian Canon), the NT consists of:
In the early 300s, Eusebius of Caesarea classified books of the New Testament into “recognized,” “disputed,” “spurious” and “heretical” categories.
367: The earliest extant list of the books of New Testament, in exactly the number and order in which we presently have them, is written by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in his Easter letter.
397: The North African Council of Carthage reproduces the same list and declares: “apart from the canonical Scriptures nothing is to be read in church under the name of the divine Scriptures … Let the church across the sea be consulted for the confirmation of this canon.”
1442: At the Council of Florence, the entire western Church recognizes the 27 books, though does not declare them unalterable.
1536: In his translation of the Bible from Greek into German, Luther removes 4 NT books (Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation) from their normal order and places them at the end, stating that they are less than canonical.
Most other Protestants do not agree with him.
1546: At the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church reaffirms once and for all the full list of 27 books as traditionally accepted.
This is the only “universal” church council to make a formal claim about the extent of the Christian canon (Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and other Christians do not consider this council universal)
—over 1500 years after the Christian movement began!