Chapter 10. Formation of the New Testament canon. Questions to be addressed in this chapter. What is the New Testament canon? What drove Christians to establish a new canon? How was the New Testament canon formed? Why were certain books considered but then rejected from the canon?
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Formation of the New Testament canon
A – Apostolic authority: the book was connected to an apostle in some significant way
E – Extending back to the apostles: the book was old, extending back to the time of the apostles themselves
I – Inspired by God: the book was understood by the churches as being inspired by the Holy Spirit
O– Orthodox teaching: the book contained orthodox teaching and was spiritually edifying
U – Universal usage: the book was widely accepted among the catholic churches as canonical
Homologoumena – books which were widely accepted by the Church Fathers and orthodox churches as being canonical
Pseudopigrapha – books which were clearly rejected by the Church Fathers and orthodox churches as being canonical
Antilegomena – books which were disputed by the orthodox churches as being canonical
Apocrypha – books which were accepted by some of the early orthodox churches, but which were finally rejected as canonical
1. The New Testament canon is that collection of twenty-seven books which Christians have historically taken to be the authoritative and inspired words of God and which are understood to be the norm for Christian thought, faith, and practice.
The following factors led from oral tradition to sacred canon: theological concerns of differentiating truth from error, practical concerns such as what to read in church services, political concerns involving persecution and book burning, and missionary concerns of Bible translation and communication.
3. In determining canonicity, the following criteria were utilized: apostolic authority; being ancient, extending back to the time period of the apostles; divine inspiration; orthodoxy; universal acceptance by orthodox churches.
Some books were considered but finally rejected from the canon for several reasons, primarily their being either pseudonymous or heretical.
While some have suggested adding or removing books from the biblical canon, it is most likely forever closed to such considerations.