Development of the Biblical Canonadapted 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 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 Torah Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy The Prophets The Former Prophets Joshua Judges Samuel Kings The Latter Prophets Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel The Twelve (Minor Prophets) Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi The Writings Psalms Proverbs Job Song of Solomon Ruth Lamentations Ecclesiastes Esther Daniel Ezra-Nehemiah Chronicles
ca. 400: Jerome translates the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin (called the "Vulgate"). • He knows that the Jews have only 39 books, and he wants to limit the Old Testament to these. • The 7 he would leave out (Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach [or "Ecclesiasticus"], and Baruch) he calls "apocrypha," that is, "hidden books." • But Pope Damasus wants all 46 traditionally-used books included in the Old Testament, so the Vulgate has 46.
1536: Martin Luther translates the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to German. • He assumes that, since Jews wrote the Old Testament, theirs is the correct canon. • He puts the extra 7 books in an appendix that he calls the "Apocrypha." • This is the Old Testament that most Protestants use (Anglicans also use the Apocrypha devotionally).
1546: The Roman Catholic Council of Trent reaffirms the canonicity of all 46 books.
Development of the New Testament Canon Where NOT to look for a reliable account:
ca. 51-125 CE: The books of today’s New Testament are written. But during this same period other early Christian writings are produced: • The Didache (ca. 70) • 1 Clement (ca. 96) • The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. 100) • 7 Letters of Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 110) • The Shepherd of Hermas (ca. 100) • If you want to read them: www.earlychristianwritings.com/
Marcion’s Canon Gospel according to Luke Romans I Corinthians II Corinthians Galatians Ephesians (Laodiceans) Colossians Thessalonians I Thessalonians II Philemon ca. 140: Marcion, a businessman in Rome, teaches that there were two Gods: • Yahweh, the cruel God of the Old Testament • Abba, the kind father of the New Testament 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 Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans I Corinthians II Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Thessalonians I Thessalonians II I Timothy II Timothy Titus James (?) 1 Peter 1 John Revelation of John Shepherd of Hermas
But the periphery of the canon is not yet determined. According to one list, compiled at Rome around 200 (the Muratorian Canon), the NT consists of: • The 4 Gospels (though first 2 are missing) • Acts • 13 letters of Paul • 1-2 John • Jude • The Apocalypse of Peter. • But not Hebrews, James, 3 John, 1 & 2 Peter, or Revelation
In the early 300s, Eusebius of Caesarea classified books of the New Testament into “recognized,” “disputed,” “spurious” and “heretical” categories. • Recognized: The four Gospels, Acts, Paul’s letters, 1 John, 1Peter and “if it really seems right,” Revelation • Disputed: James, Jude, 2 Peter and 2 & 3 John • Spurious: Acts of Paul, Shepherd of Hermas, Apocalypse of Peter, Letter of Barnabas, the Didache, the Gospel of the Hebrews and, “if it seems right,” Revelation • Heretical: Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthias, etc., Acts of Andrew, John or other apostles
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!