1999 James A. Fowler
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CANON OF SCRIPTURE
A. English word "canon"
1. Derived from
Greek word kanon meaning "measure, rule, standard,
norm." Later meant "list"
2. Greek word
derived from Hebrew word qaneh meaning "reed."
3. Greek word
kanon not used of standard collection of Scripture until
B. Greek word kanon used in New Testament
1. II Cor. 10:13,15,16
- "a measure"
2. Gal. 6:16
- "walk by this rule"
3. Phil. 3:16
- "living by that standard" (not in best MSS)
C. Distinguishing between
D. Criteria for canonization? Determined from
early Christian sources.
1. Early dating
3. Divine inspiration
4. Divine authority
5. No contradiction
to accepted teaching, "rule of faith."
and value to church at large
E. Some regard study of the canonization of
Scripture as a threat to their faith in the Bible.
II. Canon of the Old Testament.
A. Hebrew writings of Jews were progressively
divided into three parts:
1. Law - Torah
- Pentateuch - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
Former prophets - Joshua, Judges, Samuel (I,II), Kings (I,II)
Latter prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 12 prophets
3. Writings - Psalms, Proverbs,
Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel,
B. Later Ruth was attached to Judges, and Lamentations
to Jeremiah to cause sum of books to be
to number of letters in Hebrew alphabet.
C. The Hebrew O.T. writings that Jesus was
familiar with were likely collected in one of the
ways. Matthew 23:35 tends to illustrate this.
D. Josephus, Jewish historian, c. 100 A.D.,
wrote that Jews had 22 books containing the history of
E. Canonization process was gradual. Divisions
due both to content and chronology of acceptance
F. Councils of Jamnia, 90, 118 A.D., Jewish
rabbis discussed canon of O.T.
G. Septuagint (LXX), Greek translation of O.T.
employed different order and included apocryphal
Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation used LXX.
H. Roman Catholic Bibles include O.T. apocrypha
- Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, I,II
and additions to Esther and Daniel.
III. Canon of the New Testament
A. Early Christian writings gradually collected.
Gospels. Paul's writings - (II Peter 3:16).
B. Marcion, Gnostic heretic, (139 A.D.) determined
list of writings. Rejected O.T., revised Luke's
ten Pauline epistles. Restricted list.
C. Montanus claimed divine revelation. Expanded
D. Church responded to these attempts to expand
E. Irenaeus, 180 A.D. cites 22 writings as
acceptable: 4 gospels, Acts, 13 Pauline epistles, I Peter,
I,II John and
F. Muratorian list - named after Italian Muratori
(1740) who discovered such. Fragment dated late
4th century. 22 books plus Apocalypse of Peter. Hebrews, I,II
Peter, III John and
G. Tertullian (150-230) - 22 books accepted:
4 gospels, Acts, 13 Pauline epistles, I Peter, I John,
H. Origen (185-255). Three categories of writings:
4 gospels, 13 Pauline epistles, I Peter, I John, Acts, Revelation.
II Peter, II,III John, Hebrews, James and Jude; also Epistle
of Hermas, Didache.
Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, etc.
I. Eusebius (260-340).
4 gospels, 14 Pauline epistles (Hebrews included), I Peter, I
2. Disputed: James, Jude, II Peter, II,III John, Revelation. Spurious: Shepherd of Hermas,
Epistle of Barnabas, Didache, Acts of Paul.
Gospel of Thomas, Peter, Acts of Andrew etc.
J. Codex Sinaiticus (4th century). 27 books
plus Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas.
K. Council of Laodicea (363) - 26 books. Revelation
L. Athanasius (367) - first time list includes
the 27 books of present N.T.
M. Jerome's Vulgate included 27 books of N.T.
N. Augustine (397), 3rd Council of Carthage,
accepted 27 books of N.T.
O. Martin Luther. Put Hebrews, James, Jude
and Revelation at back of His German N.T. as
A. Was Christianity ever intended to be
a religion of Scripture?
1. II Cor. 3:6
Bible Dict. I, 853 - "Christianity was not originally
a Scriptural religion in the same
as Judaism. The faith of the earliest Christian community was
evoked by and centered
a person, Jesus of Nazareth."
B. Is the Bible intended to be the basis of
authority for Christians?
1. Matt. 28:18
of the Lord" - I Cor. 7:10; 9:14; 11:23; I Thess. 4:15
C. What if the New Testament had never been
written, preserved, or collected?
D. Is the Bible the infallible Word of God?
E. Did the Church put the Bible together?
F. Is canonicity God-given or Church-conferred?
...or combination of both?
G. Did God determine what writings should be
in the Bible, and then Christians in the Church
and affirmed these as the normative and authoritative standard?