A history of canon

The Apocryphal Books Apocrypha is a Greek word meaning things hidden, and in ancient times this word was applied to religious writings esteemed almost as scripture by some, but which were not read to the unlearned in public.

A history of canon

The Development of the Canon of the New Testament - Eusebius

Many stories are told about how it was assembled, many of them untrue or distorted. The truth is that the Bible canon developed over the course of centuries and was not a sudden decision, event, or declaration.

A history of canon

In reality, the translation only of the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, were translated by a single large team of scholars; the others were all translated later and in scattered fashion. In fact, many of these were poor translations.

By this time, of course, Christians had been writing. The genuine Pauline epistles, for instance, date to the middle of the 1st century, along with Q, a sayings-gospel which was a source for the synoptic gospels which also were in existence by the turn of the 2nd centuryas well as others.

But it appears that not all of these were widely-known across early Christendom; a single Christian community might have access to a few of them, but not all. Thus, a consensus on these early Christian writings was impossible to achieve. These various groups had only the Septuagint in common, since it had been around for close to two centuries by then.

He condemned the god of the Hebrews, YHWH, as a wayward, deceptive, false god, and thus asserted that true Christians could not accept it. Perhaps in order to emphasize his differences with other Christians of the time, who did revere Judaic scripture in the form of the Septuagint, Marcion listed what he considered authoritative texts.

These included ten of the epistles of Paul, a redacted version of Luke which removed much of its supernatural and Judaic-related content, as well as a commentary of his own called Antithesis.

The Church Father Tertullian tackled this issue in the course of his Adversus Marcionem, asserting that YHWH had not been the evil being Marcion claimed, and the Judaic scriptures were just as necessary to Christians as anything else.

Canon Suggestions After Tertullian, there are scattered writings, some of which we have only fragments, listing books considered authoritative. None of these were seen as being very commanding. They also varied greatly.

Some of these also excluded books which are currently Canon, such as some of the epistles of Paul, the epistle to the Hebrews, Revelation, the second epistle of Peter and the third of John, and so on.

The first occasion we know of where the canon was discussed openly and in serious fashion, was the plenary synod of Laodicea c. Perhaps a little later, St Athanasius listed works he considered canon in one of his correspondences. Interestingly, he also added a brief list of works which were acceptable, yet not truly canon.

His canon, however, is remarkably close to the current Protestant canon, these extra books aside. Although he is mentioned as a contributor to the Biblical canon, a list of canonical works by Pope Damasus I is actually from a couple centuries after his time.

It is known, however, that this topic interested him; this may well be the reason why this later list was attributed to him posthumously.

The Third plenary Synod of Carthage also took up the matter of which books were sacred, settling more or less on the current Roman Catholic canon.

While direct records of this synod are lost, it was later stated that III Carthage had built upon the canon of Damasus and that he had approved their decision.

At the turn of the 5th century, St Jerome translated the Bible into vernacular Latin. This changed things, since the Septuagint had included books and passages of existing books which were not in Hebrew.

Jerome did not accept the authority of all the books before him, especially some Christian works as Revelation, the epistle to the Hebrews, and the epistles of Peter. The Pope, however, pressed him to translate these, anyway.

He appears simply to have added then-available translations of these books to his own translations of those he did consider sacred. The Synod of Trullofor example, discussed the canon, and other writers such as Nicephorus of Jerusalem offered their own canon lists.

The fact is that the Biblical canon was still controversial, even centuries after Jerome. One could say that the books of the Vulgate became the Biblical canon, merely by default — no other versions of the Bible were as widespread or frequently-quoted.

Ultimately, the Roman Catholic canon was not formally declared until the Council of Trent After breaking from the Roman Church under King Henry VIII, the Church of England or Anglican Church specified a policy concerning the deuterocanonical books; they had illustrative value and could be read during services, but could not be used as the basis for doctrine.

Since the 19th century the deuterocanonical books have typically not been included in Anglican Bibles. Interestingly, this means that the King James translation includes the deuterocanonical books, since the Church of England had not disposed of them by the turn of the 17th century.

Countless Canons As noted, the Septuagint contained a number of Judaic-scripture works which were not part of the Jewish Tanakh and were for the most part originally written in Greek rather than Hebrew. While the medieval Church, western and eastern, considered them authoritative, some scholastics and other theologians considered them slightly less important.

The Roman Catholic Church, as part of its effort to respond to the Reformation and counteract it i. Nearly all of the Orthodox churches also keep them, and have varying doctrines about their level of authority.

The Coptic Orthodox Church, for example, considers them equally authoritative compared to the rest of the Old Testament. Other churches have different canons yet. Similarly, the Coptic Orthodox Church accepts as canon only the Orthodox books in the Coptic language.A chronology of Canon's history and events surrounding its business and products.

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