Apostles did not have the New Testament: What did they believe in?

· Christianity, Religion

What did the apostles of Jesus, may peace be on him, read or believe in? Most believing Christians have never paused to think about this fundamental question! If they begin to think and read about it they are guranteed to have a rude awakening. None of them ever set their eyes on the New Testament and most of them even never saw any of the four canonical Gospels, the first of which was written in the 65 AD and not in Jerusalem or Judea.

Those Apostles who did not meet Paul or met him briefly would not have had any clue as to what he wrote in the thirteen letters attributed to him, in the New Testament.

The Council of Carthage, called the third by Denzinger, on 28 August 397 issued a canon of the Bible quoted as, “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, 4 books of Kingdoms, 2 books of Chronicles, Job, the Davidic Psalter, 5 books of Solomon, 12 books of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, 2 books of Ezra, 2 books of Maccabees, and in the New Testament: 4 books of Gospels, 1 book of Acts of the Apostles, 13 letters of the Apostle Paul, 1 letter of his to the Hebrews, 2 of Peter, 3 of John, 1 of James, 1 of Jude, and one book of the Apocalypse of John.”

Prof. Bart Ehrman explains in his book, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, in the chapter titled, The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-orthodox New Testament:

“It was another sixty years-years of back and forth, hard-fought debates within the orthodox camp-before anyone came up with a definitive list of books to be included in the canon that matched our list today, in the famous Athanasian letter of 367 CE. Even the powerful Athanasius could not settle the issue once and for all, as we have seen. But his list corresponded well enough with what most other orthodox Christians of his day were saying that it eventually triumphed. The greatest orthodox theologian of antiquity, Augustine of Hippo, threw his weight behind the list and pushed its acceptance at the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE. We no longer have the text of the proceedings of the conference, but we do have that of the Third Synod of Carthage; held four years later, which summarized the earlier proceedings:

‘The canonical Scriptures are–these [there follows a list of the books of the Old Testament]. Of the New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the Epistles of Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews, one Epistle; of Peter, two; of John, apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the church across the sea shall be consulted.’

And so the canon appears to be settled in North Africa, but the church in Rome still needs to be consulted on the matter.”

As you learn more and more about how the New Testament was compiled, think about what had the Apostles  been reading, if they could read or believed in!
One of the most dramatic changes in the New Testament over time has been the fact that no less than 12 verses have been added to the ending of the Gospel of Mark, (v.16:9–20). This fact is broadly acknowledged by most Christian theologians and scholars.  These verses are not present in the early manuscripts. This is mentioned in the New International Version and Vatican I blessed these changes.
Vatican I on April 24, 1870 not only approved the additions to Mark (v.16:9–20), but also, Luke, (22:19b–20,43–44) and John, (7:53–8:11) which are not present in early manuscripts. Reference is given below!
Those Apostles who did not meet Paul or met him briefly would not have had any clue as to what he wrote in the thirteen letters attributed to him, in the New Testament.
A religion which is true does not change. As it was in the beginning, so it would be at the end. A true religion would never become a dry tale. Islam is a true religion and I call every Christians, to my Google Knols to show them the truth of Islam.  I have a collection here of more than 100 Knols about Christianity:
Additionally, I have collections on Islam, science and politics:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia about the New Testament Canon

The Christian Biblical canon is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and thus constituting the Christian Bible. Although the Early Church primarily used the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures, the Septuagint or LXX, or the Targums among Aramaic speakers, the Apostles did not otherwise leave a defined set of new scriptures.

Instead the New Testament Canon developed gradually over time. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the idea of a complete Canon existing from Apostolic times, has “no foundation in history”. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, was the result of debate, disputes and research, not reaching its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Council of Trent.[1]

The writings attributed to the apostles circulated amongst the earliest Christian communities. The Pauline epistles were circulating, perhaps in collected forms, by the end of the first century AD.[2] Justin Martyr, in the early second century, mentions “memoirs of the apostles” as being read on Sunday alongside the “writings of the prophets”.[3] A four gospel canon (the Tetramorph) was asserted by Irenaeus, c. 180, who refers to it directly.[4][5]

By the early 200s, Origen may have been using the same 27 books as in the Catholic NT canon, though there were still disputes over the canonicity of Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, and Revelation[6], known as the Antilegomena. Likewise the Muratorian fragment is evidence that perhaps as early as 200 there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to the 27-book NT canon, which included four gospels and argued against objections to them.[7] Thus, while there was a good measure of debate in the Early Church over the New Testament canon, the major writings are claimed to have been accepted by almost all Christians by the middle of the third century.[8]

In the 4th century, in his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of exactly the same books as what would become the 27-book NT canon,[9] and he used the word “canonized” (kanonizomena) in regards to them.[10] The North African Synod of Hippo, in 393, approved the 27-book NT canon together with the OT Septuagint books, a decision that was confirmed by Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419[11]. These councils were under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed.[12][13] Pope Damasus I‘s Council of Rome in 382, if the Decretum Gelasianum is correctly associated with it, issued a biblical canon identical to that mentioned above,[14] or if not the list is at least a sixth century compilation.[15] Likewise, Damasus’s commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible, circa 383, was instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West.[16] In circa 405, Pope Innocent I sent a list of the sacred books to a Gallic bishop, Exsuperius of Toulouse. Christian scholars assert that when these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, however, they were not defining something new, but instead “were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church.”[17][18][19]

Thus some claim, that from the fourth century, there existed unanimity in the West concerning the New Testament canon (as it is today),[20] and that by the fifth century the Eastern Church, with a few exceptions, had come to accept the Book of Revelation and thus had come into harmony on the matter of the canon.[21][22] Nonetheless, full dogmatic articulations of the canon were not made until the Council of Trent of 1546 for Roman Catholicism[22], the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1563 for the Church of England, the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647 for Calvinism, and the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 for the Greek Orthodox.

McDonald and Sanders’s The Canon Debate, 2002, Appendix B, lists the following most important primary sources for the “New Testament Canon”.[23]




Early Christianity (c.30-325)

Early Christianity relied on the Sacred Oral Tradition of what Jesus had said and done, as reported by his Apostles and Disciples. These oral traditions were later written down as gospels.[24]

In the one-hundred-year period extending roughly from A.D. 50 to 150 a number of documents began to circulate among the churches. According to Jerome the first such document was the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Also included were epistles, gospels, acts, apocalypses, homilies, and collections of teachings. While some of these documents were apostolic in origin, others drew upon the tradition the apostles and ministers of the word had utilized in their individual missions. Still others represented a summation of the teaching entrusted to a particular church center. Several of these writings sought to extend, interpret, and apply apostolic teaching to meet the needs of Christians in a given locality.

Clement of Rome

By the end of the 1st century, some letters of Paul were collected and circulated, and were known to Clement of Rome. Bruce Metzger in his Canon of the New Testament, 1987, draws the following conclusion about Clement:

Clement’s Bible is the Old Testament, to which he refers repeatedly as Scripture (graphe), quoting it with more or less exactness. Clement also makes occasional reference to certain words of Jesus; though they are authoritative for him, he does not appear to enquire how their authenticity is ensured. In two of the three instances that he speaks of remembering ‘the words’ of Christ or of the Lord Jesus, it seems that he has a written record in mind, but he does not call it a ‘gospel’. He knows several of Paul’s epistles, and values them highly for their content; the same can be said of the Epistle to the Hebrews, with which he is well acquainted. Although these writings obviously possess for Clement considerable significance, he never refers to them as authoritative ‘Scripture’.
—page 43


A four gospel canon (the Tetramorph) was asserted by Irenaeus, c. 160, who referred to it directly.[25] An insistence upon there being a canon of four gospels, and no others, was a central theme of Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 185. In his central work, Adversus Haereses Irenaeus denounced various early Christian groups that used only one gospel, such as Marcionism which used only Marcion’s version of Luke, or the Ebionites which seem to have used an Aramaic version of Matthew, as well as groups that used more than four gospels, such as the Valentinians (A.H. 1.11). Irenaeus declared that the four he espoused were the four “Pillars of the Church”: “it is not possible that there can be either more or fewer than four” he stated, presenting as logic the analogy of the four corners of the earth and the four winds (3.11.8). His image, taken from Ezekiel 1, or Revelation 4:6-10, of God’s throne borne by four creatures with four faces—”the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle”—equivalent to the “four-formed” gospel, is the origin of the conventional symbols of the Evangelists: lion (Mark), bull (Luke), eagle (John), man (Matthew). Irenaeus was ultimately successful in declaring that the four gospels collectively, and exclusively these four, contained the truth. By reading each gospel in light of the others, Irenaeus made of John a lens through which to read Matthew, Mark and Luke.

In Against Heresies 3.11.8, Irenaeus wrote:

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. … For the living creatures are quadriform, and the Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by the Lord. For this reason were four principal covenants given to the human race: one, prior to the deluge, under Adam; the second, that after the deluge, under Noah; the third, the giving of the law, under Moses; the fourth, that which renovates man, and sums up all things in itself by means of the Gospel, raising and bearing men upon its wings into the heavenly kingdom.

Based on the arguments Irenaeus made in support of only four authentic gospels, some interpreters deduce that the fourfold Gospel must have still been a novelty in Irenaeus’s time.[26] Against Heresies 3.11.7 acknowledges that many heterodox Christians use only one gospel while 3.11.9 acknowledges that some use more than four.[27] The success of Tatian’s Diatessaron in about the same time period is “…a powerful indication that the fourfold Gospel contemporaneously sponsored by Irenaeus was not broadly, let alone universally, recognized.”[28]

McDonald & Sanders, Appendix D-1, lists the following canon for Irenaeus, based on Eusebius’ Church History 5.8.2-8, but notes that: “..it is probably nothing more than Eusebius’s listing of the references made by Irenaeus.”:

Matt, Mark, Luke, John, Rev, 1 John, 1 Peter, Hermas, Wisdom, Paul (mentioned but epistles not listed)

Irenaeus apparently quotes from 21 of the New Testament books and names the author he thought wrote the text.[citation needed] He is known to have been connected to Polycarp and since Polycarp may have been connected to John the Apostle of Jesus, there is potentionally great authority to his tradition.

He mentions the four gospels, Acts, the Pauline epistles with the exception of Hebrews and Philemon, as well as the first epistle of Peter, and the first and second epistles of John, and the book of Revelation.[29] He may refer to Hebrews (Book 2, Chapter 30) and James (Book 4, Chapter 16) and maybe even 2 Peter (Book 5, Chapter 28) but does not cite Philemon, 3 John or Jude.[citation needed]

He does think that the letter to the Romans, known now as 1 Clement, was of great worth but does not seem to believe that Clement of Rome was the one author (Book 3, Chapter 3, Verse 3) and seems to have the same lower status as Polycarp’s Epistle (Book 3, Chapter 3, Verse 3). He does refer to a passage in the Shepherd of Hermas as scripture (Mandate 1 or First Commandment), but this has some consistency problems on his part. Hermas believed that Jesus became the Son of God at the Baptism (Parable 5 of Shepherd; Chapter 59, verses 4-6), a concept called adoptionism, but all of Irenaeus’s work including his citing of the Gospel of John (Jn. 1:1) proves that he believed that Jesus was always God.

Justin Martyr

Early in the second century, Justin Martyr mentions the “memoirs of the apostles”, which Christians called “gospels” and which were regarded as on par with the Old Testament.[3][30] However, of the gospels later accepted into the canon, Justin only appears to be aware of the synoptics – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – but not of John. In Justin’s works, distinct references are found to Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians, and possible ones to Philippians, Titus, and 1 Timothy.

Justin Martyr appears to have accepted the authority of works which were not later included in the canon including the Acts of Pilate:

“And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.”[31]

In addition, he refers to an account from an unnamed source of the baptism of Jesus which differs from that provided by the synoptic gospels:

When Jesus went down in the water, fire was kindled in the Jordan; and when he came up from the water, the Holy Spirit came upon him. The apostles of our Christ wrote this.[32]

Marcion of Sinope

Main article: Marcion of Sinope

Marcion of Sinope, a bishop of Asia Minor who went to Rome and was later excommunicated for his views, was the first of record to propose a definitive, exclusive, unique canon of Christian scriptures, compiled sometime between 130-140 CE[33]. (Though Ignatius did address Christian scripture[34], before Marcion, against the perceived heresies of the Judaizers and Docetists, he did not publish a canon.) In his book Origin of the New Testament[35] Adolf von Harnack argued that Marcion viewed the church at this time as largely an Old Testament church (one that “follows the Testament of the Creator-God“) without a firmly established New Testament canon, and that the church gradually formulated its New Testament canon in response to the challenge posed by Marcion.

Marcion rejected the theology of the Old Testament entirely and regarded the God depicted there as an inferior Being. He claimed that the theology of the Old Testament was incompatible with the teaching of Jesus regarding God and morality. Marcion believed that Jesus had come to liberate mankind from the authority of the God of the Old Testament and to reveal the superior God of goodness and mercy whom he called the Father. Paul and Luke were the only Christian authors to find favour with Marcion, though his versions of these differed from those later accepted by mainstream Christianity.

Marcion created a canon, a definite group of books which he regarded as fully authoritative, displacing all others. These comprised ten of the Pauline epistles (without the Pastorals and Hebrews) and Luke’s Gospel. It is uncertain whether he edited these books, purging them of what did not accord with his views, or that his versions represented a separate textual tradition.[36]

Marcion’s gospel, called simply the Gospel of the Lord, differed from the Gospel of Luke by lacking any passages that connected Jesus with the Old Testament. He believed that the god of the Jews, Yahweh, who gave them the Jewish Scriptures, was an entirely different god than the Supreme God who sent Jesus and inspired the New Testament.

Marcion termed his collection of Pauline epistles the Apostolikon. These also differed from the versions accepted by later Christian Orthodoxy.

In addition to his Gospel and Apostolikon, he wrote a text called the Antithesis which contrasted the New Testament view of God and morality with the Old Testament view of God and morality, see also Expounding of the Law#Antithesis of the Law.

Marcion’s canon and theology were rejected as heretical by the early church; however, he forced other Christians to consider which texts were canonical and why. He spread his beliefs widely; they became known as Marcionism. In the introduction to his book “Early Christian Writings”, Henry Wace stated:

A modern divine… could not refuse to discuss the question raised by Marcion, whether there is such opposition between different parts of what he regards as the word of God, that all cannot come from the same author.[37]

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 characterized Marcion as “perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known.”

Everett Ferguson in chapter 18 of The Canon Debate quotes Tertullian‘s De praescriptione haereticorum 30:

Since Marcion separated the New Testament from the Old, he is necessarily subsequent to that which he separated, inasmuch as it was only in his power to separate what was previously united. Having been united previous to its separation, the fact of its subsequent separation proves the subsequence also of the man who effected the separation.

Note 61 of page 308 adds:

[Wolfram] Kinzig suggests that it was Marcion who usually called his Bible testamentum [Latin for testament].

Other scholars propose that it was Melito of Sardis who originally coined the phrase Old Testament[38], which is associated with Supersessionism.

Robert M. Price, a New Testament scholar at Drew University, considers the Pauline canon problem[39]: how, when, and who collected Paul’s epistles to the various churches as a single collection of epistles. The evidence that the early church fathers, such as Clement, knew of the Pauline epistles is unclear. Price investigates several historical scenarios and comes to the conclusion and identifies Marcion as the first person known in recorded history to collect Paul’s writings to various churches together as a canon, the Pauline epistles. Robert Price summarizes,

But the first collector of the Pauline Epistles had been Marcion. No one else we know of would be a good candidate, certainly not the essentially fictive Luke, Timothy, and Onesimus. And Marcion, as Burkitt and Bauer show, fills the bill perfectly.[40]

If this is correct, then Marcion’s role in the formation and development of Christianity is pivotal.


Main article: Diatessaron
See also: Gospel harmony

Tatian was converted to Christianity by Justin Martyr on a visit to Rome around 150 A.D. and, after much instruction, returned to Syria in 172 to reform the church there. At some point (it is suggested c. 160 A.D.) he composed a single harmonized “Gospel” by weaving the contents of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John together along with events present in none of these texts. The narrative mainly follows the chronology of John. This is called the Diatessaron (“That Which is Through the Four”) and it became the official Gospel text of the Syraic church, centered in Edessa.


Main article: Valentinus (Gnostic)

Clement of Alexandria records that his followers said that Valentinus was a follower of Theudas and that Theudas in turn was a follower of St. Paul of Tarsus.[41] Valentinus said that Theudas imparted to him the secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to his inner circle, which Paul publicly referred to in connection with his visionary encounter with the risen Christ (Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4; Acts 9:9-10), when he received the secret teaching from him.  Such esoteric teachings were becoming downplayed in Rome after the mid-2nd century.[42] Valentinus also used a gospel known as the Gospel of Truth.

Early Proto-Orthodox Attempts to Define the Canon

In the late 4th century Epiphanius of Salamis (died 402) Panarion 29 says the Nazarenes had rejected the Pauline epistles and Irenaeus Against Heresies 26.2 says the Ebionites rejected him. Acts 21:21 records a rumor that Paul aimed to subvert the Old Testament (against this rumor see Romans 3:8, 3:31). 2 Peter 3:16 says his letters have been abused by heretics who twist them around “as they do with the other scriptures.” In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Eusebius‘s Ecclesiastical History 6.38 says the Elchasai “made use of texts from every part of the Old Testament and the Gospels; it rejects the Apostle (Paul) entirely”; 4.29.5 says Tatian the Assyrian rejected Paul’s Letters and Acts of the Apostles; 6.25 says Origen accepted 22 canonical books of the Hebrews plus Maccabees plus the four Gospels but Paul “did not so much as write to all the churches that he taught; and even to those to which he wrote he sent but a few lines.”[43]

Between 140 and 220, both internal and external forces caused Proto-orthodox Christianity to begin to systematize both its doctrines and its view of revelation. Much of the systemization came about as a defense against the diverse Early Christian viewpoints that competed with emerging Proto-Orthodoxy. The early years of this period witnessed the rise of several strong movements of faith later deemed heretical by the church in Rome: Marcionism, Gnosticism and Montanism.

Marcion may have been the first to have a clearly defined New Testament canon, though this question of who came first is still debated[44]. The compilation of this canon could have been a challenge and incentive to emerging Proto-orthodoxy; if they wished to deny that Marcion’s canon was the true one, it was incumbent on them to define what the true one was. The expansion phase of the New Testament canon thus could have begun in response to Marcion’s proposed limited canon.

Muratorian Canon

Main article: Muratorian fragment

The so-called Muratorian Canon[45] is the earliest known example of a canon list of mostly New Testament books.[46] It survives, damaged and thus incomplete, as a bad Latin translation of an original, no longer extant, Greek text that is usually dated in the late second century,[47] although a few scholars have preferred a fourth century date.[48] This is an excerpt from Metzger’s translation:

The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke… The fourth… is that of John… the acts of all the apostles… As for the Epistles of Paul… To the Corinthians first, to the Ephesians second, to the Philippians third, to the Colossians fourth, to the Galatians fifth, to the Thessalonians sixth, to the Romans seventh… once more to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians… one to Philemon, one to Titus, and two to Timothy… to the Laodiceans, [and] another to the Alexandrians, [both] forged in Paul’s name to [further] the heresy of Marcion… the epistle of Jude and two of the above-mentioned (or, bearing the name of) John… and [the book of] Wisdom… We receive only the apocalypses of John and Peter, though some of us are not willing that the latter be read in church. But Hermas wrote the Shepherd very recently… And therefore it ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church.
—pages 305-307

This is evidence that, perhaps as early as 200, there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the 27-book NT, which included four gospels and argued against objections to them.[49] Also in the early 200’s it is claimed Origen (ca. 185-ca. 254) was using the same 27 books as in the Catholic NT canon, though there were still lingering disputes over Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, and Revelation.[50] A four gospel canon (the Tetramorph) was asserted by Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 160, who refers to it directly.[51] He argued that it was illogical to reject Acts of the Apostles but accept the Gospel of Luke, as both were from the same author.[52] Marcion’s canon did not include Acts, so perhaps he rejected it. It is unknown when Luke-Acts was separated. In Against Heresies 3.12.12[53] Irenaeus ridiculed those who think they are wiser than the Apostles because the Apostles were still under Jewish influence. This was crucial to refuting Marcion’s anti-Judaism, as Acts gives honor to James, Peter, John and Paul alike. At the time, Jewish Christians tended to honor James (a prominent Christian in Jerusalem described in the New Testament as an “apostle” and “pillar”[54], and by Eusebius and other church historians as the first Bishop of Jerusalem) but not Paul, while Pauline Christianity tended to honor Paul more than James[55].

Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c. 215) made use of an open canon. He seemed “practically unconcerned about canonicity. To him, inspiration is what mattered.”[citation needed] In addition to books that did not make it into the final 27-book NT but which had local canonicity (Barnabas, Didache, I Clement, Revelation of Peter, the Shepherd, the Gospel according to the Hebrews), he also used the Gospel of the Egyptians, Preaching of Peter, Traditions of Matthias, Sibylline Oracles, and the Oral Gospel. He did, however, prefer the four church gospels to all others, although he supplemented them freely with apocryphal gospels. He was the first to treat non-Pauline letters of the apostles (other than II Peter) as scripture-he accepted I Peter, I and II John, and Jude as scripture.

The Alogi

Main article: Alogi

There were those who rejected the Gospel of John (and possibly also Revelation and the Epistles of John) as either not apostolic or as written by the Gnostic Cerinthus or as not compatible with the Synoptic Gospels. Epiphanius of Salamis called these people the Alogi, because they rejected the Logos doctrine of John and because he claimed they were illogical. There may have also been a dispute over the doctrine of the Paraclete.[56][57] Gaius or Caius, presbyter of Rome, was apparently associated with this movement.[58]


Eusebius‘s Ecclesiastical History 6.25 says Origen accepted 22 canonical books of the Hebrews plus Maccabees plus the four Gospels but Paul “did not so much as write to all the churches that he taught; and even to those to which he wrote he sent but a few lines.”.”[59]

Period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787)


Eusebius, in his Church History, recorded this New Testament canon:[60]

1. Since we are dealing with this subject it is proper to sum up the writings of the New Testament which have been already mentioned. First then must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels; following them the Acts of the Apostles… the epistles of Paul… the epistle of John… the epistle of Peter… After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings [Homologoumena].
3. Among the disputed writings [Antilegomena], which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name. 4. Among the rejected [Kirsopp. Lake translation: “not genuine”] writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books. 5. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews… And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books.
6. … such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other apostles … 7. … they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. Wherefore they are not to be placed even among the rejected writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd and impious.

The Apocalypse of John, also called Revelation, is counted as both accepted (Kirsopp. Lake translation: “Recognized”) and disputed, which has caused some confusion over what exactly Eusebius meant by doing so. From other writings of the Church Fathers, we know that it was disputed with several canon lists rejecting its canonicity, see also EH 6.25.3=14 attributed to Origen[61] and EH 3.24.17-18[62] EH 3.3.5 adds further detail on Paul: “Paul’s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying that it is disputed by the Church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul.” EH 4.29.6 mentions the Diatessaron: “But their original founder, Tatian, formed a certain combination and collection of the Gospels, I know not how, to which he gave the title Diatessaron, and which is still in the hands of some. But they say that he ventured to paraphrase certain words of the apostle [Paul], in order to improve their style.”

Claromontanus Canon

Main article: Codex Claromontanus

The Codex Claromontanus canon[63], c. 303-367[64], a page found inserted into a 6th century copy of the Epistles of Paul and Hebrews, has the Old Testament, plus Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, 1–2,4 Maccabees, and the New Testament, plus 3rd Corinthians, Acts of Paul, Apocalypse of Peter, Barnabas, and Hermas, but missing Philippians, 1–2 Thessalonians, and Hebrews.

Zahn and Harnack were of the opinion that the list had been draw up originally in Greek at Alexandria or its neighborhood ~300 CE. According to Jülicher the list belongs to the 4th century and is probably of western origin.[citation needed]

Constantine the Great

In 331, Constantine I commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius (Apol. Const. 4) recorded Alexandrian scribes around 340 preparing Bibles for Constans. Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus are examples of these Bibles. Together with the Peshitta, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles.[65]

Cyril of Jerusalem

McDonald & Sanders, Appendix D-2, notes the following canon of Cyril of Jerusalem (c.350) from his Catechetical Lectures 4.36:

Gospels (4), Acts, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude?, Paul’s epistles (14), and Gospel of Thomas listed as pseudepigrapha.


In his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of exactly the same books as what would become the 27-book NT canon,[66] and he used the word “canonized” (kanonizomena) in regards to them.[67] He also listed a 22-book OT and 7 books not in the canon but to be read: Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, Didache, and the Shepherd. This list is very similar to the modern Protestant canon (WCF); the only differences are his exclusion of Esther and his inclusion of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah as part of Jeremiah.

Cheltenham/Mommsen Canon

The Cheltenham Canon,[68][69] c. 365-390, is a Latin list that was discovered by the German classical scholar Theodor Mommsen (published 1886) in a 10th century manuscript (chiefly patristic) belonging to the library of Thomas Phillips at Cheltenham, England. The list probably originated in North Africa soon after the middle of the 4th century.

It has a 24-book Old Testament[70] and 24-book New Testament which provides syllable and line counts but omits Hebrews, Jude and James, and seems to question the epistles of John and Peter beyond the first.

Synod of Laodicea?

Main article: Synod of Laodicea

The Synod of Laodicea, c. 363, was one of the first synods that set out to judge which books were to be read aloud in churches. The decrees issued by the thirty or so clerics attending were called canons. Canon 59 decreed that only canonical books should be read, but no list was appended in the Latin and Syriac manuscripts recording the decrees. The list of canonical books, Canon 60,[71] sometimes attributed to the Synod of Laodicea is a later addition according to most scholars and has a 22-book OT and 26-book NT (excludes Revelation).


McDonald & Sanders, Appendix D-2, lists the following canon for Epiphanius of Salamis (c.374-377), from his Panarion 76.5:

Gospels (4), Paul’s epistles (13), Acts, James, Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Rev, Wisdom, Sirach

Apostolic Canon #85

In c. 380, the redactor of the Apostolic Constitutions attributed a canon to the Twelve Apostles themselves[72] as the 85th of his list of such apostolic decrees:

Canon 85. Let the following books be esteemed venerable and holy by all of you, both clergy and laity. [A list of books of the Old Testament …] And our sacred books, that is, of the New Testament, are the four Gospels, of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; the fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter; three of John; one of James; one of Jude; two Epistles of Clement; and the Constitutions dedicated to you, the bishops, by me, Clement, in eight books, which is not appropriate to make public before all, because of the mysteries contained in them; and the Acts of us, the Apostles.—(From the Latin version.)

Some later Coptic and Arabic translations add Revelation.[citation needed]

Gregory of Nazianzus

In the late 380s, Gregory of Nazianzus produced a canon[73] in verse which agreed with that of his contemporary Athanasius, other than placing the “Catholic Epistles” after the Pauline Epistles and omitting Revelation. This list was ratified by the Synod of Trullo of 692.

Amphilochius of Iconium

Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium, in his poem Iambics for Seleucus[74] written some time after 394, discusses debate over the canonical inclusion of a number of books, and almost certainly rejects the later Epistles of Peter and John, Jude, and Revelation.[75]


McDonald & Sanders, Appendix D-2, lists the following canon for Jerome, (c.394), from his Epistle 53:

“Lord’s Four”: Matt, Mark, Luke, John, Paul’s Epistles (14), 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, James, Acts, Rev.

Augustine and the North African canons

Augustine of Hippo declared that one is to “prefer those that are received by all Catholic Churches to those which some of them do not receive” (On Christian Doctrines 2.12). In the same passage, Augustine asserted that these dissenting churches should be outweighed by the opinions of “the more numerous and weightier churches.”

Augustine effectively forced his opinion on the Church by commanding three synods on canonicity: the Synod of Hippo in 393, the Synod of Carthage in 397, and another in Carthage in 419 A.D. (M 237-8). Each of these reiterated the same Church law: “nothing shall be read in church under the name of the divine scriptures” except the Old Testament (including the Deuterocanonicals) and the 27 canonical books of the New Testament. Incidentally, these decrees also declared by fiat that Epistle to the Hebrews was written by Paul, for a time ending all debate on the subject.

The first council that accepted the present canon of the books of the New Testament may have been the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa (A.D. 393); the acts of this council, however, are lost. A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. Revelation was added to the list in 419.[76] These councils were convened under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed.[77][78][79]

Pope Damasus I

Pope Damasus’s commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible, c. 383, was instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West.[16] Pope Damasus I is often considered to be the father of the modern Catholic canon. Purporting to date from a “Council of Rome” under Pope Damasus I in 382, the so-called “Damasian list” appended to the pseudepigraphical Decretum Gelasianum[80] gives a list identical to what would be the Canon of Trent,[81] and, though the text may in fact not be Damasian, it is at least a valuable sixth century compilation.[15][82]

This list, given below, was purportedly endorsed by Pope Damasus I:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth, 4 books of Kings, 2 books of Chronicles, Job, Psalter of David, 5 books of Solomon, 12 books of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 2 books of Esdras, 2 books of Maccabees, and in the New Testament: 4 books of Gospels, 1 book of Acts of the Apostles, 13 letters of the Apostle Paul, 1 of him to the Hebrews, 2 of Peter, 3 of John, 1 of James, 1 of Jude, and the Apocalypse of John.

The so-called Decretum Gelasianum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis, is traditionally attributed to Gelasius, bishop of Rome 492-496 CE. However, upon the whole it is probably of South Gallic origin (6th century), but several parts can be traced back to Pope Damasus and reflect Roman tradition. The 2nd part is a canon catalogue, and the 5th part is a catalogue of the ‘apocrypha’ and other writings which are to be rejected. The canon catalogue gives all 27 books of the Catholic New Testament.

Pope Innocent I

In c.405, Pope Innocent I sent a list of the sacred books to a Gallic bishop Exsuperius of Toulouse, which is most likely identical to Trent[83] (without the distinction between protocanonicals and deuterocanonicals).

A consensus emerges

Thus, from the fourth century, there existed unanimity in the West concerning the New Testament canon (as it is today),[84] and by the fifth century the East, with a few exceptions, had come to accept the Book of Revelation and thus had come into harmony on the matter of the canon, at least for the New Testament.[85]

This period marks the beginning of a more widely recognized canon, although the inclusion of some books was still debated: Epistle to Hebrews, James, 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation. Grounds for debate included the question of authorship of these books (note that the so-called Damasian “Council at Rome” had already rejected John the Apostle’s authorship of 2 and 3 John, while retaining the books), their suitability for use (Revelation at that time was already being interpreted in a wide variety of heretical ways), and how widely they were actually being used (2 Peter being amongst the most weakly attested of all the books in the Christian canon).

Christian scholars assert that when these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, however, they were not defining something new, but instead “were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church”.[18][77][86]

By the turn of the 5th century, the Catholic Church in the west, under Pope Innocent I, recognized a biblical canon including the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which was previously established at a number of regional Synods, namely the Council of Rome (382), the Synod of Hippo (393), and two Synods of Carthage (397 and 419).[87] This canon, which corresponds to the modern Catholic canon, was used in the Vulgate, an early 5th century translation of the Bible made by Jerome[88] under the commission of Pope Damasus I in 382.


McDonald & Sanders, Appendix D-3, lists a canon for Cassiodorus of Rome, from his Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum, c.551-562, which is notable for its omission of 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude and Hebrews.

Eastern canons

The eastern churches had, in general, a weaker feeling than the western for the necessity of making a sharp delineation with regard to the canon. It was more conscious of the gradation of spiritual quality among the books that it accepted (e.g. the classification of Eusebius, see also Antilegomena) and was less often disposed to assert that the books which it rejected possessed no spiritual quality at all. For example, the Trullan Synod of 691-692 CE, which was rejected by Pope Constantine (see also Pentarchy), endorsed these lists of canonical writings: the Apostolic Canons (~385 CE), the Synod of Laodicea (~363 CE ?) , the Third Synod of Carthage (~397 CE), and the 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius (367 CE). And yet these lists do not agree. The Synod of Hippo Regius (393 CE) and the Synod of Carthage (419 CE) also addressed the canon and are discussed here. Similarly, the New Testament canons of the national churches of Syria, Armenia, Georgia, Egypt (The Coptic Church), and Ethiopia all have minor differences.[89] The Revelation of John is one of the most uncertain books; it was not translated into Georgian until the 10th century, and it has never been included in the official lectionary of the Greek Church, whether Byzantine or modern.

Outside the Empire

Syriac Canon

Main article: Peshitta

Some believe that Acts was also used in Syrian churches alongside the Diatessaron, however, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 4.29.5 states: “They, indeed, use the Law and Prophets and Gospels, but interpret in their own way the utterances of the Sacred Scriptures. And they abuse Paul the apostle and reject his epistles, and do not accept even the Acts of the Apostles.” In the 4th century, the Doctrine of Addai lists a 17-book NT canon using the Diatessaron and Acts and 15 Pauline epistles (including 3rd Corinthians). The Syriac Doctrine of Addai (c. 400 A.D.) claims to record the oldest traditions of the Syrian church, and among these is the establishment of a canon: members of the church are to read only the Gospel (meaning the Diatessaron of Tatian), the Epistles of Paul (which are said to have been sent by Peter, from Rome), and the Book of Acts (which is said to have been sent by John the son of Zebedee, from Ephesus), and nothing else.

For centuries the Diatessaron, along with Acts and the Pauline Epistles (except Philemon), comprised the only accepted books in the Syrian churches, meaning that Tatian’s stricter views, resulting in the rejection in 1 Timothy, did not win out. Moreover, after the pronouncements of the 4th century on the proper content of the Bible, Tatian was declared a heretic and in the early 4th century Bishop Theodoretus of Cyrrhus and Bishop Rabbula of Edessa (both in Syria) rooted out all copies they could find of the Diatessaron and replaced them with the four canonical Gospels (M 215). As a result, no early copies of the Diatessaron survive—although a very early fragment suggests it would have been crucial evidence for the true state of the early Gospels (see IX).

By the fifth century the Syrian Bible, called the Peshitta, became formalized somehow into its present form: Philemon was accepted, along with James, 1 Peter and 1 John, but the remaining books are still expelled (2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation ). After the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., the Eastern Syrian church, in turn divided between the Nestorian and the Syriac Orthodox Church, broke away, and retained this canon of only 22-books (the Peshitta) up to the present day.

See also: Aramaic primacy

The late-5th or early-6th century Peshitta of the Syrian Orthodox Church[90] includes a 22-book NT, excluding II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, and Revelation. (The Lee Peshitta of 1823 follows the Protestant canon)

McDonald & Sanders, Appendix D-2, lists the following Syrian catalogue of St. Catherine’s, c.400:

Gospels (4): Matt, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Gal, Rom, Heb, Col, Eph, Phil, 1-2 Thess, 1-2 Tim, Titus, Phlm.

The Syriac Peshitta, used by all the various Syrian Churches, originally did not include 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation (and this canon of 22-books is the one cited by John Chrysostom (~347–407) and Theodoret (393–466) from the School of Antioch). It also includes Psalm 151 and Psalm 152–155 and 2 Baruch. Western Syrians have added the remaining 5 books to their NT canons in modern times (such as the Lee Peshitta of 1823). Today, the official lectionaries followed by the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, with headquarters at Kottayam (India), and the Chaldean Syrian Church, also known as the Church of the East (Nestorian), with headquarters at Trichur (India), still present lessons from only the 22-books of the original Peshitta.[91]

Armenian canon

The Armenian Bible introduces one addition: a third letter to the Corinthians, also found in the Acts of Paul, which became canonized in the Armenian Church, but is not part of the Armenian Bible today. Revelation, however, was not accepted into the Armenian Bible until c. 1200 A.D. when Archbishop Nerses arranged an Armenian Synod at Constantinople to introduce the text[92]. Still, there were unsuccessful attempts even as late as 1290 A.D. to include in the Armenian canon several apocryphal books: Advice of the Mother of God to the Apostles, the Books of Criapos, and the ever-popular Epistle of Barnabas.

The Armenian Apostolic church at times has included the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in its Old Testament and the Third Epistle to the Corinthians, but does not always list it with the other 27 canonical New Testament books.

East African canons

The Coptic Bible (adopted by the Egyptian Church) includes the two Epistles of Clement, and the Ethiopic Bible includes books nowhere else found: the Sinodos (a collection of prayers and instructions supposedly written by Clement of Rome), the Octateuch (a book supposedly written by Peter to Clement of Rome), the Book of the Covenant (in two parts, the first details rules of church order, the second relates instructions from Jesus to the disciples given between the resurrection and the ascension), and the Didascalia (with more rules of church order, similar to the Apostolic Constitutions).

The New Testament of the Coptic Bible, adopted by the Egyptian Church, includes the two Epistles of Clement.[92] The canon of the Tewahedo Churches is somewhat looser than for other traditional Christian groups, and the order, naming, and chapter/verse division of some of the books is also slightly different.

The “broader” Ethiopian New Testament canon includes four books of “Sinodos” (church practices), two “Books of Covenant”, “Ethiopic Clement”, and “Ethiopic Didascalia” (Apostolic Church-Ordinances). However, these books have never been printed or widely studied. This “broader” canon is also sometimes said to include, with the Old Testament, an eight part history of the Jews based on the writings of Flavius Josephus, and known as “Pseudo-Josephus” or “Joseph ben Gurion” (Yosēf walda Koryon).[93][94]

Protestant Developments (from c. 1517)

Until the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had never officially drawn the boundaries of the biblical canon. Doing so had not been considered necessary because the authority of the Scriptures was not considered to be much higher than that of Sacred Tradition, papal bulls, and ecumenical councils. Rejecting these, Luther and other reformers focused on the Protestant doctrine of the Five solas.

It was not until the Protestant Reformers began to insist upon the supreme authority of Scripture alone (the doctrine of sola scriptura) that it became necessary to establish a definitive canon which would include a decision on the ‘disputed books’.

Martin Luther

Main article: Lutheran canon

Martin Luther was troubled by four books: Jude, James, Hebrews, and Revelation; and though he placed them in a secondary position relative to the rest, he did not exclude them. Martin Luther proposed removing the Antilegomena, the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon[95] [96], echoing the consensus of several Catholics, also labeled Christian Humanists — such as Cardinal Ximenez, Cardinal Cajetan, and Erasmus — and partially because they were perceived to go against certain Protestant doctrines such as sola gratia and sola fide, but this was not generally accepted among his followers. However, these books are ordered last in the German-language Luther Bible to this day.[97][98]

Luther did remove the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament of his translation of the Bible, placing them in the “Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read”.[99] He also argued unsuccessfully for the relocation of Esther from the Old Testament to the Apocrypha, since without the deuterocanonical sections, it never mentions God. As a result Catholics and Protestants continue to use different canons, which differ in respect to the Old Testament and the concept of the Antilegomena of the New Testament.

Protestant confessions

Among confessions of faith drawn up by Protestants, several identify by name the 27-books of the New Testament canon, including the French Confession of Faith (1559), the Belgic Confession (1561), and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647). The Thirty-Nine Articles, issued by the Church of England in 1563, names the books of the Old Testament, but not the New Testament. None of the Confessional statements issued by any Lutheran church includes an explicit list of canonical books.

Evangelical canons

See also: Sola scriptura

Many Evangelical Christian groups (which have their origin in c. 1730 England) do not accept the theory that the Christian Bible was not known until various local and Ecumenical Councils, which they deem to be “Roman-dominated”, made their official declarations.

These groups believe that the New Testament supports that Paul (2 Timothy 4:11–13), Peter (2 Peter 3:15–16), and ultimately John (Revelation 22:18–19) finalized the canon of the New Testament. Some note that Peter, John, and Paul wrote 20 (or 21) of the 27-books of the NT and personally knew all the other NT writers. (Books not attributed to these three are: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, James, and Jude. The authorship of Hebrews has long been disputed.)

Evangelicals tend not to accept the Septuagint as the inspired Hebrew Bible, though many of them recognize its wide use by Greek-speaking Jews in the first century. They note that early Christians knew the Hebrew Bible since around 170 Melito of Sardis listed all the books of the Old Testament that those in the Evangelical faiths now use (except, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Book of Esther, and with the addition of the Book of Wisdom). Melito’s canon is found in Eusebius EH4.26.13–14[100]:

Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book ; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.

However, Melito’s account still does not determine that the specific documentary tradition used by the Jews necessarily was that which was eventually assembled into the Masoretic Text, several centuries later.

Many modern Protestants point to four “Criteria for Canonicity” to justify the books that have been included in the Old and New Testament, which are judged to have satisfied the following:

  1. Apostolic Origin — attributed to and based on the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).
  2. Universal Acceptance — acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the fourth century).
  3. Liturgical Use — read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord’s Supper (their weekly worship services).
  4. Consistent Message — containing a theological outlook similar or complementary to other accepted Christian writings.

The basic factor for recognizing a book’s canonicity for the New Testament was divine inspiration, and the chief test for this was apostolicity. The term apostolic as used for the test of canonicity does not necessarily mean apostolic authorship or derivation, but rather apostolic authority. Apostolic authority is never detached from the authority of the Lord. See Apostolic succession.

It is sometimes difficult to apply these criteria to all books in the accepted canon, however, and some point to books that Protestants hold as apocryphal which would fulfill these requirements. In practice, Protestants hold to the Jewish canon for the Old Testament and the Catholic canon for the New Testament.

Catholic Developments (from c. 1546)

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain)[101] approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books. This is said to be the same list as produced at the Council of Florence in 1451, this list was defined as canonical in the profession of faith proposed for the Jacobite Orthodox Church. Because of its placement, the list was not considered binding for the Catholic Church, and in light of Martin Luther‘s demands, the Catholic Church examined the question of the Canon again at the Council of Trent, which reaffirmed the Canon of the Council of Florence. The Old Testament books that had been in doubt were termed deuterocanonical, not indicating a lesser degree of inspiration, but a later time of final approval. Beyond these books, some editions of the Latin Vulgate include Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Esdras (called 3 Esdras), 2 Esdras (called 4 Esdras), and the Epistle to the Laodiceans in an appendix, styled “Apogryphi”, (see also Biblical Apocrypha#Clementine Vulgate).

In support of the inclusion of the 12 Deuterocanonical books in the canon, the Council of Trent pointed to the two regional councils which met under Augustine’s leadership in Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 and 419 A.D.). The bishops of Trent claimed these councils formally defined the canon as including these books.

Later Developments

Vatican I on April 24, 1870 approved the additions to Mark (v.16:9–20), Luke, (22:19b–20,43–44) and John, (7:53–8:11) which are not present in early manuscripts.[102]

Pope Pius XI on June 2, 1927 decreed the Comma Johanneum was open to dispute.

Pope Pius XII on 3 September 1943 decreed the Divino Afflante Spiritu which allowed translations based on other versions than just the Latin Vulgate, notably in English the New American Bible.

Orthodox Developments (from c. 1672)

Synod of Jerusalem

The Synod of Jerusalem[3] in 1672 decreed the Greek Orthodox Canon which is the same as the one decided by the Council of Trent but adds Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Prayer of Manasseh. The Greek Orthodox generally consider the Septuagint to be divinely inspired.


  1. ^ “Canon of the New Testament”. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm.
  2. ^ Three forms are postulated, from The Canon Debate, chapter 18, page 300, note 21, attributed to Harry Y. Gamble: “(1) Marcion’s collection that begins with Galatians and ends with Philemon; (2) Papyrus 46, dated about 200, that follows the order that became established except for reversing Ephesians and Galatians; and (3) the letters to seven churches, treating those to the same church as one letter and basing the order on length, so that Corinthians is first and Colossians (perhaps including Philemon) is last.”
  3. ^ a b cf. Justin Martyr, First Apology 67.3.
  4. ^ Ferguson, Everett. “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,” in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) pp. 301.
  5. ^ cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.11.8.
  6. ^ Both points taken from Mark A. Noll’s Turning Points, (Baker Academic, 1997) pp 36–37
  7. ^ H. J. De Jonge, “The New Testament Canon,” in The Biblical Canons. eds. de Jonge & J. M. Auwers (Leuven University Press, 2003) p. 315
  8. ^ P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, eds. (1970). The Cambridge History of the Bible (volume 1). Cambridge University Press. pp. 308.
  9. ^ Lindberg, Carter (2006). A Brief History of Christianity. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 15. ISBN 1-4051-1078-3.
  10. ^ Brakke, David. “Canon Formation and Social Conflict in Fourth Century Egypt: Athanasius of Alexandria’s Thirty Ninth Festal Letter,” in Harvard Theological Review 87 (1994) pp. 395–419
  11. ^ The Book of Revelation wasn’t added till the 419 Synod of Carthage according to McDonald & Sanders’s The Canon Debate, Appendix D-2, page 595, note 19.
  12. ^ Ferguson, Everett. “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,” in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320; F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 230
  13. ^ cf. Augustine, De Civitate Dei 22.8
  14. ^ Lindberg, Carter (2006). A Brief History of Christianity. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 15. ISBN 1-4051-1078-3.
  15. ^ a b Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. Intervarsity Press. pp. 234.
  16. ^ a b Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. Intervarsity Press. pp. 225.
  17. ^ Ferguson, Everett. “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,” in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320
  18. ^ a b Metzger, Bruce (1987). The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origins, Development, and Significance. Oxford: Clarendon. pp. 237–238.
  19. ^ Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. Intervarsity Press. pp. 97.
  20. ^ Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. Intervarsity Press. pp. 215.
  21. ^ P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, eds. (1970). The Cambridge History of the Bible (volume 1). Cambridge University Press. pp. 305. 
  22. ^ a b Canon of the New Testament “Catholic Encyclopedia”. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm Canon of the New Testament.
  23. ^ Eusebius’ Church History 3.25.1-7 (c.303-325), Codex Claramontanus (c.303-367), Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lectures 4.33 (c.350), Muratorian Canon (c.350-375), Athanasius’ Ep.fest.39 (367), Mommsen [Cheltenham] (365-390), Epiphanius’ Pan.76.5 (374-377), Apostolic Canons (c.380), Gregory of Nazianius Carmen de veris scripturae libris 12.31 (383-390), African Canons (c.393-419), Jerome Epist.53 (c.394), Augustine’s Doct.chr.2.18.12 (c.396-397), Amphilochius Iambi ad Seleucum 289-319 (c.396), Rufinus Commentary on the Apostle’s Creed 36 (c.400), Pope Innocent Letter to Exsuperius (c.405), Syrian catalogue of St. Catherine’s (c.400).
  24. ^ “Oral Apostolic Tradition”. http://www.scripturecatholic.com/oral_tradition.html.
  25. ^ Everett Ferguson, “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,” in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) pp. 301; cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.11.8.
  26. ^ McDonald & Sanders, page 277
  27. ^ McDonald & Sanders, page 280. Also page 310, summarizing 3.11.7: the Ebionites use Matthew’s Gospel, Marcion mutilates Luke’s, the Docetists use Mark’s, the Valentinians use John’s
  28. ^ ibid
  29. ^ Matthew (Book 3, Chapter 16)
    Mark (Book 3, Chapter 10)
    Luke (Book 3, Chapter 14)
    John (Book 3, Chapter 11)
    Acts of the Apostles (Book 3, Chapter 14)
    Romans (Book 3, Chapter 16)
    1 Corinthians (Book 1, Chapter 3)
    2 Corinthians (Book 3, Chapter 7)
    Galatians (Book 3, Chapter 22)
    Ephesians (Book 5, Chapter 2)
    Philippians (Book 4, Chapter 18)
    Colossians (Book 1, Chapter 3)
    1 Thessalonians (Book 5, Chapter 6)
    2 Thessalonians (Book 5, Chapter 25)
    1 Timothy (Book 1, Preface)
    2 Timothy (Book 3, Chapter 14)
    Titus (Book 3, Chapter 3)
    1 Peter (Book 4, Chapter 9)
    1 John(Book 3, Chapter 16)
    2 John (Book 1, Chapter 16)
    Revelation to John (Book 4, Chapter 20)
  30. ^ Everett Ferguson, “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon,” in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) pp. 302–303; cf. Justin Martyr, First Apology 67.3.
  31. ^ The First and Second Apology of Justin, Chapter 35
  32. ^ Justin Martyr, Dialogue 88:3
  33. ^ http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/marcion.html
  34. ^ Ignatius, NT Canon.
  35. ^ von Harnack, Adolf (1914). Origin of the New Testament. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/harnack/origin_nt.v.vi.html.
  36. ^ From the perspectives of Tertullian and Epiphanius (when the four gospels had largely canonical status, perhaps in reaction to the challenge created by Marcion), it appeared that Marcion rejected the non-Lukan gospels, however, in Marcion’s time, it may be that the only gospel he was familiar with from Pontus was the gospel that would later be called Luke. It is also possible that Marcion’s gospel was actually modified by his critics to became the gospel we know today as Luke, rather than the story from his critics that he changed a canonical gospel to get his version. For example, compare Luke 5:39 to Luke 5:36-38, did Marcion delete 5:39 from his Gospel or was it added later to counteract a Marcionist interpretation of 5:36-38? One must keep in mind that we only know of Marcion through his critics and they considered him a major threat to the form of Christianity that they knew. John Knox (the modern writer, not to be confused with John Knox the Protestant Reformer) in Marcion and the New Testament: An Essay in the Early History of the Canon (ISBN 0-404-16183-9) was the first to propose that Marcion’s Gospel may have preceded Luke’s Gospel and Acts.[1]
  37. ^ Wace, Henry (1911). “Early Christian Writings.”. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/info/marcion-wace.html.
  38. ^ A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations page 316
  39. ^ The Evolution of the Pauline Canon by Robert Price
  40. ^ Price
  41. ^ Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, book 7, chapter 17. “Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul.”
  42. ^ The article esoteric Christianity focuses on Early Modern and modern esoteric Christian revivals.
  43. ^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: “At this point [Gal 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thess 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries… In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may reflect the energy and determination of his soul.”
  44. ^ Bruce Metzger’s The canon of the New Testament, 1997, Oxford University Press, page 98: “The question whether the Church’s canon preceded or followed Marcion’s canon continues to be debated. …Harnack…John Knox…”
  45. ^ The Muratorian Canon earlychristianwritings.com Accessed April 10, 2007
  46. ^ Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), 425–426.
  47. ^ E. Ferguson, ‘Canon Muratori: Date and Provenance’, Studia Patristica 17 (1982), 677–683; E. Ferguson, ‘The Muragorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon”, Journal of Theological Studues 44 (1993), 696; F. F. Bruce, “Some Thoughts on the Beginning of the New Testament Canon,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 65 (1983), 56–57; B. M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origins, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987), 193–194; P. Henne, La dation du Canon de Muratori”, Revenue Biblique 100 (1993), 54–75; W. Horbury, “The Wisdom of Solomon in the Muratorian Fragment”, Journal of Theological Studies 45 (1994), 146–159; C. E. Hill, “The Debate over the Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon”, Westminster Theological Journal 57 (1995), Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), 426.
  48. ^ G. M. Hahneman, The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), see also the article in the Anchor Bible Dictionary. McDonald and Sanders’s The Canon Debate, 2002, page 595, note 17: “The Muratorian Fragment. While many scholars contend that this was a late second-century C.E. fragment originating in or around Rome, a growing number hold that it was produced around the middle of the fourth century (ca. 350-375) and that it originated somewhere in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, possibly in Syria.”
  49. ^ H. J. De Jonge, “The New Testament Canon”, in The Biblical Canons. eds. de Jonge & J. M. Auwers (Leuven University Press, 2003), p. 315.
  50. ^ Both points taken from Mark A. Noll’s Turning Points, pp. 36–37. See References on this page.
  51. ^ Everett Ferguson, “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon”, in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) pp. 301; cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.11.8.
  52. ^ The Canon Debate, page 288, claims Acts was first “clearly and extensively” used by Irenaeus, though it seems to have been known by Justin (1 Apol. 50.12, cf. 2 Apol. 10.6)
  53. ^ Irinæus, Adversus Hæreses.
  54. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: St. James the Less: “Then we lose sight of James till St. Paul, three years after his conversion (A.D. 37), went up to Jerusalem. … On the same occasion, the “pillars” of the Church, James, Peter, and John “gave to me (Paul) and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision” (Galatians 2:9).”
  55. ^ The Tübingen school of historians founded by F. C. Baur holds that in Early Christianity, there was conflict between Pauline Christianity and the Jerusalem Church led by James the Just, Simon Peter, and John the Apostle, the so-called “Jewish Christians” or “Pillars of the Church” although in many places Paul writes that he was an observant Jew, and that Christians should “uphold the Law” (Romans 3:31). The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 32, page 577, by James D. G. Dunn: “For Peter was probably in fact and effect the bridge-man (pontifex maximus!) who did more than any other to hold together the diversity of first-century Christianity. James the brother of Jesus and Paul, the two other most prominent leading figures in first-century Christianity, were too much identified with their respective “brands” of Christianity, at least in the eyes of Christians at the opposite ends of this particular spectrum. But Peter, as shown particularly by the Antioch episode in Gal 2, had both a care to hold firm to his Jewish heritage, which Paul lacked, and an openness to the demands of developing Christianity, which James lacked. John might have served as such a figure of the center holding together the extremes, but if the writings linked with his name are at all indicative of his own stance he was too much of an individualist to provide such a rallying point. Others could link the developing new religion more firmly to its founding events and to Jesus himself. But none of them, including the rest of the twelve, seem to have played any role of continuing significance for the whole sweep of Christianity—though James the brother of John might have proved an exception had he been spared.” [Italics original]
  56. ^ Metzger, Bruce. Canon of the New Testament. pp. 150.
  57. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. pp. 45.
  58. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Montanists: MONTANISM IN THE WEST: “The old notion that the Alogi were an Asiatic sect (see ALOGI) is no longer tenable; they were the Roman Gaius and his followers, if he had any.”
  59. ^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: “At this point [Gal 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thess 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries… In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may reflect the energy and determination of his soul.”
  60. ^ Primary reference: Eusebius. Ecclesiastical History Book 3. pp. Chapter XXV: The Divine Scriptures that are accepted and those that are not.. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxv.html.  Secondary reference: The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, 2002, chapter 23 The New Testament Canon of Eusebius by Everett R. Kalin, pages 403-404: “Eusebius divides the writings he has been discussing into three categories, the homologoumena (the universally acknowledged writings), the antilegomena (the writings that have been spoken against and are thus disputed—or, in a certain sense, rejected, even though in wide use) and the heretical writings. Only the twenty-one or twenty-two books in the first category are in the church’s New Testament (are canonical). It is the ancient church’s tradition of what the apostles wrote and handed down that is the criterion for evaluating these writings from the apostolic era, and only these twenty-one or twenty-two pass the test. In important recent contributions on this passage both Robbins and Baum agree that for Eusebius the church’s canon consists of these twenty-one or twenty-two books. … Given what we see in Eusebius in the early fourth century it is virtually impossible to imagine that the church had settled upon a twenty-seven book collection, or even one that approximated that, in the late second century. Moreover, whatever the merits of David Trobisch’s intriguing and important proposal that a twenty-seven book edition of the New Testament was produced in the second century, that notion seems hard to reconcile with what we have found in Eusebius regarding the church’s acceptance of apostolic writings in earlier centuries.”
  61. ^ E. R. Kalin, “Re-examining New Testament Canon History: 1. The Canon of Origen,” Currents in Theology and Mission 17 (1990): 274-82
  62. ^ The Canon Debate, page 395
  63. ^ Codex Claromontanus, Bible Researcher.
  64. ^ McDonald and Sanders
  65. ^ The Canon Debate, pages 414-415, for the entire paragraph
  66. ^ Carter Lindberg, A Brief History of Christianity (Blackwell Publishing, 2006) p. 15.
  67. ^ David Brakke, “Canon Formation and Social Conflict in Fourth Century Egypt: Athanasius of Alexandria’s Thirty Ninth Festal Letter”, in Harvard Theological Review 87 (1994) pp. 395–419.
  68. ^ “The Cheltenham List”. Bible Research. http://www.bible-researcher.com/cheltenham.html. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
  69. ^ “The Cheltenham Canon”. ntcanon.org. http://www.ntcanon.org/Cheltenham_Canon.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-08. ; (also known as Mommsen’s)
  70. ^ From [2] which references Metzger: 1. Genesis, 2. Exodus, 3. Numbers, 4. Leviticus, 5. Deuteronomy, 6. Joshua, 7. Judges, 8. Ruth, 9. I Kingdoms, 10. II Kingdoms, 11. III Kingdoms, 12. IV Kingdoms, 13. Chronicles I, 14. Chronicles II, 15. Maccabees I, 16. Maccabees II, 17. Job, 18. Tobit, 19. Esther, 20. Judith, 21. Psalms, 22. Solomon (Probably to include the Wisdom of Solomon), 23. Major prophets, 24. Twelve Prophets
  71. ^ Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, volume XIV
  72. ^ Apostolic Canons
  73. ^ “The Canon of Gregory of Nazianus (329-389 CE)”. http://www.ntcanon.org/Gregory.canon.shtml.
  74. ^ “The Canon of Amphilochius of Iconium (after 394 CE)”. http://www.ntcanon.org/Amphilochius.canon.shtml.
  75. ^ The Canon Debate, page 400, note 78, translation attributed to Metzger’s Canon of the NT page 314 [“/” indicates newline]: “And again the Revelation of John,/ Some approve, but the most/ Say it is spurious.” and “Paul … [wrote]/ Twice seven epistles:… But some say the one to the Hebrews is spurious, not saying well, for the grace is genuine.” and on the Catholic Epistles: “Some say we must receive seven, but others say/ Only three [James, 1 Peter, 1 John] should be received…”
  76. ^ McDonald & Sanders’ The Canon Debate, Appendix D-2, note 19: “Revelation was added later in 419 at the subsequent synod of Carthage.”
  77. ^ a b Ferguson, Everett. “Factors leading to the Selection and Closure of the New Testament Canon”, in The Canon Debate. eds. L. M. McDonald & J. A. Sanders (Hendrickson, 2002) p. 320
  78. ^ F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 230
  79. ^ cf. Augustine, De Civitate Dei 22.8.
  80. ^ Decretum Gelasianum
  81. ^ Lindberg (2006). A Brief History of Christianity. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 15.
  82. ^ The “Damasian Canon” was published by C. H. Turner in JTS, vol. 1, 1900, pp. 554–560.
  83. ^ Henry Barclay Swete‘s Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, page 211 shows Innocent’s OT list; McDonald and Sander’s The Canon Debate, Appendix D-2, page 594, lists this NT canon: “Gospels (4), Paul’s epistles (13) [Some add Hebrews to this and make it 14. It is uncertain.], 1-3 John, 1-2 Peter, Jude, Jas, Acts, Rev; Repudiated: Matthias/, James the Less, Peter + John = Leucian (Andrew = Xenocharides & Leonidas), Gospel of Thomas.
  84. ^ F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Intervarsity Press, 1988) p. 215
  85. ^ P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, eds. (1970). The Cambridge History of the Bible (volume 1). Cambridge University Press. pp. 305.
  86. ^ Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. Intervarsity Press. pp. 97.
  87. ^ Pogorzelski, Frederick (2006). “Protestantism: A Historical and Spiritual Wrong Way Turn”. Bible Dates. CatholicEvangelism.com. pp. 1. http://www.catholicevangelism.org/bible-dates1.shtml. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
  88. ^ “Canon of the New Testament”. Catholic Encyclopedia. NewAdvent.com. 1908. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
  89. ^ Metzger, Bruce M. (1987.). The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  90. ^ “The Development of the Canon of the New Testament”. http://www.ntcanon.org/Peshitta.shtml.
  91. ^ “Peshitta”. NT Canon. http://www.ntcanon.org/Peshitta.shtml.
  92. ^ a b “Reliability”. Theological Perspectives. http://www.theologicalperspectives.com/RELIABILITY4.html.
  93. ^ Ethiopian Canon, Islamic Awareness.
  94. ^ “Fathers”. Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL). http://www.ccel.org/p/pearse/morefathers/harden_ethiopic_literature.htm#CHAPTER%20IV.
  95. ^ “Martin Luther”. http://www.wels.net/sab/qa/luther-03.html.
  96. ^ “Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’ of the New Testament”. http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html.
  97. ^ “Gedruckte Ausgaben der Lutherbibel von 1545”. http://www.bibelcenter.de/bibel/lu1545/.  note order: …Hebr�er, Jakobus, Judas, Offenbarung}}
  98. ^ “German Bible Versions”. http://www.bible-researcher.com/links10.html.
  99. ^ Samuel Fallows et al., eds. (1901,1910). The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopædia and Scriptural Dictionary, Fully Defining and Explaining All Religious Terms, Including Biographical, Geographical, Historical, Archæological and Doctrinal Themes. The Howard-Severance company. pp. 521. http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC05742122&id=rl3lcbLkHV0C&pg=PA521&lpg=PA521&dq=luther+%22are+useful+and+good+to+read%22.
  100. ^ “Fathers”. New Advent. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250104.htm.
  101. ^ Metzger, Bruce M. (March 13, 1997). The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford University Press. pp. 246. ISBN 0198269544. “”Finally on 8 April 1546, by a vote of 24 to 15, with 16 abstensions, the Council issued a decree (De Canonicis Scripturis) in which, for the first time in the history of the Church, the question of the contents of the Bible was made an absolute article of faith and confirmed by an anathema.””
  102. ^ Session 3, Chapter 2, Item 6: “The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.”



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  1. Zia H. Shah

    Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says:

    By John Blake, CNN

    A frail man sits in chains inside a dank, cold prison cell. He has escaped death before but now realizes that his execution is drawing near.

    “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come,” the man –the Apostle Paul – says in the Bible’s 2 Timothy. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

    The passage is one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament. Paul, the most prolific New Testament author, is saying goodbye from a Roman prison cell before being beheaded. His goodbye veers from loneliness to defiance and, finally, to joy.

    There’s one just one problem – Paul didn’t write those words. In fact, virtually half the New Testament was written by impostors taking on the names of apostles like Paul. At least according to Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned biblical scholar, who makes the charges in his new book “Forged.”

    “There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.In “Forged,” Ehrman claims that:

    * At least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries.

    * The New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate.

    * Many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds.


  2. Zia H. Shah

    Sola Scriptura a Protestant belief that the Apostles never got to hear!

    The New Testament had not been written and most Apostles did not meet St. Paul, who got 13 letters into the New Testament eventually, so they did not believe in Sola Scriptura, as they only saw the Old Testament and not the New Testament. Here is partial description of sola scriptura from Wikipedia:

    Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, “by scripture alone”) is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers and is a formal principle of Protestantism today (see Five solas).

    During the Reformation, authentication of scripture was governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man. Furthermore, per sola scriptura, the relationship of Scriptural authority to pastoral care was well exampled by the Westminster Confession of Faith which stated:

    VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

    Here the phrase “due use of the ordinary means” includes appeals to pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-14). As such, sola scriptura reflects a careful tension between the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture necessary for its role as final authority, and the occasional need for its meaning to be revealed by exposition (Hebrews 5:12).

    Beyond the Reformation, as in some Evangelical and Baptist denominations, sola scriptura is stated even more strongly: it is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter (“Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

    By contrast, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches teach that the Scriptures are not the only infallible source of Christian doctrine. For them Scripture is but one of three equal authorities; the other two being Sacred Tradition and the episcopacy. These churches also believe that the Church has authority to establish or restrict interpretation of Scriptures because, in part, it implicitly selected which books were to be in the biblical canon through its traditions, whereas Protestants believe the Church passively recognized and received the books that were already widely considered canonical.


  3. Zia H. Shah

    Criteria for a book to be in New Testament Canon:

    Twenty seven books made into the final canon of the New Testament during the first four centuries of early Christianity and there were scores of books that were not so lucky. Here are the four criteria that early Christian leaders used to choose which books should be honored:

    1. It should be ancient.
    2. It should be written by an apostle.
    3. It should be widely used in most churches of the proto-Orthodox denomination, later to be called the Catholic Church.
    4. It should be orthodox meaning promoting the right beliefs as understood by these leaders.

    Prof. Bart Ehrman asks a very interesting question in his teaching company course, After the New Testament: the writings of the Apostolic Fathers:

    “In your judgment, what should have been the most important criteria for determining whether a book could be accepted into the canon or not? If a book was accepted because it was thought to be written by an apostle (for example, 1 Timothy or Hebrews or the book of Revelation) but later scholars have shown conclusively that it was not, in fact, written by that person, should that have any bearing on its canonical status?”

    Prof. Bart Ehrman. After the New Testament: the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Teaching Company Course Guidebook, 2005. Page 36-37.

  4. Zia H. Shah

    Role of Polycarp in the eventual formation of the New Testament Canon:

    Whereas, the early Muslims made a clear distinction between the revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, his own sayings and the sayings of his companions, the early Christians lumped the sayings of Jesus, with the sayings of the apostles and lumped them together with the books of the Old Testament to eventually get their Bible and labeled the amalgam as the Word of God. Prof. Bart Ehrman writes:

    “Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians is significant for a number of reasons, not least of which is the extensive use it makes of earlier Christian writings (including the Gospels and the writings of Paul) as authorities for how Christians should live and what they should believe. In some ways, this marks the beginning of the process by which certain early Christian writings were considered authoritative for the life and practice of the Church. Eventually, that process was to lead to the formation of a canon of Scripture, the ‘New’ Testament, a collection of books that was accepted as standing on equal footing with the writings of the ‘Old’ Testament (the Jewish Scriptures).

    In sum, the Letter of Polycarp shows us the early stages of a movement to consider earlier apostolic writings to be authoritative for the faith and practice of Christians. Eventually, this movement would result in the formation of the New Testament that has come down to us today.”

    Prof. Bart Ehrman. After the New Testament: the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Teaching Company Course Guidebook, 2005. Page 33-37.

  5. Zia H. Shah

    Athanasius of Alexandria: the Compiler of the New Testament in the fourth century:

    Prof. Bart Ehrman writes in his book, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, in the chapter titled, The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-orthodox New Testament:

    “The first Christian author of any kind to advocate a New Testament canon of our twenty-seven books and no others was Athanasius, the fourth-century bishop of Alexandria. This comes in a letter that Athanasius wrote in 367 CE ­over three centuries after the writings of Paul, our earliest Christian author. As the Alexandrian bishop, Athanasius sent an annual letter to the churches in Egypt under his jurisdiction. The purpose of these letters was to set the date of Easter, which was not established well in advance, as in our modern calendars, but was announced each year by the church authorities. Athanasius used these annual ‘Festal’ letters to provide pastoral advice and counsel to his churches. In his famous thirty-ninth Festal letter of 367 CE he indicates, as part of his advice, the books that his churches were to accept as canonical Scripture. He first lists the books of the ‘Old Testament,’ including the Old Testament Apoc­rypha (which were to be read only as devotional literature, not as canonical authorities). Then he names exactly the twenty-seven books that we now have as the New Testament, indicating that ‘in these alone the teaching of godliness is proclaimed. Let no one add to these; let nothing be taken away from them.’

    Numerous scholars have unreflectively claimed that this letter of Athanasius represents the ‘closing’ of the canon, that from then on there were no disputes about which books to include. But there continued to be debates and differ­ences of opinion, even in Athanasius’ s home church. For example, the famous teacher of the late-fourth-century Alexandria, Didymus the Blind, claimed that 2 Peter was a ‘forgery’ that was not to be included in the canon. Moreover, Didymus quoted other books, including the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas, as scriptural authorities.

    Going somewhat further afield, in the early fifth century, the church in Syria finalized its New Testament canon and excluded from it 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation, making a canon of twenty-two books rather than twenty­seven. The church in Ethiopia eventually accepted the twenty-seven books named by Athanasius but added four others not otherwise widely known­ Sinodos, the Book of Clement (which is not I or 2 Clement), the Book of the Covenant, and the Didascalia-for a thirty-one book canon. Other churches had yet other canons. And so, when we talk about the ‘final’ version of the New Testament, we are doing so in (mental) quotation marks, for there never has been complete agreement on the canon throughout the Christian world.

    There has been agreement, however, throughout most of the Roman Catho­lic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. The twenty-seven books named by Athanasius are ‘the’ New Testament. Even so, the process did not come to a definitive conclusion through an official ratification of Athanasius’s canon, say, at a church council called for the purpose. There was no official, churchwide pronouncement on the matter until the Council of Trent in the mid-sixteenth century (which, as a Roman Catholic council, was binding only on Roman Catho­lics). But by then, the twenty-seven books were already ‘set’ as Scripture.”


  6. Zia H. Shah

    A Cordial Invitation to the Pope Benedict XVI to Islam

    The Church has been kind to Galileo Gallelli in particular and science establishment in general in extending an apology, for the past limitations. She has also recognized the Islamophobia she propagated, even though briefly and occasionally. The Islamophobia of centuries, first introduced by the Church herself in the masses, is perhaps the main reason, why most Christians are unable to genuinely consider the Islamic tradition as an option for theism before converting to atheism. May be under your leadership, the Church can redefine the course and in recognizing the limitations of the past set the two traditions onto a friendly course of co-existence. After all both the faiths have far more in common with each other than with Hinduism, Buddhism, agnosticism or atheism and in my opinion even Judaism.

    As the Christian masses are leaving theist paradigm in droves, your Holiness, your love of them and God, makes it incumbent on you and all the theists to first strive for theism and then for any particular brand, be it Judaism, Unitarian Christianity, Trinitarian Christianity or Islam, like they say in America, I am an American first and a republican or a democrat second. Tear down the walls that separate the Abrahamic faiths and open to everyone the possibility of Islam. If Christian masses cannot find comfort, peace and theism in one particular tradition let them try another tradition before they choose the abyss of atheism that you equated with Nazism.

    In the words of Sir George Bernard Shaw, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.” At another occasion he said, “I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad, that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

    My dear Pope, for a detailed invitation based on your own writings please indulge me by going to this link:


  7. Zia H. Shah

    A time magazine volume about Jesus and New Testament

    There are, after all, four Gospels, whose actual writing, most scholars have come to acknowledge, was done not by the Apostles but by their anonymous followers (or their followers’ followers). Each presented a somewhat different picture of Jesus’ life. The earliest appeared to have been written some 40 years after his Crucifixion. Which was most accurate? Even Luther had a favorite Gospel (John) and appeared to regard the rest as less essential. And starting with the 1835 critique The Life of Jesus by David Friedrich Strauss, apostles of the new scientific method raised additional questions with increasing urgency: Might faith have caused the writers of all four Gospels to embellish on actual fact? Did the politics of the early church cause them to edit or add to Jesus’ story? Which parts of the New Testament were likely to be straight reportage rather than pious mythmaking?

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984367-3,00.html#ixzz0wxWIwkvX

  8. Zia H. Shah

    Testimony from the Jehovah Witness site against Trinity

    DID the early Christians teach the Trinity? Note the following comments by historians and theologians:

    “Primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds.”—The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology.

    “The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the [Trinity] idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they recognised the . . . Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One.”—The Paganism in Our Christianity.

    “At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian . . . It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the N[ew] T[estament] and other early Christian writings.”—Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics.

    “The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. . . . Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia.

    Now I quote what the site has to say about Old Testament and Trinity:

    WHILE the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, is at least the idea of the Trinity taught clearly in it? For instance, what do the Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament”) reveal?

    The Encyclopedia of Religion admits: “Theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity.” And the New Catholic Encyclopedia also says: “The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the O[ld] T[estament].”

    Similarly, in his book The Triune God, Jesuit Edmund Fortman admits: “The Old Testament . . . tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . . . There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead. . . . Even to see in [the “Old Testament”] suggestions or foreshadowings or ‘veiled signs’ of the trinity of persons, is to go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers.”—Italics ours.

    An examination of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves will bear out these comments. Thus, there is no clear teaching of a Trinity in the first 39 books of the Bible that make up the true canon of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.


  9. Zia H. Shah

    Jewish expectations of Messiah

    The Hebrew word Mashiach (or Moshiach) refers to the Jewish idea of the Messiah. Like the English word Messiah, Mashiach means anointed.

    The Jewish messiah refers to a human leader, physically descended from the Davidic line, who will rule and unite the people of Israel and will usher in the Messianic Age of global and universal peace. In sharp fundamental contrast to Christian dogma and belief, the Jewish messiah is decidedly not considered to be divine nor is he considered to be Jesus Christ. The Jewish tradition has Jesus of Nazareth on the mere List of messiah claimants.

    In biblical times the title Mashiach was awarded for somebody in a high position of nobility and greatness. For example, Cohen ha-Mašíaḥ means High Priest. In the Talmudic era the title Mashiach or מלך המשיח, Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ (in the Tiberian vocalization pronounced Méleḵ haMMāšîªḥ), literally meaning “the anointed King”, is referred to the human Jewish leader and king who will redeem Israel in the End of Days and who will usher in a messianic era of peace and prosperity for both the living and the deceased.

    In the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)
    Most of the textual requirements concerning the messiah, what he will do, and what will be done during his reign are located within the Book of Isaiah, although requirements are mentioned in other prophets as well.

    The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)
    Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance (Isaiah 2:4)
    The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)
    He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8–10)
    The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2)
    Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
    Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
    He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)
    All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
    Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)
    There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
    All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
    The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
    He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 53:7)
    Nations will recognize the wrongs they did Israel (Isaiah 52:13–53:5)
    The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
    The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
    Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
    The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot
    He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together (Zephaniah 3:9)
    Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)
    He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13–15, Ezekiel 36:29–30, Isaiah 11:6–9)


  10. Zia H. Shah

    The conflict between the teaching of Jesus and Christology

    Here I present to you a confession in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, the explanation that he offers, perhaps is for the converted only but the conflict is balatant and evident for every one to see. Jesus preaches ‘Kingdom of God,’ in 122 places in the New Testament and not Christology. The Pope writes:

    The core content of the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. A milestone is set up in the flow of time; something new takes place. And an answer to this gift is demanded of man: conversion and faith. The center of this announcement is the message that God’s Kingdom is at hand. This announcement is the actual core of Jesus’ words and works. A look at the statistics underscores this. The phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ occurs 122 times in the New Testament as a whole; 99 of these passages are found in the three Synoptic Gospels, and 90 of these 99 texts report words of Jesus.

    In the Gospel of John, and the rest of the New Testament writings, the term plays only a small role. One can say that whereas the axis of Jesus’ preaching before Easter is the Kingdom of God, Christology is the center of the preaching of the Apostles after Easter.

    Does this mean, then, that there has been a falling away from the real preaching of Jesus? Is the exegete Rudolf Bultmann right when he says that the historical Jesus is not really part of the theology of the New Testament, but must be seen as still essentially a Jewish teacher, who, although certainly to be reckoned as an essential presupposition for the New Testament, ought not to be counted as part of the New Testament itself?

    Another variant of this alleged gulf between Jesus and the preaching of the Apostles occurs in the now famous saying of the Catholic modernist Alfred Loisy, who put it like this: Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, and what came was the Church. These words may be considered ironic, but they also express sadness. Instead of the great expectation of God’s own Kingdom, of a new world transformed by God himself, we got something quite different-and what a pathetic substitute it is: the Church.

    Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. Jesus of Nazareth. Double 2007. Pages 47-48.

    There is a dramatic contrast in what Jesus preached during the three years of his ministry before he was put on the cross and what came to be known as Christology, a religion about Jesus and not of Jesus!

  11. Zia H. Shah

    There are two types of Readers of the Bible

    Prof. Bart Ehrman has explained this phenomenon in his book ‘Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend.’ He writes:

    A friend of mine once prompted out that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t! I’m definitely of the former persuasion. Since the 1980s, teaching graduate students year in and year out, I’ve found two different kinds of students. Some of my students look at a range of ancient Christian texts and think everything looks the same. All the texts are mashed together into one big megatext, so that at the end of the day, each text is basically saying the same thing. Others of my students look at a range of texts and think everything looks different Every text is taken as its own discrete entity with its own author, its own message, its own assumptions, so that at the end of the day, every text is basically saying something different.

    I must confess that when I was in college and a bit later, when I was a beginning graduate student myself, I belonged to the first set of people. Everything looked pretty much alike. When it came to the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark seemed a lot like Luke, which was very much like John, which had a good deal in common with the writings of Paul, which reflected the things said in the book of Acts, and so on. But the more rigorously I was trained in reading these texts in their original languages, the more I developed a refined sense of just how different they really are from each other. I guess this was a conversion experience of my own, as I moved away from thinking everything is basically the same to seeing that everything is richly unique.

    (Bart D. Ehrman. Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, 2006. Page 141.)

    My critic below seems to be of the first kind, no matter how divergent different gospels may be he is going to come up with an amalgam, and explain away all the glaring contradictions.

    The apostles not only did not have the New Testament, most of them never saw any of the canonical Gospels. What did they believe in is any Christians guess! The Muslims, however, believe that the All Knowing God told us in the Holy Quran what Jesus taught them.

    If you read some of the books of Prof. Bart Ehrman and my Google Knols here, you may realize it is intellectually more rewarding to learn from all the books of the New Testament individually then creating an alloy of all the different books, and insist on something that was not a reality for Jesus, may peace be on him or his apostles. After all the different books were written by different authors in different times and not even identical twins think alike! The authors of the New Testament were miles and decades removed from each other.

    May Allah, God the Father, be your Guide!

  12. Zia H. Shah

    My other articles about the New Testament

    The Holy Quran affirms the truth of all the previous Revelations, which include those given to Moses and Jesus, may peace be on both. However, the Quran also points out that all the previous Books were sent for specific nations and times. As those Books were not final and universal, they were not provided the special protection against interpolations, as was granted to the Holy Quran, which was revealed as the final Guidance for all peoples and times.

    The Christian scholars today are confirming what the Holy Quran had claimed about the Bible 14 centuries ago.


  13. rey

    “The Holy Quran affirms the truth of all the previous Revelations, which include those given to Moses and Jesus, may peace be on both.”

    I’m not sure I buy that this really is the Muslim position, but assuming it is, what about Paul? Personally, I can’t stand him (and I’m a Christian).

  14. Zia H. Shah

    The Muslims believe the Holy Quran to be literal word of God and to have been preserved over time. The Quran affirms the truth of several Jewish prophets by name, including, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Ezra, John the Baptist and Jesus, may peace of God be on all of them.

    The Holy Quran makes no direct mention of St. Paul.

    I hope it helps.

  15. Zia H. Shah

    Here is an article about St. Paul from Muslim perspective:


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