The Principles Of New Testament Canon

.. elates to its canonization. The idea of apostolicity does not refer only to the works that apostles wrote themselves. Apostolicity actually refers to the works that an apostle may have come into contact with at some point. Simply because an apostle came into contact with a certain work, does not ensure it of being guaranteed as a canonical work.

Such works as The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, Barnabas, and the Gospel of Peter, which inexplicably claim apostles as their authors, were not added in canon. Catholicity was another way of determining the reasons why certain works were included. The term catholicity meant that the work must be relevant to the church as a whole and was intended to be by the author. This is understood to mean that works that were addressed to a small group of people, instead of the entire church, were questionable additions to the New Testament canon. Oddly enough, Pauls letters are all addressed to certain groups of people or individuals, and not the church in general.

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Most of the New Testament writings were addressed to a specific group, which made many of the writings fall short in the catholicity criteria. The next form of the criteria is orthodoxy. The orthodoxy is whether or not the content of the documents are in accordance with the precedence set forth by prior church documents. The final criterion of the New Testament canon was whether the works were part of traditional usage. This criterion determines whether the work that was being proposed for entry into New Testament canon was currently in use as a part of the church in its teachings.

This criterion could only be used after the third or fourth centuries, after the church had a long enough time to establish a definite custom. Three factors during the second century weighed heavily on the formation of canon. Marcionism, Gnosticism and Montanism all shaped the formation of canon. Marcion was one of the most influential characters in second century Christianity. He was the son of a wealthy ship owner from Sinope, a city in northern Asia Minor. He came to Rome in 140 A.D. and became a teacher and follower of the Roman church.

Marcion taught that Christianity was a totally new and different religion from anything prior (Farmer and Farkasfalvy 134). He said that Christianity was on a higher level than any previous religion. Marcion therefore created his own form of canon that included Gospel literature and apostolic letters. Because Marcions work was one of the first known formations of New Testament canon, scholars believe that he laid the groundwork for others to formulate new canons. Gnostic literature, while being in existence for approximately the same length of time, was rejected by people who supported the apostolic and catholic teachings. Gnosticism is relevant to the discussion because, in order to know why things are included, the scholar must know why certain ideas have been left out.

Montanism also provoked the formation of New Testament canon. The movement began in Asia Minor, during the middle of the second century. A man named Montanus claimed he and his associates were sent by God to offer new and final revelations to the church. This situation was common. People made claims that God sent them, and the church had a hard time in discrediting them as result of not having a closed set of Christian writings.

Canon was a result of the church attempting to end all of the new additions to Christian writings. New Testament canon spurred from the church wanting to end the many inconsistencies that were prevalent in the early church. From this period the church decided to only accept into canon, works that had specific apostolic authority. The canon of the New Testament was proposed by many different figures throughout the process of canonization. A closing of New Testament canon took place at The Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D.

The canon that was adopted at Chalcedon was not agreed upon until the time of Constantine (Dunbar 317). The New Testament canon lists that were presented at Chalcedon can be traced back as far as Athanasius (296-373). The Chalcedonian churches have primarily accepted the list of Athanasius. The list of Amphilochus, bishop of Iconium, who died in 394, wrote a list that matched Athanasius, and was identical except for a slight discrepancy in the order that the books were in. Eusebius, who died in 340 A.D., also had a list for the formation of New Testament canon.

Eusebius also had the same books in his version of the list. The discrepancy between Eusebiuss list and the two others was the order that the books were put into. In the late third and early fourth century the Alexandrian school introduced another version of New Testament canon. The canon of Clement was similar to those of the Chalcedon churches, but differed in both order and content. Clement traveled extensively, and eventually settled down in Egypt. His travels included Greece, Italy and Palestine.

This can be deduced because he knew of the scriptures that were used by churches in those areas. He included the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Egyptians, and the Gospel of Mattathias, instead of just the four gospels that appear in the Chalcedonian churches. Clement also included fourteen letters from Paul. The fourteenth letter being to Clement. In total, the canon of Clement included thirty-six books. Origen, who lived from 185-254 A.D., also traveled widely, visiting Greece, Arabia and Rome, and compiled another list out of the Alexandrian style.

Origen included the twenty-two undisputed works, the same number of undisputed books as Clement. Origen apparently changed his list multiple times before he was set on a certain one. When Origen was in Alexandria, he accepted the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Epistle of Barnabas as canon. After traveling to Caesarea, he changed his list when he found out the books were not accepted there. Origen also began to question whether the Preaching of Peter belonged in canon, a work that Clement had been fond of. Origen was very strong in excluding certain books, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mattathias, the Gospel of the Twelve, the Gospel of the Egyptians, and the Acts of Paul. Hippolytus, who died in 235 A.D., also formulated a list of canonical works based on his travel findings. The Hippolytus canon differs because the Pauline works are different.

He did not include Hebrews as an accepted undisputed work. Besides the difference over Hebrews, Origens list is very similar to Hippolytuss list. Hippolytus also includes twenty-two books in his canon version. The process of the canonization of the Christian bible was disputed throughout the beginnings of the Christian religion. Canonization is a compilation of many different lists proposed by numerous different scholars. Canon was necessary to ensure that the church was united by common teachings.

At the Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, the church closed its final copy of New Testament canon, which includes the present day twenty-seven works. Religion Essays.


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