Who Decided on the Books in the New Testament Canon?

Theo1689

Well-known member
no :
When (at what point in time in the history of a writing) does it become Scripture?

still waiting

You know, it's funny....
I've been watching YouTube videos of SovCits ("Sovereign citizens") and "Frauditors" ("1st amendment auditors") harass cops.

And while they get themselves to the point of arrest, they continue to try to control the discussion (largely by asking questions), to avoid letting the cop do his job. Anselm seems to be doing the same thing here, not only in dodging your question, but in steering his discussion with me away from what he can't answer, back onto a topic he's more comfortable with.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
My basic question concerns whether or not the church was provided an inspired table content or if the church was involved in making choices as to what books include and what books to exclude. For example, the book of Hebrews and the Shepperd of Hermas were books that were contested within the church. Whereas the book of Hebrews ended up considered canon, Hermas was ultimately rejected. Furthermore, if the church was involved in deciding the New Testament canon, then it is also true that the church made at least one infallible choice that all Protestants can agree on. In other words, the church was infallible in declaring the New Testament canon, at least.
Jesus said that not a Jot or a Title shall disappear from the Law; I think this fundamental extends to All Scripture. So some books disappeared from Scripture, or were never included; right? God is Providential...

I've been thinking about writing a Gospel Tract on Canonicity, so I'll read this Thread...
 
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civic

Well-known member
My basic question concerns whether or not the church was provided an inspired table content or if the church was involved in making choices as to what books include and what books to exclude. For example, the book of Hebrews and the Shepperd of Hermas were books that were contested within the church. Whereas the book of Hebrews ended up considered canon, Hermas was ultimately rejected. Furthermore, if the church was involved in deciding the New Testament canon, then it is also true that the church made at least one infallible choice that all Protestants can agree on. In other words, the church was infallible in declaring the New Testament canon, at least.

The Book of Hebrews Was Anonymous​

The main problem that some members of the early church had with the Book of Hebrews was that it was written anonymously. While the original recipients knew who the author was, this eventually became forgotten. Although a number of candidates have been suggested, today no one is certain who wrote the book.

There is another issue. The writer makes a distinction between himself and the Apostles. He wrote:

How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:3-4 NRSV)
However, the author does claim authority for his work. At the end of the book the writer says:

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. (Hebrews 13:22 NRSV)
From the earliest times, the letter to the Hebrews was accepted everywhere but in Latin Christianity—the western church. The problem was lack of a stated author. However, it was eventually realized that the Book of Hebrews was orthodox in its content, and deserved a place in the New Testament.blueletterbible.org

hope this helps !!!
 

Nondenom40

Super Member
Yes, councils are only necessary when there is a controversy. Until Luther there was no real controversy about the bible canon.
So all the ecfs that reject the apocrypha were after Luther? Jerome, Athanasius, Gregory the Great, cardinal Cajetan? Well, all except Cajetan. But he still rejected the apocrypha and he was a rc cardinal.
 

Nondenom40

Super Member
Augustine included the Deuterocanon in the Old Testament as highlighted below:
And Jerome rejected them;

This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a “helmeted” introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon.

Jerome; Prefaces, Samuel and Kings

And 'that list' is the one he just got done enumerating which is our 39 book o.t. canon.
 

Theophilos

Active member
And Jerome rejected them;



And 'that list' is the one he just got done enumerating which is our 39 book o.t. canon.

Jerome quoted Sirach as scripture in at least two letters:
I relate this story not because I approve of persons rashly taking upon themselves burthens beyond their strength (for does not the scripture say: Burden not yourself above your power? Sirach 13:2
from letter 108 to Eustochium, and

. . . it is written: Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms makes an atonement for sins. Sirach 3:30
from letter 66 to Pammachius.

Both letters are available at the New Advent website.
 

Nondenom40

Super Member
Jerome quoted Sirach as scripture in at least two letters:

from letter 108 to Eustochium, and


from letter 66 to Pammachius.

Both letters are available at the New Advent website.
And he just called it apocryphal in his prefaces. They had a narrow and a wider view of the canon back then. There are essentially two classes or categories of 'scripture'. One was canonical meaning the inspired word of God. And there was ecclesiastical. These could be read for edification but not doctrine as Jerome spells out in his prefaces, proverbs, ecclesiastes and song of songs. He says judith, tobit and macabees is not in the canon but can be read for edification;

As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.

So sirach, wisdom and the rest are not the God breathed scriptures but those that you can read if you like but not for doctrine, or ecclesiastical.
 

Theophilos

Active member
And he just called it apocryphal in his prefaces. They had a narrow and a wider view of the canon back then. There are essentially two classes or categories of 'scripture'. One was canonical meaning the inspired word of God. And there was ecclesiastical. These could be read for edification but not doctrine as Jerome spells out in his prefaces, proverbs, ecclesiastes and song of songs. He says judith, tobit and macabees is not in the canon but can be read for edification;



So sirach, wisdom and the rest are not the God breathed scriptures but those that you can read if you like but not for doctrine, or ecclesiastical.
Jerome may have had his doubts about the exact status of some of the books but he ultimately accepted the judgement of the Church. Why else would he quote Sirach as scripture?

Note that the quote in letter 66 is in support of offering alms in the name of deceased relatives, a Catholic and Orthodox practice that many Protestants have objected to.
 

Timket

Active member
So all the ecfs that reject the apocrypha were after Luther? Jerome, Athanasius, Gregory the Great, cardinal Cajetan? Well, all except Cajetan. But he still rejected the apocrypha and he was a rc cardinal.
Each individual man can have his own opinions. The ecf Eusebius even rejected books that all of Christianity now considers canonical. And that's why we don't dare go with the opinions of one man alone - it's too dangerous. But when the whole Church speaks in council, the matter is settled.
 

Nondenom40

Super Member
Each individual man can have his own opinions. The ecf Eusebius even rejected books that all of Christianity now considers canonical. And that's why we don't dare go with the opinions of one man alone - it's too dangerous. But when the whole Church speaks in council, the matter is settled.
Which council?
 

Theophilos

Active member
Which council?
Each bishop determined local usage in the early church. Later there were regional councils such as the one in Carthage in 397 AD that affirmed a consensus of books. The list from that council was formally affirmed at the council of Trent in the mid 1500s, but Trent simply says which books are definitely part of scripture.

The canon in common use by the Greek Orthodox Church includes a few more books in the Old Testament, so it is consistent with Trent as well.

The exact canon was not a great source of controversy until the Reformation.
 

Nondenom40

Super Member
Each bishop determined local usage in the early church. Later there were regional councils such as the one in Carthage in 397 AD that affirmed a consensus of books. The list from that council was formally affirmed at the council of Trent in the mid 1500s, but Trent simply says which books are definitely part of scripture.

The canon in common use by the Greek Orthodox Church includes a few more books in the Old Testament, so it is consistent with Trent as well.

The exact canon was not a great source of controversy until the Reformation.
Trent didn't simply say which books were in the canon. It made it dogma and attached an anathema to it.

Lastly, yes the apocrypha was indeed rejected very early on. Was it a crisis or controversy, I don't know. But plenty of people flat out rejected it including a rc cardinal.

The Greek Orthodox has more books and you say it's still consistent with Trent? How so? They have MORE books. And Trent anathematized anyone not agreeing with it's list.
 

Theophilos

Active member
Trent didn't simply say which books were in the canon. It made it dogma and attached an anathema to it.

Lastly, yes the apocrypha was indeed rejected very early on. Was it a crisis or controversy, I don't know. But plenty of people flat out rejected it including a rc cardinal.

The Greek Orthodox has more books and you say it's still consistent with Trent? How so? They have MORE books. And Trent anathematized anyone not agreeing with it's list.

The Canon of Trent states what books are scripture; it does not declare books to be non-biblical. Here is the list for the Old Testament:
Of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second.[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_of_Trent

Orthodox Bibles include all these books in their Old Testament, so they are consistent with the Canon of Trent.

On the other hand, Protestant bibles are either missing several of the books, or the books are moved to an appendix and labeled "Apocrypha". In contrast to Trent, the Westminster Confession of Faith dogmatically rejects books not specifically listed in their canon:
The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings. (Chapter 1, section III)
 
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Nondenom40

Super Member
The Canon of Trent states what books are scripture; it does not declare books to be non-biblical. Here is the list for the Old Testament:


Orthodox Bibles include all these books in their Old Testament, so they are consistent with the Canon of Trent.

On the other hand, Protestant bibles are either missing several of the books, or the books are moved to an appendix and labeled "Apocrypha". In contrast to Trent, the Westminster Confession of Faith dogmatically rejects books not specifically listed in their canon:

Books were not taken out. They were added by your church. You can't remove what was never there. The apocrypha was never considered as part of the inspired canon. This was declared dogma at Trent, 4th session 1546.
 

Theophilos

Active member
Books were not taken out. They were added by your church. You can't remove what was never there. The apocrypha was never considered as part of the inspired canon. This was declared dogma at Trent, 4th session 1546.
A larger canon of the Old Testament was used by Greek-speaking Jews at the time of Christ. The books are found in the earliest surviving Christian Bibles. They are still found in all Coptic, Orthodox, and Catholic Bibles even though Copts and Orthodox do not recognize the Council of Trent.

Luther and other early Protestants chose to use the Hebrew canon used by Jews in northern Europe at the time of the Reformation. In doing so they rejected books that had been in the original bible of the Church. They rejected the Greek Old Testament that Timothy studied as a child (2 Tim 3:15). They rejected the scriptures that the Greek-speaking Bereans used to confirm Paul's preaching (Acts 17:11).

The Catholic bible canon is not something that the pope made up to annoy Protestants. Instead it is consistent with Christian usage from the time of the apostles.
 
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Timket

Active member
The apocrypha was never considered as part of the inspired canon.

I'm afraid that's not true. Here's the text from the Council of Carthage in 397AD (which Theophilos mentioned) first in Latin and then in English:

6 [Placuit] ut praeter Scripturas canonicas nihil in Ecclesia legatur sub nomine divinarum Scripturarum. Sunt autem canonicae Scripture: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuterenomium, Iesu Nave, Iudicum, Ruth, Regnorum libri quatour, Paralipomenon libri duo, Iob, Psalterium Davidicum, Salomonis libre quinque, Duodecim libri prophetarum, Esaias, Ieremias, Daniel, Ezechiel, Tobias, Iudith, Hester, Hesdrae libre duo, Machabaeorum libre duo.

6 It was also determined that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in the Church under the title of divine Scriptures. The Canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two books of Chronicles, Job, the Psalter, five books of Solomon, the books of the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two Books of the Maccabees.

Books were not taken out. They were added by your church. You can't remove what was never there... This was declared dogma at Trent, 4th session 1546.
This is not true. The Catholic church split with the Orthodox about 500 years before 1546, and we also had those same books in our (Orthodox) canon. They were always part of the Canon. They weren't just inserted in 1546.
 

Timket

Active member
Also:

Books were not taken out. They were added by your church. You can't remove what was never there...

You could also see that this claim isn't true by looking at any of the 700+ year old Bibles in which the Apocrypha books were always present. Here are just two examples I found in a 5-minute Google search:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_Abbey_Bible (1148 A.D.)

"The Bible was purchased by the British Library in 1844. It is now kept in three volumes. The first volume (Add. MS 14788) contains the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Job, Tobit, Judith, Esther, I Ezra, 2 Ezra, and Nehemiah. The second volume (Add. MS 14789) contains Kings, Chronicles, Wisdom and Maccabees"


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_Bible (1150 - 1175AD)

"The bible consists of the entire Vulgate, comprising both Old and New Testaments, two versions of the Psalms, and the Apocrypha, and is written in the Latin of St. Jerome."
 

Anselm01

Member
Theophilos and Timket, thanks for keeping the topic on track. I have been busy lately and had to step aside. Great job! Both of your last two post were spot on! I especially liked the reference to the Septuagint Theophilos used in his call back to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15 and the masterful use of Carthage and Trent by Timket.

Now for a related practical question:
Why accept only 27 books of the New Testament? If we have a fallible list of infallible books, could there be other infallible books not included in the fallibility approved canon?
 

Timket

Active member
Now for a related practical question:
Why accept only 27 books of the New Testament? If we have a fallible list of infallible books, could there be other infallible books not included in the fallibility approved canon?

Exactly. If the Church fathers got it wrong when they canonized the Apocrypha in 397, then we've been using the wrong Bible for the majority of Christianity (1,100 years). And if the ECF's made one error, who's to say they didn't make more? The only way this whole thing works is if there's an authoritative Church with the power to decide what's Scripture.
 
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