ow We Got the
ible
The New Testament Canon
ow We Got the
ible
Outline of Study:
1. What is the Canon?
2. Why Study the Canon?
3. Did the Catholic Church Give us the Bible?
4. Stages of Canonization
5. Evidence for a Closed Canon
ow We Got the
ible
What is the Canon?
What is the Canon?
Greek: κανών - Reed or Measuring Rod
“The list of books contained in scripture, the list of
books recognized as worthy to be included in the
sacred writings of a worshipping community. . .list of
the writings acknowledged by the Church as documents
of Divine revelation.”
(F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture p. 17)
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
What is the Canon?
Greek: κανών – List of Accepted Books
In reference to a set list of books the term first appears in
the writings of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria around
A.D. 367.
Previously it referred to the summary of
Christian Teaching and Doctrine
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
ow We Got the
ible
Why Study the Canon?
Why Study the Canon?
Reason 1:
Not everyone accepts the same Canon
Samaritans = 5 books (Pentateuch only)
Nestorian Church (Syrian Church) = 22 books
Ethiopian Orthodox Church = 81 books
Catholic Canon = 66 plus Apocrypha
Mormons = Bible plus Book of Mormon, Doc & Cov
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
Why Study the Canon?
Reason 2:
To Determine The Limits of Divine Revelation
• Does God Still Speak today?
• Does the Holy Spirit lead and guide in extra-Canonical
ways today?
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
ow We Got the
ible
Did the Catholic Church Give us
the Bible?
Canonization
Did the Catholic Church Give us the Bible?
J.I. Packer – Noted Scholar
The church no more “gave us” the
canon than Sir Isaac Newton “gave
us” the force of gravity. God gave us
gravity by the work of His creation,
and similarly, He gave us the New
Testament canon by inspiring the
original books that make it up.
(God Speaks To Man, p. 81)
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
Canonization
Did Scripture Mold the church?
Did the “Church” Mold Scripture?
F.F. Bruce – Noted Scholar
The
books
did
not
become
authoritative for the church because
they were formally included in a
canonical list – but on the contrary,
the church included them in her
canon because she already regarded
them as divinely inspired.
(The New Testament Documents: Are
They Reliable, p. 27)
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
Canonization
Did Scripture Mold the church?
Did the “Church” Mold Scripture?
And they continued
steadfastly in the
APOSTLE’S DOCTRINE
and fellowship, in the
breaking of bread, and in
prayers.
(Acts 2:42 NKJV)
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
ow We Got the
ible
Stages of Canonization
Stages of Canonization
1. Composition – gospel preached and epistles written
2. Community – writings read and circulated by the church
3. Compilation– letters collected and bound in codices
4. Canonization– ex post facto authority given to books
5. Criteria –
determination of what writings were legitimate
Composition
The Word became flesh and dwelt among
men (John 1:14)
• Jesus’ Birth
• Jesus’ Ministry – Oral Teaching
• Jesus’ Death, Burial, Resurrection
The Role of Jesus
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Composition
Holy Spirit Superintended Apostle’s Words
However, when He, the Spirit of truth,
has come, He will guide you into all
truth; for He will not speak on His
own authority, but whatever He hears
He will speak; and He will tell you
things to come.
(John 16:13 NKJV)
The Role of the Holy Spirit
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Composition
The first New Testament book was not written
until perhaps 15 years after Jesus’ ascension.
At first the gospel was passed on by “oral
tradition.”
Jesus
Apostles
Oral Tradition
Epistles
Gospels
Letters
The Role of Oral Tradition
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Composition
A.T. Robinson argued in his Redating the New Testament
that the entire New Testament was written and in
circulation between 40 and 65 A.D
Such a short “Transmission Period” adds veracity to the
reliability of the NT Canon.
Jesus
Apostles
Oral Tradition
Epistles
Gospels
Letters
The Role of Time
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Community
Letters were Written to Address Needs
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you
concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary
to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for
the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
(Jude 1:3 NKJV)
Jesus
Apostles
Oral Tradition
Epistles
Gospels
Letters
Writings Needed
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Community
Laodicea
Titus
Paul
Colosse
Peter
Galatia
Churches
Matthew
Jewish
Christians
Gentile
Christians
Luke
Writings Written
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Community
Gospel of Luke
Laodicea
Colosse
Titus
Gospel of
Matthew
Book of Galatians
Writings Circulated
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Compilation
Early Church Collected Sacred Writings
Now when this epistle is read
among you, see that it is read
also in the church of the
Laodiceans, and that you likewise
read the epistle from Laodicea.
Colossians 4:16 NKJV
Writings Collected
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Compilation
Spiritual Gifts guided the Church until the
Word could be fully Revealed and Compiled
For we know in part, and we prophesy in
part. But when that which is complete is
come, then that which is in part shall be
done away.
(1 Corinthians 13:9-10 KJV)
Writings Compiled
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Canonization
“Ex Post Facto Authority”
•Canonization approved books already accepted
•Canonization approved books already used in worship
•Canonization approved books already known to be valid
Writings Approved
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Canonization
Over Time 27 New Testament Books
Were Accepted
•Clement of Rome – Recognized 8 Books (A.D. 95)
•Polycarp – Recognized 15 Books (A.D. 108)
•Irenaeus – Mentions 21 Books (A.D. 185)
•Muratorian Canon – All but Hebrews, James, 3 John (A.D. 170)
•Eusebius – Lists 22 Books (A.D. 275)
Writings Recognized
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Canonization
Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria
•First to list all 27 books of the NT (A.D. 367)
•Distinguished canonical from apocryphal
•Rejected “Shepherd of Hermas”
Writings Standardized
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Canonization
The 27 books of the
New Testament are
formally confirmed as
canonical by the Synod
of Carthage in AD 397,
thus recognizing three
centuries of use by
followers of Christ.
Carthage
Letters “Officialized”
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Canonization
By AD 400, the standard of 27 New
Testament books is accepted in the East
and West as confirmed by:




Athanasius
Jerome
Augustine
Three church councils
Augustine
Letters Canonized
1500
BC
1500 BC
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD500
500
ADAD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD 2000
2000
Criteria
Why the Need for a Canon?
Apostasy
Heretics
Competing Writings
Persecution
Gospel of Judas
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Criteria
Apostasy:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some
will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits
and doctrines of demons,
(1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV)
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Criteria
Heretics:
Also from among yourselves men will
rise up, speaking perverse things, to
draw away the disciples after themselves.
(Acts 20:30 NKJV)
Marcion’s Canon
•Excommunicated in 144 A.D.
•Rejected OT God and OT
•Established his own church.
•Established own “canon of scripture.”
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
Marcion (c.144)
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
Luke
Galatians
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Romans
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
Ephesians
Colossians
Philemon
Philippians
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Criteria
Various Examples
Competing Writings
•Some produced by Heretical Groups
•Some by uninspired church leaders
Assumption of Moses
Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of James
Epistle of Barnabus
Apocalypse of Peter
Apocalypse of Paul
The Didache
Shepherd of Hermas
1 and 2 Clement
•Some produced by Gnostics
•Scores produced in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Criteria
Persecution
For what “Truth” shall we die?
Diocletian’s persecution of Christians from A. D. 303-306
included the confiscating and destroying of New Testament
books. This persecution motivated the church to sort through
and settle on which books were really Scripture and which
books were worth suffering for.
1500
BC
1500 BC
1500
BC
500
500 BC
BC
500
BC
AD
AD1
AD11
AD
AD
500
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
AD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
AD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
AD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
AD
2000
Criteria
Criteria for Books to be Accepted
1. Written by an Apostle (ex: Paul, Peter)
2. Written by a student of an Apostle (ex: Luke)
3. Must accord with known apostolic writings
4. Was it accepted by leading congregations
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
ow We Got the
ible
Evidence of a Closed Canon
The Apostle’s Warning
Inspired Apostles
The Apostles took part in setting the limits of Scripture
We ask you not to be soon shaken in
mind or troubled, either by spirit or by
word or by letter, as if from us, as
though the day of Christ had come.
(2 Thessalonians 2:2 NKJV)
1500BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
1
AD1
AD
AD500
500
ADAD
1000
1000
ADAD
1500
1500
ADAD
1900
1900
AD
AD2000
2000
Divinely Ordained Safeguards
Inspired Apostles
Spiritual Gifts
“When That Which Is Complete is Come”
1 Cor 13:10
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
The Life of Paul
Paul’s Ministry
Paul’s Epistles
Book of Acts
13
1
Paul’s Epistles and other books about Paul written
during his lifetime give evidence of a closed
New Testament Canon
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
Peter Regards Paul as Inspired
Paul’s Ministry
Peter’s Influential Testimony
Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto
you; As also in all his epistles . . . which they that are unlearned and
unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own
destruction.
(2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV)
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
Other Apostles Writings
Apostolic Authors
John’s Writings
4
Peter’s Writings
2
The apostolic writings of John and Peter give evidence
of a closed NT Canon
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
Paul Quotes Matthew and/or Luke
Other Inspired Authors
1 Timothy 5:18
For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not
muzzle the ox that treadeth out the
corn. And, The labourer is worthy of
his reward.
Deut 25:4
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
Mt 10:10 or Luke 10:7
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
Internal Claims and Unity
Other Inspired Authors
Apostles guided into ALL truth – Jn 14:26
Jude says The Faith is delivered – vs. 3
Peter says we have ALL for Life – 2 Pet 1:3
Paul prohibits other Revelation – Gal 1:6ff
The unity that Hebrews, Jude, James, and Mark has with
other known apostolic books attest to a closed canon.
1500 BC
BC
1500
500
500 BC
BC
AD
AD11
AD
AD 500
500
AD
AD1000
1000
ADAD1500
1500
ADAD1900
1900
AD
2000
AD 2000
The Assumption of Scholars
1. The Canon process took several hundred years.
2. The Canon was not settled until long after Spiritual Gifts
ceased.
3. The Canon came about via “natural means.”
4. The disputed books were unknown to “true believers.”
5. Those who disputed various books were “true
believers.”
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed,
the son of perdition;
2 Thess 2:3
If the Canon Is Not Closed . . .
1. Then Continual Revelation is Possible
2. Then Additional Guidance is Probable
3. Then Religious Chaos is Inevitable
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth
therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work,
this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Jas 1:25