November 25, 2020

Open Mic at the iMonk Cafe: Where Was The Canon Hiding? And How Did You Find It?

IM friend Ragamuffin was recently in a debate with some sisters who claim that Roman Catholics are not Christians, don’t worship Jesus, etc., and the subject of the canon came up. His conversation partner, “pilgrimsdaughter,” covered a lot of topics, such as a kind of Landmark view of the church, and then got around to the canon.

Here’s her statement:

As to whether the RCC gave us the doctrine of the Trinity, the Canon, the understanding of Christ’s nature, etc.: IF the men that finalized those ideas and wrote them formally as church doctrines were RC and not just simply churchmen, that still does not negate the fact that all those things were already understood by the Apostles and early believers and WRITTEN IN SCRIPTURE, where I and any other believer can find them. As to the canon, that was understood well before any council finalized it.

Now I actually agree with pilgrimsdaughter that the Trinity and the natures of Christ are data in scripture, but I believe this data, like any other statement in scripture, isn’t in a confessional form in the original texts and was later put in confessional, doctrinal form to be affirmed as “those things which must be believed.”

But the statement on scripture is a puzzler. Did the early Christians have a sense of inspired writings? Absolutely. Did they call these writings scripture? Yes, but was there complete agreement on the canon? No. Was there a process of canonical formation that debated, included and excluded? What part did the church as a whole play in canonization?

What happens when individual conservative evangelicals declare themselves to be their own authority on the issue of the canon of scripture? How does a Protestant who deems church councils to be the instruments of an apostate church defend their own idea of canon? Where was the canon of the New Testament when it “existed” before any church council? Where was it hiding and how do we find it if we ignore Catholicism?

So if you reject the finalization of the canon as the actions of an apostate church, what do you tell a Mormon about his canon? “That’s not in my Bible?”


  1. (whisper) “Thank you.” You are a voice of sanity in a wildneress of ignorance. I just gauls me when I read closed minded statements like you quoted. Sorry, I confess. Love hasn’t won over that part of my mental state. It’s working, but (phew) ignorant talk like that is simply crazy.

    Now that I got that off my chest. Great comments as usual Monk.

  2. Memphis Aggie says

    Excellent topic! May I ask how is the concept of Sola Scriptura and Canon definition by a Consular Authority reconciled? I’ve never heard the reasoning behind removing Tobit or Wisdom or the other books. There must be reasons.

  3. beeeep Aaah, we’re ready for a wild ride, Houston beeeep strapped in, and uh, ready for liftoff, over beeeep

  4. Memphis Aggie says

    LOL Alan

  5. I have been struggling with the issue of Canon for some time that stems from some craziness I went through with studying some wild eschatology.

    I am definitely of the ilk that used to ignorantly accept the idea of “the canon” without being informed.

    What is a good suggested starting point for this study? I currently find myself reading the Bible as follows, “God, I trust that you got this book here to me today, please use these words to teach me. Regardless of what, how, why – please teach me.” Is this foolish?

    I feel like my lack of real confidence in how the scripture got to me today is a faith issue? Really confusing. I ask other Christians, and I get alot of blank answers and stares.

    I would be more than open to constructive feedback here.

  6. I can see a potential storm brewing. So let me ask everyone to please not head into a Protestant/Catholic debate. We can acknowledge our differences and give brief responses, but please leave out the major dissertations and any polemic.

    IOWs, let’s try to be fourth century in this discussion please.

    Aggie: You might want to check the status of the idea of the Jewish canon in the time of Jesus. Were those books in the LXX?

  7. +Alan

    Don’t worry too much – MS is a great Pilot – he’ll make sure we don’t crash – Just hang around for the roller coaster!

  8. Memphis Aggie says

    From a very quick check it appears Tobit and Wisdom were in the LXX – (not being a scholar on the Bible you might want more authoritative confirmation than Wikipedia and a couple of websites). In any case, you just gave one good reason or criteria: was Book X in the Scriptures as understood by Jews in the time of Christ?

  9. This honestly is one of those subjects where I find the claims of Protestants the least convincing and the claims of the RCC the most plausible.

    Sure, there were a lot of books floating around being treated as Scripture before the 3rd Council of Carthage formalized the canon. But many of the books being treated as Scripture prior to 397AD didn’t make the cut in the end. And some churches either didn’t have, know about and/or consider as Scripture other books that did make the cut. There were disagreements over Hebrews, James, III John and other books depending on who you were talking to. So for her to say that the canon “was understood well before any council finalized it” just doesn’t withstand historical scrutiny.

    Someone had to decide on which books were in and which ones were out and they not only had to make such a decision but have the authority to make such a decision binding. That someone happened to be the Catholic/Orthodox church, whether Protestants like it or not. What you do with the realization that you’ve trusted the church at that time to make such a decision is up to you.

  10. For those of us who are not scholars of the Canon and the background issues involved. Is there a Website, essay, something to help bring us up to speed?

  11. I think we can say it was “the” church at the time, and all keep our suppositions about that church behind the line of fire. That’s my point in the post. The writer is rejecting the authority of church councils in favor of what?

  12. Josh did a whole post on this subject for me, and the first link has an archive of info.

  13. The [ Canon ] was certainly not recognized as such before it was discerned and listed by a Council. The trouble some have is with a Council having simply declared, “this is the canon of Scripture – here you go.” I’m thinking it was a bit more complicated than that – owing to how long it took for someone, or a collective of someones, to see the need to do so, partly anyway.

    It seems it was more discerned with the help of the Holy Spirit, and not only in that chamber, but among all the churches. There were many letters/writings being circulated, but not as many were accepted and commonly read in the churches. The leaders (episkopoi and presbyteroi) came together with their respective lists, letters, thoughts, etc. They prayed, discussed, listened to the Spirit, and eventually came to recognize “inspiration” where it was.

    But the “books” were being read before the Council. The Word of God was being discerned along the way in the churches as they were being read and lived out. But it seems there had to come a point at which a statement had to be made, so whatever relative confusion there was, could be quelled – and so it was. Was the canon “hiding”? Maybe – it was at least there, in the Church, among the churches, not yet pulled together.

  14. I think we can say it was “the” church at the time, and all keep our suppositions about that church behind the line of fire. That’s my point in the post. The writer is rejecting the authority of church councils in favor of what?

    Oh, all I meant by that was that the council was several centuries prior to anything the would closely resemble 16th century Protestantism. In other words, it was decided by a church that believed a lot of stuff we Protestants now reject.

    But regardless, to your question at the end…I really don’t have any idea who or what she thinks declared or told us the books to be included in infallible Scripture prior to that. It certainly didn’t drop out of the sky with a note attached.

  15. There is a lot of debate on this, but many scholars will say there was no official “canon” of Jewish scripture until a few rabbis met at the council of Jamnia (Javneh?) in around 90AD. The story goes that due to the conflict with the Christians the rabbi’s rejected the apocrypha because they came after the writings of the prophets. They really only accepted the Pentateuch as the true canon and the rest as writings of the prophets and psalmists. The Hebrew canon was a desputed issue depending on which Jewish sect you belong to. The Pharisees were divided as were the Sadducees, scribes and just about any other major Jewish group represented.
    Hebrew scholars prior to Christ wrote the Septuagint (LXX) which included what is called by the Roman Catholic Church as the Deutero-canonical books. They translated it into the common greek of the day. The Orthodox Bible includes a larger set of books which they hold as scripture, but they consider them not as reliable as the rest of the accepted canon.
    Jesus and the apostles probably used the Septuagent and many scholars will produce quotes from those books in the New Testament. I’m not convinced as a lot of the quotes could come from any non-biblical source. But Michael is right. This is a tangled mess and up for dispute depending on which side of the fence you camp on. As for me, I accept the name deutero-canonicals over the apocrypha, but similar to the Orthodox, not as important or as reliable as what we have in the Protestant Bible. Sorry Michael, I haven’t learned to be succinct. Good resources are Matthew Gallatin, an Orthodox scholar, Thomas Hopko, an Orthodox priest and scholar, as well as others you can listen to and find further links at

  16. William Sutton says

    The Book of Enoch is quoted verbatim in Jude… So at the very least, I thought that it is worth reading to have an understanding of what the writer was referencing.
    My own thinking was that I would get a better understanding of writings that Jude takes for granted that I am familiar with…
    When reading it (Enoch), I was presented a much more fleshed-out account of the pre-flood earth, the fall of the angels, etc….
    But what makes Jude “canon” and Enoch pseudepigraha?

  17. Friendly reminder: Please address the subject of the post.

  18. Radagast says

    The Septuagint, which was widely circulated during the time of Jesus and Paul contained the old testament books that were later removed by the reformers. It is interesting to note that the scrolls found at Quarum had some of these writings among the old testmant scrolls as well.

    The council of Jamnia (or at least the time period of around 90 AD) sought to create a Hebrew Canon partly to remove those writings that they felt had hellenistic influences. Those writings included those written in greek which would have included Paul’s writings and the Gospels.

    Certainly the four Gospels and Paul’s Letters were accepted from the beginning but other new testament books took some time to be accepted and some moved in and out of the list. The Shepherd of Hermas was one such book. It is interesting to know that it took a long time for John’s Revelations to be fully accepted. So – yes the canon took a while to develop and wasn’t fully closed by Catholics until the Council of Trent. Interesting to note that the Orthodox never officially closed the Canon. I believe the Book of Enoch is accepted as inspired by the Ethiopian Church.

    The whole Catholics are not Christian and don’t believe in Jesus thing smacks of some huge ignorance in Christian history. I won’t even bother to discuss this with anyone who hasn’t made any effort to understand Jewish and Christian history because it becomes a discussion of feelings intead.

    My two cents…

  19. Radagast: The idea of a “council” to create a Hebrew canon is one with considerable scholarly controversy. I think we can be much more confident in a broad sense of “scripture” than we can in a restricted sense of “canon.”

    Many scholars don’t believe Jamnia is historical, but is shorthand for a movement.

  20. Mark Nikirk says

    As a reference. The third episode of the Hermeneutics and Bibliology class of the Theology Program provides a great overview of the bible and how we see its place in church authority. Its available via iTunes.

  21. sue kephart says

    My understanding is the deuterocanonical were never canonized in the Jewish canon. Although they were certainly read as part of the Book. That is why they were removed by the Protestant reformers. I also have been told the RC and Orthodox Churches do not give them the same weight as other Scripture.

    Some Protestant Churches have begun using them. Mine included.

    Many books that had some popularity and validity were not included in the canon. I can think of the Gospel of St. Bartholomew off the top of my head.

    I believe those Churchmen who choose the canon books were trying to be as open to the Holy Spirit as possible.

  22. Radagast says

    The deuterocanonicals are given the same weight in the Catholic Church since Trent.

    I find it interesting when I hear that the Trinity and other concepts were always in scripture for all to see. At one time the number of Bishops that believed in the Trinity as opposed to Arian thought could be counted on one hand. There was much blood, sweat and tears in building the foundation of what we believe today, yet so many take it for granted. If it was always there for all to see then there would not have been such great debates in concepts like the Trinity, the Incarnation etc. To believe otherwise means that someone has never done their homework.

  23. I find it interesting that the book of Revelation, while finally accepted by the Orthodox, is never used in the liturgy of worship.

  24. The biggest problem with any consideration of Jamnia is that it was a gathering (“council”) of Jewish Rabbis AFTER the Resurrection of Jesus, inside the Church era. Sooooo, why are Christians looking to this as authoritative in any way for our discernment purposes? I’ve always found that very odd.

    Radagast is right – no separation between the “deuterocanonical” books and the other books of Scripture in the Catholic Church – and they are all Old Testament books for those who may not be familiar. Most seem to be, but I just wanted to make sure that was in the mix.

  25. Is there anything outside the most credible books that we cannot find in them?

    For example, I love the book of Hebrews, but think I could teach all of the concepts that are in it from the OT and the Gospels. Paul’s writings would just make it all the easier.

    I think a good study in the way the canon (or canons) were decided would make us all a lot humbler.

    If we have some books in our canon that should not be included or are “missing” some books that should be included I don’t think it is nearly as scary as some people act. It might make it harder to win fights and beat people over the head with the bible, but that might not be a bad thing.

  26. Ky Boy but not now says

    “To believe otherwise means that someone has never done their homework.”

    I’ve some to realize that my church related social circle(s) have somewhat shrunk over the last few years. For those that remain we are open to and frequetnly discussion issues of the gray in such areas as the canon. Most of the ones who have left “our group” want simple answers to all questions so they can “know” the answer.

  27. treebeard says

    I always found it interesting that the apostle Peter refers to the writings of the apostle Paul as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:15-16). So Peter must have had a realization at the time that Paul’s writings were the word of God, as sacred as the Old Testament. (Or am I wrong about this?)

    Yet aren’t there indications that Paul wrote letters that are not included in the canon (and are not preserved)? I seem to recall that he wrote a third, earlier letter to Corinth, and that he wrote a letter to Laodicea.

  28. D.H. Williams has been very helpful to me in seeing two things:

    1) Scripture was used of a lot of books and writings that were never considered canonical.

    2) Scripture does not equal canonical.

  29. treebeard says

    Interesing, iMonk. I have never heard that before. Could you say a little more?

  30. D.H. Williams teaches patristics at Baylor. In his book on the canon he cites lots of examples of Jewish and Christian writers calling all kinds of thing “scripture” that never made it into anyone’s canon. Just a reminder not to read our categories back into the Bible.

  31. treebeard says

    That is helpful knowledge. Thanks. It’s a good reminder to me that I shouldn’t take things for granted.
    I’ll look up Williams.

  32. Sorry, that’s Craig Allert’s book on Canon. It’s in a series edited by Williams.

  33. Michael: The word for “scripture” in the scriptures is grafe, literally meaning “writing.” It doesn’t necessarily mean inspired writing; but the tendency of folks back then (and today) is to figure if it’s in print, it’s to some degree authoritative. You’re right; “scripture” doesn’t equal canonical.

    But to the topic: In my experience, the only people that have a problem with the idea that the early Catholics determined the canon would be people who are so absolutely anti-Catholic that they think the church went apostate the instant the canon was completed. At that point, we’re no longer dealing with logic and any understanding of history. We’re dealing with irrational prejudice and whatever crazy arguments they can find to support it.

    Even the dispensationalists (whom I consider flawed in their understanding of the bible) have no problem with the idea of early Catholics determining the canon. Quoting C.I. Scofield: “The early apostolic church received the N.T. scriptures as the inspired word of God as they were written, though formal recognition of the entire canon came more slowly.”

  34. To separate the canonization of the New Testament from the Catholic / Orthodox Church is the same as trying to separate the Old Testament from Judaism and the Jews.It cannot be done.To believe so is an exercise in make believe.Every reference to the Ancient Church reveals a liturgical, sacramental Church. Lutheranism ,Calvinism and protestantism of any kind would not exsit were it not for the meticulous care, protection ,study and translation that Catholic and Orthodox monks exercised for the perpetuity of the scriptures.To say or believe anything apart from that truth eliminates anyone from truthful credibity. Therefore , Catholicism and Orthodoxy cannot be ignored by anyone except the ignorant who willingly choose to stick their heads in the sand like an ostrich. I cannot understand how Calvinists and Reformed folk can claim Augustine for their early church calvinist posterboy when if in fact He did come to their church proclaiming what He believes He would be tossed out of their church as a heretic. Augustine was more Catholic than B-16.[mod edit] Th canonization of scripture cannot go around this hump.

  35. I cannot accept the premise that just because something is ‘There for everyone to see’ there would be no dispute about it.

  36. Radagast says


    “Radagast: The idea of a “council” to create a Hebrew canon is one with considerable scholarly controversy. I think we can be much more confident in a broad sense of “scripture” than we can in a restricted sense of “canon.”

    Many scholars don’t believe Jamnia is historical, but is shorthand for a movement.”

    I was alluding to that a bit but since I was short on time (I should never post when I am in haste) my words didn’t sufficiently convey…

  37. Radagast says

    “Yet aren’t there indications that Paul wrote letters that are not included in the canon (and are not preserved)? I seem to recall that he wrote a third, earlier letter to Corinth, and that he wrote a letter to Laodicea.”

    Paul’s writings are interesting. Scholars attribute some of the letters directly to him, some as influenced by him. Hebrews was included partly because it was initially thought to be one of Paul’s. Some believe Corinthians actually contains the third letter, others believe we have the first and third and are missing the second.

    The other interesting thing is that scripture in both the old and new testament refers to books that are either no longer extant or are not canonical. Someone above referenced the Book of Enoch as an example.

  38. Radagast says

    I think one thing that is important is that Jesus was familiar with a form of the Septuagint when he was preaching or at least the Gospel Writers seem to quote more often from this than the Hebrew translation, and of course some quotes came from neither translation but from a third translation or cheat sheet that was different than both (spent time reading about the Qumran scrolls)….

    And the Septuagint contained the deuterocanonicals. That does not mean they were not debated in the early church. And even the reformers, considering them less or not inspired, still kept them with scripture, they just moved them to the back. Later generations would drop them and forget about them altogether…

  39. Radagast says

    Why do Catholics and Orthodox cross themselves? Part ofthat had to do with identifying oneself with the Orthodox tradition of the Trinity. Bringing up the Trinity was fighting words, especially in the eastern church.

  40. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtullian says

    Maybe we should look at ALL our canons (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant) as the products of church tradition. Orthodox and Catholic writers see the development of the Bible as part of an ongoing process of church tradition. Protestants in fact get their view of Christianity from a similar family of traditions, which distances itself from its liturgical predecessors in much the same way that Christianity has become distinct from, yet homages, its ancient Jewish forebears.

    A few years ago there was a novel about the discovery of a lost gospel by Jesus’s brother, which refuted many ideas of Christianity, and a plot to kill the discoverers. In real life there are many such documents–most recently the “Gospel of Judas” which National Geographic published–though few with much claim to historical credibility. (The Gospel of Thomas being the top runner-up.) If one was ever found, though, I think the churches would go on as usual. What they do, and the way Jesus thought and lived, are already understood to be pretty different.

    In theory, Protestants believing in sola scriptura ought to be responsible for doing their own analysis of the canon as well as the interpretation thereof. (Martin Luther wanted to throw out, what was it, the Epistle of James?) In fact, they generally go along with the crowd, and disagree mainly in their choice of crowds. True dissidents (Spong anybody?) are seen as cranks–people wonder why they choose this church, believing as they do, rather than admiring them for interpreting the scriptures with full freedom and enthusiasm.

  41. One of the most helpful books on this point is John Barton’s “Holy Writings, Sacred Texts” though I think his basic premise is flawed. The idea of a fixed “canon” is a modern concept (even Post-Trent, I would posit), trying to force how the early Church viewed sacred writings into the parameters of “canon” is to fundamentally misunderstand how sacred texts were used and considered authoritative. But Barton does point out that “authoritative texts” were viewed on a sliding scale, the four Gospels and the major epistles were considered authoritative from an early time in many places, but there were many texts which could fall either way for centuries. And many texts which fell outside the canon continued to influence Christian theology anyways.

    Another book that looks helpful on this subject is “Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective” edited by Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov. I haven’t read it yet, but it appears to have a good discussion on the LXX.

    To throw in my $0.02, in my view most Protestants, especially Landmark ones, actually have a pretty screwed up view on Second Temple Judaism and Early Christian theology. The “extra-canonical” literature, both OT and NT, gives us a perspective on the people who read Scripture at the time Christian theology was being formulated, hence it is absolutely invaluable if we are to accurately understand Church history.

  42. For the person who thought that Jesus and the apostles “probably used the Septuagint”……well, I’m not so sure of that……….or that Jesus and any of the actual apostles could read or write Greek. Aramaic — for sure — and Hebrew — likely, if some of the apostles could read at all, but Greek — no evidence.

  43. Louisiana Catholic says


    Your intutition is correct that the development of the Canon was something that the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of course, occurrred over time.

    The notion that the first generations of Christians had a NT is untenable. If we just look at Christ’s paschal mystery (passion, death, resurrection, and ascension) at around 30 AD, we know that the first generation (20 year period) of Christians had no NT writing at all as Biblical scholarship indicates that St. Paul’s First letter to the Thessalonians was the first NT work written in around 49 AD. The Gospel of Mark was written around 64 AD, while the Gospels of MT and Luke were written between 70-80 AD, and the Gospel of John at around 90-95 AD. So from this basic outline provided above, the first 3 generations of Christians did not have the Gospel of John..

    Here is a detailed link on the development of the NT Canon from (a Catholic site in the spirit of full disclosure), but one that is well researched in all aspects of the NT canon.

    The formation of the Canon becomes an issue during the 2nd century when the Catholic Church and those with orthodox doctrine had doctrinal conflicts with the Gnostics. Marcion, a leader of the Gnostics, proposed that the NT should be defined as only St. Luke’s Gospel and 10 of St. Paul’s 13 letters and he wanted the OT rejected all together [he also believed the God of the OT was not the same God of the NT as the OT God created the world, i.e. anti-matter Gnostics]. The Church of Rome rejected Marcion’s canon and as the “Anglican Patristic and Church History Scholar” Henry Chadwick notes he was excommunicated there in 144 AD (The Penguin History of the Early Church, Revised Edition, page 39). Jaroslav Pelikan in Volume 1 of his 5 Volume work “The Christian Tradition, written while he was a Lutheran [he later became Eastern Orthodox] describes Marcion’s Gnostic doctrines and how the Church dealt with it. He concluded by stating “this makes Marcion an important figure not only in the history of the development of doctrine, but also the history of both the text and the canon of the New Testament” (p. 79).

    So, it is clear that around the time of Marcion’s excommunication by the Church of Rome in 144 AD, the idea of a complete NT, as we know it today, is not present. On the other hand, I think the evidence is consistent with the Church of Rome exercising a form of Primacy in defending the Apostolic Tradition from Gnosticism and starting to more formally define the NT canon. Thus, the authority of the Church would thus become important in formulating the Canon. Again, The Anglican Patristic Scholar Chadwick writes (p. 42)

    “The second weapon of the orthodox defense was the gradual formation of the New Testament canon. In the first century, the Christian Bible had simply been the Old Testament (read in the Septuagint version). Authority resided in this scripture and in oral traditions, as in apparent in the letter of Clement to the Corinthians.”

    Chadwick notes that oral tradition was viewed as an authority that had not yet been merged into a written document (i.e. the Scripture). However, he notes that Maricion and other Gnostic controversies provided an impetus for the Church to recognize which written documents contained authentic apostolic tradition. Thus, St. Justin Martyr, who died circa 155 AD. provided an orthodox Church father who attested to MT, MK, and LK. These gospels seemed to be recognized much earlier than John, which was met with resistance. It wasn’t until Irenaeus (185 AD) that John became recognized. Chadwick points out that “strict application of apostolic authority” by the Church of Rome led to the exclusion of the book of Hebrews, which would not be admitted until the 4th century. Chadwick cites the Muratorian fragment, written in 200 AD as the first canonical list of the early Church, which was published by the Church of Rome. The Muratorian fragment lists 23 of the 27 books in the NT (1 and 2 Peter, Hebrews, James are not listed). In addition, he lists the Revelation of John, but states it should not be read in Church [thus it was also still disputed at that point in time].

    Over the next 200 years, the formation of the Canon would continue. Origen [185 to 254 AD] gives a description of the canon in the 3rd century from the Church of Alexandria, and we see that Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude, all which would become part of the NT, and Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and probably the Gospel of the Hebrews, were all disputed. The evidence here suggests that some books that would eventually not be recognized were in fact viewed as canonical as late as the time of Origen. In his history of the Church Eusebius, written between 300 and 325 AD, he gives us a clear picture of the state of the Biblical canon. He points out that Peter’s first epistle, in which Mark is mentioned, was composed in Rome itself and Peter indicates this himself referring to Rome figuratively as Babylon. Thus, Eusebius indicates that 1 Peter is agreed upon while 2 Peter is not canonical, but it is studies with other scriptures. The fourteen of Paul are obvious and certain, but he notes that Hebrews is disputed saying that it was rejected by the Church at Rome as not being Paul. Eusebius goes on to point out that the 4 gospels should be put in first place, followed by the Acts of the Apostles then the epistles of Paul, 1 John and then 1 Peter. After those, if it is desirable, then perhaps Revelations can be put in.

    However, he then goes on to show that there are several disputed books. He lists James, Jude, and once again 2 Peter. He also points out that 2 John and 3 John are disputed. Finally, he goes back and points out that Revelation (the Apocalypse of John) are rejected by some, while others include it as canonical. In summary, Eusebius’s account gives us a clear picture that the New Testament canon was not completely formed by 325 AD.
    Of course, over the next 75 years the process was completed.. St. Athanasius’ 39th Easter letter lists the 27 New Testament books and 40 of the 46 Old Testament books that would be in the Catholic Canon (Baruch was included, the other 6 deuterocanonical books are admitted there use as devotional reading. The Council in Rome in 382 led by Pope Damasus, along with St. Jerome, listed the 46 books of the OT and 27 NT that are in the Catholic Bible today. While there is some historical disputes as to what was actually in Pope Damasus’s Decree, as most of the details of Pope Damasus and the Synod in Rome in 382 comes from a 6th century writing, although there are 4th and 5th century writings in the 6th century text, it is also clear that Jerome’s completed Latin Vulgate Translation consisted of all the books that are in the Catholic Canon today. The Councils of Hippo and Carthage, 393 and 397 AD, respectively are consistent with Rome in 382. The Council of Trent, (1534 to 1565) reaffirmed the Catholic Canon of the 4th century.


  44. Louisiana Catholic says


    Edit to my own post, With respect to Origen, I meant to say Letter to the Hebrews, not Gospel to the Hebrews.


  45. “The “extra-canonical” literature, both OT and NT, gives us a perspective on the people who read Scripture at the time Christian theology was being formulated, hence it is absolutely invaluable if we are to accurately understand Church history.”

    Nicely written….

  46. I would recommend Keith Mathison’s article on this subject – “Solo Scriptura – The Difference a Vowel Makes” in Modern Reformation.

    Here is the link:

  47. Jim:

    For the person who thought that Jesus and the apostles “probably used the Septuagint”……well, I’m not so sure of that……….or that Jesus and any of the actual apostles could read or write Greek. Aramaic — for sure — and Hebrew — likely, if some of the apostles could read at all, but Greek — no evidence.

    But the Gospel writers… absolutely! Also remeber that Galilee, Samarea and parts of Judea had pools of Jews surrounded by hellenized cities and towns. Much Greek abounded in that region – hence the hellenized Jews like Stephen. Also remeber that PAul was fluent in Greek…

  48. MODERATOR to Louisiana Catholic: Way, way too long. The link was sufficient.

  49. I don’t suppose saying we abandoned the post is going to make any difference.

    I’m not going to turn on moderation, but if I get up in the morning and this has heated up into an argument I’m closing comments.


  50. “IOWs, let’s try to be fourth century in this discussion please.”

    What, you mean a church-wide dispute over the Trinity with all sides hurling charges of heresy at each other and then a reversion to state-sponsored paganism under an apostate emperor? 😉