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16391020 the New Testament Canon

16391020 the New Testament Canon

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The New Testament Canon

What is a canon? From Greek: a model, rule, or standard; a defined list of authoritative scriptures. Why is it important to know how the New Testament canon was formed? Knowing “how we got the Bible” helps us answer basic questions and correct wrong ideas. We can identify Gnostic gospels and uninspired books. Throughout history, there have been stories similar to Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code that rely in part on books or interpretations of history that are forgeries. For example, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas, both of which claim to be “secret” gospels or contain secret wisdom (gnosis). We know the Holy Spirit, not man, gave us the Bible as we have it today. Everything we believe about Jesus and the Good News is based on the Bible, and we believe the Bible is the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the authors of the New Testament to write and worked through the early church to bring together the New Testament canon. What factors helped speed the formation of the New Testament canon? Several factors encouraged Christians to discuss and decide amongst themselves which books should be considered scripture. • Heresies. The famous heretic Marcion compiled his own list of books in Rome around 140 A.D., including edited versions of Luke and Paul’s epistles, but rejecting other books. In order to argue doctrine against such heretics, Christians needed to know which books could be relied upon for true doctrine. Forgeries. In the second, third, and fourth centuries, books suddenly “appeared” that claimed to be lost or secret works written by early Christian leaders. A definite list of New Testament scripture would help to protect the church against these false books. Persecution. In 303 A.D., the emperor Diocletian ordered that all Christian scriptures be collected and burned in order to promote official religion. This edict lasted for 10 years and carried a possible death sentence for those who tried to hide sacred writings. This law encouraged Christians to discuss which books were truly inspired and worthy of protecting with their lives.

Who choose the books of the New Testament canon? As there was no centralized church authority in the early church, believers everywhere recognized the importance of following the doctrine and traditions laid down by the churches that were founded by apostles, called apostolic churches. These churches included Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, and Philippi. The books of the New Testament were recognized as inspired very early, but the church needed a long time to agree on the specifics. A document written around 170 A.D. called the Muratorian fragment lists all the canonical New Testament books except Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, and 3 John. In 367 A.D., Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, was

Romans. and Asia) also eventually accepted those books.D. The first test of New Testament scripture was whether it represented the teachings of the 12 disciples of Jesus or other apostles such as Paul or James. 2 Peter 3:15-16). ○ Letters to churches. but narrowly focus on who Jesus was. These are letters written by Paul during the course of his ministry and are probably the earliest New Testament documents written. and viewpoints that were lacking in the earlier Synoptic Gospels. For example. such as 1 Clement. Universality. Acts. the Lord’s brother. stories. Inspiration. Content. Mark. some are letters. The New Testament books needed to deal with spiritual matters. The superiority of our New Testament books over other books in terms of content is clear when compared.D. why He came. Galatians. Later church councils confirmed the canon. and one is a type of prophesy called an apocalypse. Books considered as New Testament scripture needed to have the mark of inspiration from God. Ephesians. and 75 A. Philippians. and what He did to give us salvation. • • • What books are included in the New Testament canon? The New Testament is 27 short writings in Greek.” Some books which were widely recognized as authentic were not included in the New Testament canon because they were written by the “second generation” of Christian leaders after the apostles. • • . Written between 60 A. Probably written before or around 90 A. Colossians. • The Gospels. What criteria were used to choose the New Testament canon? • Apostolic authority. consensus or nearconsensus among apostolic churches about the authenticity of a book was a very important consideration. Pauline Epistles.D. ○ Matthew. Egypt. Because there was no central authority.D. The Synoptic Gospels were written based on oral tradition (1 Cor 15:3-4) and possibly early collections of the sayings of Jesus. They are not biographies of Jesus in a formal sense. ○ The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John. 2 Thes 2:15. Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because they share a common view of the Good News. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. This is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke and provides a history of the spread of Christianity in the 30 years following Jesus’ death and resurrection in 27 A. These books present the Good News of Christianity. It was because some books were so widely accepted by Western churches that the Eastern church (Syria. 1 and 2 Corinthians.the first to propose a list of 27 books that are the same as we have today in our Bible. this gospel fills in unique teachings. the Gospel of Mark was considered to have the authority of Peter because tradition held that Mark compiled Peter’s “memoirs. They were saved and distributed among churches and treated as scripture at an early date (Col 4:16. Some are histories.

the Lord’s brother.D. 145 A. and 3 John. James was written early. 1 and 2 Timothy.D. and which Paul warned about in his earlier letters.” Revelation. 2. and 90 A. ○ James. There is a slight difference in style between the two letters. An anonymous letter written to Christians in Italy around 70 A. The first letter was widely recognized and is of the same style and viewpoint as the gospel according to John. • Epistle of Barnabas. and possibly from Rome.D. but not included in the New Testament canon? • 1 and 2 Clement. around 95 A. by “Jude.• • • ○ Letters to individuals (Pastoral Epsitles). ○ Jude. . Hebrews. 120 A. ○ 1. • The Didache.D. The Book of James is the earliest New Testament book. either the apostle or some other John. Written between 65 A.D. and 110 A. but all the others were written relatively late compared to other New Testament writings. 1 and 2 Peter must have been written before Peter’s martyrdom around 65 A. • Shepherd of Hermas. written around 45 A. Titus. 140 A. Philemon. These letters were addressed to Christians in general. Some people believed it was a cover letter for the gospel. 170 A. ○ 1 and 2 Peter.D. These latter letters deal with false teachings that have arisen in the church.D. Teaching of the Apostles or the Two Ways. around 90 A. not to particular individuals or churches.D.D. • Apocalypse of Peter. General Epistles. What books were considered for. It was written by John. 2 and 3 John were disputed by some early church leaders because the author describes himself as John the presbyter or elder.D. This book is a specific genre called an apocalypse (the other apocalypse in the Bible is the Book of Daniel).D. Written between 90 A. 130 A.D.D. • Acts of Paul.D. very late.

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