Originally posted by Iasion
Originally posted by xianh
The new testament was standardized by in 382AD by Pope Damasus I.
This is not very accurate... The canon formed over the 4th century at various councils - Hippo, Carthage, Rome... The FIRST canon to be like ours was
from Athanasius in 367CE.[edit on 6-9-2008 by Iasion]
Iasion is correct for the New Testament writings. The Canonicity of Old Testament writings is not clearly established; the Protestants use the books
established from the Jewish Council of Jamnia, as I understand; The Roman Catholics have a more expansive Deutero-canon (the so-called Old Testament
Apocrypha), and the Eastern Orthodox a still more expansive one.
As for New Testament writings, several of the books now considered Canonical were actually quite controversial, as stated explicitly by Eusebius in
his book The History of the Church
* II Peter
* II John
* III John
* The Apocalypse of John (i.e., Revelation -- a highly contested book)
Eusebius comments on which he
considers genuine Apostolic writings from those he considered to be un-genuine (often translated as spurious).
He also distinguished between the canonical and spurrious books which were controversial but still read in the Churches from those which were
blatantly false or heretical. Thus, all of the books considered Canonical now were not in the false/heretical category.
Some books were not included in the Canon, but were used in many Churches around the world (meaning they were read in the congregations, not as a
"Bible study" or comparative literature), including: I Clement and The Shepherd (Hermas). I Clement is relatively benign, but The Shepherd is quite
a theological work (I have read it and do not myself understand why it is not in the Canon).
Eventually, the books considered Canonical were loosely derived from various Councils of Bishops, and as Iasion clearly states, the first list of New
Testament books that agrees with the modern Canon is found in the 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius of Alexandria, c. 367 C.E. The idea that Apostolic
writings were "Holy Scripture" and revelations had ceased was largely in reaction to early heresies, most notably the Montanist heresy. The Canon
was not set even after the first Ecumenical Council in the year 325 A.D., as evidenced by the writings of Eusebius, but earlier canon lists and
authors do not agree, including:
* Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 120-200 C.E.) -- quoted from I Clement and The Shepherd
* Clement of Alexandria (180-200 C.E.) -- quoted from I Clement, Gospel of the Egyptians, Gospel of the Hebrews, Traditions of Matthias, Preaching of
Peter, Epistle of Barnabas, Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, Apocalypse of Peter
* Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 C.E.) -- omits the Apocalypse of John (and states explicitly that any Gospels other than the 4 now accepted were
* Codex Sinaiticus (300's C.E.) -- includes Epistle of Barnabas, The Shepherd
* Codex Claromontanus (300's? C.E.) -- includes the Acts of Paul, Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, and the Apocalypse of Peter, but omits
* Cheltenham Canon(~300's C.E.) -- omits Hebrews, James
* Synod of Laodicea (~363 C.E.) -- omits the Apocalypse of John
* Apostolic Canons (~380 C.E.) -- omits the Apocalypse of John
* Gregory of Nazianus (329-389 C.E.) -- omits the Apocalypse of John
* Pesh-itta (400's? C.E.) -- omits II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, the Apocalypse of John
* Amphilochius of Iconium (after 394 C.E.) -- specifies that the omissions and inclusions were not universal including listing Hebrews, and omitting
II Peter, II John, III John, the Apocalypse of John
The selection criteria for scripture was two-fold:
1. The Church held traditionally that these writings were of genuine Apostolic authorship
2. The contents of these books agreed with the oral, written, and liturgical tradition of the Church.
So, ironically it was Church tradition that identified the Christian Scriptures. I suspect that this may make some ATS readers uncomfortable... but
it is nevertheless true. Anyone who wants to debate these points, I can provide references (but they were too numerous for this posting).