|Bible Research > Canon > Disputed NT Books|
The table below shows which of the disputed New Testament books and other writings are included in catalogs of canonical books up to the eighth century. Y indicates that the book is plainly listed as Holy Scripture; N indicates that the author lists it in a class of disputed books; M indicates that the list may be construed to include the book as Holy Scripture; X indicates that the book is expressly rejected by the author. An S indicates that the author does not mention the book at all, which implies its rejection. See notes on the authorities and books following.
KEY TO BOOKS
|1. Greek & Latin||Date||Heb.||Jas.||Jn.||Pet.||Jude||Rev.||Shep.||Apoc.||Barn.||Clem.|
|Eusebius of Caesarea||324||Y||N||N||N||N||N||X||X||X||S|
|Cyril of Jerusalem||348||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||S||S||S||S|
|Council of Laodicea||363||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||S||S||S||S|
|Gregory of Nazianzus||380||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||S||S||S||S|
|Amphilocius of Iconium||380||Y||N||N||N||N||N||S||S||S||S|
|3rd Council of Carthage||397||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||S||S||S|
|Letter of Innocent I||405||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||X||S||S|
|Decree of Gelasius||550||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||X||S||S||S|
|Isadore of Seville||625||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||S||S||S|
|John of Damascus||730||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||S||S||S||S|
|Report of Junilius||550||Y||N||N||N||N||N||S||S||S||S|
The most satisfactory treatment in English of the Church's New Testament canon is Bruce Metzger's The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987). Still useful is the earlier study by B.F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: MacMillan, 1855; 6th edition 1889; reprinted, Grand Rapids, 1980). For a popular conservative survey see Norman Geisler and William Nix, General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986).
Muratorian Fragment. The oldest known list of New Testament books, discovered by Muratori in a seventh century manuscript. The list itself is dated to about 170 because its author refers to the episcopate of Pius I of Rome (died 157) as recent. He mentions only two epistles of John, without describing them. The Apocalypse of Peter is mentioned as a book which "some of us will not allow to be read in church." See English text.
Origen. An influential teacher in Alexandria, the chief city of Egypt. His canon is known from the compilation made by Eusebius for his Church History (see below). He accepted Hebrews as Scripture while entertaining doubts about its author. See English text.
Eusebius of Caesarea. An early historian of the Church. His list was included in his Church History. He ascribed Hebrews to Paul. See English text.
Cyril of Jerusalem. Bishop of Jerusalem. The omission of Revelation from his list is due to a general reaction against this book in the east after excessive use was made of it by the Montanist cults. See English text.
Cheltenham list. A catalog dating from the middle of the fourth century contained in two medieval Latin manuscripts, probably from Africa. See Latin text with translation.
Council of Laodicea. The authenticity of this list of canonical books has been doubted by many scholars because it is absent from various manuscripts containing the decrees of the regional (Galatian) Council. The list may have been added later. On the omission of Revelation see Cyril of Jerusalem above. See English text.
Athanasius. Bishop of Alexandria. His list was published as part of his Easter Letter in 367. After the list he declares, "these are the wells of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the sayings in these. Let no one add to these. Let nothing be taken away." See English text.
Gregory of Nazianzus. Bishop of Constantinople from 378 to 382. On the omission of Revelation see Cyril of Jerusalem above. See English text.
Amphilocius of Iconium. Bishop of Iconium in Galatia. See English text.
Rufinus. An elder in the church in Aquileia (northeast Italy), and a friend of Jerome. The Latin text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Epiphanius. Bishop of Salamis (isle of Cyprus) from 367 to 402. The Greek text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Jerome. Born near Aquileia, lived in Rome for a time, and spent most of his later life as a monk in Syria and Palestine. He was the most learned churchman of his time, and was commissioned by the bishop of Rome to produce an authoritative Latin version (the Vulgate). The Latin text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Augustine. Bishop of Hippo (in the Roman colony on the northern coast of western Africa). The Latin text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Third Council of Carthage. Not a general council but a regional council of African bishops, much under the influence of Augustine. See English text.
Codex Claromontanus. A stichometric catalog from the third century is inserted between Philemon and Hebrews in this sixth century Greek-Latin manuscript of the epistles of Paul. The list does not have Hebrews, but neither does it have Philippians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and so many scholars have supposed that these four books dropped out by an error of transcription, the scribe's eye jumping from the end of the word ephesious (Ephesians) to the end of ebraious (Hebrews). Besides the books indicated on the table the list includes the apocryphal Acts of Paul. See English text.
Letter of Innocent I. A letter from the bishop of Rome to the bishop of Toulouse. The Latin text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Decree of Gelasius. Traditionally ascribed to Gelasius, bishop of Rome from 492 to 496, and thought to be promulgated by him as president of a council of 70 bishops in Rome, but now regarded by most scholars as spurious, and probably composed by an Italian churchman in the sixth century. The Latin text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Isadore of Seville. Archbishop of Seville (Spain), and founder of a school in that city. His list appears in an encyclopedia he compiled for his students. The Latin text is given in Westcott, appendix D.
John of Damascus. An eminent theologian of the Eastern Church, born in Damascus, but a monk in Jerusalem for most of his life. His list is derived from the writings of Epiphanius. The Greek text is given in Westcott, appendix D. See English text.
Apostolic Canons. One of many additions made by the final editor of an ancient Syrian book of church order called The Apostolic Constitutions. The whole document purports to be from the apostles, but this imposture is not taken seriously by any scholar today. Nevertheless, the work is useful as evidence for the opinions of a part of the Syrian churches towards the end of the fourth century. The list of canonical books was probably added about the year 380. On the omission of Revelation see Cyril of Jerusalem above. See English text.
Peshitta Version. The old Syriac version did not include the four disputed books indicated on the table. These were not generally received as Scripture in the Syrian churches until the ninth century.
Report of Junilius. An African bishop of the sixth century. After visiting the Syrian churches he wrote a work describing their practices, in which his list is given. See Latin text in Westcott, appendix D.
For a brief survey of works of this class and their place in the early Church, see Metzger, ch. 7
The Shepherd of Hermas. A autobiographical tale about a certain Hermas who is visited by an angelic Pastor (Shepherd), who imparts some legalistic teaching to him in the form of an allegory. Written probably in Rome around A.D. 100.
The Apocalypse of Peter. This work expands upon the Olivet discourse (Mat. 24-25) with descriptions of the last judgment and vivid scenes of heaven and hell. Written about A.D. 130.
The Epistle of Barnabas. A legalistic but anti-Jewish discourse on Christian life falsely ascribed to Barnabas, the missionary companion of Paul. Written probably about A.D. 120 in Italy.
The Epistle of Clement. A letter written about A.D. 100 to the church in Corinth from the church in Rome, and traditionally ascribed to Clement of Rome. The author has heard that the disorderly Corinthians have now ousted their elders, and in this letter he urges them to repent of the action.
|Bible Research > Canon > Disputed NT Books|