THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON Definition of CANON Greek KANWNor “measuring stick” • a tool used to determine proper measurement • rule, model, standard, paradigm • a list of Scriptural Books considered to be authoritative, inspired
THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON The Official Collection of 27 Books • 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John • 1 Book of Acts of the Apostles • 14 Epistles of Paul • 7 Catholic Epistles • 1 Revelation
THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON Some Popular Misconceptions • The Books of the New Testament represent a unified tradition • The New Testament Canon has existed since apostolic times • The Apostles collaborated in writing the New Testament Books
SO WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?Focusing on the New Testament Gospels • Why Were the Gospels Written? • When Were the Gospels Written? • Where Were the Gospels Written? • Who Wrote the Gospels? • Why Were Certain Pauline Letters Better Known Earlier than the Gospels?
WHY WERE THE GOSPELS WRITTEN? To Preserve the Teachings of Jesus • Jesus himself wrote nothing • Earliest Christians didn’t write anything; believed in the imminent return of Jesus and the end of the world • James, Peter, Paul killed in the 60’s; Leadership Crisis; Eyewitnesses dying out; many killed by the Romans in 70 CE war
WHEN WERE THE GOSPELS WRITTEN? Between 65 and 95 C.E. • Historical Book of Acts ends in 64 C.E. just before Nero executes Peter & Paul • 65 to 95 C.E. a very obscure period; The Gospels themselves are the only sources of information about themselves • 95 C.E. The Apostolic Fathers begin quoting identifiable parts of the NT Gospels
WHERE WERE THE GOSPELS WRITTEN? Various Locations • After 70 C.E. Destruction of Jerusalem - Jesus’ followers lost their spiritual center • Jesus’ followers dispersed to the great administrative centers of the empire: Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus
After the Holocaust of 70 • NO Centralized Authority or Unifying Organization in the Early Communities • Centers Developed Independently with Great Diversity of Doctrine, Organization, and Literature . . . especially the Gospels • The Church struggled for Centuries to Standardize its Doctrine, Hierarchy, NT Canon, and the Texts of the Gospels
WHO WROTE THE GOSPELS? The Chain of Evidence • Before 65 only Letters of Paul exist; Paul says nothing about the Gospels • 65-95 Gospels written; No other sources • 95-125 “Apostolic Fathers” (bishops) • 130 Papias - the earliest & best witness • 150 Justin Martyr quotes anonymous “Memoires of the Apostles” • 180 Irenaeus identifies 4 Gospels
The “Apostolic Fathers” Clement, Bishop of Rome – 96 CE Wrote (?) long Epistle in Greek “from the Church of Christ at Rometo the Church of Christ at Corinth” • 100+ exact quotations from the Greek OT “the scripture says” “it has been written” • 2 invocations of Jesus’ Logia (Words) - NOT direct quotes/NO Scriptural Formula; NOT from the Canonical Gospels • Knows 1 Corinthians, Romans, Hebrews
The “Apostolic Fathers” 1 Clement 13:2 - Compare to Q “Especially remembering the LOGOI OF THE LORD JESUS which he spoke teaching clemency and long-suffering. For he said: ‘Be merciful so that you might receive mercy; forgive so that it will be forgiven to you; as you give, thus will it be given to you; as you judge, thus you will be judged; as you show goodness, thus will goodness be shown to you; by the measure which you measure out, by it will it be measured out to you.’”
The “Apostolic Fathers” 1 Clement 46:7-8: “Remember the LOGOI OF JESUS, OUR LORD. For he said: ‘Woe to that man. It would have been good for him not to have been born, rather than to scandalize one of my elect. It would have been better for him that a millstone be put around him and be thrown into the sea rather than to pervert one of my elect.’” Mark 9:42 and parallels in Matt/Luke
The “Apostolic Fathers” Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch – 110 CE Wrote 7 Epistles in Greek to Various Churches • Uses the formula “it is written” for 3 OT passages – thus recognized as Scripture • Knows Matthew; but NOT as Scripture • Knows 4 letters associated with Ephesus: 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Timothy 1 and 2
The “Apostolic Fathers” Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch LETTER TO THE SMYRNAEANS 1:1 from Matthew 3:15 (only Matthew) Jesus was “baptized by John so that all righteousness might be fulfilled by him.” Baptism pdf.
The “Apostolic Fathers” The Didache(Teaching) of the 12 Apostles – Late 1st Century CE, Syria, written in Greek • Very early Jewish section (1-6) • Early Christian insertions know Matthew;Others know Common Logia Source used by both Matthew and Luke, not Mark (Q)
The “Apostolic Fathers” Didache - Syria, late 1st century C.E. Didache 8:2 from Matt 6:9f. (only Matthew) “Do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” Matt 6:9//Luke 11:1
The “Apostolic Fathers” Didache - Syria, circa 100 CE Didache 9:5 from Matt 7:6 (only Matthew; GT 93) “Let no one eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord; for to this also the SAYING OF THE LORD is applicable: ‘Do not give that which is holy to the dogs.’”
Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis:The Earliest Witness to the Authorship of Gospels • 130 C.E. Papias wrote a 5-volume book in Greek titled: Exegesis of the Lord’s Logia • Papias’s book is now lost, but two quotations from his book have been preserved in the Church History of Eusebius, 200 years later • Papias derived information on Two Gospels from John the Presbyter (not the Evangelist, but possibly the author of the Apocalypse)
Papias on Mark “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, as many of the things either said or done by the Lord that he remembered. For neither did he hear the Lord, nor did he follow him, but afterwards as I said (followed) Peter, who (?) made the teachings according to the needs, but not like making a composition of the LORD’S LOGIA. So that Mark made no mistake thus having written some things as he recalled; for he was concerned about one thing, to omit nothing of what he heard or to falsify anything in them.”
Papias on Matthew “Matthew, then, composed the LOGIA in the Hebrew dialect, and each one interpreted them as he was able.” The last historical reference to the LOGIA After this the LOGIA Disappear,only Gospels are referred What were the LOGIA ??? What happened to them???
Oxyrhynchus Papyrus I(ca. 200 A.D.)Discovered 1897The Oxyrhynchus Papyri
Judas Twin Twin The Book of Thomas the Contender Prof. J. D. Turner
100 Years after Jesus Lived and Still No Canon - No New Testament • Authoritative Sources of Christian Teaching: • The Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament • The Logia (words/sayings/teachings) of Jesus • Christian Writings known in Certain AreasBut NOT as Authoritative Scripture: • Mark - Matthew - Luke • Several Pauline Letters
130 CE - Marcion vs. Justin Martyr • 132-35 CE – 2nd Jewish War Against Rome • Priests Supplanting Prophets in Authority • Priests Begin to Create Canon of Scripture • Written Documents Replacing Oral Tradition • Authority of the Teaching of Jesus in Gospels Being Transferred to Gospels Themselves • Question arises whether Christians Should Retain the Jewish Scriptures?
Marcion the “Heretic” • Rejected the Hebrew Scriptures • Rejected the God of the Old Testament • Harsh, Cruel, Spiteful, Vindictive, Genocidal • Not Jesus’ Loving Father God • Conceived the First New Testament Canon • Purged of Jewish Elements • Gospel of Luke; Jewish Elements Edited Out • 10 Pauline Letters; Abrogated OT Law
Justin Martyr – 150 CE • Emphasis on Jewish Scriptures • But Only with Christian Interpretation • Jews Rejected by God for Rejecting Jesus • Justin’s “Memoires” of the Apostles • Referred as Gospels only ONCE • Less Scriptural Authority than OT • Importance as Sources of Jesus’ Logia • Justin May have Used Harmonies of Gospels
“Saint” Irenaeus – 180 CE • Standardized Canon; NOT Just a List of Books • Canon of the Faith: Creed (Credo - RegulaFidei) Guaranteed by: • Scriptures: Old and New Testaments • Apostolic Succession: Jesus→Apostles→Bishops • First to Say “Old Testament/New Testament” • Both Testaments are Authoritative Scripture • Four Gospels = Four Winds/Four Zones (NSEW)
Why Four Gospels in the NT? Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of ancient Lugdunum, or modern Lyons, France, made this decision: "The heretics boast that they have many more gospels than there really are. But really they don't have any gospels that aren't full of blasphemy. There actually are only four authentic gospels. And this is obviously true because there are four corners of the universe and there are four principal winds, and therefore there can be only four gospels that are authentic.These, besides, are written by Jesus' true followers."
St. Athanasius the GreatThe Pillar of Orthodoxy 367 CE: First listed the Official 27 Book Canon “These are the springs of salvation, so that he that is thirsty may be filled with the (divine) responses in them; in these alone is the good news of the teaching of true religion proclaimed; let no one add to them or take away any of them.”