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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER VII. THE BIBLE CANON FROM THE FOURTH CENTURY TO THE REFORMATION.

The Canon Of The Bible by Samuel Davidson

CHAPTER VII. THE BIBLE CANON FROM THE FOURTH CENTURY TO THE REFORMATION.

It will now be convenient to treat of the two Testaments together, i.e., the canon of the Bible. The canons of both have been considered separately to the end of the third century; they may be henceforward discussed together. We proceed, therefore, to the Bible-canon of the fourth century, first in the Greek Church and then in the Latin. The Council of Laodicea (A.D.363), at which there was a predominant semiarian influence, forbad the reading of all non-canonical books. The 59th canon enacts, that |private psalms must not be read in the Church, nor uncanonized books; but only the canonical ones of the New and Old Testament.| The 60th canon proceeds to give a list of such. All the books of the Old Testament are enumerated, but in a peculiar order, somewhat like the Septuagint one. With Jeremiah is specified Baruch, then the Lamentations and Epistle. The prophets are last; first the minor, next the major and Daniel. In the New Testament list are the usual seven Catholic epistles, and fourteen of Paul, including that to the Hebrews. The Apocalypse alone is wanting. Credner has proved that this 60th canon is not original, and of much later date.(227)

The Apostolic Constitutions give a kind of canon like that in the 59th of Laodicea. After speaking of the books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles, those belonging to the return from the captivity, those of Job, Solomon, the sixteen prophets, and the Psalms of David; our Acts, the epistles of Paul, and the four gospels are mentioned. It is remarkable that the Catholic epistles are not given. That they are indicated under Acts is altogether improbable. The Antiochian Church of that time doubted or denied the apostolicity of these letters, as is seen from Theodore, Cosmas, and others. Hence, their absence from these Constitutions, which are a collection belonging to different times; the oldest portion not earlier perhaps than the third century.(228)

Cyril of Jerusalem, who took part in the Council of Laodicea,(229) gives a list |of the divine Scriptures.| The books of the Old Testament are twenty-two, and the arrangement is nearly that which is in the English Bible. With Jeremiah is associated |Baruch and the Epistle.| All the New Testament books are given except the Apocalypse. The list agrees very nearly with that of Eusebius, by taking the latter's |controverted| writings into the class of the |generally received.|(230) The writer insists on the necessity of unity in the Church upon the subject, and forbids the reading of writings not generally received. None but these are allowed. Yet he refers to Baruch (iii.36-38) as the prophet;(231) and in adducing the testimonies of the prophets for the existence of the Holy Spirit, the last he gives is Daniel xiii.41, 45. Sirach iii.21, 22 is cited;(232) Wisdom is quoted as Solomon's (xiii.5);(233) the song of the three children is used (verse 55)(234) with verses 27, 29;(235) and Daniel (xiii.22, 45) is quoted.(236)

In Athanasius's festal epistle (365 A.D.) the archbishop undertakes |to set forth in order, the books that are canonical and handed down and believed to be divine.| His list of the Old Testament nearly agrees with Cyril's, except that Esther is omitted and Ruth counted separately, to make out the twenty-two books. He adds, |there are other books not canonical, designed by the fathers to be read by those just joining us and wishing to be instructed in the doctrine of piety;| i.e., the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther and Judith and Tobit, and the Doctrine of the Apostles so called, and the Shepherd; |those being canonical, and these being read, let there be no mention of apocryphal writings,| &c. The New Testament list is the same as Cyril's, with the addition of the Apocalypse.(237) He quotes several of the apocryphal books in the same way as he does the canonical. Thus he introduces Judith (viii.16) with |the Scripture said;|(238) and Baruch (iii.12) is cited as if it were Scripture.(239) Wisdom (vi.26) has the epithet Scripture applied to it.(240) Sirach (xv.9) is introduced with |what is said by the Holy Spirit.|(241) Baruch (iv.20, 22) and Daniel (xiii.42) are referred to in the same way as Isaiah.(242) Tobit (ii.7) has |it is written| prefixed to it.(243) Canonical and apocryphal are mentioned together; and similar language applied to them.

Eusebius of Caesarea cites Wisdom as a divine oracle;(244) and after adducing several passages from Proverbs, subjoining to them others from the same book with the introductory formula |these are also said to be the same writers,| he concludes with |such is the scripture.|(245) Sirach is cited as Solomon's along with various passages from Proverbs.(246) After quoting Baruch, he says, |there is no need to appeal to the divine voices, which clearly confirm our proposition.|(247) The additions to Daniel are also treated as Scripture.(248)

Basil of Caesarea(249) had a canon agreeing with that of Athanasius. Along with the usual books reckoned as belonging to the canon, he used the apocryphal productions of the Old Testament. Thus the book of Wisdom (i.4)(250) is quoted by him. So are Sirach (xx.2);(251) Baruch, (iii.36)(252) called Jeremiah's; Judith (ix.4);(253) and Daniel (xiii.50).(254)

Gregory of Nazianzus(255) puts his list into a poetical form. In the Old Testament it agrees with Athanasius's exactly, except that he mentions none but the canonical books. Like Athanasius, he omits Esther. In the New Testament he deviates from Athanasius, by leaving out the Apocalypse, which he puts among the spurious.(256) He does not ignore the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, but quotes Daniel xiii.5.(257)

Amphilochius of Iconium(258) gives a metrical catalogue of the Biblical books. The canon of the Old Testament is the usual one, except that he says of Esther at the end, |some judge that Esther should be added to the foregoing.| He notices none of the apocryphal books. His New Testament canon agrees with the present, only he excludes the Apocalypse as spurious; which is given as the judgment of the majority. He alludes to the doubts that existed as to the epistle to the Hebrews, but regards it as Pauline; and to the number of the catholic epistles (seven or three).(259) The concluding words show that no list was universally received at that time.

Epiphanius(260) follows Athanasius in his canon. As to the number of the Old Testament books, he hesitates between twenty-two and twenty-seven; but the contents are the same. At the end of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, Wisdom and Sirach are mentioned as |divine writings;| elsewhere they are characterized as |doubtful.|(261) His practice shows his sentiments clearly enough, when Sirach (vii.1) is introduced with |the Scripture| testifies(262); vii.9 is elsewhere quoted(263); Wisdom (i.4) is cited as Solomon's;(264) Baruch (iii.36) is introduced with, |as the Scripture says,|(265) and Daniel (xiii.42) is quoted with, |as it is written.|(266) He mentions the fact that the epistles of Clement of Rome were read in the churches.(267)

Didymus of Alexandria(268) speaks against 2 Peter that it is not in the canons.(269)

Chrysostom(270) does not speak of the canon; but in the New Testament he never quotes the last four catholic epistles or the Apocalypse. All the other parts he uses throughout his numerous works,(271) including the Apocrypha. Thus he introduces Wisdom (xvi.28) with |Scripture says.|(272) He quotes Baruch (iii.36, 38);(273) and Sirach (iv.1.).(274)

Didymus of Alexandria(275) cites Baruch (iii.35) as Jeremiah,(276) and treats it like the Psalms.(277) Daniel (xiii.45) is also quoted.(278) He says of Peter's Second Epistle that it is not in the canon.

Theodore of Mopsuestia(279) was much freer than his contemporaries in dealing with the books of Scripture. It seems that he rejected Job, Canticles, Chronicles, and the Psalm-inscriptions; in the New Testament the epistle of James, and others of the catholic ones. But Leontius's account of his opinions cannot be adopted without suspicion.(280)

The canon of Cyril of Alexandria(281) does not differ from Athanasius's. Like other writers of the Greek Church in his day he uses along with the canonical the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. He quotes 1 (iii.) Esdras (iv.36) with |inspired Scripture says.|(282) Wisdom (vii.6) is introduced with, |according to that which is written.|(283) In another place it has the prefix |for it is written| (i.7);(284) and is treated as Scripture (ii.12).(285) Sirach (i.1) is cited.(286) Baruch also (iii.35-37) is introduced with, |another of the holy prophets said.|(287)

The catalogues of the Old Testament contained in the manuscripts B, C, and {HEBREW LETTER ALEF} need not be given, as they are merely codices of the Septuagint, and have or had the books canonical and apocryphal belonging to that version. The list of the New Testament books in B is like that of Athanasius. Imperfect at the end, the MS. must have had at first the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and the Apocalypse. C (cod. Ephraemi rescriptus) has fragments of the New Testaments, which show that it had originally all the present books in the same order as Athanasius's. {HEBREW LETTER ALEF} or the Sinaitic manuscript has the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas, in addition to the New Testament.

The progress made by the Greek Church of the fourth and former part of the fifth century, in its conception of the canon seems to be, that the idea of ecclesiastical settlement, or public, legal, definitive establishment was attached to the original one. A writing was considered canonical when a well-attested tradition put it among those composed by inspired men, apostles or others; and it had on that account a determining authority in matters of faith. Books which served as a rule of faith and were definitively set forth by the Church as divinely authoritative, were now termed canonical. The canon consisted of writings settled or determined by ecclesiastical law.(288) Such was the idea added to the original acceptation of canon. To canonical were opposed apocryphal writings, i.e., heretical and fabricated ones; while an intermediate class consisted of those read in the churches, which were useful, but not decisive in matters of belief. Another advance in the matter of the canon at this period was the general adoption of the Hebrew canon, with a relegation of the Greek additions in the Septuagint to the class publicly read.(289) Yet doubts about the reception of Esther into the number of the canonical books were still entertained, though it was one of the Jewish canon; doubtless on account of its want of harmony with Christian consciousness. And the catholic epistles which had been doubted before, Jude, James, Second Peter, were now generally received. But there was a division of opinion about the Apocalypse.

We come to the period of the Latin, corresponding to that of the Greek Church which has just been noticed. Augustine(290) gave great attention to the subject, laboring to establish a complete canon, the necessity of which was generally felt. According to him the Scriptures which were received and acknowledged by all the churches of the day should be canonical. Of those not universally adopted, such as are received by the majority and the weightier of the churches should be preferred to those received by the fewer and less important churches. In his enumeration of the forty-four books of the Old Testament, he gives, after Chronicles, other histories |which are neither connected with the order| specified in the preceding context, |nor with one another,| i.e., Job, Tobit, Esther, Judith, the two books of the Maccabees, and Esdras. Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, he thinks, should be numbered among the prophets, as deserving of authority and having a certain likeness to Solomon's writings.(291) He says of the Maccabees that this |Scripture has been received by the Church not uselessly, if it be read or heard soberly.|(292) The famous passage in the treatise on Christian doctrine, where he enumerates the whole canon, is qualified by no other; for though he knew the distinction between the canonical books of the Palestinian Jews and the so-called apocryphal ones, as well as the fact of some New Testament writings not being received universally, he thought church-reception a sufficient warrant for canonical authority. Hence, he considered the books of the Maccabees canonical, because so received by the Church; while he says of Wisdom and Sirach that they merited authoritative reception and numbering among the prophetic Scriptures.(293) Of the former in particular he speaks strongly in one place, asserting that it is worthy to be venerated by all Christians as of divine authority.(294) But he afterwards retracted his opinion of the canonical authority of Sirach.(295) He raises, not lowers, the authority of the so-called apocryphal books which he mentions. He enumerates all the New Testament books, specifying the Pauline epistles as fourteen, and so reckoning that to the Hebrews as the apostle's; but he speaks of it elsewhere as an epistle about which some were uncertain, professing that he was influenced to admit it as canonical by the authority of the Oriental churches.(296) In various places he speaks hesitatingly about its Pauline authorship.

In 393, the African bishops held a council at Hippo where the canon was discussed. The list of the canonical Scripture given includes, besides the Palestinian one, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, and the two books of Maccabees. The New Testament canon seems to have agreed exactly with our present one.(297) The Council of Carthage (397) repeated the statute of its predecessor, enumerating the same books of the Bible as canonical.(298) Augustine was the animating spirit of both councils, so that they may be taken as expressing his views on the subject.

Jerome(299) gives a list of the twenty-two canonical books of the Old Testament, the same as that of the Palestinian Jews, remarking that some put Ruth and Lamentations among the Hagiographa, so making twenty-four books. All besides should be put among the Apocrypha. Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, the Shepherd are not in the canon. The two books of Maccabees he regarded in the same light.(300) But though Jerome's words imply the apocryphal position of these extra-canonical books, he allows of their being read in public for the edification of the people, not to confirm the authority of doctrines; i.e., they belong to |the ecclesiastical books| of Athanasius. His idea of |apocryphal| is wider and milder than that of some others in the Latin Church. It has been conjectured by Welte,(301) that the conclusions of the African councils in 393 and 397 influenced Jerome's views of the canon, so that his later writings allude to the apocryphal works in a more favorable manner than that of the Prologus galeatus or the preface to Solomon's books. One thing is clear, that he quotes different passages from the Apocrypha along with others from the Hebrew canon. In his letter to Eustochius, Sirach iii.33 (Latin) comes between citations from Matthew and Luke; and is introduced by which is written, in a letter to Pammachius; and xxii.6 has divine Scripture applied to it.(302) Ruth, Esther, and Judith are spoken of as holy volumes. The practice of Jerome differed from his theory; or rather he became less positive, and altered his views somewhat with the progress of time and knowledge. As to the New Testament, he gives a catalogue of all that now belongs to it, remarking of the epistle to the Hebrews and of the Apocalypse that he adopts both on the authority of ancient writers, not of present custom. His opinion about them was not decided.(303) In another work he gives the Epistle of Barnabas at the end of the canonical list. He also states the doubts of many respecting the Epistle to Philemon, and about 2 Peter, Jude, 2 and 3 John. According to him the first Epistle of Clement of Rome was publicly read in some churches.(304)

Hilary of Poitiers(305) seems to have followed Origen's catalogue. He gives twenty-two books, specifying |the epistle| of Jeremiah; and remarks that some added Tobit and Judith, making twenty-four, after the letters of the Greek alphabet. He cites Wisdom and Sirach as |prophets.|(306) In the New Testament he never quotes James, Jude, 2 and 3 John, nor 2 Peter.2 Maccabees (vii.28) is introduced with |according to the prophet;|(307) Sirach (xxxi.1) is introduced with |nor do they hear the Lord saying;|(308) Wisdom is cited as Solomon's (viii.2);(309) Judith (xvi.3) is cited;(310) so is Baruch (iii.36);(311) and Daniel xiii.42.(312)

Optatus of Mela(313) has the usual canonical books, but omits the epistle to the Hebrews. He uses the apocrypha without scruple, introducing Sirach (iii.30) with |it is written;|(314) and Wisdom (i.13) with |it is written in Solomon.|(315)

Lucifer of Cagliari(316) uses the apocrypha equally with the canonical books. Thus 1 Maccabees (i.43) is quoted as |holy Scripture.|(317) So is 2 Maccab. (vi.1).(318) Judith (ix.2) is cited,(319) as are also Wisdom (xvii.1, 2);(320) Tobit (iv.6);(321) and Daniel (xiii.20).(322)

Ambrose of Milan(323) had the same canon as most of the Westerns in his time. With some others, he considered the Epistle to the Hebrews to have been written by St. Paul. In the Old Testament he used the apocryphal books pretty freely. Wisdom (vii.22) is cited as authoritative Scripture.(324) Sirach (xi.30) is also cited as Scripture.(325) Baruch (iv.19) is quoted;(326) Daniel (xiii.44, 45) is treated as Scripture and prophetic;(327) and Tobit is expounded like any other book of Scripture.(328)

Rufinus(329) enumerates the books of the Old and New Testaments which |are believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit itself, according to the tradition of our ancestors, and have been handed down by the Churches of Christ.| All the books of the Hebrew canon and of the New Testament are specified. After the list he says, |these are they which the fathers included in the canon, by which they wished to establish the assertion of our faith.| He adds that there are other books not canonical, but ecclesiastical -- the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Tobit, Judith, and the books of the Maccabees. Besides the usual New Testament works, he speaks of the Shepherd of Hermas, and the |Judgment of Peter| as read in the churches, but not as authoritative in matters of faith.(330)

Philastrius(331) of Brescia gives some account of the Scriptures and their contents in his time. The canonical Scriptures, which alone should be read in the Catholic Church, are said to be the law and the prophets, the gospels, Acts, thirteen epistles of Paul, and seven others, i.e., two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude, and one of James. Of the Old Testament apocrypha he asserts that they ought to be read for the sake of morals by the perfect, but not by all. He speaks of heretics who reject John's gospel and the Apocalypse. Respecting the Epistle to the Hebrews which is omitted in his canon, he speaks at large, but not very decidedly, affirming that some attributed its authorship to Barnabas, or Clement of Rome, or Luke. |They wish to read the writings of the blessed apostle, and not rightly perceiving some things in the epistle, it is not therefore read by them in the church. Though read by some, it is not read to the people in the church; nothing but Paul's thirteen epistles, and that to the Hebrews sometimes.|(332) The influence of the East upon the West appears in the statements of this father upon the subject. He had several canonical lists before him; one at least from an Oriental-Arian source, which explains some assertions, particularly his omission of the Apocalypse.

Innocent I. of Rome wrote to Exsuperius (405 A.D.), bishop of Toulouse, giving a list of the canonical books. Besides the Hebrew canon, he has Wisdom and Sirach; Tobit, Judith, the two Maccabees. The New Testament list is identical with the present. He also refers to pseudepigraphical writings which ought not only to be rejected but condemned.(333)

A canonical list appears in three different forms bearing the names of Damasus (366-384), Gelasius I. (492-496), and Hormisdas (514-523). According to the first, the books of the Old Testament are arranged in three orders. In the first are the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four Kings, two Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus; in the second, all the prophets, including Baruch; in the third, Job, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Esdras, two Maccabees. The New Testament books are the four gospels, fourteen epistles of Paul, the Apocalypse, and Acts, with seven Catholic epistles.

That which is called the Decree of Gelasius is almost identical with the preceding. It wants Baruch and Lamentations. It has also two Esdrases instead of one. In the New Testament the epistle to the Hebrews is absent.

The Hormisdas-form has the Lamentations of Jeremiah: and in the New Testament the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The MSS. of these lists present some diversity; and Credner supposes the Damasus-list a fiction. But Thiel has vindicated its authenticity. It is possible that some interpolations may exist in the last two; the first, which is the shortest, may well belong to the time of Damasus.(334)

In 419 A.D. another council at Carthage, at which Augustine was present, repeated the former list of books with a single alteration, viz., fourteen epistles of Paul (instead of thirteen).(335)

The preceding notices and catalogues show a general desire in the Western Church to settle the canon. The two most influential men of the period were Augustine and Jerome, who did not entirely agree. Both were unfitted for a critical examination of the topic. The former was a gifted spiritual man, lacking learning and independence. Tradition dominated all his ideas about the difficult or disputed books. He did not enter upon the question scientifically, on the basis of certain principles; but was content to take refuge in authority -- the prevailing authority of leading churches. His judgment was weak, his sagacity moderate, and his want of many-sidedness hindered a critical result. Jerome, again, was learned but timid, lacking the courage to face the question fairly or fundamentally; and the independence necessary to its right investigation. Belonging as he did to both churches, he recommended the practice of the one to the other. He, too, was chiefly influenced by tradition; by Jewish teachers in respect to the Old Testament, and by general custom as to the New. The question was not susceptible of advancement under such manipulation; nor could it be settled on a legitimate basis. Compared with the eastern Church, the western accepted a wider canon of the Old Testament, taking some books into the class of the canonical which the former put among those to be read. In regard to the New Testament, all the Catholic epistles and even the Apocalypse were received. The African churches and councils generally adopted this larger canon, because the old Latin version or versions of the Bible current in Africa were daughters of the Septuagint. If the Latins apparently looked upon the Greek as the original itself, the apocryphal books would soon get rank with the canonical. Yet the more learned fathers, Jerome, Rufinus and others, favored the Hebrew canon in distinguishing between canonical and ecclesiastical books. The influence of the Eastern upon the Western Church is still visible, though it could not extinguish the prevailing desire to include the disputed books. The Greek view was to receive nothing which had not apparently a good attestation of divine origin and apostolic authority; the Latin was to exclude nothing hallowed by descent and proved by custom. The former Church looked more to the sources of doctrine; the latter to those of edification. The one desired to contract those sources, so as not to be too rich; the other to enlarge the springs of edification, not to be too poor. Neither had the proper resources for the work, nor a right perception of the way in which it should be set about; and therefore they were not fortunate in their conclusions, differing as they did in regard to points which affect the foundation of a satisfactory solution.

Notwithstanding the numerous endeavors both in the East and West to settle the canon during the 4th and 5th centuries, it was not finally closed. The doubts of individuals were still expressed; and succeeding ages testified to the want of universal agreement respecting several books. The question, however, was practically determined. No material change occurred again in the absolute rejection or admission of books. With some fluctuations, the canon remained very much as it was in the 4th and 5th centuries. Tradition shaped and established its character. General usage gave it a permanency which it was not easy to disturb. No definite principles guided the course of its formation, or fixed its present state. It was dominated first and last by circumstances and ideas which philosophy did not actuate. Its history is mainly objective. Uncritical at its commencement, it was equally so in the two centuries which have just been considered.

The history of the canon in the Syrian church cannot be traced with much exactness. The Peshito version had only the Hebrew canonical books at first; most of the apocryphal were rendered from the Greek and added in the Nestorian recension. In the New Testament it wanted four of the catholic epistles and the Apocalypse. Ephrem (A.D.378) uses all the books in our canon, the apocryphal as well as the canonical. The former are cited by him in the same way as the latter. Sirach ii.1 is quoted with as the Scripture says;(336) and Wisdom iv.7 with it is written.(337) Daniel xiii.9, belonging to the Greek additions, is also cited with as it is written.(338) It should be observed that the quotations given are all from Ephrem's Greek, not Syriac, works; and that suspicions have been raised about the former being tampered with. The Syrian version of the New Testament made by Polycarp at the request of Philoxenus of Mabug, had the four catholic epistles wanting in the Peshito. It had also the two epistles of Clement to the Corinthians, if we may judge by the Harclean recension, A.D.616; for a MS. in the Cambridge University Library contains those epistles immediately after the Catholic ones, and before those of St. Paul; so that they are put on an equality with the canonical writings. The Apocalypse is wanting. Junilius, (though an African bishop about 550 A.D.), says that he got his knowledge from a Persian of the name of Paulus who received his education in the school of Nisibis. He may, therefore, be considered a witness of the opinions of the Syrian church at the beginning of the 6th century. Dividing the biblical books into those of perfect, those of intermediate, and those of no authority, he makes the first the canonical; the second, those added to them by many (plures); the third, all the rest. In the first list he puts Ecclesiasticus. Among the second he puts 1 and 2 Chronicles, Job, Ezra and Nehemiah, Judith, Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees; and in the New Testament, James, 2 Peter, Jude, 2 and 3 John. He also says that the Apocalypse of John is much doubted by the Orientals. In the third list i.e., books of no authority added by some (quidam) to the canonical, are put Wisdom and Canticles.(339) The catalogue is confused, and erroneous at least in one respect, that Jerome is referred to, as sanctioning the division given of the Old Testament books; for neither he nor the Jews agree with it.

The canon of the Abyssinian church seems to have had at first all the books in the Septuagint, canonical and apocryphal together, little distinction being made between them. Along with the contents of the Greek Bible there were Enoch, 4 Esdras, the Ascension of Isaiah, the Jubilees, Asseneth, &c. That of the New Testament agrees with the present Greek one. At a later period in the Arabic age a list was made and constituted the legal one for the use of the church, having been derived from the Jacobite canons of the apostles. This gives, in the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Judith, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Esther, Tobit, two books of Maccabees, Job, Psalms, five books of Solomon, minor and greater prophets. The Wisdom of Sirach (for teaching children) and the book of Joseph ben Gorion, i.e., that of the Maccabees, are external. The New Testament has four gospels, Acts, seven apostolic epistles, fourteen of Paul, and the Revelation of John. Later catalogues vary much, and are often enlarged with the book of Enoch, 4 Esdras, the Apocalypse of Isaiah, &c. The canon of the Ethiopic church was fluctuating.(340)

The canon of the Armenians had at first the Palestinian books of the Old Testament, twenty-two in number, and the usual New Testament ones, except the Apocalypse. It was made from the Syriac in the fifth century by Sahak and Mesrob. The deutero-canonical books and additions were appended, after the disciples of those two men who had been sent by them into different places, brought back authentic copies of the Greek Bible from the patriarch Maximian, by which the version already made was interpolated and corrected; as it was subsequently corrected by others despatched to Alexandria and Athens, who, however, did not return till their teachers were dead. The MSS. of this version were afterwards interpolated from the Vulgate; Oskan himself translating for his edition (which was the first printed one, A.D.1666), Sirach, 4 Esdras and the Epistle of Jeremiah from the Latin. The book of Revelation does not seem to have been translated till the eighth century. Zohrab's critical edition (1805) has Judith, Tobit, the three books of Maccabees, Wisdom, and the Epistle of Baruch among the canonical books; and in an appendix, the fourth book of Esdras, the prayer of Manasseh, the Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul and his answer, the Rest (end) of the apostle and evangelist John, the prayer of Euthalius. Like the edition of Oskan, this has all the deutero-canonical books, which were derived from the Septuagint, and incorporated by the first translators with their original version. Another edition published at St. Petersburgh (1817), for the use of the Jacobite Church, has the prayer of Manasses and 4 Esdras after the Apocalypse.

The Georgian version consisted of the books and additions in the Greek translation from which it was made. The New Testament has the canonical books in the usual order. Jesus Sirach and two books of the Maccabees (2d and 3d) were not in the Georgian MS. used by Prince Arcil for the edition of 1743, but were rendered out of the Russian. The Moscow Bible printed under the direction and at the cost of Arcil, Bacchar and Wakuset, is the authorized edition of the Georgian Christians.

The Bible canon of the Eastern church in the middle ages shows no real advance. Endeavors were made to remove the uncertainty arising from the existence of numerous lists; but former decisions and decrees of councils were repeated instead of a new, independent canon. Here belongs the catalogue in the Alexandrian MS., of the fifth century, which is peculiar. After the prophets come Esther, Tobit, Judith, Ezra and Nehemiah, 4 Maccabees, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, the all-virtuous Wisdom, the Wisdom of Jesus of Sirach. In the New Testament, the Apocalypse is followed by two epistles of Clement. The list was probably made in Egypt. That of Anastasius Sinaita,(341) patriarch of Antioch, is similar to Nicephorus's Stichometry, which we shall mention afterwards. Baruch is among the canonical books; Esther among the antilegomena. The Apocalypse is unnoticed. The 85th of the Apostolic canons gives a list of the Old and New Testament books, in which the usual canonical ones of the former are supplemented by Judith and 3 Maccabees; those of the latter by the two epistles of Clement, with the Apostolic constitutions. This catalogue cannot be put earlier than the fifth or sixth century, and is subject to the suspicion of having been interpolated. We have also Nicephorus's Stichometry (806-815;)(342) of which we may remark that Baruch is among the canonical books of the Old Testament; while the Revelation is put with the Apocalypse of Peter, the epistle of Barnabas and the Gospel according to the Hebrews, among the antilegomena of the New Testament. It is also surprising that the Apocalypse of Peter and the Gospel according to the Hebrews are not among the Apocrypha, where Clement's epistles with the productions of Ignatius, Polycarp, and Hermas appear. The list is probably older than that of the Antioch patriarch Anastasius Sinaita. Cosmas Indicopleustes (535) never mentions the seven Catholic epistles of the New Testament or the Apocalypse. The Trullan council (A.D.692) adopts the eighty-five Apostolic canons, rejecting, however, the Apostolic Constitutions. Photius, patriarch of Constantinople,(343) follows the eighty-fifth Apostolical canon of the Trullan Council.(344) But in his Bibliotheca(345) he speaks differently regarding the epistles of Clement, and does not treat them as canonical. Though the first was thought worthy to be read in public, the second was rejected as spurious; and his own opinion was not altogether favorable to them. John of Damascus;(346) the second Nicene council (787); the Synopsis divinae Scripturae Vet. et Novi Test. (about 1000); Zonaras (about 1120); Alexius Aristenus (about 1160); and Nicephorus Callistus (1330), call for no remark.

In the Western church of the Middle Ages, diversity of opinion respecting certain books continued. Though the views of Augustine were generally followed, the stricter ones of Jerome found many adherents. The canon was fluctuating, and the practice of the churches in regard to it somewhat lax. Here belong Cassiodorus (about 550); the list in the Codex Amiatinus (about 550); Isidore of Seville(347) who, after enumerating three classes of Old Testament books gives a fourth not in the Hebrew canon. Here he specifies Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, saying that the church of Christ puts them among the divine books, honors and highly esteems them.(348) There are also the fourth council of Toledo (632); Gregory the Great(349) Notker Labeo;(350) Ivo (about 1092); Bede;(351) Alcuin;(352) Rabanus Maurus;(353) Hugo de St Victor;(354) Peter of Clugny;(355) John of Salisbury;(356) Thomas Aquinas;(357) Hugo de St Cher;(358) Wycliffe;(359) Nicolaus of Lyra,(360) &c., &c. Several of these, as Hugo de St Victor, John of Salisbury, Hugo de St Cher, and Nicolaus of Lyra, followed Jerome in separating the canonical and apocryphal books of the Old Testament.(361)

The Reformers generally returned to the Hebrew canon, dividing off the additional books of the Septuagint or those attached to the Vulgate. These they called apocryphal, after Jerome's example. Though considered of no authority in matters of doctrine, they were pronounced useful and edifying. The principal reason that weighed with the Reformers was, that Christ and the apostles testified to none of the Septuagint additions.

Besides the canonical books of the Old Testament, Luther translated Judith, Wisdom, Tobit, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, the Greek additions to Esther and Daniel, with the Prayer of Manasseh. His judgment respecting several of these is expressed in the prefaces to them. With regard to 1 Maccabees, he thinks it almost equal to the other books of Holy Scripture, and not unworthy to be reckoned among them. Of Wisdom, he says, he was long in doubt whether it should be numbered among the canonical books; and of Sirach that it is a right good book proceeding from a wise man. But he speaks unfavorably of several other apocryphal productions, as of Baruch and 2 Maccabees. It is evident, however, that he considered all he translated of some use to the Christian Church. He thought that the book of Esther should not belong to the canon.

Luther's judgment respecting some of the New Testament books was freer than most Protestants now are disposed to approve. He thought the epistle to the Hebrews was neither Paul's nor an apostle's, but proceeded from an excellent and learned man who may have been the disciple of apostles. He did not put it on an equality with the epistles written by apostles themselves. The Apocalypse he considered neither apostolic nor prophetic, but put it almost on the same level with the 4th book of Esdras, which he spoke elsewhere of tossing into the Elbe. This judgment was afterwards modified, not retracted. James's epistle he pronounced unapostolic, |a right strawy epistle.| In like manner, he did not believe that Jude's epistle proceeded from an apostle. Considering it to have been taken from 2 Peter, and not well extracted either, he put it lower than the supposed original. The Reformer, as also his successors, made a distinction between the books of the New Testament similar to that of the Old; the generally received (homologoumena) and controverted books (antilegomena); but the Calvinists afterwards obliterated it, as the Roman Catholics at the Council of Trent did with the old Testament.(362) The epistle to the Hebrews, those of Jude and James, with the Apocalypse, belong to the latter class. The distinction in question proceeded from genuine critical tact on the part of the early Lutheran Church which had canonical and deutero-canonical writings even in the New Testament collection. Nor did the Reformers consider it a dangerous thing to bring the fact before the people. To make it palpable, Luther attached continuous numbers to the first twenty-three books of his version, bringing the four antilegomena after these, without numbers; and this mode of marking the difference continued till the middle of the 17th century.(363) Luther was right in assigning a greater or less value to the separate writings of the New Testament, and in leaving every one to do the same. He relied on their internal value more than tradition; taking the word of God in a deeper and wider sense than its coincidence with the Bible.

Bodenstein of Carlstad examined the question of canonicity more thoroughly than any of his contemporaries, and followed out the principle of private judgment in regard to it. He divides the biblical books into three classes -- 1. Books of the highest dignity, viz., the Pentateuch and the Gospels; 2. Books of the second dignity, i.e., the works termed prophetic by the Jews, and the fifteen epistles universally received; 3. Books of the third and lowest authority, i.e., the Jewish Hagiographa and the seven Antilegomena epistles of the New Testament. Among the Apocrypha he makes two classes -- such as are out of the canon to the Hebrews yet hagiographical (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, the two Maccabees), and those that are clearly apocryphal and to be rejected (third and fourth Esdras, Baruch, Prayer of Manasseh, a good part of the third chapter of Daniel, and the last two chapters of Daniel.)(364)

Zwingli asserts that the Apocalypse is not a biblical book.(365)

Oecolampadius says -- |We do not despise Judith, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the last two Esdras, the three Maccabees, the last two chapters of Daniel, but we do not attribute to them divine authority with those others.|(366) As to the books of the New Testament he would not compare the Apocalypse, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John with the rest.(367)

Calvin did not think that Paul was the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, or that 2 Peter was written by the apostle himself; but both in his opinion are canonical.

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