The Development of the Canon of the New Testament

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Early Christian Authorities

Ignatius of Antioch
Polycarp of Smyrna
Justin Martyr
Irenaeus of Lyons
Clement of Alexandria
Tertullian of Carthage
Muratorian Canon
Eusebius of Caesarea
codex Sinaiticus
Athanasius of Alexandria
Didymus the Blind

The Muratorian Canon

In a manuscript of the 8th century in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, probably written in Bobbio, L.A. Muratori (1672-1750) discovered a catalogue (in Latin) of the NT writings with comments. He published this text, called after him the Canon Muratori, in 1740. Four fragments of the Canon were found in 1897 in four manuscripts of the 11th and 12th centuries in Montecassino. The beginning and probably also the end of the catalogue are missing. Presumably the text derives from the West (Rome?) and was composed about 200 CE. The Latin version goes back to a Greek original.

The following translation is intended to adhere closely to the line divisions of the Latin text.

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at which however he was present and so he has set it down.
The third Gospel book, that according to Luke.
This physician Luke after Christ's ascension (resurrection?),
since Paul had taken him with him as an expert in the way (of
the teaching),
composed it in his own name
according to (his) thinking. Yet neither did he himself see
the Lord in the flesh; and therefore, as he was able to ascertain it,
so he begins
to tell the story from the birth of John.
The fourth of the Gospels, that of John, (one) of the disciples.
When his fellow-disciples and bishops urged him,
he said: Fast with me from today for three days, and what
will be revealed to each one
let us relate to one another. In the same night it was
revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that,
whilst all were to go over (it), John in his own name
should write everything down. And therefore, though various
rudiments (or: tendencies?) are taught in the several
Gospel books, yet that matters
nothing for the faith of believers, since by the one and guiding
(original?) Spirit
everything is declared in all: concerning the birth,
concerning the passion, concerning the resurrection,
concerning the intercourse with his disciples
and concerning his two comings,
the first despised in lowliness, which has come to pass,
the second glorious in kingly power,
which is yet to come. What
wonder then if John, being thus always true to himself,
adduces particular points in his epistles also,
where he says of himself: What we have seen with our eyes
and have heard with our ears and
our hands have handled, that have we written to you.
For so he confesses (himself) not merely an eye and ear witness,
but also a writer of all the marvels of the Lord in
order. But the acts of all apostles
are written in one book. For the 'most excellent Theophilus'
summarizes the several things that in his own presence
have come to pass, as also by the omission of the passion of Peter
he makes quite clear, and equally by (the omission) of the journey
of Paul, who from
the city (of Rome) proceeded to Spain. The epistles, however,
of Paul themselves make clear to those who wish to know it
which there are (i.e. from Paul), from what place and for what
cause they were written.
First of all to the Corinthians (to whom) he forbids the heresy
of schism, then to the Galatians (to whom he forbids)
and then to the Romans, (to whom) he explains that Christ
is the rule of the scriptures and moreover their principle,
he has written at considerable length. We must deal with these
severally, since the blessed
apostle Paul himself, following the rule of his predecessor
John, writes by name only to seven
churches in the following order: to the Corinthians
the first (epistle), to the Ephesians the second, to the Philippians
the third, to the Colossians the fourth, to the Galatians the
fifth, to the Thessalonians the sixth, to the Romans
the seventh. Although he wrote to the Corinthians and to the
Thessalonians once more for their reproof,
it is yet clearly recognizable that over the whole earth one church
is spread. For John also in the Revelation writes indeed to seven churches,
yet speaks to all. But to Philemon one,
and to Titus one, and to Timothy two, (written) out of goodwill
and love, are yet held sacred to the glory of the catholic Church
for the ordering of ecclesiastical
discipline. There is current also (an epistle) to
the Laodiceans, another to the Alexandrians, forged in Paul's
name for the sect of Marcion, and several others,
which cannot be received in the catholic Church;
for it will not do to mix gall with honey.
Further an epistle of Jude and two with the title (or: two of the
above mentioned)
John are accepted in the catholic Church, and the Wisdom
written by friends of Solomon in his honour.
Also of the revelations we accept only those of John and
Peter, which (latter) some of our
people do not want to have read in the Church. But Hermas
wrote the Shepherd quite lately in our time in the city
of Rome, when on the throne of
the church of the city of Rome the bishop Pius, his brother,
was seated. And therefore it ought indeed to be read, but
it cannot be read publicly in the Church to the other people either
the prophets, whose number is settled, or among
the apostles to the end of time.
But we accept nothing whatever
from Arsinous or Valentinus and Miltiades(?), who have also
composed a new psalm book for Marcion,
together with Basilides of Asia Minor,
the founder of the Cataphrygians.

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