Early Christian Authorities
An early Christian authority is included in this survey if he or it gives important
evidence on the development of the canon of the New Testament
(perhaps even having some influence on it) and did so before ~400 CE,
when the first complete manuscripts of the Vulgate were issued.
The early 'authorities' fall into these categories:
- early Church fathers (Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Didymus the Blind)
- early heretics and their followers (Marcion and Marcionites, Valentinus and the Valentinians)
- lists of canonical books (Muratorian Canon, Athanasius' Festal Epistle)
- a single manuscript collection (codex Sinaiticus)
- series of manuscripts (Peshitta, Vulgate)
||Form of evidence provided on the development of the canon of the New Testament
|Ignatius of Antioch
||7 letters with quotations and allusions to Christian writings as scripture. There are no citations by name.
|Polycarp of Smyrna
||1 letter with ~100 quotations and allusions to Christian writings as scripture. There are no citations by name.
||founded a sect with its own "New Testament" collection. There was one Gospel, based mostly on the Gospel according to Luke
Valentinus and his followers - Heracleon, Ptolemy, Marcus - were Gnostic heretics
so their doctrines mostly survive in the writings of the orthodox,
such as Irenaeus,
who summarized the Valentinian views before attacking them.
The Gospel of Truth from Nag Hammadi probably derives from the Valentinians, but this is not certain.
||many of his writings survive; he was the most prolific Christian writer up to his time.
||two of his writings survive in translations (Latin and Armenian). There are quotations and allusions to Christian writings as scripture, and citations by name.
||many of his writings survive; in them are about 8000 citations - over 1/3 of them from pagan sources. There are citations by name.
||Tertullian was the most prolific writer of the Latin Fathers in pre-Nicene times (before 325 CE). There are citations by name.
||a manuscript discovered in the Ambrosian Library in Milan with a catalogue (in Latin) of the New Testament writings with comments
||only a small part of his works survives, but this fills volumes There are citations by name.
||much of the works of Eusebius survives, but here we only use his famous classification in [Eusebius]
||a manuscript discovered in 1859 containing a 4th-century New Testament
||his 39th Festal Epistle of 367 CE has a list of canonical books
|Didymus the Blind
||some of his exegetical writings have survived, including six commentaries discovered in 1941
||a series of manuscripts of the Bible in Syriac including 22 New Testament books
||a series of manuscripts (over 10,000) of the Bible in Latin, whose New Testament coincides (more or less) with the present one
For a summary of the authorities' opinions on New Testament writings, see the
Cross Reference Table.