CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Canon of the New Testament



CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: First Council of Constantinople


see the following

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Versions of the Bible





CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Manuscripts of the Bible

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Editions of the Bible




Note: My refernce to the early scriptures is based on many sources. By 363 A.D., the New Testament Canon had been seen fully in a letter from an authoritive source, containing 27 books. While Protestants, a group emerging under Martin Luther in the 16th century originally removed the books of "Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, James" ( from their canon of what was inspired, the 2nd Version of the King James Version included these, following the New Testament Canon. By 393 The Bible Canon was shown fully at the Council Of Hippo.

Why a Canon was needed

Books excluded from the canon of scripture, or considered Apocrypha uncanonical , not inspired, or even heretical, (from secular sources the bible seems to have been either finalised or near so at the Council of Rome, but I have yet to find a church endorsed copy of the proceedings of the council, the Council of Hippo is an Authoritive source) include those not endorsed as proper scripture. These are called Apocrypha . ( see our article on Apocrypha)

here are some examples

  - Apocalypse of Peter (c. 130)
  - Protoevangelium of James (c. 150)
  - Acts of Paul and Thecla (c. 180)
  - Gospel of Peter (c. 190) [DOCETIC]
  - The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (c. 192) [EBIONITIC]
  - Acts of Peter and Paul (c. 200)
  - Gospel of Thomas (c. 200) [GNOSTIC]
  - Acts of Thomas (c. 240) [GNOSTIC]
  - Acts of Thaddaeus (c. 250)
  - Acts of Andrew (c. 260) [GNOSTIC]
  - Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena (c. 270)
  - Acts of John [DOCETIC]
  - Acts of Philip (c. 350)
  - Apocalypse of Paul (c. 380) -- Greek and Latin forms
  - Gospel of Nicodemus (Including "Acta Pilati") (c. 150-400)
  - The Doctrine of Addai (c. 400) -- This is a Syriac version of the earlier Acts of Thaddaeus (s.v.)
  - Assumption of Mary (c. 400)
  - History of Joseph the Carpenter (c. 400)
  - Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (c. 400)
  - Acts of Barnabas (c. 500)
  - Acts of Bartholomew (c. 500) [NESTORIAN]
  - Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew the Apostle (c. 550) [ABYSSINIAN]
  - Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour (c. 600)
  - Avenging of the Saviour (c. 700)
  - Apocalypse of John (unknown date; late)
  - Apocalypse of Moses (unknown date) [JUDAISTIC]
  - Apocalypse of Esdras (unknown date) [JUDAISTIC]
  - Testament of Abraham (unknown date) [JUDAISTIC]
  - Narrative of Zosimus (unknown date)
  - Gospel of the Nativity of Mary (unknown date; late)
  - Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea (unknown date; late)
  - Report of Pontius Pilate (unknown date; late) -- First Greek and Second Greek forms
  - Letter of Pontius Pilate (unknown date; late)
  - Giving Up of Pontius Pilate (unknown date; late)
  - Death of Pilate (unknown date; late)
  - Apocalypse of the Virgin (unknown date; very late)
  - Apocalypse of Sedrach (unknown date; very late) " 28 September 2007


Faced with these, and many others, and having recently found the horrible reality of the Heresy of Arius and others, the church created the Nicene creed in 325 A.D., confirmed at the Council of Constantinople A.D. 381, into the modern form of the Nicene creed, however, it soon became apparant, that the church, using Church authority, should declare which and what liturature available to either be canonical or not so.


A source of an early Canon is given by wikipedia (which anyone can edit, and should not be taken as a final authority as such) is  the Council of rome, under pope Damascus,  The fact of the council is confirmed in EWTN, by a James Akin-, however, the source on wikipedia immediately below is still not authenticated as an actual record of such), which the site has translated into english as - (can only count 44 books in the old testament given)

EWTN says of it

"Eventually, the New Testament canon was settled at the Council of Rome in the year 382 under Pope Damasus I. Up to this point, its specific books were not firmly settled."



The council of Rome is the earliest record I came accross, however, the Council of Hippo (393 A.D.) or the Latin Vulgate (382 A.D.), are more pivotal sources for this article, at present.

I have been informed that the final decision was only after decades of debate, and with the devine authority, as demonstated in the Book of Acts in the bible, as seen in Acts 15, when the church was apposed by the early Heresy of the Cirumcision. At the Council of Hippo, I am informed by many sources, and by the cited internet copy, that the Septuagint Versionof the old testament was chosen over the Hebrew version, considered by many as less accurate due to errors apparently creeping in in later centuries, and eventually adopted by portions of the Jewish Torah The Hebrew version had only 39 books compared with the Greek Septuagint Version with 46 books. The modern New testament with 27 books was also adopted by the Early Church, creating a 73 book bible. This resulted in the vulgate, soon afterwards-


"The Biblia Sacra Vulgata originated about the year 382 A.D.  Pope Damasus commissioned St Jerome to translate the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin." ,

the Bible on which both the King James Version, and the

 Douay Rheims bible would eventually be based and cite for translation. It contained 73 canonical books. Jerome, objected as to whether or not the non-hebrew books found in the Septuagint Version and not the Hebrew, were in fact canonical, but submitted to the church, who had recently investigated such issues. Jerome accepted the official canon.


The core message of the Gospels, is however also seen earlier, as with most of the books, in an article on the canon of the new testament, the Catholic Encyclopedia elaborates-


3. The formation of the Tetramorph, or Fourfold Gospel

Irenæus, in his work "Against Heresies" (A.D. 182-88), testifies to the existence of a Tetramorph, or Quadriform Gospel, given by the Word and unified by one Spirit; to repudiate this Gospel or any part of it, as did the Alogi and Marcionites, was to sin against revelation and the Spirit of God. The saintly Doctor of Lyons explicitly states the names of the four Elements of this Gospel, and repeatedly cites all the Evangelists in a manner parallel to his citations from the Old Testament. From the testimony of St. Irenæus alone there can be no reasonable doubt that the Canon of the Gospel was inalterably fixed in the Catholic Church by the last quarter of the second century. Proofs might be multiplied that our canonical Gospels were then universally recognized in the Church, to the exclusion of any pretended Evangels. The magisterial statement of Irenæus may be corroborated by the very ancient catalogue known as the Muratorian Canon, and St. Hippolytus, representing Roman tradition; by Tertullian in Africa, by Clement in Alexandria; the works of the Gnostic Valentinus, and the Syrian Tatian's Diatessaron, a blending together of the Evangelists' writings, presuppose the authority enjoyed by the fourfold Gospel towards the middle of the second century. To this period or a little earlier belongs the pseduo-Clementine epistle in which we find, for the first time after II Peter, iii, 16, the word Scripture applied to a New Testament book. But it is needless in the present article to array the full force of these and other witnesses, since even rationalistic scholars like Harnack admit the canonicity of the quadriform Gospel between the years 140-175. " 28 september 2007


Alterations to the Canon of the early Church

As for the modern event whereby there are again two versions of the bible, one following the Canon that the early church followed, and another with 66 books, following the Jewish old testament, a better source may be, which states from another source, that the modern 66 book bible emerged with the reformation. The original Protestant bible had 73 books, 11 of which were consigned as Apocrapha or "hidden things", and placed in two separate sections, whereby they were named uncanonical, resulting effectively in a 62 book bible, if one is to go with the sources I have researched on this issue.


The Original King James version, according to "This Rock" magazine, held the 7 old testament books Luther declared uncanonical, but later versions excluded such.


No mention is made of the 4 "New Testament" books (Hebrews, Jude, James, and Revelation - as Protestants name it) which Luther apparently declared uncanonical and therefore placed in their own section at the end of the new testament, as the "Apocrypha" of the Old Testament (actually the Deutrocanonical writings, not the Apocrapha mentioned above)  were placed between the Testaments.

 I therefore assume that the King James bible, decided to include these four books, while dropping the "Apocrapha" of the Old Testament. This could be a reasonable suggestion as to the modern Protestant/Reformed bible, but I cannot simply isolate it to the Anglican King James bible, even as the Authorized Edition, as it was also known became vastly popular throughout the later centuries as the choice Protestant bible.


Other groups have also created their own versions of the bible since, these apparently include the Johavah's Witnesses, and other groups.


Bibles following the Original Canon of The Early Church

Just before the King James version was translated (probably from the Vulgate), The Catholic scholars in exile on the Continent, began to compile their own translation, the Douay Rheims Bible, it is considered the best translation of the the Latin Text by some.


Later, after Vatican II, the Church decided to produce bibles from the Hebrew and Greek texts, and soon was to follow the French, then english versions of the Jerusalem bible.