The Canonization of Scripture
Ottawa University Online
The word canon has evolved over time to come to mean the official inventory of books, like that of Athanasius, that a religious community regards as its authoritative source of doctrinal and ethical beliefs. The word comes from the Greek kanwn and most likely from the Hebrew qaneh and Akkadian, qanu. Literally, it means a straight rod or bar; a measuring rule as a ruler used by masons and carpenters; then a rule or standard for testing straightness (Harris 24). In the past, canon referred the doctrines of the church that were accepted as rule of faith.
The canonization of the New Testament was a long and complex process. Canonization served two purposes. It clarified the beliefs church leaders considered true and acceptable; and it provided a unifying force for the churches throughout the Roman Empire. Canonization provided a firm written authority for universal belief and practice. A major factor in the permanent establishment of a New Testament canon was the Vulgate, a translation done by Jerome. This translated the scripture into common Latin of western Roman civilization. For nearly one thousand years no new translations of the Bible appeared even as new European languages developed through the dark ages of the medieval period. The Vulgate remains the official Bible of The Roman Catholic Church (Harris 31-32).
The protestant canon differs from the Roman Catholic canon. The protestant Bible is seven books shorter that the Roman Catholic Bible. Martin Luther removed the seven books and placed them in the appendix during the reformation of the church, which began in 1517. The books remained I the appendix until 1826 when they were removed all together. Luther's German translation of the Bible (1522–1534) was the first version in a modern European language based not on the Latin Vulgate, but on the...
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