The Development of New Testament Canon

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Describe the development of New Testament Canon in period of time studied (35 marks)

The New Testament Canon is described by Princeton Online Dictionary as, “a collection of books accepted as Holy Scripture - the books of the Bible recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired.” Basically the Canon is a selection of books used by the Church for public worship and also the books which the Church acknowledge as inspired scripture normative for faith and practice. The term (the Greek ‘kanon’ means ‘reed’, which went on to mean ‘measuring rod’ and then finally the list written in the column) was coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources - Rabbinic Judaism recognizes the twenty-four books of the Masoretic Text, commonly called the Hebrew Bible. Evidence suggests that the process of canonization occurred between 200 BC and AD 50, while the formation of the Christian Canon was not until the first and second centuries. These canonical books have been developed through debate and agreement by the religious authorities of their respective faiths. During the first and second centuries, there was not a Canon of Scripture set down as it is today; originally the information was passed by oral tradition, until they were written down as it became clearer that eye witnesses would all grow old and pass away. Firstly, it was the four Synoptic Gospels, and then around 85 AD, Paul’s letters were collected. However at this stage there was no sense of a Canon of Scripture, which is a closed list (which is books that cannot be added or removed). Marcion of Sinope was the first well-known heretic in the history of the early church, and he was the first Christian leader in recorded history to propose and delineate a canon (about 140 AD) which included 10 epistles from St. Paul as well as parts of the Gospel of Luke which today is known as the Gospel of Marcion – he famously attacked the Gospel of Luke with a penknife, and left only the...
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