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The Canonization Of Scripture

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The Canonization of Scripture

Stephen Landrum

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 original Hebrew and Greek (Kiethly).

Protestants used a different standard of what should be in the Bible. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This is known as sola scriptura.

Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority make up the difference in the protestant and Roman Catholic view on canonization.

Works Cited

Harris, Stephen L.(2011) the New Testament. 7th Edition. McGraw-Hill Learning VitalBook file. Bookshelf

Kiethly, Hampton. “The Bible: The Holy Canon of Scripture” Retrieved from https://bible.org/seriespage/bible-holy-canon-scripture

Cited: Harris, Stephen L.(2011) the New Testament. 7th Edition. McGraw-Hill Learning VitalBook file. Bookshelf Kiethly, Hampton. “The Bible: The Holy Canon of Scripture” Retrieved from https://bible.org/seriespage/bible-holy-canon-scripture

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