Biblical Studies/Christianity/The Bible/Origin of the Bible/Bible canonization
The Bible derived its name from the Greek expression biblia (the books), which was used in the early centuries of Christianity to designate the sacred compilations of various books of the faith into a singular text which was later confirmed by numerous edicts, ecumenical councils and by general consensus. The Middle Ages Latin neuter plural for Biblia (gen. bibliorum) gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae), in which singular form the word was passed into modern languages - thus, the Bible.
The word “canon” comes from the Greek “kanon,” which meant “reed” and is the root of the word “cane.” In time “kanon” came to refer to a straight rule for measuring, then rules for straight living. Eventually, around 300 C.E., the word came to be used in the Church to refer to the books accepted as holy Scripture measured by the rule of faith.
The Pentecost period is termed the beginning of the Church; the Church exists before a determination of a canon or a definitive list of books of what was later called the Christian Bible. The New Testament was not written yet. The Bible is the book of the Church, the church is not the Bible.
Melito, Bishop of Sardis (c. 170)
Melito of Sardis produced the first known Christian attempt at an Old Testament. His list maintains the Septuagint order of books but contains only the Old Testament protocanonicals without the Book of Esther, but includes the book of Wisdom.
Council of Laodicea (c. 360)
A local council produced one of the church’s earliest decisions on a canon, a list of books of the Bible considered inspired which was similar to the later Council of Trent's canon.
Council of Rome (382)
This local church council under the authority of Pope Damasus, (366 to 384) gave the first complete list of canonical books of the Old Testament and New Testament which is identical with the list later approved by the Council of Trent. Saint Jerome was a personal secretary under Pope Damasus’ guidance and argued for the Veritas Hebraica, meaning the truth of the Jewish Bible over the Septuagint translation. At the insistence of the Pope, however, he added existing translations for what he considered doubtful books which included the books called apocryphal additions originating in Greek. It reads as follows:
"Likewise it has been said: Now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun.The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis one book, Exodus one book, Leviticus one book, Numbers one book, Deuteronomy one book, Josue Nave one book, Judges one book, Ruth one book, Kings four books, Paraleipomenon two books, Psalms one book, Solomon three books, Proverbs one book, Ecclesiastes one book, Canticle of Canticles one book, likewise Wisdom one book, Ecclesiasticus one book. Likewise the order of the Prophets. Isaias one book, Jeremias one book,with Ginoth, that is, with his lamentations, Ezechiel one book,Daniel one book, Osee one book, Micheas one book, Joel one book, Abdias one book, Jonas one book, Nahum one book, Habacuc one book, Sophonias one book, Aggeus one book, Zacharias one book, Malachias one book. Likewise the order of the histories. Job one book, Tobias one book, Esdras two books, Esther one book, Judith one book, Machabees two books. Likewise the order of the writings of the New and eternal Testament, which only the holy and Catholic Church supports. Of the Gospels, according to Matthew one book, according to Mark one book, according to Luke one book, according to John one book. The Epistles of Paul [the apostle] in number fourteen. To the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Ephesians one, to the Thessalonians two, to the Galatians one, to the Phillipians one, to the Colossians one, to Timothy two, to Titus one, to Philemon one, to the Hebrews one. Likewise the Apocalypse of John, one book. And the Acts of the Apostles one book. Likewise the canonical epistles in number seven. Of Peter the Apostle two epistles, of James the Apostle one epistle, of John the Apostle one epistle, of another John, the presbyter, two epistles, of Jude the Zealut, the Apostle one epistle."
Pope Innocent I, (405) Bishop of Rome (401 to 417)
Responded in papal letter #6 to a request by Exuperius, Bishop of Toulouse, with a list of canonical books of Scripture; this list without the distinction between protocanonicals and deuterocanonicals was the same as later approved by the Council of Trent.
Council of Carthage (419)
Local Church council in North Africa under the authority of the Bishop of Rome approved a list of Old Testament and New Testament canon which was the same as later approved by the Council of Trent.
Council of Florence, an ecumenical council (1441)
Complete list of Old Testament and New Testament canon was decided upon; the exact list later adopted by the prelates at the Council of Trent.
German Versions (1522 to present)
The reformer Martin Luther, who published the New Testament in the language of the common people in 1522, made an attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon because of the early debate over their inclusion and because they were perceived to go against certain Protestant doctrines such as sola fide, but this was not generally accepted among his followers. However, even to this day, these books are still ordered last in some German-language Lutheran Bibles. In 1596 Jacob Lucius published a Bible at Hamburg which labeled Luther's four as Apocrypha New Testament.
Council of Trent, an ecumenical council called to respond to the supposed heresy of the Reformers (1545 to 1563)
The Roman Catholic canon of Old Testament and New Testament received finality: 45 books in the Old Testament (Lamentations is not included in the count); 27 in the New Testament. "Henceforth the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament, protocanonical and deuterocanonical alike, in their entirety and with all their parts, comprise the canon and are held to be of equal authority," is the statement declaring the Latin Vulgate as the authoritative edition of the Bible. In attendance were 255 members over the history of the council, including four papal legates, two cardinals, three patriarchs, twenty-five archbishops, 168 bishops, two-thirds of them being Italians. For the Old Testament its catalogue reads as follows:
- The five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), Josue, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first and second of Esdras (which latter is called Nehemias), Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidic Psalter (in number one hundred and fifty Psalms), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, the twelve minor Prophets (Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacue, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharias, Malachias), two books of Machabees, the first and second.
- Apocrypha or deuterocanonical (Old Testament)
- Additions to Esther
- Wisdom of Soloman
- Sirach or Ecclesiasticus
- [Jeremy] With Baruch
- Additions to Daniel
- Maccabees 1
- Maccabees 2
- Douay-Rheims Bible (1609)
- 2 Esdras or 4 Ezra
- Douay-Rheims Bible (1609)
English Versions (1599 to present)
Beginning with Coverdale in 1535 and including the King James version, the Apocrypha is separated as useful reading but not inspired, just as Luther had determined in his 1534 German edition of the complete Bible. In 1599, for the first time since the Bible had been printed in English, the books of the Apocrypha were omitted in fourteen editions of the Geneva version, although the table of contents continued to list the titles of these books. James I authorized the King James Bible partly to reinforce Anglican orthodoxy against the Geneva Bible. A punishment of one year's imprisonment was decreed in 1615 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, for printing Bibles without the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha was omitted from one printing of the King James Version in 1629. Both Puritans and Presbyterians argued for the complete removal of the Apocrypha from the Bible and in 1825 the British and Foreign Bible Society formally agreed. Since that time, the six books and other minor additions contained in the intertestamental Apocrypha have been eliminated from practically all English Bibles with the exception of Catholic versions and some lectern Bibles. This action resulted in a canon generally accepted by Protestants of 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
Vatican I Council (1869 to 1870)
Reaffirmed the decree of Trent. The Church holds those books of Holy Scripture included in the decree as sacred and approves the additions to Mark (v.16:9-20), Luke, (22:19b-20,43-44) and John, (7:53-8:11) which are not present in early manuscripts.
Providentissimus Deus (1893), Pope Leo XIII, Bishop of Rome (1878 to 1903)
Presented a new plan for Roman Catholic biblical studies. The definition of inspiration is, "By supernatural power God so moved and impelled the human authors to write - he so assisted them in writing - that the things he ordered and those only they first rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth."
Pascendi Dominica Gregis (1907), Pope Pius X, Bishop of Rome (1903 to 1914)
Reported to refute the errors of the Modernists on the distinction between the purely human Christ of history and the divine Christ of faith and on the origin and development of the Scriptures.
Spiritus Paraclitus (1920), Pope Benedict XV, Bishop of Rome (1914 to 1922)
Stated that the goal of biblical studies is to learn spiritual perfection through interpretation in the literal sense assisted by modern critical methods.
Divino Afflante Spiritus (1943), Pope Pius XII, Bishop of Rome (1939 to 1958)
Allowed scholars to use original text of Scriptures. Only seven biblical passages have been definitively interpreted by the authority of the Church of Rome in defending traditional doctrine and morals. (Jn 3:5, Lk 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24, Jn 20:22, Jn 20:23, Rom 5:12, Ja 5: 14)
Humani Generis (1950), Pope Pius XII, Bishop of Rome (1939 to 1958)↑Jump back a section
Vatican II Council (1962 to 1965)
The decree, On Divine Revelation, declares that Jesus Christ is the one source of Divine Revelation and that there are two methods of handing down revelation: Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. That, "The Books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation," while emphasizing, "in order to see what God wanted to communicate in Scripture, we must investigate the intention of the sacred author, and one way to do this is by paying attention to the literary form employed by the sacred writer."
The Tanakh and the Protestant and Roman Catholic Old Testaments
- Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures or evident reason ... I am bound by the Scriptures that I have adduced, and my conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God; and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. God help me. Amen.
- — Luther at the Diet of Worms
|Luther's New Testament
||KJV New Testament|
The Letters of Paul
|1 Corinthians||1 Corinthians|
|2 Corinthians||2 Corinthians|
|1 Thessalonians||1 Thessalonians|
|2 Thessalonians||2 Thessalonians|
|1 Timothy||1 Timothy|
|2 Timothy||2 Timothy|
The General Letters
|1 John||1 Peter|
|2 John||2 Peter|
|3 John||1 John|
|Revelation of Christ to John||Revelation of Christ to John|