Study resources for the Old and New
A conservative, bible believing
God's providence gave us the 27
book New Testament Canon, not the church. God, not men decided the canon. This providence
does not mean that church leaders were inspired in their selecting the canon,
only that God had his eye on the scriptures the whole time and brought about
His will to form the Bible we see today!
Study resources for the Old and New Testament Canon
From: Lee Martin McDonald, James A. Sanders, Editors: The Canon
Debate, Appendix A, B, p 580-584, 2002
Appendix A: Primary Sources for the Study of the Old
Testament/Hebrew Bible Canon By Lee Martin McDonald
The following ancient sources are those most often cited by modern
scholars investi- gating the origins and development of the Old/First Testament
or Hebrew Bible. This list is not exhaustive, but the items listed are
centrally important; any conclusions regarding the origins and development of
the Old Testament canon must take account of them.
Ezra 9-10 and Neh 8-9: the reading of the law of Moses, and writings that
were authoritative in the fifth century B.C.E.
49:8-10: Ezekiel, Job, and the Twelve Prophets. See also the context in
Sir 44:1-50:25, the "praise of famous men." Is the focus in this
passage on sacred literature or holy men?
to Sirach: three groupings of sacred literature. The third group is
imprecise, and none of the literature within the groupings is specifically
Macc 1:54-57: the destruction of the Jewish sacred writings under the
Macc 2:13-15: Judas Maccabeus's recovery and collection of Jewish sacred
writings. The identity of these writings is not clear.
see 6ab-28b, but especially C 9-12 (perhaps ca. 150 B.C.E.). This is a
very difficult text to discern because of its corruption, but it does
describe three or four vague groupings of sacred writings.
Arist. §308-311 (ca. 110-100 B.C.E.): the origins of the LXX. Only the law
of Moses is mentioned in this tradition.
Contempl. 3.25-28 and Mos. 2.37-40: three or four categories of sacred
writings among the Therapeutae (probably Essenes) in Egypt roughly just
before the ministry of Jesus.
11:49-51: Jesus' reference to the martyrs in the OT beginning with the
first (Abel) and concluding with the last (Zechariah). Was 2 Chronicles
the last book in the OT in Jesus' canon (see 2 Chr 24:2-24) or simply the
last martyr mentioned in the OT scripture? Does this passage suggest a
closed biblical canon in the time of Jesus that began with Genesis and
closed with the last book in the Writings (Ketubim), namely, 2 Chronicles?
This is highly unlikely due to the place of 2 Chronicles in several
manuscripts, especially in the Aleppo texts, and due to the repetition of
the closing verses of 2 Chronicles in Ezra 1 (which shows that Ezra was
written after 2 Chronicles).
24:44: a reference by Jesus to the Law, Prophets, and "psalms."
Does "psalms" refer to the whole of the Writings, or does it
refer only to the book of Psalms, or simply to some of the psalms? Did the
later term "fifths" (Heb. = homasin), which was used by the
rabbinic sages of the second century C.E. of the book of Psalms and also
of all of the Writings, refer to the whole of the Writings in the time of
Jesus? Were the "psalms" equal to the later designated Writings?
2:23-24 as cited by Epiphanius, Mens. 22 (ca. 380 C.E.). Is this the
original form of the text, or is it the Qumran or Ethiopic version of the
text? Did the original form refer to a twenty-two book biblical canon?
C. Ap. 1.37--43 (ca. 90 C.E.), mentions a three-part, twenty-two book
biblical canon. Are the books in each of the three categories of his list
identifiable and are they the same as the later and more clearly defined
collection called the Tanak (an acronym for Torah, Nebi'im, Ketubim)? Also
on prophecy, see C. Ap. 1.8.41; Ant. 13, 311-13; B.J. 6, 286; 6, 300-309.
Did Josephus believe that all prophecy had ceased from the time of
Artaxerxes and therefore all Scripture or prophetic writing ended by ca.
400 B.C.E.? Did he view his writings as "inspired"?
Ezra 14.22-48 (ca 90-100 C.E.), describes the divine translation of
ninety-four holy books-twenty-four plus seventy others. This is probably a
reference to the sacredness of the apocryphal and pseudepigraphal
literature besides a twenty-four book collection of Hebrew Scriptures. Why
would many of the early Christians include this book (4 Ezra) in their
completed under the direction of Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi (ca. 200-210 C. E.).
There is not much focus on a biblical canon and very few references to the
Hebrew scriptures. See m. Yad. 3.2-5 and 4.6 on which books "defile
B. Bat. 14b-15a (ca. middle to late second century C.E.). This is the
first reference in Judaism that specifically lists by name the twenty-four
books of the Hebrew Bible in three distinct categories. It is not clear
how representative this list was of mainstream Judaism at that time.
references in the rabbinic literature indicate a conflict over the place
of some books in their sacred collection. On Song of Songs, see m. Yad.
3.5 and b. Meg. 7a; on Ecclesiastes see m. Yad. 3.5 and b. Shabb. 100a; on
Ruth see b. Meg. 7a; on Esther see b. San. 100a and b. Meg. 7a; on
Proverbs see b. Shabb. 30b; on Ezekiel see b. Shabb. 13b, Hag. 13a and
church fathers' references to the OT/NT Scriptures:
a. Justin, Dial. 100.1ff.; 1 Apol. 28.1 and 67.3; Cohort. Graec.
b. Melito's list of OT scriptures, see Eusebius, Hist. eccl.
c. Irenaeus, Haer. 2.27.2; 3.3.3; 3.11.8; 3.12.15; 3.14.1-15.1;
3.21.3-4; 3.17.4. See also Eusebius' reference to the biblical canon of
Irenaeus in H. E. 5.8.1.
d. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 7.20. In Hist. eccl. 6.13.4-8 and
6.14.5-7, Eusebius gives what he claims is Clement's scriptural canon.
e. Origen, Ep. Aft. 13 (cf. Julius Africanus, Hist. Sus.).
Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.25.3-14, indi-cates that Origen added the books of the
Maccabees (as "outside books") to the Hebrew Bible that he knew from
contacts with Jews in the third century C.E. On his NT, see Eusebius, Hist.
f. Tertullian, Marc. 4.2.2,5; Prax. 15; and Praescr. 32, 36. On
Marcion's view of the law and what he did to Luke's Gospel, see Marc. 1.29;
4.2; and 5.18.1; Praescr. 38.7; Cult. fern. 1.3.
g. Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.3.1-5; 3.25.1-7, for his own biblical
canon, and compare with 5.8.1; 6.14.; 6.24-25; 7.25.22-27.
h. Jerome, Prologus in Jeremiam, In libros Salornonis (Chromatio
et Heliodoro), In Danielem prophetam, In Ezram, In librum Tobiae, In librum
Judith, Commentaria in Isaiae prophetiam 3.6.
i. Other church fathers referring to the Old Testament Scriptures
in the 4th-5th centuries include: Athanasius, Ep. fest.
39; Cyril, Catech. 4.33-36; Rufinus, Symb. 38; Epiphanius, Pond. 22-23, Pan.
8.6.1ff.; Hilary of Poitiers, Prologus in libros Psalmorum 15; Augustine, Doct.
lists of the fourth and fifth centuries from both the East and the West
(see lists below as well as those in Bruce, Hahneman, Metzger, and
Geniza. A careful reading of selected texts from this collection of
recovered documents in Egypt indicates that several writings were deemed
sacred among the Jews in Cairo in the eighth and ninth centuries C.E. and
considerably earlier in some instances. Non-sacred writings were also
included in this collection because they contained sacred names and
therefore caution is needed in any evaluation of their status within that
"glue" texts, that is, texts that united portions of the OT
literature together. Some of the more important texts include: Deut
34:1-12; 2 Chron 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; and Mal. 4:4-6. When were these
passages added to tie the larger sections of the OT together?
Appendix B: Primary Sources for the Study of the New Testament
By Lee Martin McDonald
The following ancient sources are those most often cited by modern
scholars investigating the origins and development of the New/Second Testament.
Again, this list is not exhaustive, but the items listed are centrally
important; any conclusions regarding the origins and development of the New
Testament canon must take account of them.
Fathers (writers who, for the most part, followed the writers of the NT).
Passages that show use of NT literature and in some cases recognition of
the authority of those writings: (1) 1 Clem. 13.1-3; (2) Barn. 4.14; (3)
Ign. Phld. 5.1-2; 8:2; (4) Poly. Phil. 2.2-3; 3.2; 6.3; 7.1-2; 8.2; 12.1;
(5) 2 Clem. 2.4-6; 14.2.
to the authority of Jesus' words in early gnostic teaching (Ptolemy, Flor.
3.5-8; 4.1, 4; 7.5, 10).
use of NT writings to support Christian teaching and worship (Justin,
Dial. 28.1; 65.2; 84.4; 100.1-8; 1 Apol. 66, 67).
that mention Marcion's limited collection of NT scriptures Marcion
(Marcionite Gospel Prologues; Tertullian, Marc. 4.2-5; Adamantius, Dial.
2.18; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.12.3-6).
on heresies and the use of scripture (Haer. 1.26.2; 2.27.2; 2.28.2;
2.35.4; 3.2.2; 3.3.1-3; 3.4.1-2; 3.11.8-9; 3.14.1; 3.15.1; 3.17.4; 4.15.2;
awareness of NT literature (Comm. Matt. 15.3, which shows a Marcionite use
of Matthew, and Hom. Jes. Nav. 7; and see also Princ.).
of scripture, tradition, and authority in the church (Clement of
Alexandria, Strom. 1.20, on the value of philosophy for understanding
God's truth; see also 7.16).
beliefs and errors (see Irenaeus, Haer., all of book 1, but also 3.3.1).
reference to Paul's writings as scripture (2 Pet 3:15-16).
to Paul in scripture-like manner to argue his case in Athenagoras, Res. 18
(see also 7-8), ca. 180 C.E.
calling on Autolycus to reverence the scriptures and then citing Rom 2:7,
1 Cor 2:9, and Rom 2:8-9 (Autol. 1.14 and 2.9, 14, 22)
discussion of Marcion's editing of Luke and Paul (Marc. 1.29; 4.2; 5.18.1;
5.21; and Praescr. 32, 36, 38.4-7; Prax. 15).
that may refer to earlier collections of scriptures in the second century
(Hippolytus, Haer. 8.19.1).
of the burning of sacred books during the Diocletianic persecution (303
C.E.) in Gesta apud Zenophilum and Acta Saturnini 18.
in Eusebius that list or discuss Christian writings: (1) his own
perspective (Hist. eccl. 3.3.1-5; 3.25.1-7); (2) Papias' preference for
oral sources over written sources (3.39.4); (3) Martyrs of Lyons and
Vienna (5.1.3-63); (4) the Montanists (5.14-19); (5) on persecution and
burning of sacred books (8.5-6); (6) on Irenaeus's NT canon and LXX
collection (5.8.1-15); (7) on Origen's OT and NT canon (6.24-25); see also
Rufinus'translation of Hom. Jes. Nau 7; (8) on Clement of Alexandria's
collection of divine names (6.13.4-8; 6.14.1-24); (9) on why Serapion rejected
the Gospel of Peter (6.12.1-6); (10) Dionysius's perspective on scripture
(7.25.22-27); (11) on Constantine's role in the churches and his ordering
of fifty copies of scriptures (VC. 2.2-4, 34-3, 65, 68).
important primary references include:
a. Epiphanius, Haer. 5 and 76; Mens.
b. Filastrius, Haer. 40
c. Council of Hippo, Canon 38
d. Council of Carthage, Canon 47
e. Council of Laodicea, Canons 59, 60
f. Jerome: Prologus galeatus; Epist. 50 ad Paulinum; Commentaria
in Matthaeum; Epistola ad Dardanum 2; De viris illustribus 5-10, 15, 17, 36,
41, 63, 81, 135.
most important NT canonical lists are as follows:
a. Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.25.1-7 (ca. 303-325) from
b. Catalogue in Codex Claramontanus (ca. 303-367) from Alexandria/Egypt.
c. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4.33 (ca. 350) from
d. Muratorian Catalogue (ca. 350-75) from the East.
e. Athanasius, Ep. fest. 39 (367) from Alexandria, Egypt.
f. Mommsen Catalogue (365-90) from Northern Africa.
g. Epiphanius, Pan. 76.5 (374-77) from Palestine/Western Syria.
h. Apostolic Canons (ca. 380) from Palestine/Western Syria.
i. Gregory of Nazianzus, Carmen de veris scripturae libris 12.31
(383-90) from Asia Minor.
j. African Canons (ca. 393-419) from Northern Africa.
k. Jerome, Epist. 53 (ca. 394) from Palestine.
l. Augustine, Doct. chr. 2.8.12 (ca. 396-97) from Northern Africa
(see also 2.3.1).
m. Amphilochius, Iambi ad Seleucum 289-319 (ca. 396) from Asia
n. Rufinus, Commentary on the Apostles' Creed 36 (ca. 400) from
o. Pope Innocent, Letter to Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse (ca
405) from Rome/Italy.
p. Syrian catalogue of St. Catherine's (ca. 400) from Eastern
q. Also see the collections in the following important biblical
Vaticanus (ca. 331-350) from Alexandria/Egypt.
Sinaiticus (ca. 331-350) from Alexandria/Egypt.
Alexandrinus (ca. 425) from Asia Minor.
Peshitta (ca. 400) from Eastern Syria.
By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for
comments, input or corrections.
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