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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Development of the Canon of Scripture

The Catholic Church has identified the canon of Scripture as the entirety of the Bible that Catholics use today. A modest answer to the how the Canon of Scripture came to be is that “It was by the apostolic
Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New (Catholic Church 120).” The simplicity of this statement does, however, belie the great lengths to which Church Fathers went to settle on these 73 books.

The development of the Old Testament had been 1000 years in the making upon the inception of the New Testament. Where it was previously thought that Hebrew Canon had been established far before the arrival of Christ, recent discoveries have shown that it may not have been fixed until as late as 3rd century AD. These Hebrew books were translated into Greek and called the Septuagint. While the Septuagint is a translation of these Hebrew texts, it is believed to have been the work of early Alexandrian Christians. The Septuagint is the basis for the Catholic Old Testament and incorporates  texts that are traditionally not accepted by Jews or Protestants (due to the inclusion of text not found in the Hebrew Bible). These books are known both as Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books. As with the New Testament the Old Testament, and it's inclusion of the “Hidden” Books, were confirmed at the Council of Trent, Vatican 1, and Vatican II.

            By comparison, the compilation of the New Testament was not as lengthy as that of the Old Testament. This is do, in large part, to the struggles of the Church to repress heretical and false teachings, such as that of Marcion, who rejected the Old Testament in favor of an abridged combination of both the Pauline Epistles and the Gospel of Luke. “Thus an official list of accepted writing had the twofold function of insuring the integrity of Christian teaching while rejecting other writing that distorted its meaning (Marthaler 267).” The Protest Reformation instigated the  solidification of the New Testament at The Council of Trent in 1546.


Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition. 2nd ed. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney,
         Auckland: Doubleday Religion, 1994. 120. Print.
 Marthaler, Berard. The Creed. 2nd ed. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty Third Publications, 1993. 267. Print.

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