Course: Church History (1)
Course Title: Church History and the Standard of the New Testament
Section Two: Final Authority – Scripture or the Church?
Lesson Six: The Canon of Scripture, Bible Manuscripts and Bible Translation.
Evidence from subjective experience
The greatest evidence that the Bible is God’s Word is the evidence of personal experience.
Those who have experienced salvation know that the Bible is the Word of God.
Subjective experience is confirmed by many others
Personal experience is confirmed by the testimony of multitudes throughout Church history.
Criteria for the Canon of Scripture (objective evidence)
The writings of
the New Testament have been upheld as scripture since the time of the
The New Testament was written for a specific purpose
Luke – it seemed a good idea (Luke 1:3).
Epistles written to build up the believers and leaders (Pastoral epistles).
Paul wrote his
epistle to Philemon concerning a runaway slave who he led to the Lord in
New Testament scripture is the inspired word of God expressed through the experiences of the Apostles.
Scripture can never be separated from experience.
Doctrine without experience is dead
Experience that is not built upon doctrine is empty.
Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (theopneustos - God breathed)
‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:’ (2 Timothy )
In what way is scripture inspired?
The Roman Catholic Council of Trent says scripture was dictated by God.
SESSION THE FOURTH
Celebrated on the eighth day of the month of April, in the year MDXLVI. (1546)
DECREE CONCERNING THE CANONICAL SCRIPTURES
The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,--lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the Same three legates of the Apostolic Sec presiding therein,--keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand;
Question: Was scripture dictated by the Holy Spirit?
The style in which scripture is written shows that it could not be dictated by the Holy Spirit.
Dictation only uses another persons intellect to take down information.
Scripture is not written like that.
The epistles of Paul express the mind of Paul and are sent to people for a specific purpose.
The Holy Spirit moved upon the intellect of the writer but the writer is expressing his own thoughts.
Case Study: Didache
Development of the New Testament Canon
Translated to Latin – Jerome
Translated from Latin – Wycliffe
Translated from Greek – Luther, Tyndale, King James Bible.
The Holy Spirit did not say there are only 27 books in the New Testament.
What would happen if Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans was found?
How did the 27 books of the New Testament come to be accepted by the Church?
Why do we reject other writings such as the Didache from being Scripture?
Criteria for accepting writings as scripture
Was it written by an Apostle or someone associated closely with an Apostle?
Is the message consistent with scripture?
Was it widely accepted by church leaders as scripture?
Pocket version of the Didache
4th century copy.
Part of the
Kept in the Sackler Library in
Didache – The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles
Who wrote the Didache? Unknown
When was it written? Exact date unknown - 1st or 2nd century. (50AD – 160AD)
Where was it
What is the Message?
‘Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then "baptize" in running water, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
2 If you do not have running water, baptize in some other.
3 If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
4 Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.’
Concluding chapter is apocalyptic (Chapter 16)
"Let there be placed among the spurious works the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called the Teachings of the Apostles, and also the Apocalypse of John, if this be thought proper; for as I wrote before, some reject it, and others place it in the canon.”
(Historia Ecclesiastica III, 25):
Has the Didache been accepted as scripture by church leaders?
Eusebius lists the Didache among the spurious books.
Authorship – not associated with the Apostles.
Message – not consistent with scripture
not accepted by
Conclusion: Didache is not to be regarded as scripture but interesting for the study of church history.
Who wrote it: The Apostle John
When? About 90AD
What is the Message? Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Why should it be regarded as scripture?
Author - John the Apostle. Revelation mentions the name John four times (1.1, 4, 9; 22:8).
Message is consistent with the rest of scripture.
Widely accepted by church leaders as authentic.
Eusebius places it with the spurious books but acknowledges that many accept it as canonical.
· Peter recognised the writings of Paul to be scripture.
· Marcion – Gnostic Canon (c.150)
· The Muratorian Canon (c.170)
· Ireneaus (c.180)
· Tertullian (wrote between 196-212)
· Papias (wrote 2nd century) Quoted by Eusebius (c.263-c.339)
· Athaniasias (367)
The Second Epistle of Peter affirms that the epistles of Paul were recognised as Scripture in the days of the Apostles. Although the New Testament canon was not firmly fixed until the 4th century the writings of the Apostles were recognised as scripture from the time they were written.
‘…even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.’ (2 Peter 3:14b-15)
First canon made by the Gnostic Marcion.
Formed his own canon of scripture to support his doctrine.
He rejected the Old Testament and regarded the god of the Old Testament as evil.
• Luke's gospel (with Old Testament quotes removed that linked Jesus with the Old Testament)
• 10 letters of Paul but with the removal of Old Testament quotations. Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians (he called it the Epistle to the Laodiceans), Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon.
• He did not accept Hebrews or I & II Timothy and Titus
Marcion’s canon forced church to form a canon of scripture
Discovered by Ludovico Antonio Muratori in 1740
in the Ambrosian Library in
Codex copied c. 7th or 8th century - lists all books of New Testament.
Original list from which this was copied is dated as early as 2nd century but some say it is 4th century.
Beginning and ending of the parchment is missing.
Starts with the words
´…the third book of the gospel is that according to Luke.`
Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
Maintained that there could only be four Gospels as there are four principal winds and four zones of the earth.
P45 Papyrus shows that the Four Gospels and Acts were read together (200-250AD)
He was the first to refer to the Old and New Testament (Against Marcion Book 4 Chapter 6).
Tertullian became a Montanist c.206.
Tertullian says that Marcion mutilated the New Testament and Valentinus misinterpreted it.
Tertullian does not quote a list of books accepted as scriptures but he upholds the following books as scripture: Four gospels, Acts, 13 epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, Jude and Revelation.
Tertullian regarded Hebrews to be the work of Barnabas.
Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygis c.125.
Quoted by the historian Eusebius (c.263 – c.339).
Mentions many of the New Testament books
First listed the 27 books of New Testament (Festal Letter 39)
New Testament manuscripts were found in
Kept in good condition by the dry heat.
• John Rylands papyrus – Fragment of John's Gospel (c.125)
• Chester Beatty papyrus – Epistle's of Paul (c.200)
• Bodmer papyrus – Luke, John, Acts, General Epistles, I & II Peter, Jude (c.200).
Fragment of John's Gospel (c.125)
P52 is the
oldest known manuscript fragment of the New Testament.
Dated: c.125 –150.
Front side: Fragments from John 18:31-33
Reverse: Fragments from John 18:37-38
Papyrus 45, 46 and 47
Dated between 200-250AD
Location where it was found is unknown.
P45 Four Gospels and Acts
P46 The Epistles of Paul
(Dated between 200 -250).
Contains parts of all the Gospels and Acts
P45 shows that the Four Gospels and Acts were combined from an early date.
Dated between 200-250.
Earliest substantial New Testament manuscript.
Papyrus codex of Paul's epistles.
From the second century the epistles of Paul were put together in a papyrus codex and read together.
The Chester Beatty papyrus is the oldest codex of Paul’s epistles.
Papyrus 46: Contains 86 leaves (originally c.104)
Contains the writings of Paul including Hebrews but not the pastoral epistles.
Part is kept by
Romans (last 8 chapters), Hebrews, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians (2 chapters).
Part by Univ. Of
1 and 2 Corinthians
Bought by Martin Bodmer 1955-6
Kept in Cologny, near
Thought to have
been found at Pabau (near Dishna)
The Headquarters of the Pachomian monks.
Manuscripts in Greek and Coptic.
P72 (1 & 2 Peter and Jude)
P74 (Acts and General Epistles)
P75 (Luke and John)
P8 given to Pope Paul VI in 1969 and is now in the Vatican Library
Gospels of Luke and John
Content: Luke 3:18-22; 3:33 - 4:2; 4:34 - 5:10; 5:37 - 6:4; 6:10 - 7:32, 35-39, 41-43; 7:46 - 9:2; 9:4 - 17:15; 17:19 - 18:18; 22:4 - 24:53;
John 1:1 - 11:45, 48-57; 12:3 - 13:1, 8-9; 14:8-29; 15:7-8.
Story of the Woman in Adultery not included -John
3rd – 4th century
1 and 2 Peter
Final part of codex
Kept in the
Papyrus (3rd –5th century)
Discovered by Grenfell and Hunt 1896-7.
Oxyrynchus is 300km south of
44 registered New Testament papyrii are from Oxyrynchus.
More than 100,000 papyrii have been found at Oxyrynchus but only two thousand papyrii have been read so far.
P1 (c.250 AD)
Gospel of Matthew 26:23, 31
Prof. Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede (1952-2004)
Redated Magdalen papyrus as late 1st century.
p67 (part of same codex) contains Matthew 3:9, 15; -22, 25-28
Kept at Fundacion San Lucas
Christian Community at Fustât (
Romans 4 – 5 (Dated c. 3rd century)
The Martin Shřyen Collection,
Romans – 5:3; 5:8 – 13
Greek texts - Codex replaced the use of the scroll and
Vellum (parchment) replaced the use of papyrus.
None of these are known today but three codices from the 4th and 5th century exist today:
Codex Sinaiticus which is in the
Codex Alexandrinus which is in the
Codex Vaticanus which is in the Vatican Library
Mid 4th century
Discovered in 1859 by Constantin von Tischendorf at the monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai.
Constantin von Tischendorf (1815-1874)
Tischendorf visited the monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai in 1844.
129 pages from a Codex were in the library waste paper bin ready to be burnt. Some pages had already been burnt.
In 1859 he again visited the monastery and was shown the Codex Sinaiticus.
The Codex was
1933 sold to
4th century codex
Kept in the
Two notes link
the codex to
Contains the complete Septuagint and all the New Testament books plus some apocryphal books.
Kept in the
(Dated 5th or 6th century from
It contains the four Gospels in this order: Matthew John Luke and Mark; 3 John and the Acts (only Luke is complete).
Kept in the
The authority of scripture is not affected by minor copyist errors.
There is one consistent central message of scripture that stands as a framework for understanding scripture.
A person who has a personal relationship with Jesus will understand the real meaning of scripture better than scholars who understand the original languages.
Scholarship alone cannot produce a good translation.
Translations must always remain within the guidelines of the one central message of scripture. The Bible must be translated in the light of the salvation message.
Individual scriptures can never be interpreted in isolation from other scriptures.
A literal translation may not convey the true meaning.
Example: Philippians 2:7
Literally - Emptied Himself
Translated – Made Himself of no reputation.
Translated Latin Vulgate from the Greek text.
Commissioned by Pope Damasus to make a new Latin translation of the Bible from the original texts. It included the Apocrypha.
the work sometime after 382 when he became papal secretary in
His translation became known as the Latin Vulgate
It was the only translation authorised by the Roman Catholic Church for over 1000 years.
Latin – scholarly language
Latin not understood by the laity – language of the clergy and scholars.
Roman Catholic Church sought to protect Church from error by keeping the scriptures away from the laity.
Translation of scripture into the common language was prohibited to keep the scriptures from the laity because this would promote heresy.
The Reformers sought to give the scriptures to the common people
Peter Waldo of
called the 'Poor men of
Sought to preach in the common language to ordinary people. Forbidden to do so by the Third Lateran Council
portions of the scripture and preached to the poor around the region of the
John Wycliffe (c.1329-1384)
The Morning Star of the Reformation
Wycliffe translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English.
The Wycliffe Bible had to be handwritten. Printing had not yet invented in the West.
William Caxton began printing in
Greek New Testament. Erasmus published the Novum
instrumentum in 1516 (
Revised edition of the Greek New Testament were published in 1519, 1522, 1527, and 1535.
Complutensian Polyglot (1514)
The Greek New
Testament had been printed before Erasmus as part of the New Testament volume
of the Complutensian Polyglot in
But it was not published until 1522 when the complete work in 4 volumes was completed.
This work needed the approval of the Pope.
Erasmus wrote satire against the Pope and had no need for his approval.
(1483-1546) translated the New Testament from Erasmus' Greek New Testament
(1519) to German while hiding in
(May 1521 – March 1522)
Luther's one main criteria for scripture: the message - scripture always preaches Christ.
Luther translated the 27 books.
The last 4 books being Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation
Luther called James an 'epistle of straw', but he accepted it as part of the New Testament canon.
Published English New Testament (1525)
Tyndale also placed Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation last.
King James Version 1611
Hampton Court Conference held January 1604 – King, moderate Puritans and Anglican Bishops.
Puritan demands rejected but decision made to produce new edition of the Bible.
The King James Version was published in 1611.
Greek (Textus Receptus)
Theodore Beza (1519-1605) published a revised edition of the Erasmus' Greek text (Textus Receptus).
Beza's 1598 edition of the TR was the primary source for the KJV's Greek text.
The Old Testament is based upon the Masoretic Text.
The KJV New Testament retained over 80% of Tyndale's translation (1534).
The Masoretic text (7th – 10th centuries)
The Masoretic text was written and distributed by Jewish scribes known as Masoretes between the 7th – 10th centuries.
The word Masoretic refers to the marginal notes that characterise this text.
The Masoretic text was the oldest Hebrew text available until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Aleppo Codex associated with Rabbi Aaron Ben Asher.
Codex - Written by Masoretic scholars 10th century in Tiberius.
Contains vowels and grammar points.
Comparing the Masoretic text with the
The Great Scroll of Isaiah found in Cave 1 dates 1000 years earlier than the Masoretic text but the textual differences are of minor importance.