The Canon of Scripture, By F. F. Bruce
The Canon of Scripture
  • Length: 349 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: December 18, 2018
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5212
  • ISBN: 9780830852123

*affiliate partner

  • Winner of two 1990 Christianity Today Awards: Readers' Choice (1st place; theology doctrine) and Critics' Choice (1st place; theology doctrine).
  • A 1989 ECPA Gold Medallion Award winner

How did the books of the Bible come to be recognized as Holy Scripture?

Who decided what shape the canon should take?

What criteria influenced these decisions?

After nearly nineteen centuries the canon of Scripture remains an issue of debate. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox all have slightly differing collections of documents in their Bibles. Martin Luther, one of the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation, questioned the inclusion of the book of James in the canon. And many Christians today, while confessing the authority of all of Scripture, tend to rely on only a few books and particular themes while ignoring the rest.

Scholars have raised many other questions as well. Research into second-century Gnostic texts have led some to argue that politics played a significant role in the formation of the Christian canon. Assessing the influence of ancient communities and a variety of disputes on the final shaping of the canon call for ongoing study.

In this significant historical study, F. F. Bruce brings the wisdom of a lifetime of reflection and biblical interpretation to bear on questions and confusion surrounding the Christian canon of Scripture. Adept in both Old and New Testament studies, he brings a rare comprehensive perspective to the task.

Though some issues have shifted since the initial publication of this classic book, it remains a significant landmark and touchstone for further studies.

"This book is at once learned and readable, and takes account of the most recent discoveries and literature. It is the most comprehensive account of the canon since Bishop Westcott's The Bible in the Church (1864)."

Roger Beckwith, Latimer House, Oxford



Part One: Introduction
1. Holy Scripture

Part Two: Old Testament
2. The Law and the Prophets
3. The Greek Old Testament
4. The Old Testament Becomes a New Book
5. The Christian Canon of the Old Testament: A. In the East
6. The Christian Canon of the Old Testament: B. In the Latin West
7. Before and After the Reformation

Part Three: New Testament
8. Writings of the New Era
9. Marcion
10. Valentinus and His School
11. The Catholic Response
12. The Muratorian Fragment
13. Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Novatian
14. Tertullian, Cyprian and Others
15. The Alexandrian Fathers
16. Eusebius of Caesarea
17. Athanasius and After
18. The West in the Fourth Century to Jerome
19. Augustine to the End of the Middle Ages
20. The New Testament Canon in the Age of Printing

Part Four: Conclusion
21. Criteria of Canonicity
22. A Canon Within the Canon?
23. Canon, Criticism and Interpretation

Appendix 1: The 'Secret' Gospel of Mark
Appendix 2: Primary Sense and Plenary Sense


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F. F. Bruce

F. F. Bruce (1910–1990) was Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester in England. During his distinguished career, he wrote more than forty bestselling commentaries and books, including A Mind for What Matters and Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free. He also served as general editor of The New International Commentary on the New Testament.