The Canon of Scripture
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 still remains an issue of debate. Protestants, Catholics and the Orthodox all have slightly differing collections of documents in their Bibles. Martin Luther, one of the early leaders of the 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 in answering the questions and clearing away the confusion surrounding the Christian canon of Scripture. Adept in both Old and New Testament studies, he brings a rare comprehensive perspective to his task.
Though some issues have shifted since the original publication of this book, it still remains a significant landmark and touchstone for further studies.
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
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