A-Z: General definitions: Canon of Scripture


The list of books which the Christian Church accepts as inspired by God and authoritative.

a. The Old Testament. The Jewish canon was not finally fixed until c. 100 AD and the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament primarily used by the church, contained a number of books which were eventually relegated to a secondary position by Jewish theologians. The status of these texts, known as the Apocrypha, was questioned by St Jerome but they were included in the Vulgate edition of the Bible and regarded as canonical by St Augustine among others. On the whole medieval churchmen were inclined to regard the Septuagint Canon as authoritative, because it was this, rather than the Hebrew Canon, which had been cited by the authors of the New Testament.

b. The New Testament. The early church produced a mass of writings, including Gospels, letters, sermons and treatises, most bearing the name of  key leaders such as apostles to establish their authority. Inevitably the Church had to decide which of the sometimes contradictory documents were to be regarded as authentic and authoritative. The core of the New Testament canon (the Four Gospels, Acts and the letters of St Paul) was decided by c. 200 but final agreement on the rest was not recorded until 367 AD.

Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.