"Paul is the apostle of the heretics." Tertullian, Adversus Marcion 3:5 (207 A.D.)

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Canon Studies

1. Matthew's Gospel

Was the Greek version of Matthew originally written in Hebrew? If so, what impact does this have on the canon? For more information, see our webpage on the Hebrew Matthew.

2. The Book of Enoch

A 12 -page PDF article about an amazing book that was once canon in all of Christendom until 365 A.D. It was removed solely because Roman Emperors did not like the Revelation-Enoch connection which bolstered the book of Revelation. The latter book Roman civil authorities wanted removed from canon because it was perceived as anti-Roman. This worked for a while on both Revelation and Enoch. Later Revelation was restored to canon. But Enoch was not restored to canon. For this account and the Messianic verses in Enoch, see this PDF.

3. What Was Original NT Scripture?

Metzger is considered the foremost expert on canon formation. Listen to whether there was any self-awareness that letters prior to Jesus' words being written down were Scripture i.e., the period that Paul's letters were the only circulating written materials prior to 50 A.D:

"For early Jewish Christians the Bible consisted of the Old Testament and some Jewish apocryphal literature. Along with this written authority went traditions, chiefly oral, of sayings attributed to Jesus. On the other hand, authors who belonged to the 'Hellenistic Wing' of the Church refer more frequently to writings that later came to be included in the New Testament. At the same time, however, they very rarely regarded such documents as 'Scripture'.

"Furthermore, there was as yet no conception of the duty of exact quotation from books that were not yet in the full sense canonical. Consequently, it is sometimes exceedingly difficult to ascertain which New Testament books were known to early Christian writers; our evidence does not become clear until the end of second century." (Metzger, The Canon Of The New Testament: Its Origin, Significance & Development at 72-73.)

Dr. Smith had a similar opinion that the apostles who wrote epistles had no apparent understanding they were writing anything of coordinate authority to the Law and Prophets:

[T]here is nothing to indicate that the Apostles regarded their written remains as likely to preserve a perfect exhibition of the sum of Christian truth coordinate with the Law and the Prophets.... ( Sir William Smith, Dr. William Smith's dictionary of the Bible (Hurd: 1877) Volume 1 at 368.)

4. Notion of Canon in Reformation

Luther originally interpreted canon from both original and new testaments to be only the words that agreed with Paul's doctrine of grace. Thus, this filter, Luther taught, properly applied to Moses and the Prophets. Luther said this meant we could exclude as authoritative any requirement of works for salvation from Moses or the Prophets -- for in those moments God was not speaking. See this link.

Carlstadt, the co-founder of the Reformation with Luther in 1517, disagreed in a book of 1520. He claimed Moses and Jesus's words were more authoritative than Paul's words. Carlstadt disagreed openly with Luther that James' Epistle can be dismissed entirely because it contradicts Paul.  See this link.

This dispute between Carlstadt and Luther led to Luther's enlisting government authorities to persecute Carlstadt and expel him from Germany. It later led Luther to persecute the Brethren Movement and Anabaptists in Germany who sympathized with Carlstadt's Jesus Words Only approach to the NT. Thus, the dispute over canon was settled by force of arms, in effect. See this link.