My canon is bigger than yours
6. the books of the Bible recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired.
Now, if I was to ask any Christian on the street “what is the canon?” I’d probably get a blank stare, or them asking if I meant the printer/camera company. If I was lucky and happened to run into someone who has just left Moore College I might get a nice long list of 66 books.
Which is nice, but its a little small. It also not something defined in the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles, as that only lists the Old Testament books. The Lutherans also have some issues, as none of their confessions define the New Testament. Mainly due to some issues that Luther had with some of the books. Other protestants (or at least the Reformed) have the 66 defined by their confessions (starting in 1557 with the Gallic Confession and then in the 1561 Belgic Confession and so on).
If I talked to Pope Babyeater XVI he’d give a larger list, with an extra 8 (plus some extra bits for a few others). This of course was only decided on by the Council of Trent in 1546. Kinda late in the whole history of things.
Of course we could delve deep into the history of the various orthodox churches, the Syriac Peshitta only has 22 books in its New Testament because 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation are missing. This is on top of having those extras from the Catholic and Modern Orthodox lists. At least usually. It depends on which manuscript you look at.
The Armenians have had many extra New Testament books, a Third Epistle to the Corinthians, Advice of the Mother of God to the Apostles, the Books of Criapos, the Epistle of Barnabas. As well as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in the OT.
We can then take a trip to Africa.… The Coptics include the Epistles of Clement. Of course, the Ethiopians win the size contest with 81 books. Including such gems as the Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees and the 3 Books of Meqabyan.
From here we could get into the modern critical analysis, but that doesn’t leave much left. So, instead lets go back to the first ever defined christian canon.
That would be by Marcion who got himself all excommunicated because he believed that Yahweh was a lesser demiurge and that Jesus and his God were true. His canon is the smallest because he rejected the whole Old Testament, and most of the New Testament, keeping only an edited version of Luke’s Gospel and 10 of Paul’s letters.
So.… next time you hear some call the Bible the word of God. Ask them which Bible.…
Image stroked from here