Canon question


#1

Hi,

Can anyone direct me to sources that state exactly how the Council of Trent (or any previous councils / individuals) determined canonicity?

I’ve been intrigued from the following text in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Before entering into the historical proof for this primitive emergence of a compact, nucleative Canon, it is pertinent to briefly examine this problem: During the formative period what principle operated in the selection of the New Testament writings and their recognition as Divine?–Theologians are divided on this point. This view that Apostolicity was the test of the inspiration during the building up of the New Testament Canon, is favoured by the many instances where the early Fathers base the authority of a book on its Apostolic origin, and by the truth that the definitive placing of the contested books on the New Testament catalogue coincided with their general acceptance as of Apostolic authorship. Moreover, the advocates of this hypothesis point out that the Apostles’ office corresponded with that of the Prophets of the Old Law, inferring that as inspiration was attached to the munus propheticum so the Apostles were aided by Divine inspiration whenever in the exercise of their calling they either spoke or wrote.

snip

. The weight of Catholic theological opinion is deservedly against mere Apostolicity as a sufficient criterion of inspiration. The adverse view has been taken by Franzelin , Schmid Crets Leitner , Pesch . These authors (some of whom treat the matter more speculatively than historically) admit that Apostolicity is a positive and partial touchstone of inspiration, but emphatically deny that it was exclusive, in the sense that all non-Apostolic works were by that very fact barred from the sacred Canon of the New Testament They hold to doctrinal tradition as the true criterion.

Catholic champions of Apostolicity as a criterion are: Ubaldi Schanz ; Székely . Recently Professor Batiffol, while rejecting the claims of these latter advocates, has enunciated a theory regarding the principle that presided over the formation of the New Testament Canon which challenges attention and perhaps marks a new stage in the controversy. According to Monsignor Batiffol, the Gospel bore with it its own sacredness and authority from the very beginning. This Gospel was announced to the world at large, by the Apostles and Apostolic disciples of Christ, and this message, whether spoken or written, whether taking the form of an evangelic narrative or epistle, was holy and supreme by the fact of containing the Word of Our Lord. Accordingly, for the primitive Church, evangelical character was the test of Scriptural sacredness. But to guarantee this character it was necessary that a book should be known as composed by the official witnesses and organs of the Evangel; hence the need to certify the Apostolic authorship, or at least sanction, of a work purporting to contain the Gospel of Christ. In Batiffol’s view the Judaic notion of inspiration did not at first enter into the selection of the Christian Scriptures. In fact, for the earliest Christians the Gospel of Christ, in the wide sense above noted, was not to be classified with, because transcending, the Old Testament. It was not until about the middle of the second century that under the rubric of Scripture the New Testament writings were assimilated to the Old; the authority of the New Testament as the Word preceded and produced its authority as a New Scripture. Batiffol’s hypothesis has this in common with the views of other recent students of the New Testament Canon, that the idea of a new body of sacred writings became clearer in the Early Church as the faithful advanced in a knowledge of the Faith.

Thanks, James


#2

All Trent really says regarding criteria for canonicity is that they “have come down to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand.” (Trent Session IV). They weren’t concerned with determining the canon as much as they were with reaffirming the canon that had already been established. I would look to the earlier councils of Hippo, Rome, etc. to find the criteria used by the early Church from whiich Trent inherited the canon.


#3

Try this site: history.hanover.edu/early/trent.html


#4

also Grahams’s book is excellent—“Where we got the Bible?” Our Debt to the Catholich Church


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