Council of Nicaea & The Bible Canon

Every once in a while I hear from Non-Catholics claiming the bible canon was decided at the council of Nicaea. For the record I would like to say that was not the reason why the council was convened nor is there evidence about this particular council dealing with the bible canon. I would like to ask whoever believes this council dealt with the bible canon to please present their references/evidence.

Did you mean Catholics? My experience is that it is Catholics who claim that the canon was settled in in the early councils.

Jon

The Council of Nicea dealt with the Trinity and the relation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in response to Arianism. I do not think it even dealt with the canon

I thought the canon of the Bible was pretty much settled at the Council of Hippo in 393 and the Council of Carthage in 397. Then an infallible definition of canonical books for Roman Catholic Christians came from the Council of Trent in 1556 in the face of the errors of the Reformers who rejected seven Old Testament books from the canon of scripture.

Maybe they meant Nicea II:

catholicbridge.com/catholic/orthodox/why_orthodox_bible_is_different_from_catholic.php

Now, this was modified somewhat when, at both the Byzantine Council of Trullo (692) and the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea II (787), both the church of Constantinople and the church of Antioch (along with Rome and Alexandria) recognized the binding canons of the Council of Carthage (397).

Well, Jon…with the East also accepting the Hippo and Carthage…Now, this was modified somewhat when, at both the Byzantine Council of Trullo (692) and the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea II (787), both the church of Constantinople and the church of Antioch (along with Rome and Alexandria) recognized the binding canons of the Council of Carthage (397). (catholicbridge.com/catholic/orthodox/why_orthodox_bible_is_different_from_catholic.php)…would…would) you still refer to the earlier councils as regional? or the Canon unsettled?

Hi Pablope,
The link didn’t work for me. Do the Eastern Orthodox accept Hippo and Carthage?
If they do, I would expect to see a pared-down Orthodox canon.
Otherwise, I certainly would not consider either as ecumenical, and my view of the canon is that it is far more settled than unsettled. IOW, I believe there remains room for for an Orthodox canon that includes 3 Macc and the Prayer of Manasseh, for example. It all depends on how we use the term 'canon" (rule).

Jon

Here is the corrected link: catholicbridge.com/catholic/orthodox/why_orthodox_bible_is_different_from_catholic.php

Do the Eastern Orthodox accept Hippo and Carthage? If they do, I would expect to see a pared-down Orthodox canon.

It is my understanding that they accept them as regional synods, which differ in authority from ecumenical councils. I don’t know if all the Orthodox follow a canon with more than 73 books. Among those who do, they probably take Hippo and Carthage as evidence for the 73 books that Catholics and Orthodox agree upon, and look to other evidence to prove the canonicity of books beyond those 73.

If you want my Catholic opinion, I think those Councils are very strong evidence that the Canon should be limited to the 73 books in the Catholic Bible. Among other things, they say that no other books should be read in Church beyond the ones they list.

Otherwise, I certainly would not consider either as ecumenical, and my view of the canon is that it is far more settled than unsettled.

Neither Hippo nor Carthage are regarded by anybody as ecumenical. However, a case can be made that the Council of Carthage in 419 A.D. had its Canon confirmed with infallible authority by an ecumenical council agreed to by both the Catholic and the Orthodox. This position is defended in the link I provided you with above. If I understand their argument correctly, it can be presented in a logical syllogism like this:

(1) Nicea II infallibly confirmed the canons of prior, regional synods. (Canon 1)
(2) The prior, regional synod of Carthage in 419 A.D. canonically ordained a Canon limited to the 73 books in the Catholic canon. (Canon 24)
(3) Therefore, Nicea II infallibly confirmed that the Canon is limited to the 73 books in the Catholic canon.

Let me know if that is helpful.

One piece of evidence that I am aware of is a comment made by St. Jerome in his Prologue to Judith. There, he writes, among other things, “[T]he Nicene Council is considered to have counted this book among the number of sacred Scriptures.” At one time, I thought I had tracked down a translation of the surviving canons and decrees of the Council of Nicea, or maybe it was just a blog post where somebody thought they had found something interesting in one of the more common translations. Anyway, I thought in one instance this particular translation demonstrated that the Council of Nicea, in one part of it, had quoted from Judith. If that is true, perhaps that is what St. Jerome was referring to. But I now think I was mistaken, because after a few hours of searching I haven’t been able to locate any evidence of such a quotation.

“The early councils,” yes, but not the Council of Nicea. I’ve never heard Catholics argue that the First Ecumenical Council took up the question of the Canon, but I have heard anti-Catholic Dan Brown followers say so. It is my understanding that Dan Brown’s book, “The Da Vinci Code,” claims that the Council of Nicea voted on the Canon in order to exclude the Gnostic gospels.

Jimmy Akin seems to take a neutral position on this.

*This reference does not prove that the First Nicaea dealt with the canon, but it does show that the claim that it did was around in St. Jerome’s day and that he, himself, believed it.

Jerome indicates that the council reckoned Judith as Scripture and, if it did that, then it likely recognized other deuterocanonical books as Scripture also–just like other 4th century councils did (e.g., Rome in 382 and Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397).*

Source: catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/the-first-ecumenical-council-on-the-book-of-judith

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