Does this early New Testament chart make you question the final Canon?


Seems some books not in the final Canon were cited as scripture by just as many early Christians as were books which did make the Canon. I have to be honest, and maybe it’s heretical but I do question it at times. I sometimes wonder why say 2 Peter made the Canon yet the Shepherd of Hermas did not. Also the Apocalypse of Peter, the Didache, 1 Clement, and the Epistle of Barnabas I often think should have been included. They aren’t heretical by any means.


The canon took a while to assemble, and even then, it’s not a clean cut. Jude made it in, with a citation from an extracanonical Jewish writing, the Apocalypse of Moses. I think the key message is that there was development over time in scripture and canon, in addition to doctrine and ecclesiology.

I’d be careful in how we read this list. Just because a patristic author doesn’t cite a particular source doesn’t mean it wasn’t otherwise in use. I mean, Papias prioritized the oral tradition over written sources, so he’s another “data point” there. Also, citing something approvingly doesn’t mean that it’s considered sacred scripture per se. Decades later, St. Thomas Aquinas quoted approvingly of the Muslim scholar Averroes, whose work on Aristotle was highly influential on him.

The inclusion of Marcion himself, who explicitly set out to de-Judaize Jesus and Christianity, isn’t a real useful metric. He just built a canon that supported his own quasi-gnostic views.

As to other books, say 2 and 3 John, they may have been used in one area and took a while to spread and be widely used. Actually, 3 John itself is more of a work on ecclesiastical history, rather than much new theology, so it’s also possible that it didn’t get cited by authors focused on more doctrinal issues.

The Shepherd of Hermas is a clearly visionary work, and over time, that type of work became more and more frowned upon. Particularly with the Montanist crisis, personal revelation from the Holy Spirit became considered more and more a threat to the institutional church. Hermas’ utility was less and less a factor.


No…because I trust the Chuch, the bishops who sat together at Hippo and Carthage, led by St. Augustine…to have gotten it right, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I have to be honest, and maybe it’s heretical but I do question it at times.

I think it would be best for you to trust the Church and is being guided by the Holy Spirit.


I do not believe in Canon outside of my belief and trust in the Church. If I cannot trust the Church and what it has given us and it’s authority to do so, then Canon is completely irrelevant.

Jesus gave us a Church, not a book.



Go ahead and lock the topic. It’s been conclusively answered.


Scriptures that ended up not being included in the NT may have been dismissed simply because they were written by someone who was not an eyewitness of Christ, not because there was something heretical about the text. Maybe the Fathers just wanted to stick with eyewitnesses.


I believe that the canon as it emerged was formed by the consensus of the Church Fathers with an eye to orthodoxy. I don’t read the other rejected Gospels - except for Thomas. And I don’t try and argue Thomas should be included or recognized by the Church. I don’t, on the other hand, rule out the possibility that some texts exist that are the inspired Word of God that were inadvertently rejected due to prejudice or error. But how can I know that.


This does NOT make we doubt the New Testament at all.


  1. For starters we don’t know if we can trust this website. It’s by one person, not an institute or organization.

  2. The Church did NOT declare all of the books/letters that didn’t make it into the New Testament to be heretical or wrong. They simply ruled which ones they believed to be Inspired. Some that were not inspired lacked direct contact with Jesus and/or the Apostles, or contained legends or heresy.

  3. Further, there were some that may have been true, but the messaging was conflicting (i.e. one of them saying,maybe the Apocalypse of Peter - I forget which) that hell is empty and God winds up sending everyone to Heaven. In regards to this one… IF it turns out that hell is empty and that God forgives everyone and lets them all go to Heaven, then why did Jesus Christ preach to us? God wants us to be better than the minimum requirement. So IF hell is actually empty, this book would not send the correct message… hence it’s not inspired.

  4. some books/letters that didn’t make it in (like the Didache) are still studied and have lots of good stuff in there.
    many of the books/letters that did not make it into the New Testament

  5. finally… the Council of Hippo that came up with the cannon in the 300/400s were far closer to knowing the full history of the New Testament than we are today. I trust them, far more than some Biblical historian today who is trying to question the Council’s motives.

God Bless


There is no way 2 Peter was written by Peter. He refers to the Apostles as "our forefathers ". There are books in the New Testament Apocrypha that are probably written earlier.


Peter’s letters are fantastic, whoever he was.

Another unrelated topic, who wrote Paul’s letters - Paul wrote some, but others clearly are not his. Timothy is not by him. Paul has a certain tone of warmth, lyricism, passion, vision, intelligence - you can tell when it’s not him, though some of Paul’s other letters are by someone else who is very skilled as well. At least that is what I think. Fascinating question. (different topic though)


If 2 Peter wasn’t written by Peter, it was dictated by Peter.

If you read it beginning to end, it’s obviously comes from Peter.

The “forefathers” he’s referring to are Abraham, Moses, etc… Afterall, Abraham is call, even at the time of Jesus, as “our father in faith.”

And even if 2 Peter 3:4 is referring the Apostles with “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation,” it’s not uncommon for founding fathers to refer to themselves as “fathers.”

Here is a Protestant article discussing 2 Peter, presenting both arguments

The above article end with:
In conclusion, it may be stated that a denial of Petrine authorship cuts to the very heart of the biblical doctrine of inerrancy. How can one accept the verbal, plenary inspiration—which would demand Petrine authorship at verse one—and still call 2 Peter canonical?72 Regardless of its late acceptance, it was accepted into the canon of Scripture. And if 2 Peter is Scripture, and if Scripture is inerrant, then the author must be the one whom the word of God says he is: “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.”

Finally, this article was written about 1 Peter, but the arguments against 1 Peter are basicly the same arguments against 2 Peter.

Finally, again no one says that Peter had to be the one who used the quill to write this. He very well may have had a scribe and/or editor who changed a few words here/there to make it more majestic.

God Bless


Yah the Apocalypse of Peter does have a verse at the end which says “My Father will give unto them all the life, the glory, and the kingdom that passeth not away… It is because of them that have believed in me that I am come. It is also because of them that have believed in me that, at their word, I shall have pity on men.”


Neither St. Mark or St. Luke were first-hand witnesses of Jesus and yet two of our holy Gospels are according to them.

What made it into the Canon we know today are the books and letters our church fathers in at the Councils of Hippo and Carthage deemed holy and inspired enough to be used and read in the liturgies of the Church (i.e. Mass). Other books like the Didache were considered fine for teaching new converts about the Catholic faith but weren’t considered holy enough to be used in the liturgies so they weren’t included in the Canon.


Rome has spoken. The issue is settled. The fact that the NT canon was being argued almost 400 years later stands as stark evidence in favor of the Apostolic rather than literary foundation of the Church. From the absolute doctrinal chaos and theological entropy we observe in the bible-Christian world, the efficacy of sola scriptura is self-refuting.


^ This. Rome has spoken. The issue is settled. The fact that the NT canon was being argued almost 400 years later stands as stark evidence in favor of the Apostolic rather than literary foundation of the Church. From the absolute doctrinal chaos and theological entropy we observe in the bible-Christian world, arguments in favor of sola scriptura are self-refuting.



(… That’s probably the shortest post I’ve ever made in a long time, ain’t it? :D)


Let your “yes” mean yes and your “no”, no. :wink:


It has certainly made me curious over the years. But since I’m Catholic, my questions can be answered. I think I would struggle with the whole certainty or confidence in the Canon of Scripture if I was Protestant.

The fact that the Bible had a “development” process which relied on Tradition and Church authority doesn’t fit into the whole “the Bible is the sole foundation of the Church”. I definitely see Scripture as a foundation. The NT is the divine, inspired, and inerrant revelation of Jesus. Believing that the Church can and does affirm Truth is crucial to believing that the Catholic Canon of Scripture is the written word of God.


I know. Protestants act like the Bible fell from the sky. Actually most don’t even realize it took council’s to decide what was inspired and what was not. I don’t so much think the books in the Bible are wrong; more so I feel like some additional ones could be right. I feel the Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, 1 Clement, Epistle of Barnabas, and possibly the Apocalypse of Peter should have been included. I feel like that would have given our New Testament more diversity in writing. And these all were at one point in some areas considered scripture. It’s something Protestants don’t realize. For the first three centuries of Christianity; many people went to their grave believing certain books were scripture when they ultimately were deemed not to be.


I think as other posters have said - the decision to not include certain writings in the canon does not (necessarily) invalidate them.

I think the Didache is a great piece of writing that is very orthodox and great for teaching. It may have apostolic origins but not including it in the cannon, for me, is not a repudiation of it.

I accept the council’s decision that it is not on the same level as canonical writings, but they did not officially invalidate or criticise it’s merit or authenticity.

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