NT by Whom, for What and WHY?

All - what are your thoughts on “why and for what” was the new testament canon formed? Note, this is not a question on the number of books in the bible. That is well traveled territory. Focus on answers on why and for what use(s) was the canon formed.

Ok scholars and semi scholars, what you think?

Pork n Pie

To have a standard set of readings during our Mass…:thumbsup:

Very simple. To distinguish true inspired texts from false. In other words: to separate simply human compositions (apocrypha) from compositions where the Holy Spirit is giving “a stamp of approval” that all what is written about divine truths is genuine .

Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum 11:
“for the sake of our salvation”

There’s your why answer.

It’s a very good document, you should read the whole thing. :thumbsup:

Pablope, what is the evidence of this? It gets at the why and for “what use”

I think it was Constantine who decided that the religion should be more “focused”…because there were so many different Christian groups, each with their own sacred texts, and the beliefs all differed.
So he called that first meeting in the 4th century…the council…and that’s when they decided they needed to put together a book and decide what the official beliefs were going to be, and therefore, which books they should include.
(Why Constantine wanted this is a whole other digression, for another thread)

Also, it was a way to differentiate this religion from Judaism.
For those first few centuries, many considered themselves Jewish people who followed a new Jewish leader. But that didn’t go so well with the Jewish people I think, so at some point, they had to figure out that this was a new, different religion with a new name and a new set of beliefs–and if so, they needed their own texts to show that and couldn’t rely on oral tradition anymore.

Why had they not put a book together earlier?
Well…the different groups were, indeed, following their own “books”–scared scripture from different disciples…the Ebonites, the Marcionites, the Gnostics, and also, the group that was close to what we consider Orthodox today. But no need to compile them all in one book until Constantine wanted the religion more unified.
He also wanted to promote the religion, so he new it needed a book to help it spread. Good PR and all :slight_smile:

Also…I think for many, they thought in the first 1-200 years since Jesus died, they assumed the world was going to end soon anyway–indeed, many thought it would happen soon after Jesus died because he said so (something about “it will happen to some of you in this lifetime” etc)…so they didn’t have a need to write anything down and collect it into a book because they figured it was all going to be over any day now…

But after a few hundred years they could then see that the end wasn’t as imminent as they had thought…and might be a long, long time away…so better get the religion organized.

Those are my thoughts…from what I’ve read and from what seems logical.

At the end of the day, that’s really it.

Scripture is God’s communcation to man so that we can know how to spend eternity with him.

The canon of scripture was determined by the Church but was an action of the Holy Spirit for the singular purpose of our salvation. It was men doing the will of God.


Hi Father -

So for what purpose(s) and use was the church using the texts before and after the formation of the NT canon?

For different purposes. For the liturgical use, catechetical, apologetical etc. Before and after purposes remained the same, but after formation of the canon they known which text has ‘God’s authority’. But even in the process of formation we can see the working of the Holy Spirit acting in the Church.

Originally Posted by pablope View Post
To have a standard set of readings during our Mass…

I am trying to the find the source…i was some time ago.

But to explain further, there were writings that are not in the Bible canon today that were also deemed as "Scripture’ and were read in Church during the Mass.

Example would be the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 1, which was read for several decades at Corinth, and was considered as “Scripture”.

After the canon proclamation, there would be a standard set of writings to be read during the Mass, in all of Christendom.

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