Supposedly, one of the criteria for choosing which books would be canon, was being read in churches everywhere. Are there any ancient writers who give testimony of this?
Technically I do not wish to confirm your criteria for “determining” the canon.
The canon is based on God, not man. Therefore, the only criteria that works is what has God revealed through His Church that he built on Saint Peter. Purely human reasoning for determining the canon and arguments of that type cannot be logically sustained.
However, in union with what the Catholic Church has infallibly defined we do find consistent arguments that support what the Church has declared to be true and from a subordinate way support those declarations. .
Jerome in defense of his actions and why the longer, complete version of the Book of Daniel does rightly belong in the his Vulgate translation of the Bible, which it does, he states :
"What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches?"
Not to be rude, but I’m not interested in this kind of answer. I’ve heard it all too many times before, and I know how it goes.
Q) How do you know which scripture is canon?
A) Because the Church has the authority to choose the canon.
Q) How do you know the Church has the authority?
A) Because scripture says so.
That just leads back to the initial question. That’s called ‘begging the question’ and it leads to circularity. I would be justified in assuming that the Church was completely biased in determining the canon of scripture. It’s funny as well, a while ago on this forum when I presented your position (the Church having authority) as the Catholic/Orthodox position of Biblical canonicity, I got criticised by one poster for doing so.
“The reason why you don’t accept scripture is not because you’re a expert [something I never claimed] on how the Church determined scripture, but because you don’t believe in Christ”
And now when it comes to me actually enquiring as to how the Biblical Canon was determined, you confirm what I had thought.
I dont thik this is how it works. It is not because scripture says so it is because Jesus left us a Church and subsequently scripture records this.
I heard the best somewhat tongue in cheek on Catholic Answers Live one afternoon. When Jesus ascended into heaven, his parting words were not “read the msnual”.
As with anything, the verbal comes before the written. Nevertheless, both are important.
So, it’s commonly said that one of the Church’s criteria for determining the canon of scripture was whether they were being read publicly in churches everywhere. However, when I actually ask for evidence of this, you can’t deliver?
How do you think that makes me feel about the integrity of Catholics?
The question of which books were commonly read in which places and at which times is one I have never looked into. I can’t give you any help in that department myself, but you may perhaps find some information in the old Catholic Encyclopedia, under the heading Canon of the New Testament: :
Did Jesus leave us a Church, or did the apostles and early believers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, organize a Church in response to the heresies that developed after belief in Jesus had been well established? This relates directly to the idea of Canon: Books became accepted or rejected because they conformed to what was handed down, as was believed, by the apostles. Thus apostolic authorship or relationship was important. That some books were written pseudonymously, under the name of an apostle (the Pastorals, the epistles of Peter, etc.) should not reflect on their value as Scripture.
Jesus left believers, not a Church. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these believers developed a Church, which in turn became recognized as the authority to interpret and teach.
I can certainly agree with this wording. My comment was based on Jesus words “I will build my church…” Mt 16:18.
Yes, it seems to me that Peter (the “rock”) was the somewhat reluctant leader of the Twelve, but it became natural to attribute to him the role of primacy in the Church. Since the gospel of Matthew probably reached its present form (less any discrepancies due to copying), in the years 80-90, by that time the Church had probably established Peter as the primary leader of the Church. Paul seems to say this as well in some of his epistles.
The Canon is a declaration of the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as to what books were inspired, and to be used in the Church for teaching. We can be curious about why some books are in the Canon (2 Peter) or why others called apocrypha were not, even thought they do not contain any obvious heretical teaching (the Didiache).
Of course, some today would challenge the Canon, primarily to advance an agenda hostile to the Church.
So, full circle - the Church “left to us by Christ” is divinely inspired, but humanly created and maintained… and thus flawed. Faith in Jesus leads us to a faith in the Church, as the imperfect carrier of His mission… which to me is plenty proof of His mercy and compassion.
I don’t know where you got this criteria from? That is not the criteria that was used. The criteria used was:
- The books has to have been written by an apostle or first hand witness of an apostle.
- The books had to be widely circulated.
- The books cannot contradict the Apostolic Tradition.
The standard is actually that the scrolls were read somewhere in the dispersed Church from day one. Since there were no printing presses, postal service or FedEx, the copying and distribution was exceptionally slow by our standards. Some letters were retained even though they were later excluded from he canon.
Inquiring minds are well advised to read “Where We Got The Bible” by Bishop Henry Graham. Without being overly technical, it explains the extreme measures which the Church went to in the preservation and propagation of the scriptures.
Perhaps not everywhere but widely read, now will you provide the evidence I asked for this?
I’ve read that a long time ago.
If it has been that long, is it possible you have forgotten some of what it said ?
If you would like to refresh your memory, it is on-line at
Where We Got the Bible:
Our Debt to the Catholic Church
by The Right Rev. Henry G. Graham,
Catholics often use a defense of the Canon that could be called a Spiral Argument.
We do not use a Circular Argument as you describe above.
We need to clarify the questions and answers.
We must distinguish between accepting the Books of the New Testament as accurate history, from the question of whether or not they are Inspired by God. Looking from purely historical examination we can find a high degree of trust that they are accurate. The people who wrote them, and those who approved and passed them down to successive generations gave up everything, even their own lives to do so. Clearly, they believed, and they were eyewitnesses in several cases. Therefore, the Gospels are faithful and accurate as history.
Now, looking at the Gospels as historical books, and not yet for our purposes thinking of them canonical Books and from God’s inspiration, we can see that Jesus did build a Church on Saint Peter.
See picture above.
Now, trusting in the Father’s love and Jesus’s Promises to His Church, and the Power of the Holy Spirit to effect those Promises, we can know by Church decree which books belong in the Bible.
It is sometimes claimed that the Catholic Church added the Deuterocanonical (so called Apocryphal) Books into the Bible at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.
However, when we look at the Bibles made before Trent we see they already had those books included.
The Bible Codex Amiatinus, which was produced circa AD 688 – 713. It was made by Abbot Ceolfrith, of Wearmouth-Jarrow
Above you looking at two sides of the same page. Notice how the ink has bleed through. It shows the end of the Old Testament, 2 Maccabees, and the beginning of the New Testament with Jesus Christ sitting on His throne.
You can see higher resolution images at
There are two types of literature read in the early Church. The writings of the Apostles and St. Paul, along with the four Gospels. Then the writings of the Fathers of the Apostolic age; which include members that knew the Apostles, or were with them with Jesus from the beginning. Such as the group called “The Seventy Two,” who were with the Apostles and Jesus. The writings of many of these other members were also read in Church. But they were not included in the Canon. The test of a book read in Church has validity, but it’s not the only measure used by the Church in defining it’s Canon.
But it’s the one I asked evidence for. Now please, contribute something else to the topic. I’ve heard all this many times over ad nauseam now.
Actually, the Church isn’t founded on the Bible. The Bible rather describes the foundation of the Church.
But now to answer your question, about whether or not being widely read was a criterion for the Canon, then what I find is something by Eusebius commenting on the endiathekoi of certain books.
Source? And are there any more writers?