What Criteria for inclusion in the Bible NT

I’m curious as to what the basic criteria was for inclusion in theNT of the Bible.
Basically I am curious as to why some of the early Church father’s writings such as Clement or Ignatius were not included since we hold them in very high regard in the understanding and development of doctrine.

Our Protestant Bretheren often make a large point of the fact that this-or- that teaching is not expressly shown in the Bible, and dismiss writings of the Fathers as “not inspired”. So this is another reason for my asking this question.

I’m sure this has been written about but quite frankly, in my current circumstances it is very difficult for me to do much reading. That is why I rely so much on your good people here at CAF.

So - Can anyone enlighten me?



Here is some information that may shed some light.

**CC67 **Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.

In the Catholic Church their are Dogmas which are articles of Faith or De Fide which is the highest degree of certainty to immediately revealed truths. Dogmas are irrevocable and non-reformable. Others are believed to be true by the majority of theologians. There are lessor hierarchies of truth.

For example pious contributers on this forum who are in the majority are generally within the last two categories*:

Sententia Communis - Common teaching is doctrine, which in itself belongs to the field of free opinions, but which is accepted by theologians generally. (Example: Christ’s soul possessed infused knowledge.)

Sententia Probabablis - Theological opinions of lesser grades of certainty are called probable, more probable, well-founded. Those which are regarded as being in agreement with the consciousness of Faith of the Church are called pious opinions sententia pia. The least degree of certainty is possessed by the tolerated opinion opinio tolerata, which is only weakly founded, but which is tolerated by the Church. (Example: Rigorist (strict) view of “No Salvation Outside the Church”, or the existence of Limbo.)


*The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott

Thank you for the information, but what I am really trying to discern is why books and letters that were written by contemporaries of the Apostles and are highly regarded by the Church were not included in the NT.

Obviously letters from those who were not Jesus immediate disciples were permissable since Paul’s letters figure prominantly.

Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome were contemporaries of both Peter and Paul and are highly regarded as Church Fathers.


Ten Stages of NT Formation and Transmission (with considerable chronological overlap, continuing down to today):Rudolf Koch: The Gospel Book Enthroned
Some scholars propose only 3 stages (Historical Events, Oral Tradition, Written Texts), others 5 stages (Historical Events, Oral Tradition, Written Tradition, Editing, Canonization); the following schema more comprehensively lists 10 stages, many of which overlap:

  1. The Historical Jesus - words are spoken and deeds are performed by Jesus himself during his lifetime on earth.
  2. Oral Tradition - traditions and beliefs about Jesus are developed and passed on by early Christian communities.
  3. Written Sources - some of the miracles and/or sayings of Jesus are compiled and recorded in early written documents.
  4. Written Texts - individual letters, full Gospels, etc., are written with particular messages for particular situations.
  5. Distribution - some writings are copied and shared with other Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean.
  6. Collection - certain Christians begin collecting the letters of Paul and gathering together several different Gospels.
  7. Canonization - four Gospels, several collections of letters, and a few other texts are accepted as authoritative scriptures.
  8. Translation - biblical texts are translated into ever more ancient and modern languages: Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, etc.
  9. Interpretation - the meaning of the scriptures is investigated on various levels: literal, spiritual, historical, social, etc.
  10. Application - communities and individuals use the NT for practical purposes: liturgical, moral, sacramental, theological, etc.

Four Criteria for Canonicity (why certain books were eventually accepted into the NT Canon, while others were rejected):

  1. Apostolic Origin - attributed to and/or based on the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their closest companions).
  2. Universal Acceptance - acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the Mediterranean world (by the end of the fourth century).
  3. Liturgical Use - read publicly along with the OT when early Christians gathered for the Lord’s Supper (their weekly worship services).
  4. Consistent Message - containing theological ideas compatible with other accepted Christian writings (incl. the divinity and humanity Jesus).
    Information from Catholic-resources& Dr . Felix Just

Thank you!! That is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. :thumbsup:

Now if I may ask one more question relating to the canon of the Bible.

What were the primary reasons for canonizing the Bible?
Also are there primary sources for these reasons? (texts by those who were in on the porcess)

The reason for my question is that many of our non-catholic bretheren feel that The Bible is IT and nothing else counts. If it can be demonstrated that the Church’s goal in assembling the Canon was not as a be-all-end-all book for Christians it might help them to understand why we believe in and hold to Tradition. It may help them to understand that while the Bible is fundamental to our faith, it is but one part in God’s overarching plan.


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