Study the Church Resources for studying the Bible and Church History

How we got the New Testament

The Story of New Testament Canonization

A. Definitions: The word “canon” means “standard” and is used to describe the sacred writing of different religions. For example, the Bible is the canon of Christianity and the Koran/Qur'an is the canon of Islam. The word “canonization” refers to the process of determining or deciding the canon or sacred writings of a religion. For Christianity, it means the process of determining or deciding which books go into the Bible. This article examines NT canonization, or how the books of the NT were decided.

B. Choosing the New Testament books: This process of determining which books should go in the NT took approximately 300 years. Some letters were quickly accepted as being from God: the 4 gospels, Acts, and the 13 letters of Paul. Other letters took the early church leaders longer to decide. This process involved 7 different major parts (this is a very short summary):

  1. AD 100-150: The future New Testament books were shared and slowly formed several collections
  2. Marcion
  3. Montanus
  4. Persecutions by Roman emperors
  5. Different lists by church leaders over a 170-year period
  6. Athanasius' List
  7. The Councils that "closed" the New Testament canon to 27 books.

©2017 Mark Nickens All Rights Reserved