The New Testament Canon

By James M. Rochford

How did we get the 27 books of our NT? Who made these decisions, and how do we know that these books are all truly inspired? A character in Dan Brown’s popular novel The Da Vinci Code—Sir Leigh Teabing—claimed,

More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.[1]

While this criticism comes from a fictional scholar, other critical scholars have been promoting the same fiction. For instance, critical scholar Geoffrey Hahneman writes, “Not until the fourth century did the church appear to define and restrict that New Testament collection.”[2] Likewise, Elaine Pagels (another popular critic) writes,

We now begin to see that what we call Christianity …actually represents only a small selection of specific sources, chosen from among dozens of others… The concerns of Gnostic Christians survived only as a suppressed current, like a river driven underground.[3]

Critical scholar James Barr writes,

The decision to collect a group of chosen books and form a ‘Scripture,’ are all human decisions.[4]

The idea of a Christian faith governed by Christian written holy Scriptures was not an essential part of the foundation plan of Christianity.[5]

Stephen Prothero (professor at Boston University) writes,

There are many places to begin this search for the American Jesus, but the fourth-century Council of Laodicea may be the most appropriate. At that gathering, early Christians met to close the canon of the still evolving Christian Bible. Some, following the second-century theologian Marcion, insisted that the one true Church should have only one true Gospel. Others, citing Marcion’s contemporary Irenaeus, fought for four (one for each corner of the earth). Inexplicably, Irenaeus got his way.[6]

Is this criticism correct? Were the biblical books chosen through church councils? Who chose to put the books in the Bible? Why do we prefer the 27 books of the NT and not others?

Evidence for the NT Canon

As we explained in our earlier article (see “The Old Testament Canon”), the term canon goes back to the ancient Greeks, where they used the term to describe a measuring rod. This is probably a loan word from the ancient Hebrew word kaneh (or “reed”), which was used as a measuring rod (Ezek. 40:3; 42:16).[7] Theologians use this term to refer to the books that belong in the Bible; thus, canonicity is the study of the canonical books. As with the OT, the basis for canonicity for the NT is based on authorship: prophets for the OT and apostles for the NT. Paul writes that the church is built on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

Each of the NT books was written by an apostle or under the supervision of an apostle. Critical scholars have debated the authorship of the NT books, but we believe that the evidence for traditional authorship is strong, as we have argued below:

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Acts

Romans

 1 & 2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 &2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy

Philemon

Hebrews

James

1 & 2 Peter

1, 2, 3 John

Jude

Revelation

Jesus’ View

Jesus pre-authenticated the divine authority of the apostles. He told his disciples, “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Lk. 10:16; cf. Mt. 10:40). Toward the end of his life, he said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (Jn. 14:26; c.f. 15:26-27; 16:13).

The Apostles’ View: Of Themselves

The apostles considered themselves to be writing Scripture, and considered one another’s letters Scripture too. Paul writes, “What I am writing to you is the Lord’s command” (1 Cor. 14:37). He told the Thessalonians, “When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13). The apostle John frequently argued that his apostolic teaching was from God, while his Gnostic opponents were not (1 Jn. 4:4-6).

Paul referred to Luke 10:7 as “Scripture” (1 Tim. 5:18),[8] and Peter referred to Paul’s letters as “Scripture” (2 Pet. 3:15-16). In fact, he says that false teachers will be judged based on how they distort Paul’s words.[9] Earlier, Peter also writes, “You should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles” (2 Pet. 3:2). Jude writes of remembering “the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 17), citing 2 Peter 3:3. These “words” refer to the gospel accounts (e.g. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Moreover, Peter and Jude’s use of the plural (“apostles”) demonstrates that they believed that more than one apostles had already written Scripture.

Another verse is germane to this discussion: 2 Timothy 4:13. Paul asks Timothy to bring “the books (biblia), especially the parchments (membranas).” Scholars widely believe that the biblia are scrolls (i.e. the Old Testament). But what are the parchments? This is a loan word from Latin (membrana). Kruger writes, “Not only does Quintilian use the term to refer to parchment notebooks, but the Roman poet Martial (writing AD 84-86) refers to a small codex called membrana that can be easily carried on journeys and held in one hand.”[10] Other works from Homer, Virgil, and Cicero were put into this format, according to Martial.[11] Cicero kept copies of his own letters, in case they were damaged or lost (Fam. 7.25.1; 9.26.1).[12]

This evidence suggests that Paul kept a copy of his own letters as Scripture. Thus he was asking Timothy for the Old Testament scrolls and the New Testament books at the end of his life. This would mean that Paul’s inspired letters were already being collected in the first century as Scripture.

Jews in the first century were expecting the completion of salvation history, because God had predicted a “new covenant” (Jer. 31:31). Jewish writings from this time period were anticipating God bringing the new covenant (Testament of Moses. 10.1-10; Wisdom of Solomon. 3.7; The Rule of the Blessing, 1QSb, 5.23-29). Since the apostles were “ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:6 NIV; cf. Lk. 22:20), they would have understood that this implied writing down the terms of the covenant as in the OT. Kruger writes,

If covenant documents were given to Israel after the deliverance from Egypt by Moses, how much more would early Christians expect that new covenant documents would be given to the church after deliverance from sin by one greater than Moses, Jesus Christ?[13]

Just as the ancient extrabiblical treaty covenants would not have omitted a written document as witness to the relationship between the two parties, so biblical covenants would not exist without a written witness to the relationship between God and his people.[14]

There was public reading of Scripture in the first century church (Col. 4:16; 1 Tim. 4:13; 1 Thess. 5:27; 2 Cor. 10:9; Rev. 1:3). Of course, the people read the OT aloud in the first century as Scripture (Lk. 4:17-20; Acts 13:15; 15:21). This fits with the early church practice of reading Scripture during small group meetings that Justin Martyr writes about in AD 150.[15]

The Early Church Fathers’ View

The early church fathers were the leaders who took over the leadership of the church after the death of the apostles. These men quoted the books of the NT as inspired Scripture, but they did not view their own letters as inspired or inerrant. They also didn’t feel the freedom to “add or take away” from the inspired writings of the apostles (Didache 4:13).[16]

Didache (AD 95): The Didache is most likely the earliest extra-biblical manuscript. In 8.2, it quotes the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.

Clement of Rome (AD 95): Irenaeus said that Clement had seen the “blessed apostles” (Irenaeus Against Heresies, Books 3, Chapter 3). Clement stated, “Take up the Epistle of the blessed Paul the apostle, what did he write to you at the time the Gospel began to be preached? Truly under the inspiration of the Spirit he wrote to you” (Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 47). Harris comments, “This from a leading figure in the church of Antioch which was the oldest center of the faith aside from Jerusalem and which was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. Ignatius was a prominent churchman as is clear from the six letters he wrote to other churches, but he claims the apostles were far superior to him.”[17]

Ignatius (AD 100): “I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments to you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, chapter 4).

Polycarp (AD 110): Polycarp writes, “Let us therefore so serve him with fear and all reverence as he himself gave commandment and the apostles who preached the gospel to us and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of our Lord” (To the Philippians, chapter 6). Polycarp cites Ephesians 4:26 and Psalm 4:4 as Scripture (To the Philippians, 12.1).[18]

The Epistle of Barnabas (AD 130): This epistle cites Matthew 22:14, where Jesus says, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (4.14). The passage is “nearly identical Greek.”[19]

Papias (AD 140): Papias distinguished between first generation apostles and second generation elders (Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica, 3.39.3). He also viewed Mark’s authority as coming from the apostle Peter (Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica, 3.39.15).

Justin Martyr (AD 150): “The apostles, in the memoirs composed by them which are called Gospels, have thus delivered to us what was enjoined upon them” (Justin Martyr First Apology, chapter 66). Martyr cites from all four gospels, and refers to Mark as “Peter’s memoirs” (Dialogue with Trypho, 106), demonstrating that he knew Peter supervised Mark.

Dionysius of Corinth (AD 170): Distinguishes his letter from the “Scriptures of the Lord,” and he calls his letters “inferior” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.23.12).

Muratorian Fragment (AD 180): Contains 22 of 27 canonical books. Excludes Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and possibly 3 John—though this is disputed. Kruger writes, “The fragment rejects the pseudonymous epistle to the Laodiceans because it was ‘forged’ in Paul’s name—a clear affirmation, once again, of the preeminence the early church placed upon apostolicity.”[20] It also calls Luke “one whom Paul had taken along with him as a legal expert,” and it rejected the very popular Shepherd of Hermas, because it was written “very recently, in our own times” (Muratorian Canon, 74).

Irenaeus (AD 180):[21] Irenaeus acknowledges that Mark and Luke were not apostles, but he calls them “apostolic men.”[22] He refutes false teachers by writing, “When however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn around and accuse these same Scriptures as if they were not correct nor of authority” (Against Heresies, 3.2.1). He writes, “Thus did the apostles, simply and without respect of persons, deliver to all what they had themselves learned from the Lord” (Against Heresies, 2.14.2). He writes, “The apostles, likewise being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood” (Against Heresies, 3.5.1). He writes, “For the apostles… certainly did not address them in accordance with their opinion at the time, but according to revealed truth” (Against Heresies, 3.5.2). He argued against the Valentinians by writing, “It agrees in nothing with the Gospels of the apostles… For if what they have published is the Gospel of Truth, and yet is totally unlike those which have been handed down to us from the apostles, any who please may learn… that that which is handed down from the apostles can no longer be reckoned the Gospel of Truth” (Against Heresies, 3.2.9).

Clement of Alexandra (AD 250): Clement uses the phrase “Law and Prophets and Gospels and apostles” (Stromateis, Miscellanies, 7.1, 16). He writes, “After the Resurrection the Lord delivered the tradition of knowledge to James the Just, and John, and Peter, these delivered it to the other apostles, and the other apostles to the seventy, of whom also Barnabas was one” (Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica, 2.1).

The three earliest church fathers that we have are Clement of Rome (A.D. 96), Ignatius (A.D. 108), and Polycarp (A.D. 110). These three wrote between A.D. 96 and 110, and they quote 25 of the 27 New Testament books.[23] This demonstrates that these were in circulation before their time.[24] Geisler and Nix write, “The apostolic Fathers may be cited as referring to all of the New Testament books within about a century of the time they were written.”[25] The early Christians quoted the NT so much that they quoted all but eleven verses.[26]

Quotations from Early Church Fathers (before A.D. 325)[27]

Writer

Gospels

Acts

Pauline

General

Revelation

Totals

Justin Martyr

268 10 43 6 3 330
Irenaeus 1,038 194 499 23 65

1,819

Clement of Alexandria

1,107 44 1,127 207 11 2,406
Origen 9,231 349 7,778 399 165

17,992

Tertullian

3,822 502 2,609 120 205 7,258
Hippolytus 734 42 387 27 188

1,378

Eusebius

3,258 211 1,592 88 27 5,176

Grand Totals

19,368

1,352

14,035

870

664

30,289

Picture1

Geisler and Nix “General Introduction to the Bible” (p.293)

 

Manuscript Evidence

Another line of evidence for the canon is the gathering of letters together in the earliest manuscripts. Canonical books are found paired with one another in the earliest manuscripts, but apocryphal books are never paired with canonical books. Charles Hill writes,

The Gospels that were rejected from that fourfold collection were never bound together with any or all of those four. There are no manuscripts that contain say Matthew, Luke and Peter, or John, Mark and Thomas. Only the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were considered as scriptural and then as canonical. It could be that the reason why the Christians adopted the codex long before anyone else was to safeguard the four Gospels from either addition or subtraction. This is in effect the operation of a ‘canon.’[28]

While our manuscripts are incomplete, the earliest manuscripts that we have are shown pairing canonical books with one another:

P75 document: This contains John and Luke together. Kruger argues that it originally had all four gospels.[29]

Chester Beatty codex P45 (AD 250): This contains all four gospels followed by Acts.

P53 (AD 250): This contains Matthew and Luke, but may have also contained all four Gospels.[30]

P46 (AD 200): This contains Romans, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians.

P72 (AD 250): This contains 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude.

Kruger adds, “Not only do canonical manuscripts outnumber apocryphal ones almost four to one, but there are more manuscripts of the Gospel of John than there are of all the ‘apocryphal’ books combined.”[31]

Moreover, Romans and Jews didn’t use the codex (i.e. combining documents into book form); they used scrolls. In fact, they didn’t use codices until the fifth century, but Christians used this immediately after the NT was in existence.[32] The mere existence of a codex in Christian communities demonstrates the fact that the NT letters and gospels were being brought together immediately—long before the fourth century.

What about the Gnostic Gospels?

In addition to the positive evidence for the canonical books, there is good negative evidence against the Gnostic Gospels:

REASON #1: The Gnostic Gospels were later than the Canonical Gospels

The gospel of Thomas dates to AD 150,[33] while the canonical gospels date well within the first century—even according to modern critical scholarship.[34] Charles Hill writes, “To state the obvious, the four canonical Gospels are acknowledged by Petersen and the vast majority of scholars of all persuasions to be the earliest known Gospels… Almost nobody asserts that a written document closely resembling what we know as the Gospel of Thomas existed in the first century. Many scholars in fact do not believe the Gospel of Thomas, as a literary work, came into existence until much later; Petersen thinks not until the 140s, others not until the 170s or 180s.”[35]

REASON #2: The Gnostic Gospels are often ahistorical

The canonical gospels read like history, but the gospel of Thomas is just a collection of sayings. Compare these two verses. As a historian, which one would you prefer?

Gospel of Thomas (Line 1): “These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.”

(Luke 3:1) Now in the [1] fifteenth year of the reign of [2] Tiberius Caesar, when [3] Pontius Pilate was [4] governor of [5] Judea, and [6] Herod was [7] tetrarch of [8] Galilee, and his [9] brother [10] Philip was [11] tetrarch of the region of [12] Ituraea and Trachonitis, and [13] Lysanias was [14] tetrarch of [15] Abilene.

While the gospel of Thomas is just a collection of sayings, this one verse in Luke contains 15 verifiable historical facts! This is why C.S. Lewis writes, “I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this.”[36]

REASON #3: The Gnostic Gospels are cruel and bigoted toward women

Not only is the biblical Jesus more reliable, but he is more preferable. The canonical gospels teach that Jesus had women disciples (Lk. 8:1-3). In the first century, it was considered scandalous and unacceptable for a rabbi to have female disciples. However, the gospel of Thomas pictures Jesus as a chauvinist or worse!

Gospel of Thomas (Line 114): “Simon Peter said to them, ‘Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.’ Jesus said, ‘Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.’”

REASON #4: The Best Argument against the Gnostic Gospels

Finally, we come to the best evidence against the Gnostic gospels: reading the Gnostic gospels! Just consider a few of the first lines from the famous Gospel of Infancy Thomas:[37]

The son of Annas the scholar, standing there with Jesus, took a willow branch and drained the water Jesus had collected. Jesus, however, saw what had happened and became angry, saying to him, “Damn you, you irreverent fool! What harm did the ponds of water do to you? From this moment you, too, will dry up like a tree, and you’ll never produce leaves or root or bear fruit.”

In an instant the boy had completely withered away. Then Jesus departed and left for the house of Joseph. The parents of the boy who had withered away picked him up and were carrying him out, sad because he was so young. And they came to Joseph and accused him: “It’s your fault – your boy did this.”

Later he was going through the village again when a boy ran and bumped him on the shoulder. Jesus got angry and said to him, “You won’t continue your journey.” And all of a sudden, he fell down and died.

Some people saw what had happened and said, “Where has this boy come from? Everything he says happens instantly!”

The parents of the dead boy came to Joseph and blamed him saying, “Because you have such a boy, you can’t live with us in the village, or else teach him to bless and not curse. He’s killing our children!”

So Joseph summoned his child and admonished him in private, saying, “Why are you doing all this? These people are suffering and so they hate and harass us.” Jesus said, “I know that these are not your words, still, I’ll keep quiet for your sake. But those people must take their punishment.” There and then his accusers became blind.

Those who saw this became very fearful and at a loss. All they could say was, “Every word he says, whether good or bad, has become a deed – a miracle even!” When Joseph saw that Jesus had done such a thing, he got angry and grabbed his ear and pulled very hard. The boy became infuriated with him and replied, “It’s one thing for you to seek and not find; it’s quite another for you to act this unwisely. Don’t you know that I don’t really belong to you? Don’t make me upset.”

There is no conspiracy about Jesus here. If a doubting Christian is struggling with the inspiration of these spurious gospels, the best solution is sometimes to simply encourage them to read them!

Conclusion

The NT documents are the best (and only!) known documents passed down to us from the first century Christians about Jesus. By contrast, alternative gospels and books of the NT are late dated and clearly pseudonymous and spurious. Moreover, there are good reasons to affirm the traditional authorship and inspiration of the NT books.

Further Reading

Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995.

Harris’ treatment on the inspiration and the canonization of the Bible is the best scholarly work out today. Unlike F.F. Bruce’s view (see The Canon of Scripture), Harris holds that the canon was predicated on the inspiration of the books themselves based on authorship—not church councils. Bruce holds that the canon wasn’t “officially” held until the lists were created by the church fathers. Harris offers a careful critique of Bruce, and he offers good evidence for his case based on the authorship of the books—either prophetic authority in the OT or apostolic authority in the NT.

Geisler, Norman & Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL. Moody Press. 1986.

Geisler and Nix’s treatment is a far easier text to read than Harris (In fact, an even easier version is From God to Us by Geisler and Nix). These authors clearly explain the evidence for the canon, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Bible. It is not as in-depth as Harris.

Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012.

We like Kruger’s work on the canon. Kruger is a recent scholar, and so, he is up to speed on the recent criticisms of the canon by scholars like Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman. He holds to biblical inerrancy, and he is critical of liberal views of the canon. Specifically, Kruger’s other book The Heresy of Orthodoxy is a well-reasoned apologetic against Ehrman’s (originally Walter Bauer’s) thesis that the early church didn’t have a concept for the canon until the fourth century. Kruger also supports apostolicity for the canon. He writes, “The evidential case put forth by the criteria-of-canonicity model is strong and ought to be used in our defense of the canon” (p.81), and “The only so-called criterion of canonicity that seems to be adequate to identify a canonical book is apostolicity” (pp.82-83). However, he just doesn’t believe apostolicity should be our final authority.

Kruger argues for a self-authenticating canon. In his Reformed tradition, this makes sense. Since we cannot appeal to a higher authority for epistemology than God, this makes the Bible itself a self-authenticating book. He claims that our view (apostolicity) “at best, it provides an argument for canon based only on probability,” rather than certainty (p.85). He holds, “These marks… can include Scripture’s beauty, efficacy, and harmony” (p.98), and “If the created world (general revelation) is able to speak clearly that it is from God, then how much more so would the canon of Scripture (special revelation) speak clearly that it is from God?” (p.99). He argues that not all people accept it, because of volitional or moral reasons (1 Cor. 2:10-14). He doesn’t believe the church selects the canonical books, but the ones they recognized are canonical (Jn. 10:27). He writes, “Books are not canonical because they are recognized; they are recognized because they are canonical” (p.108). He also believes that the Holy Spirit can use evidence as a means of self-authenticating Scripture to us (p.112). See Chapter Three: “My Sheep Hear My Voice,” for a defense of his view.

Of course, we are fine with saying that our claim to knowledge of the canon is based on probability. We believe most things on probability—not certainty. We might eat at a restaurant based on the probability that they sell food without salmonella. Likewise, as Professor John Lennox often says, “I am not certain that my wife loves me, but I’d bet my life on it.” We believe that the same is true of the canon.

The best chapter in Kruger’s book is Chapter Five: “The Apostolic Origins of Canon.”

Hill, Charles. Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Hill focuses specifically on the gospel accounts, rather than the entire NT. As it is a recent book, Hill interacts with modern criticism against the canon from Ehrman and others.

 

[1]Sir Leigh Teabing in Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code: a Novel. New York: Doubleday, 2003. 231.

[2] Hahneman, Geoffrey Mark. The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992. 129. Cited in Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 280.

[3]Pagels, Elaine H. The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House, 1979. xxxv; 150.

[4] James Barr, The Bible in the Modern World (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 120. Cited Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 30.

[5] Barr, James. Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, and Criticism. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983. 12. Cited Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 30.

[6] Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), 7–8. Cited in Hill, Charles. Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 3.

[7] Geisler, Norman & Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL. Moody Press. 1986. 202-204.

[8] Critical scholars maintain that Paul is quoting “Q” or an apocryphal gospel. But Kruger notes that the Greek between 1 Timothy and Luke are identical. He writes, “Not only is the Greek identical in these two texts, but it is only in these two texts that this passage occurs in this form.” Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 206.

[9] To avoid the implication of 2 Peter 3:15-16, critical scholars claim that Peter didn’t really write this letter, and it was pseudonymous instead. However, as Kruger argues, even if we agree with a pseudonymous letter (which we do not, see “Introduction to 1 & 2 Peter”), liberals still date 2 Peter anywhere between AD 80 and 125. Thus, this would still be early evidence of Paul’s letters being Scripture. Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 205.

[10] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 252.

[11] Kruger adds, “If parchment rolls were meant, then the term diphtheria would surely have been used.” Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 252.

[12] Richards, E. Randolph. “The Codex and Early Collection of Paul’s Letters.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 8 (1998) 151-166. Found here.

[13] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 171.

[14] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 165-166.

[15] Justin Martyr (AD 150) writes, “On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits” (Weekly Worship of the Christians, chapter 67).

[16] The Didache is the earliest non-biblical writing from Christian writers. In 4:13, we read, “Thou shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord, but thou shalt keep what thou didst receive, ‘Adding nothing to it and taking nothing away.’

[17] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 248.

[18] Critical scholars claim that Polycarp is merely citing Psalm 4:4 as Scripture, but the full verse does not exist in Psalm 4:4 and must be referring to Ephesians 4:26.

[19] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 219.

[20] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 230.

[21] Harris writes, “Irenaeus used four Gospels, the Books of Acts, First Peter, First John, all the Epistles of Paul save Philemon… and the Revelation.” Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 257.

[22] Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Greenville, SC, 1995. 255.

[23] Barnett adds a caveat, “The silence of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp with respect to 2 John and Jude need not imply that these books were not written, only that those authors failed to quote from them or refer to them.” Barnett, Paul. Is the New Testament Reliable?: a Look at the Historical Evidence. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992. 40.

[24] Barnett, Paul. Is the New Testament Reliable?: a Look at the Historical Evidence. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992. 38-39.

[25] Geisler, Norman & Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible: Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL. Moody Press. 1986. 295.

[26] McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1999. 44.

[27] McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1999. 44.

[28] Hill, Charles. Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 117.

[29] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 240.

[30] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 241.

[31] Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 238.

[32] Kruger writes, “The most notable feature of early Christian manuscripts was that they were almost always in the form of a codex.” Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012. 247.

[33] One of the biggest reasons for dating the gospel of Thomas to the second century is the fact that it is written in Coptic, rather than in Greek. The Four Gospels were written in Greek, which shows that they date back to the first-century. Wilkins, Michael J., and James Porter Moreland. “Craig Blomberg ‘Where Do We Start Studying Jesus?’” Jesus under Fire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995. 23.

[34] See even highly critical scholars such as Crossan, John Dominic. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. Or see Funk, Robert Walter, and Roy W. Hoover. The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus : New Translation and Commentary. New York: Macmillan, 1993.

[35] Hill, Charles. Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 8, 11.

[36] Lewis, C. S., and Walter Hooper. Christian Reflections,. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1967. 155.

[37] Translated by Harold Attridge & Ronald F. Hock in the book The Complete Gospels, Harper Collins, 1992.