Did Emperor Constantine Create the Canon?

A common claim from people who don't believe the Bible is the word of God is that the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (Constantine I) created the Bible. They'll probably acknowledge some version of the texts existed before Constantine legalized Christianity, but say Constantine dictated what books were to be in the Bible, the ones which fit his personal beliefs. The skeptic may claim the result of this fiddling created Christianity as we know it...

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Can New Books be Added to the New Testament Canon?

The practical answer to this question is easy: No, new books can't be added to the canon. The technical answer is a bit more involved. I wrote the article What are the Criteria for a Book to be Canonical? on how the church fathers recognized the books in the New Testament canon. It's possible a book "slipped through the cracks" when the church fathers were studying them, although it's not probable.

I'll limit this article to...

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What are the Earliest List of the New Testament Books?

In last week's article, I showed how the church father and historian Eusebius of Caesarea categorized the books which churches thought were part of the canon. This week I want to show what some other church fathers thought about the books under consideration. There were over 300 years between the resurrection of Jesus and the first list of books which exactly matches the Protestant New Testament. The books were in use in churches before then, but it took...

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How were the Canonical and Non-Canonical Books Categorized?

This article in my series about the Biblical Canon will be short, although the footnotes are extensive. In the first few hundred years after Jesus's resurrection, the church was trying to understand which books were in the canon. God made the canon, but it was still up to the church to recognize which books were appropriate for use.

Have you ever walked into a crowded room and seen some faces which are vaguely familiar, but you can't remember the...

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What are the Stages of Revelation of the Canon?

What do the words Scripture and Canon mean? In modern times, some people have defined the word Scripture to mean books inspired by God, while defining Canon as a list of scripture which can not change. With these definitions, the scriptures existed early in the church, but the canon took a long time to form. Did the early church have a canon? Was the canon formed in the fourth or fifth century, as some people claim? The Catholic Church...

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What are the Criteria for a Book to be Canonical?

In my first article on the Biblical Canon, What is the Biblical Canon?, I listed three criteria the early church used to recognize if a book should be considered part of the New Testament canon. The books had to be:

  • Authentic - Based on the experiences of those who knew Jesus
  • Authoritative - Accurately teaching God’s will
  • Inspired - Written by people with guidance of the Holy Sprit

Since then, I've...

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What is the Biblical Canon?

My last several articles have been about the Gospels, and now I want to change directions slightly and research how the Bible became comprised of the books we know: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. At some point in the past, some group of people put these 66 pieces of writing together into one book. When did that happen? Who was involved? Why did they believe these books are the Word of God and not others? I'll be writing several...

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What is the Q Source Hypothesis?

In my last two articles I've researched What is the Synoptic Problem? and Which Gospel was Written First?. It is frequently accepted by modern scholars that Mark was written first, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a primary source. 

There is material common to both Matthew and Luke which is not in Mark, so where did they get that material? It is generally believed Luke was written third, so either Luke copied the...

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Which Gospels was Written First?

(This post was supposed to go out last Saturday, but I realized yesterday it hadn't.)

The order of the Gospels in the New Testament is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, however, scholars typically believe they were written in a different order. How did they come to this conclusion?

In my article What is the Synoptic Problem?, I showed there is so much in common between the Synoptic Gospels that the later...

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Why are there Four Gospels?

The Gospels describe Jesus's ministry, death and resurrection, but why are there four Gospels? Why didn't one person write a comprehensive biography of Jesus's life?

Suppose that today four men should undertake to write a “life” of ex-president [Theodore] Roosevelt, and that each one designed to present him in a different character. Suppose that the first should treat of his private and domestic life, the second deal...

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