The word Canon is derived from the Latin Kanon, which in Greek means cane, a rod used for measuring. To the Christians, it took the meaning of rule or measure. The Canon of the Scriptures is the set of books judged inspired by God and sacred. The Canon of the New Testament was put together after the year 300 AC, and was based on the official summons of the most distinguished men with knowledge of the Scriptures, renowned men in the Christian medium of the initial years of Christianity. We will mention the names of these men who are the foundations of the birthing Church.
1. Clement of Alexandria: He recognized fourteen epistles of Paul (Hebrews included); he omitted James, 2 Peter and 3 John.
2. Origen: makes reference to all the books, with exception of James and Jude.
3. Clement: bishop of Rome, 95 AC, lists as canonical 1 Peter, Matthew, Luke, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Hebrews and 1 Timothy.
4. Polycarp: bishop of Smyrna and disciple of John, cited many books of the New Testament.
5. Tatian: of the year 160 AC, wrote a harmony of the four Gospels.
6. Justin Martyr: wrote the apologies of the Gospels and quoted Acts of the Apostles, Ephesians, Colossians and Revelation of John.
7. Irinaeus: 130 through 200 AC, cites the majority of the books of the New Testament. *In 210 AC, the Syrian version of the New Testament, which was almost complete.
8. Hippolytus: who lived in 170 AC, quoted the 27 books of the New Testament believing in their authenticity. He had some doubts concerning the book of Hebrews.
9. Eusebius of Caesarea: 315 AC cited all the books of the New Testament, but mentions the controversy on the part of some on James, Jude, 2 Peter, 1 and 2 John, and Revelation.
10. Cyril of Jerusalem: 340 AC cited all the books, except the book of Revelation.
11. Council of Laodicea: 364 AC cited all the books, except the book of Revelation.
12. Gregory Nazianseno: 375 AC cited all the books, except the book of Revelation.
13. Anfiloquio of Iconium: 380 AC, quoted all of the books, but said that the majority excludes Revelations.
14. Filastrio of Brescia: 380 AC quoted all of the New Testament books. He mentioned 13 epistles of Paul, and the epistle to the Hebrews. He says that many denied the canonicity of the book of Revelations.
15. Marcion: 120 AC mentioned Luke, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians. Galatians, Colossians and Philemon. Marcion was considered a heretic for not believing Jehovah to be the father of Jesus Christ. While the Father is full of love, Jehovah is full of hatred (Ps.7:11; 1 John 4:7-8).
Three things call our attention in the life of Marcion. The first one is that, respected for his profound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, his citations were used in the making of the New Testament Canon. The second one is about his judges and executioners, those who persecuted Marcion the most, revealing in their behavior the total lack of mercy, recommended in the New Testament. “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). And Jesus said, “Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured you” (Matt.7:1-2).
There are problems that belong to God, and not to men. That is why Gamaliel exhorted the Sadducees and the high priest who intended to slay the apostles: “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody; and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. And he was slain; and all those who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:35-39).
The third one is that, in the year 144 AC, the Church had already adopted ideas that were later fought by Luther at the Reformation, in the 95 theses that he posted on the door of the church in Wittenberg, in October 31, 1517. What were those ideas? Those who condemned Marcion believed that Mary resurrected, sitting at the side of the Father to intercede for the sinners. They also believed that Mary could save. They established the worship of the dead, the worship of angels, and that Mary was the mother of God. How could someone notice the speck in the eye of his brother and fail to see the huge beams in his own eyes? (Matt.7:3-4).
Besides Marcion, there was another Christian considered a heretic, whose name is mentioned in the formation of the New Testament Canon. His name is Basilides, who preached between 120 and 145 AC. Basilides was a teacher at the School of Alexandria and wrote some books. To him the world created in chaos (Gen.1:1-2), is the work of the demiurge, which tries to imitate God. We do not mention the details of his doctrine that can be found on the Internet (www.iponet.es/casinada).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira