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The formation and preservation of the Canon of the New Testament is certainly due to the direct influence of divine Providence moving second agents to execute the will of God. Still it was not the primary design of Christ to deliver to the world a written code of his doctrines. He inaugurated the great work of the Kingdom of God by oral preaching. He wrote nothing; neither did He impose any precept on those whom He had chosen to write. He bade them preach. He redeemed the world from sin; taught it his Gospel by word of mouth, and founded a living, teaching agency to carry on His work forever. These were principal. Out of these came the divine Scriptures in the designs of Providence; not to supersede Christs way of teaching the world, but to be a means, a deposit, whence the Church should draw, and give to the people.

In fact, all the terms which Christ used in enunciating his design of teaching the world, demonstrate that the principal and ordinary means of teaching mankind was ever to be the living word by preaching. No other means would be adequate to accomplish that which Christ willed. The world of that day could not be reached through the medium of letters. Since the invention of printing, and the general diffusion of literature, ideas may be rapidly spread by the press; but the message of Christ was given to man before such means existed for the communication of thought. Moreover, the message of Christ was for the poor and the illiterate, as well as for the savant; for busy toilers who had not time nor philosophical depth to draw the Message from the written instrument, and Christ established the only means capable of teaching all nations—the magisterium of the Church. The children of men were lambs who had need to be fed, and Christ gave them an eternal succession of shepherds.

The Apostles adopted the method of their Master. Aided by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and relying on the sole power of Christ, which wrought many miracles by them, they announced the Kingdom of Heaven throughout the world; neither did they take thought to write books, for they fulfilled a far greater and sublimer office. Paul, who is preeminent among all the Apostles in richness of diction and depth of thought, wrote nothing except a few epistles, although he could have expounded many mysteries.… And the other co-laborers of the Lord, the twelve Apostles, the seventy disciples, and many others, were by no means ignorant (of these mysteries). Nevertheless, of all the disciples of the Lord, only Matthew and John left us a written word; and we are told that they were moved to write by a particular need. (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. III. 24.)

What, says Irenaeus, if the Apostles had not left us the Scriptures? Would it not be necessary to follow the traditions of those to whom they committed the Churches? Verily this method many barbarous nations adopt, who believe in Christ without ink and paper, having the law of salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, and faithfully holding to the old tradition, believing in one God, etc. (Irenaeus, Migne 7, 855.) Again: The tradition of the Apostles, manifested in the whole world, may be learned in every Church by those who wish to know the truth, and we can enumerate the bishops constituted by the Apostles and their successors even to our day. (Irenaeus, Migne, 7, 848.)

Wherefore, they err greatly who constitute the Scriptures the sole means of teaching Christs message; for many churches were flourishing before any of the N. T. existed. The dates of the Gospels can not be fixed with precision. For the Gospel of Matthew, Catholic opinion ranges over the period included between the years 36 and 67 of the Christian era; the period for Mark is from the year 40 to the year 70; Lukes Gospel is variously placed from the year 47 to the year 63, while the Gospel of St. John is assigned to the closing years of the first Christian century. Many concur in the opinion which places the Acts of the Apostles in the year 64 of our era.

The dates of some of the Epistles of Paul may be assigned with a good degree of certitude. The Epistles to the Thessalonians were written about the year 53; the first Epistle to the Corinthians, in the first months of the year 57; the second Epistle, in the autumn of the same year. The Epistle to the Romans was written toward the close of the year 57 or in the beginning of 58; the Epistle to the Galatians preceded that to the Romans, and ranges between the year 55 and 57. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, the Epistle to the Colossians, and the Epistle to Philemon are by Loisy placed during the captivity of Paul, from the year 61 to 64. It is more difficult to assign the proper date of the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Modern exegetes are of accord in placing them at a later date than the preceding. The Epistle of St. James is later than the Epistle to the Romans, and internal evidence is therein that St. James was conversant with the Epistle to the Romans. Its probable date might be placed about the year 60. The Epistles of St. Peter are ascribed to the last years of his life. According to Eusebius and Jerome, the prince of the Apostles was martyred in the third year of Neros reign, about the year 67. The Epistle of St. Jude has a close affinity with the second Epistle of St. Peter, but whether Peter drew from Jude, or Jude from Peter is not clear. They who defend the first hypothesis assign the year 65 as the date of St. Judes Epistle; while the advocates of the second hypothesis assign a later date. The first Epistle of St. John may be considered as a sort of preface to his Gospels, and written at the same time; the second and third Epistles are of a little later date. The Apocalypse according to the most ancient testimonies, and particularly that of St. Irenaeus, was written toward the close of the reign of Domitian, about the year 95.

Though these are approximate dates, they are precise enough to establish the fact that several years of intense Apostolic work had elapsed before the first writing appeared. And in that period churches had been founded in Palestine, and other parts of the Eastern world, and probably also at Rome. The Church and the apostolic priesthood was principal; the Scriptures were a means which the Church was to use. But as God wished to provide adequately for the propagation and preservation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, he also brought it about that there should be preserved in writing some of the most important truths of the New Dispensation. The spirit of truth who was sent to suggest all things necessary in the new economy, moved the holy men to commit certain things to writing. But these writings owe their origin to special occasions, and particular circumstances. Primarily they were intended for some one or few individuals or churches. Gradually they became interchanged and disseminated among the churches, and it is only in the third century that we find any church having a complete list of the Holy Books of the New Law.

We place, therefore, as a leading proposition, that the writers of the New Law wrote with no design to compile a code of Scripture. They wrote to supply some particular need that which they knew to be the Word of God; the future destiny of their writings to form a sacred deposit was hidden from them. The mode of the formation of the body of Scriptures of the New Law was by gradual accession. Documents written to some individual person or Church were copied and sent to others. Paul recognizes and makes use of this method in his Epistle to the Colossians: And when this Epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the Epistle from Laodicea. [Coloss. 4:16.]

That it was likewise characteristic of the early Christians to carefully preserve writings of doctrinal import may be inferred from a passage in the writings of St. Polycarp. The Epistles, he says, of Ignatius (Martyr), which were sent us by him, and others, as many as we had, we have sent to you, as you requested; they accompany this letter, and from them you will receive much profit. (S. Polycarp. ad Phil. 13.) If such diligence and care were bestowed on the Epistles of Ignatius Martyr, much more would be bestowed on the writings of the Apostles and Founders of Christianity. We see also in the testimony an evidence of the method of communicating writings among the churches. Both agencies combined brought it about that the several churches soon had their sacred deposit of the New Law; though many years elapsed before we find the list complete in any church; and many more, before all the churches had the complete Canon.

Even in the writings of the authors of the New Testament, we find allusions to certain collections of the Scriptures of the New Law. In his second Epistle, Peter speaks of the Epistles of Paul as of writings generally known to the Christians: Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent … as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, hath written, as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and the unstable, wrest, as also the other Scriptures, to their own perdition. (2 Peter 3:14–16.)

In this place, says Estius, Peter canonizes, so to speak, Pauls Epistles. For in saying as also the other Scriptures, he, in truth, declares that he placed them among the Holy Scriptures.

Cornely adduces a proof from the First Epistle to Timothy to prove that Paul was conversant with the Gospel of Luke. Paul speaks thus: For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn; and, The laborer is worthy of his hire. (1 Tim. 5:18). The first sentence of Pauls quotation is taken from Deuteronomy 25:4. From the context, it is plainly evident to him who reads that the second sentence is also adduced as Holy Scripture. The passage exists in Luke 10:7, and the illation is just that Paul quotes here as divine Scripture a passage of the Third Gospel. Hence we infer that, at the writing of the Epistle to Timothy, Lukes written Gospel existed, and was known to the Christians as Holy Scripture.

Up to our times, the universal belief of Christians held that the disciples and first successors of the Apostles placed the works of the authors of the New Testament with the books of the Old Testament, as of equal divinity and authority. The rationalistic plague which infected the world in our times, first essayed to overthrow this universally accepted truth, claiming that the writings of the Apostles are never quoted in the solemn formulas used of the Old Testament, and that the words of the Lord are quoted from oral traditions.

To meet this opposition, we must first set forth some of the characteristics of those early times.

It is true that oral communication prevailed in those times. Not every one could have a manuscript of the written word, but all heard the voice of those who preached peace. The intense activity of the first teachers of the New Law made Christ and his Law a living reality in every land. The Gospel was not so much a written reality as a living reality. The events had taken place in no remote age; the first Christians received their doctrine from those who announced that which they had heard, which they had seen with their eyes—which they had looked upon, and their hands had handled. Therefore, it is not to be expected to find numerous explicit quotations from the written deposit in those early days. The early teachers preached much, and wrote little. Much of what they wrote has succumbed to the ravages of time. They used the Gospel of Christ, not so much as a written deposit, but as a present living reality, and part of the life of the people. Men of those days received the doctrine of Christ not from books, but by the living word of preaching; they handed it down to others in the same manner in which they had received it. But yet there is evidence that when one of the Books of the New Testament did come into existence, it was recognized as the word of God. Those who received it did not make an analysis of the concept of inspiration to canonize it. It came from the men who had brought them the message of peace; it embodied what they had received from those who preached Christ to them, and this was its perfect warrant. Thus the Books of the New Law first came into the churches as individual instruments; then as groups; and, lastly, a complete list was formed by communication between the churches.


In the Epistle vulgarly attributed to St. Barnabas, we find a quotation from St. Matthew in the solemn formula sicut scriptum est, (ὡς γέγραπται).

In the final sentence of the IV. Chapter of this Epistle is as follows: Let us pay heed lest we be found as it is written: Many called, few chosen. Now, the only place where it is thus written is the Gospel of Matthew 20:16.; 22:14.

Some of the older rationalists considered this quotation as an interpolation of the Latin interpreter. After the Codex Sinaiticus had overthrown this hypothesis, Volkman, Renan and Strauss, advanced the opinion that the quotation came from 4. Ezra, 8:3: Multi quidem creati sunt; pauci autem salvabuntur. But a comparison of the two texts clearly evinces Matthew as the authority. Wherefore, Mangold attempted to destroy the force of the quotation by showing that the pseudo Barnabas quotes Henoch in the formula: As it is written. But this would not prove that he did not consider Matthew divine Scripture but that he also placed Henoch among the Holy Books. We admire the honesty of Hilgenfeld, who concedes that the author quotes Matthew, and also that the Epistle is of the year 97.

St. Polycarp, in his Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter XII., has this testimony: As it is written in these Scriptures: Be angry and sin not, and: Let not the sun go down on your wrath. It is evident that Polycarp here unites two passages of written Scripture. The second passage is from the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, IV. 26. As the proving force of this passage is cogent, the rationalists try to weaken it by denying its authenticity. But its authentic valor is sufficient to satisfy all just criticism. This short Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, contains according to Funk (op. cit.) sixty-eight allusions to the New Testament. The verbal parallelism is so exact, that it is evident that they were drawn from the written deposit. We here exhibit some of the clearest ones:

Act. 2:24.

              St. Polycarp. Epist. ad Philip 1.

quem Deus suscitavit, solutis doloribus inferni, juxta quod impossible erat teneri illum ab eo.

              —quem resuscitavit Deus, solutis doloribus inferni. In quem non videntes creditis, credentes autem exultatis lætitia inenarrabili et glorificata.

1 Pet. 1:8.


quem cum non videtis, diligitis: in quem nunc quoque non videntes creditis; credentes autem exultabitis lætitia inenarrabili et glorificata—.


Epist. 2:8, 9.


Gratia enim estis salvati per fidem, et hoc non ex vobis: Dei enim donum est, non ex operibus, ut ne quis glorietur.

              —scientes, quod gratia estis salvati, non ex operibus—.

1 Pet. 1:13.

              Ibid. II.

Propter quod succincti lumbos mentis vestræ, sobrii perfecte sperate in eam, quæ offertur vobis, gratiam, in revelationem Jesus Christi—

              Propter quod succincti lumbos vestros servite Deo in timore—.

1 Cor. 6:14.


Deus vero et Dominum suscitavit, et nos suscitabit per virtutem suam.

              Is vero, qui ipsum suscitavit e mortuis, et nos suscitabit—.

1 Pet. 3:9.


non reddentes malum pro malo, nec maledictum pro maledicto.

              —non reddentes malum pro malo, nec maledictum pro maledicto—.

Math. 7:1, 2.


Nolite judicare, ut non judicemini. In quo enim judicio judicaveritis, judicabimini: et in qua mensura mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis.

Luke 6:36–38.

Estote ergo misericordes, sicut et Pater vester misericors est. Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini: nolite condemnare, et non condemnabimini. Dimittite, et dimittemini. Date, et dabitur vobis: mensuram bonam et confertam, et coagitatam et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum. Eadem quippe mensura, qua mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis.

Math. 5:3.

Beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum cœlorum.

Ibid. 10.

Beati, qui persecutionem patiuntur propter justitiam, quoniam ipsorum est regnum cœlorum.

              —memores autem eorum, quæ dixit Dominus docens: Nolite judicare, ne judicemini; dimittite, et dimittetur vobis; miseremini, ut misericordiam consequamini; qua mensura mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis; et: Beati pauperes, et qui persecutionem patiuntur, quoniam ipsorum est regnum Dei.

Gal. 4:26.

              Ibid. III.

Illa autem, quæ sursum est Jerusalem, libera est, quæ est mater nostra.

              Neque enim ego, neque alius mei similis beati et gloriosi Pauli sapientiam assequi potest; qui cum esset apud vos, coram hominibus tunc viventibus perfecte ac firmiter verbum veritatis docuit; qui et absens vobis scripsit epistolas, in quas si intueamini, ædificari poteritis in fide, quæ vobis est data, quæque est mater omnium nostrum—.

1 Tim. 6:10.

              Ibid. IV.

Radix enim omnium malorum est cupiditas.

              Principium autem omnium malorum est habendi cupiditas.

Ibid. 7.


Nihil enim intulimus in hunc mundum: haud dubium, quod nec auferre quid possumus.

              Scientes ergo, quod nihil intulimus in hunc mundum, sed nec auferre quid valemus—.

Gal. 6:7.

              Ibid. V.

Nolite errare: Deus non irridetur.

              Scientes ergo, quod Deus non irridetur—.

1 Pet. 2:11.


carissimi, obsecro vos tamquam advenas et peregrinos abstinere vos a carnalibus desideriis, quæ militant adversus animam—.

              —quia omnis cupiditas militat adversus spiritum—.

Rom. 14:10, 12.

              Ibid. VI.

Tu autem, quid judicas fratrem tuum? aut tu, quare spernis fratrem tuum? Omnes enim stabimus ante tribunal Christi. Itaque unusquisque nostrum pro se rationem reddet Deo.

              —omnes ante tribunal Christi stare, et unumquemque pro se rationem reddere oportet.

1 Jo. 4:3.

              Ibid. VII.

et omnis spiritus, qui solvit Jesum, ex Deo non est; et hic est Antichristus, de quo audistis, quoniam venit, et nunc jam in mundo est.

              Omnis enim qui non confessus fuerit Jesum Christum in carne venisse, Antichristus est—.

Math. 6:13.


Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

Ibid. 26:41.

Vigilate, et orate, ut non intretis in tentationem. Spiritus quidem promptus est, caro autem infirma.

              —rogantes omnium conspectorem Deum, ne nos inducat in tentationem, sicut dixit Dominus: Spiritus quidem promptus est, caro autem infirma.

1 Pet. 2:22–24.

              Ibid. VIII.

qui peccatum non fecit, nec inventus est dolus in ore ejus: qui peccata nostra ipse pertulit in corpore suo super lignum—.

              —qui peccata nostra in corpore suo super lignum pertulit, qui peccatum non fecit, nec inventus est dolus in ore ejus—.

1 Pet. 2:12.

              Ibid. X.

conversationem vestram inter gentes habentes bonam.—

              Omnes vobis invicem subjecti estote, conversationem vestram irreprehensibilem habentes in gentibus—.

1 Cor. 6:2.

              Ibid. XI.

An nescitis, quoniam sancti de hoc mundo judicabunt? Et si in vobis judicabitur mundus, indigni estis, qui de minimis judicetis?

              An nescimus, quia sancti mundum judicabunt? sicut Paulus docet. Ego autem nihil tale sensi in vobis, vel audivi, in quibus laboravit beatus Paulus, qui estis in principio Epistolæ ejus.

Among the genuine works of St. Clement of Rome are two Epistles to the Corinthians, and two on Virginity. The two latter were assailed by some rationalists, but they have been defended by such an excellent critic as Wetstein. The following schema exhibits Clements use of the New Testament.

Luke 6:36–38.

              St. Clementis Epist. I. ad Corinthios, XIII.

Estote ergo misericordes, sicut et Pater vester misericors est. Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini: nolite condemnare, et non condemnabimini. Dimittite, et dimittemini. Date, et dabitur vobis: mensuram bonam et confertam, et cogitatam et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum. Eadem quippe mensura, qua mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis.

              Sic enim dixit: Estote misericordes, ut misericordiam consequamini; dimittite, ut dimittatur vobis; sicut facitis, ita vobis fiet; sicut datis, ita dabitur vobis; sicut judicatis, ita judicabimini; sicut indulgetis, ita vobis indulgebitur; qua mensura metimini, in ea mensurabitur vobis.

Math. 26:24.

              Ibid. XLVI.

Filius quidem hominis vadit, sicut scriptum est de illo; væ autem homini illi, per quem Filius hominis tradetur: bonum erat ei, si natus non fuisset homo ille.

Luke 17:2.

Utilius est illi, si lapis molaris imponatur circa collum ejus, et projiciatur in mare, quam ut scandalizet unum de pusillis istis.

              Recordamini verborum Jesu Domini nostri. Dixit enim: Væ homini illi: bonum erat ei, si natus non fuisset, quam ut unum ex electis meis scandalizaret: melius erat, ut ei mola circumponeretur, et in mare demergeretur, quam ut unum de pusillis meis scandalizaret.

I. Paul, 1 Cor. 12.

              Ibid. XLVII.

Hoc autem dico, quod unusquisque vestrum dicit: Ego quidem sum Pauli: ego autem Apollo: ego vero Cephæ: ego autem Christi.

              Sumite Epistolam beati Pauli Apostoli. Quid primum vobis in principio Evangelii scripsit? Profecto in Spiritu ad vos litteras dedit de seipso et Cepha et Apollo, quia etiam tum diversa in studia scissi eratis.

1 Peter 4:8.

              Ibid. XLIX.

Ante omnia autem, mutuam in vobismetipsis caritatem continuam habentes, quia caritas operit multitudinem peccatorum.

              Charitas nos Deo agglutinat: charitas operit multitudinem peccatorum: charitas omnia sustinet—.

Math. 9:13.

              St. Clementis Epist. II. ad Corinthios, II.

Euntes autem discite, quid est: Misericordiam volo, et non sacrificium. Non enim veni vocare justos, sed peccatores.

              Alia quoque Scriptura dicit Non veni vocare justos, sed peccatores—.

Ibid. 10:32.

              Ibid. III.

Omnis ergo, qui confitebitur me coram hominibus, confitebor et ego eum coram Patre meo, qui in cœlis est—.

              Ait vero etiam ipse: Qui me confessus fuerit in conspectu hominum, confitebor ipsum in conspectu Patris mei.

Ibid. 7:21.

              Ibid. IV.

Non omnis, qui dicit mihi: Domine, Domine, intrabit in regnum cœlorum, sed qui facit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cœlis est, ipse intrabit in regnum cœlorum.

              Non modo igitur ipsum vocemus Dominum; id enim non salvabit nos; siquidem ait: Non omnis qui dicit mihi, Domine, Domine, salvabitur; sed qui facit justitiam.

Ibid. 7:23.


Et tunc confitebor illis: Quia nunquam novi vos: discedite a me, qui operamini iniquitatem.

              Idcirco, nobis hæc facientibus, dixit Dominus: Si fueritis mecum congregati in sinu meo, et non feceritis mandata mea, abjiciam vos, et dicam vobis: Discedite a me; nescio vos unde sitis, operarii inquitatis.

Math 10:28.

              Ibid. V.

Et nolite timere eos, qui occidunt corpus, animam autem non possunt occidere, sed potius timete eum, qui potest et animam et corpus perdere in gehennam.

              Ait enim Dominus: Eritis velut agni in medio luporum. Respondens autem Petrus ei dicit: Si ergo lupi agnos discerpserint? Dixit Jesus Petro: Ne timeant agni post mortem suam lupos: et vos nolite timere eos qui occidunt vos, et nihil vobis possunt facere; sed timete eum, qui postquam mortui fueritis, habet potestatem animæ et corporis, ut mittat in gehennam ignis,

Math. 6:24.

              Ibid. VI.

Nemo potest duobus dominis servire:

              Dicit autem Dominus: Nullus servus potest duobus dominis servire.

Math. 16:26.


Quid enim prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, animæ vero suæ detrimentum patiatur? Aut quam dabit homo commutationem pro anima sua?

              Si nos volumus et Deo servire et mammonæ, inutile nobis est. Nam quæ utilitas, si quis universum mundum lucretur, animam autem detrimento afficiat.

              Ibid. VIII.

This passage is also quoted by Irenæus, Lib. II. 64, as a saying of the Lord. Grabe believes it to be from the apocryphal gospel according to the Hebrews.

              Ait quippe Dominus in Evangelio: Si parvum non servastis, quis magnum vobis dabit? Dico enim vobis: Qui fidelis est in minimo, et in majori fidelis est.

Math. 12:50.

              Ibid. IX.

Quicumque enim fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in cœlis est, ipse meus frater et soror, et mater est.

              Etenim Dominus dixit: Fratres mei sunt ii qui faciunt voluntatem Patris mei.

Math. 5:16.

              St. Clementis Epist. I. ad Virgines, II.

Sic luceat lux vestra coram hominibus, et videant opera vestra bona, et glorificent patrem vestrum, qui in cœlis est.

              —sicque adimplentur Christi verba: Videant opera vestra bona, et glorificent Patrem vestrum qui in cœlis est.

St. Paul ad Ephes. 5:6.

              Ibid. III.

Nemo vos seducat inanibus verbis: propter hæc enim venit ira Dei in filios diffidentiæ.

              Itaque nemo vos seducat inanibus verbis—.

2. Tim. 3:5.


habentes speciem quidem pietatis, virtutem autem ejus abnegantes. Et hos devita.

              —de talibus enim scriptum est: Habentes speciem quidem pietatis, virtutem autem ejus abnegantes.

1 Cor. 7:34.

              Ibid. V.

Et mulier innupta et virgo cogitat, quæ Domini sunt, ut sit sancta corpore et spiritu. Quæ autem nupta est cogitat quæ sunt mundi, quomodo placeat viro.

              Solicita sit necesse est quæ Domini sunt, quomodo placeat Deo, ut sit sancta corpore et spiritu.

Luke. 7:28.

              Ibid. VI.

Dico enim vobis: Major inter natos mulierum propheta Joanne Baptista nemo est: qui autem minor est in regno Dei, major est illo.

              Angelus fuit Joannes: talem esse decebat Domini nostri præcursorem, quo major non fuit inter natos mulierum.

Phil. 4:3.


Etiam rogo et te, germane compar, adjuva illas, quæ mecum laboraverunt in Evangelio cum Clemente, et ceteris adjutoribus meis, quorum nomina sunt in libro vitæ.

              Eamdem viam amplexati sunt et Paulus, et Barnabas, et Timotheus, quorum nomina sunt in libro vitæ—.

Heb. 13:7.


Mementote præpositorum vestrorum, qui vobis locuti sunt verbum Dei, quorum intuentes exitum conversationis, imitamini fidem.

              Scriptum est enim: Mementote præpositorum vestrorum, quorum intuentes exitum conversationis, imitamini fidem.

1 Cor. 4:16.


Rogo ergo vos: Imitatores mei estote, sicut et ego Christi.

              Et alibi dictum est: Imitatores mei estote, fratres, sicut et ego Christi.

In the Eighth Chapter of this First Epistle of Clement to Virgins, ten phrases occur bearing on them clearest evidence that they are taken from the Pauline Epistles, such as for instance, avarice which is the serving of idols. (Ephes. 5:5.)

Jo. 3:6.

              Ibid. VIII.

Quod natum est ex carne, caro est, et quod natum est ex spiritu, spiritus est.

Ibid. 31.

Qui desursum venit, super omnes est. Qui est de terra, de terra est, et de terra loquitur. Qui de cœlo venit, super omnes est.

              Carnales sunt isti omnes eorumque similes: quod enim natum est de carne caro est; qui est de terra, de terra est, et de terra loquitur, et terrena sapit: quæ sapientia inimica est Deo: legi enim Dei non est subjecta, nec enim potest—.

Rom. 8:7.


Quoniam sapientia carnis inimica est Deo; legi enim Dei non est subjecta, nec enim potest.


Rom. 8:9.


Si quis autem Spiritum Christi non habet, hic non est ejus.

              —si quis autem Spiritum Christi non habet, hic non est ejus.

1 Cor. 5:11.

              Ibid. X.

cum ejusmodi nec cibum sumere.

              Cum ejusmodi suademus ne cibum quidem sumere.

2 Thess. 3:11, 12.


Audivimus enim, inter vos quosdam ambulare inquiete, nihil operantes, sed curiose agentes. Iis autem, qui ejusmodi sunt, denuntiamus, et obsecramus in Domino Jesu Christo, ut cum silentio operantes, suum panem manducent.

              Sed reipsa sola ducuntur otiositate, cum sint ipsi non solum otiosi, sed et verbosi, et curiosi, loquentes quæ non oportet. Hi, per dulces sermones, quæstum venantur in nomine Christi. Hos sinistra præfigit nota divinus Apostolus multa mala in eis redarguens.

1 Tim. 1:7.

              Ibid. XI.

volentes esse legis doctores, non intelligentes neque quæ loquuntur, neque quibus affirmant.

              Sed sunt inquieti, non intelligentes quæ loquuntur, neque de quibus affirmant.

1 Cor. 12:28.


Et quosdam quidem posuit Deus in ecclesia primum Apostolos, secundo Prophetas, tertio Doctores—.

St. Jac. 3:2.

In multis enim offendimus omnes. Si quis in verbo non offendit, hic perfectus est vir; potest etiam freno circumducere totum corpus.

              Hanc autem viam multi sequuntur, quia non animadvertunt quod scriptum est: Non multos in vobis, fratres, positos esse doctores et prophetas; et iterum: Si quis in verbo non offendit, hic perfectus est vir. Potest etiam freno circumducere totum corpus. Si quis loquitur, quasi sermones Dei—.

1 Pet. 4:11.


Si quis loquitur quasi sermones Dei—.


Coloss. 4:6.


Sermo vester semper in gratia sale sit conditus, ut sciatis, quomodo oporteat vos unicuique respondere.

              —et iterum: Sermo vester semper in gratia sale sit conditus, ut sciatis quomodo oporteat vos unicuique respondere—.

Rom. 16:18.


Hujuscemodi enim Christo Domino nostro non serviunt, sed suo ventri; et per dulces sermones et benedictiones seducunt corda innocentium.

              Quidam tandem beatum populum dicunt, et per dulces sermones et benedictiones, seducunt corda innocentium.

Math. 15:14.


Sinite illos: cæci sunt, et duces cæcorum: cæcus autem si cæco ducatum præstet, ambo in foveam cadunt.

              Hi sunt veluti cæcus qui cæco ducatum præstat, quique ambo in foveam cadunt.


This is a scriptural mosaic made up of Galat. 5:10; Jas. 3:15; 1 Cor. 2:4; and Ephes. 2:2:

in quibus aliquando ambulastis secundum sæculum mundi hujus, secundum principem potestatis aëris hujus, spiritus, qui nunc operatur in filios diffidentiæ.

              Hi portabunt judicium, quia sapientiam animalem vanumque mendacium garruli inanique scientia inflati prædicant in persuasibilibus humanæ sapientiæ verbis, secundum sæculum mundi hujus, secundum principem potestatis aëris hujus, spiritus qui operatur in filios diffidentiæ, et non secundum doctrinam Christi.

Math. 17:20.

              Ibid. XII.

Hoc autem genus non ejicitur nisi per orationem et jejunium.

              —non enim agunt cum recta fide, et juxta doctrinam Domini qui dixit: Hoc genus dæmoniorum non ejicitur nisi per orationem et jejunium.

Math. 10:8.


Infirmos curate, mortuos suscitate, leprosos mundate, dæmones ejicite: gratis accepistis, gratis date.

              Vos igitur quibus dictum est: Gratis accepistis, gratis date—.

Math. 25:36.


nudus, et cooperuistis me: infirmus, et visitastis me: in carcere eram, et venistis ad me.

              Præclarum ac utile est ut servi Domini morem gerant, inter cætera similia, huic præcepto divino: Infirmus eram, et visitastis me.

2 Cor. 11:29.


Quis infirmatur, et ego non infirmor? quis scandalizatur, et ego non uror?

              —memores verborum Apostoli: Quis infirmatur, et ego non infirmor? Quis scandalizatur, et non uror?

Math. 9:37, 38.

              Ibid. XIII.

Tunc dicit discipulis suis: Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci. Rogate ergo Dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem suam.

              Memores enim esse debent messem quidem esse multam, operarios autem paucos: ideoque rogent Dominum messis ut mittat operarios in messem suam—.

Jo. 6:27.


Operamini non cibum, qui perit, sed qui permanet in vitam æternam—.

              —operarios qui operentur non cibum qui perit, sed qui permanet in vitam æternam—.

Luke 1:75.


in sanctitate et justitia coram ipso omnibus diebus nostris.

Coloss. 1:10.

ut ambuletis digne Deo per omnia placentes—.

2 Cor. 8:21.

Providemus enim bona non solum coram Deo, sed etiam coram hominibus.

              Sic Domino serviemus in sanctitate et justitia coram ipso, per omnia placentes, providentes bona, non solum coram Deo, sed etiam coram hominibus: hoc enim bonum est et acceptum—.

1 Tim. 2:3.


Hoc enim bonum est et acceptum coram Salvatore nostro Deo—.


2 Cor. 6:3.

              St. Clementis Epist. II. ad Virgines, III.

Nemini dantes ullam offensionem, ut non vituperetur ministerium nostrum—.

              —solliciti quippe sumus ne quis in nobis offendatur aut scandalizetur: Nemini dantes ullam offensionem, ut non vituperetur ministerium nostrum.

2 Cor. 5:2.


Scientes ergo timorem Domini hominibus suademus, Deo autem manifesti sumus.

              Scientes ergo timorem Domini, hominibus suademus; Deo autem manifesti sumus.

1 Tim. 5:10.

              Ibid. IV.

in operibus bonis testimonium habens, si filios educavit, si hospitio recepit, si sanctorum pedes lavit, si tribulationem patientibus subministravit, si omne opus bonum subsecuta est.

              Hæc autem præ aliis senescens mulier eligitur quæ diu probata est assiduitate meditationum, hincque perspecta si filios educavit, si hospitio recepit, si sanctorum pedes lavit.

1 Cor. 10:33.

              Ibid. V.

sicut et ego per omnia omnibus placeo, non quærens, quod mihi utile est, sed quod multis, ut salvi fiant.

              —nec quærimus quod nobis utile est, sed quod multis, ut salvi fiant.

Rom. 14:15.


Si enim propter cibum frater tuus contristatur, jam non secundum caritatem ambulas. Noli cibo tuo illum perdere, pro quo Christus mortuus est.

1 Cor. 8:12.

Sic autem peccantes in fratres, et percutientes conscientiam eorum infirmam, in Christum peccatis.

              Hinc Paulus: Noli cibo tuo, inquit, illum perdere pro quo Christus mortuus est; et alibi: Sic autem peccantes in fratres, et percutientes conscientiam eorum infirmam, in Christum peccatis.

Math. 10:16.

              Ibid. VI.

Ecce, ego mitto vos sicut oves in medio luporum. Estote ergo prudentes sicut serpentes, et simplices sicut columbæ.

              —debemus esse prudentes sicut serpentes, et simplices sicut columbæ, non quasi insipientes, sed ut sapientes—.

Ephes. 5:15, 16.


Videte itaque, frates, quomodo caute ambuletis: non quasi insipientes, sed ut sapientes.


Math. 7:6.


Nolite dare sanctum canibus: neque mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos—.

              —ne demus sanctum canibus, mittamusque margaritas ante porcos—.

1 Cor. 10:12.

              Ibid. XIII.

Itaque, qui se existimat stare, videat ne cadat.

              Et iterum: Qui se existimat stare, videat ne cadat.

1 Tim. 5:11.

              Ibid. XIV.

Adolescentiores autem viduas devita: cum enim luxuriatæ fuerint in Christo, nubere volunt—.

              Nullum porro sanctum animadvertetis frequenter fuisse conversatum cum virginibus aut adolescentioribus virorum uxoribus vel viduis, quas devitandas esse divinus docet Apostolus.

Joa. 4:27.

              Ibid. XV.

Et continuo venerunt discipuli ejus et mirabantur, quia cum muliere loquebatur, etc.

              De ipso Domino Jesu Christo scriptum est, quod venientes discipuli, et videntes eum prope fontem seorsim cum Samaritana sermocinantem mirabantur quia cum muliere loquebatur.

Therefore the Fourth Gospel scriptum est, and was recognized as Holy Scripture in Clements time.

Jo. 20:17.


Dicit ei Jesus: Noli me tangere, nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum: vade autem ad fratres meos, et dic eis: Ascendo ad Patrem meum et Patrem vestrum, Deum meum et Deum vestrum.

              Insuper, postquam Dominus a mortuis surrexit, cum Maria ad sepulcrum properasset, eumque adorans, ipsius pedes tenere voluisset: Noli, inquit, me tangere: nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum.

Phil. 3:16.

              Ibid. XVI.

Verumtamen ad quod pervenimus, ut idem sapiamus, et in eadem permaneamus regula.

              Idcirco, fratres, rogamus, vos in Domino, ut idem sapiamus, et in eadem permaneamus regula—.

1 Jo. 4:6.


Nos ex Deo sumus. Qui non est ex Deo, non audit nos, etc.

              Qui novit Deum, audit nos: qui non est ex Deo, non audit nos.

We have only selected some of the clearest quotations from our books. Many more allusions to New Testament books exist in Clements works.

Eusebius testifies that Clement, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, gives many sentiments taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, and also literally quoting the words, he most clearly shows that this work is by no means a late production. Whence it is probable that this was also numbered with the other writings of the Apostles. (Hist. Eccles. III. 38.) More than twenty texts, some of them of considerable length, are found in Clements Epistle, which in the sense and order of the words agree with the Epistle to Hebrews.

Those who would still contend that these quotations come from oral tradition, merit to be classed with those of whom divine Dante sings: Non ragioniam di loro, ma guarda e passa. Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass. (Inferno III. 51.)

The works of Clement show that at Rome, toward the close of the first century, at least the Four Gospels, Eleven Epistles of Paul, the First Epistle of Peter, the First Epistle of John, and the Epistle of St. James were known and recognized as Holy Scripture.

The testimony of BASILIDES, a heretic of the first part of the second century, confirms the existence of the written Gospels, and certain of Pauls Epistles. According to Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. IV. 7., Basilides edited a commentary on the Evangelium. In the Philosophumena, VII. 20, we find this testimony: Basilides said that out of nothing (ἐκ οὐκ ὄντων) was made the germ of the universe, the word, as it is said: Let there be light; and this is what is said in the Gospels: He was the true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. Quotations from the Pauline Epistles are often used by Basilides with the formulas: It is written, The Scripture saith. According to Origen, Basilides commented the Epistle to the Romans. In Origens Commentary on Romans, Lib. V. 1, we find the following:

Sed hæc Basilides non advertens de lege naturali debere intelligi, ad ineptas et impias fabulas sermonem apostolicum traxit, et in μετενσωματώσεως dogma, id est, quod animæ in alia atque alia corpora transfundantur, ex hoc Apostoli dicto conatur astruere. Dixit enim, inquit, Apostolus, quia ego vivebam sine lege aliquando: hoc est, antequam in istud corpus venirem, in ea specie corporis vixi, quæ sub lege non esset; pecudis scilicet, vel avis. Sed non respexit ad id quod sequitur, id est: Sed ubi venit mandatum, peccatum revixit. Non enim dixit se venisse ad mandatum, sed ad se venisse mandatum; et peccatum non dixit non fuisse in se, sed mortuum, fuisse, et revixisse. In quo utique ostendit quod de una eademque vita sua utrumque loqueretur. Verum Basilides, et si qui cum ipso hoc sentiunt, in sua impietate relinquantur.

The works of IGNATIUS, (Martyr) reveal that he was conversant with a written code of the New Law. However, not all the texts that are usually brought forward from Ignatius works are valid to prove that he spoke of a written Gospel. The first text is taken from the fifth chapter of his Epistle to those of Smyrna: Fools deny him (Jesus Christ) … whom the prophets could not convince, nor the Law of Moses, nor the Gospel, even to this day. Although I believe that Ignatius here speaks of a written Gospel, nevertheless, in controversy it could be maintained that the words would be apposite, even though the oral teaching of Christ alone existed.

The next passage is from the seventh chapter of the same Epistle: It behooves us … to pay heed to the Prophets, and especially to the Gospel wherein the Passion is taught us, and the Resurrection perfectly demonstrated. This is somewhat cogent, but not apodictic. It is certainly far more probable that Ignatius, in placing together these two sources of doctrine in the present phrase, spoke of two things of similar nature, both being written instruments.

The next testimony of Ignatius is taken from Ignatius Epistle to those of Philadelphia, VIII.–IX.: I hear certain ones saying: Ἐὰν μὴ ἐν τοῖς ἀρχείοις εὕρω, ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ οὐ πιστεύω. And when I say to them that it is written, they answer: this is to be demonstrated. But my archives are Jesus Christ, my spotless archives are his cross, his death, his resurrection, and the faith which comes from him.… The priests are good, but the High Priest is better … through whom the Prophets and the Apostles and the Church enters (into the Holy of Holies). But the Gospel has something of special excellence, to wit: the advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ, his Passion and Resurrection. The beloved Prophets announced him; but the Gospel is the perfection of eternal life.

The key to this testimony consists in the Greek passage. Some expunge the comma after the τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ, and translate it: Unless I find evidence in the ancient writings, I will not believe the Gospel. This version is approved by Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, Vol. III. p. 37. This version is rejected by Funk, (Patres Apost. 1, 230), Cornely (Introduction I. 159), and Loisy (Canon du Nouveau Test., 28). They insist on the fact that the laws of the Greek language permit no such sense. They instead place τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ in apposition to τοῖς ἀρχείοις, in which case it would certainly refer to a written Gospel. Though the Greek construction is somewhat rough, I am disposed to accept the first opinion. The context and line of argument evince that Ignatius was arguing against those who demanded an excessive verification of prophecy for faith in the Gospel. The τὰ ἀρχεῖα were the prophecies of the Old Law. Against them he first responds, that the doctrines of the New Law are founded on the prophecies. And then to their cavils, he exclaims that for him there is no need of prophecy to substantiate New Testament teaching. For Christ and the Cross merit faith, irrespective of prophecy. Finally, he says, as Jesus Christ is greater than the Prophets, so the Gospel is better than the Prophecies. Although the mere textual structure of the sentence does not necessarily imply a written Gospel the context and sense of the testimony plainly point to such. Not so much in any one word as in the whole passage does it become evident that Ignatius is speaking of a written instrument which he is comparing, like with like, to the Prophets, and extolling above them. This sense is corroborated by a testimony in his Epistle to those of Philadelphia, Chapter V.: Let us turn to the Gospel, as to Christ corporally present, and to the Apostles as to the priesthood of the Church. Let us love also the Prophets, because they announced Christ. This testimony evidently speaks of the Gospels, and the other writings of the New Law which perpetuated Christ and his Apostles on earth.

In his practical use of Scripture, in his genuine Epistles, Ignatius assimilates the truths of Scripture, and then adduces them in his own words, so that exact quotations are not therein found, but many places evidence that he drew largely from the New Testament writings. Such allusions are very frequent in the Apostolic Fathers. This the rationalists themselves concede.

We may also adduce here the testimony of Papias, who, according to Irenæus, was a disciple of St. John, and a companion of Polycarp. The testimony as preserved to us by Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. III. XXXIX.) is as follows: That priest (St. John) was wont to say that Mark, the interpreter of Peter, wrote down diligently whatever he remembered, but he followed not the order of the Lords words and deeds. For he had never heard the Lord, or followed him … Wherefore, Mark erred in nothing, writing certain things as he remembered them.

Of Matthew, Papias writes thus: Matthew, he said, wrote the discourses (of the Lord) in the Hebrew tongue; men translated them as every one was able. The Gospel of Matthew is termed the λόγια (κυριακά), since it contains more of the Lords discourses than any other Gospel. Though it is impossible to fix the certain date of Papias writing, we are sure that he touches the Apostolic age, and records that which he received from those of the Apostolic age. His testimony is conclusive for the existence in the first century of the written Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Eusebius also, in the same place, declares that the same Papias made use of testimonies taken from the first Epistle of St. John and the first of Peter. The Gospel of Matthew has also in its favor the testimony of Eusebius concerning St. Pantænus, who moved by divine zeal, and fired by the example of the Apostles … is said to have penetrated even to the Indies, and to have found there the Gospel of Matthew, which had preceded him, and was held by certain ones who had embraced Christianity. It is said that Bartholomew, one of the twelve preached to these, and left them the Gospel of Matthew, written in Hebrew.

We find, therefore, that at the end of the first century the Canon of the four Gospels was in universal acceptance in all the Christian communities. In the first quarter of the second century we find the Epistles of St. Paul in all the great Churches. Certainly Clement of Rome, Ignatius (Martyr) and Polycarp had a collection of Pauline Epistles, and supposed the same to exist with those to whom they wrote. The whole fourteen Epistles may not have been equally known, but Loisy (op. cit.) who is not disposed to be too favorable to the Catholic position, admits thirteen in the collection then received.

The Acts of the Apostles are used by Ignatius, Polycarp and Clement of Rome. The Epistle of James, the First Epistle of Peter, and First of John, have clearest testimonies. St. Irenaeus (Contra Hæreses V. 30) declares that those who saw John face to face bear witness to the Apocalypse. He evidently means by such phrase, Papias and Polycarp. There is no clear testimony of the Apostolic age for the Epistle of Philemon, the Second Epistle of Peter, the Second and Third of John, and the Epistle of Jude. It would not be just to infer from this that they were not known then. But little of the literary product of that age has come down to us; and besides, the character of these writings was less useful for the scope for which the early Fathers employed the Scriptures.

Passing from the Apostolic Fathers to their immediate successors, the testimonies increase in number and clearness.

ST. JUSTIN (†163) testifies (Apologia I. 66): For the Apostles in their Memorabilia (ἀπομνημονεύματα) which are called Gospels, declare that Jesus thus commanded them; that he took bread, and, having given thanks, said: Do this in rememberance of me; this is my body; and also taking the chalice, and giving thanks, he said: This is my blood.

Justins peculiar term for the Gospels is, nevertheless, apt; for they wrote down the principal words and deeds of the Lord, as they remembered them.

In paragraph 67, he again speaks of the Gospels: On what is called the day of the sun, all the dwellers of the cities and the fields gather in one place, and the Memorabilia of the Apostles, or the writings of the Prophets are read, as time permits.

Again in his dialogue against Tryphon, 103: For in the Memorabilia, which I place to have been written by his Apostles and their disciples, it is stated that sweat like drops of blood flowed from him, when he prayed and said: If it be possible, let this chalice pass. There is an evident allusion to St. Lukes Gospel here, for only Luke speaks of the sweat like drops of blood.

Again in the same paragraph we find: Immediately after Jesus ascended from the River Jordan, where the voice came upon him: Thou art my son; to-day have I begotten thee, it is written in the Memorabilia of the Apostles, that Satan approached him, and tempted him, saying: Adore me. And Christ answered: Begone from me, Satan; the Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

We find an allusion to the fourth Gospel in Paragraph 105 of the Dialogue: I have before demonstrated, as we learn from the Memorabilia, that the Only-begotten of the Father of the universe is properly the WORD, and power begotten of him, and afterwards born a man of the Virgin. Only John calls Christ the Word.

St. Justin in his Dialogue against Tryphon the Jew, 81, has a clear testimony for the Apocalypse: And in addition to these things, a man from among us, John by name, a disciple of the Lord, in an APOCALYPSE made known to him, prophesies that those who have believed in Christ will dwell at Jerusalem for a thousand years, and then will be the general, in a word, the eternal resurrection, and the future judgment.

The few works that remain of Justin are filled with passages taken from the Gospels, without acknowledgment of source.

St. Justin, in Apologia pro Christianis, I. 63, speaking of Christ, says: He is called an angel and an APOSTLE. It is only in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 3:1, that Christ is called an Apostle.

In his Treatise against Tryphon, 33, he draws a comparison between Christ and Melchisedech, clearly revealing knowledge of Epistle to Hebrews, 5:8–10. Traces also are found in his works of all the other books of the New Testament, except the Epistle of St. Jude, the Second Epistle of St. Peter, and the Second and Third of St. John.

One of the disciples of St. Justin was the famous Tatian. According to the most probable critical data, Tatian was by origin a Syrian. He visited Rome with Justin, and then returned to his native country and fixed his domicile at Edessa. He composed there his famous Diatessaron, or harmony of the four Gospels in Syriac. This work was, in 1888, translated into Latin by Cardinal Ciasca, from the Arabic version of Abul-Pharag. The Diatessaron was a harmonized account of the Gospel data taken from the four Gospels. It remained the official Gospel of the Syrian Church, through the time of St. Ephrem, even to the fifth century, when it was superseded by the individual Gospels.

It is certain, therefore, that the Church of Edessa, in the first half of the second century, possessed the written Gospels in the form of the Diatessaron. It is not easy to fix what other books entered into their collection.

In the Doctrina Addai, which reflects the old tradition of the Church of Edessa on the Canon of Scriptures, the following declaration is placed in the mouth of the dying Addai: The Law, the Prophets and the Gospel, which you read daily to the people, and the Epistles of Paul, which Simon Peter sent us from Rome, and the Acts of the Apostles which John, the son of Zebedee, sent us from Ephesus—these are the Scriptures that ye should read in the Church of Christ, and ye should read naught else. (Doctrine of Addai ed. Phillips, 1876, p. 46).

This testimony is valuable only in its affirmative sense. It makes known that in the Church of Edessa, the Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, and the Acts had been canonized. The omission of the other books is due to the strange genius of Tatian, which moved in independent lines. The Canon of the early Church of Edessa, was, doubtless, formed by him, and he excluded those books which his caprice found less acceptable.

THE EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS speaks of the Gospels in the plural number as a body of writings existing side by side with the Law and the Prophets. The reverence of the Law is chanted, and the grace of the Prophets is known, and the faith of the Gospels is built up, and the teaching (παράδοσις) of the Apostles is preserved, and the grace of the Church exults.

Melito of Sardis, according to Eusebius (Hist. Eccles, IV. 26) wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John. The work has not been preserved for us.

MARCION rejected the Old Testament, and mutilated the New. He found a fundamental, repugnance between the Law and the Gospel. Since the New Testament endorses in many places the Old Testament, Marcion expurgated it. Of the Gospels, he took only that of Luke, mutilated to suit his scope. Out of Pauls Epistles, he constituted the Apostolic Book, containing the Epistle to the Galatians, the two Epistles to the Corinthians, the Epistle to the Romans, the two Epistles to the Thessalonians, the Epistle to the Ephesians (called by him the Epistle to those of Laodicea), the Epistle to the Colossians, the Epistle to the Philippians and that to Philemon.

Et super hæc, id quod est Evangelium secundum Lucam circumcidens, et omnia quæ sunt de generatione Domini conscripta auferens, et de doctrina sermonum Domini multa auferens, in quibus manifestissime conditorem hujus universitatis suum Patrem confitens Dominus conscriptus est; Semetipsum esse veraciorem quam sunt hi qui Evangelium tradiderunt Apostoli, suasit discipulis suis; non Evangelium, sed particulam Evangelii tradens eis. Similiter autem et apostoli Pauli Epistolas abscidit, auferens quaecumque manifeste dicta sunt ab Apostolo de eo Deo qui mundum fecit, quoniam hic Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et quæcumque ex propheticis memorans Apostolus docuit, prænuntiantibus adventum Domini. (Tertullian, Adv. Marc. IV. 2. P. L. 2, 364.)

Marcion did not question the authenticity of the books which he rejected. He simply placed his theological system above Holy Writ, and selected only those books which by his mutilation could be made to conform to his placita. Tertullian, Irenæus, and others of that age, who refuted Marcion, always fix upon him the charge of having mutilated the Scriptures, which of old time had been received by the Church. This is valuable to us in establishing that before the time of Marcion the written deposit of the New Testament included many more books than he accepted in his list.

The opponents of the Canon of the New Testament sometime allege that those who received and used the books of the New Testament never regarded them as divine Scripture. This is sufficiently disproven by the data already adduced. A certain tendency did exist, for the first two centuries, to perpetuate the method of Christ in the mode of speaking of Scriptural data. Christ speaks of the Old Testament as the Scriptures; of his Gospel, as the living reality. Now, the early Christians, while extolling the data of the New Law above that of the Old, often reserved the name of Scripture for the books of the Old Testament, considering the books of the New Law as expressions of the living teachings, which lived after Christ. The name Scripture seemed to throw it too far back into antiquity. Gradually, however, as the realization of the actual presence of Christ and his lieutenants on earth passed into a realization of a past historical fact the name of Scripture was universally given to the books of the New Covenant.

Another objection is made, that many apocryphal books, at first, enjoyed equal favor with the books of the New Testament. This also is found to be false. Certain ones which contain no falsity, and were written with good intent, enjoyed a certain favor in private reading, but never in the official usage. There was lacking to them the endorsement of those who spoke in Christs name. They never received the approbation of an Apostolic Church. Even from the first, the line of demarcation between them and the Holy Scriptures, is fixed and clear. Certainly the power of the Holy Spirit aided in keeping the Scriptural deposit clear of the vast mass of Apocrypha, which came into being at that time. The causality of Divine Providence in the production and preservation of the Scriptures is such that no man can reason rightly of them without taking account thereof.

In the authentic works of St. Hippolyte, are found quotations from the New Testament books. His manner of quoting leaves no doubt that he spoke of them as Holy Scripture. He quotes Math. 4:15, 16, in the formula, declarat nobis Evangelium. (Fragmenta in Genesim) Ibidem, he says: For the Lord, in keeping the precepts of the Law, did not abrogate the Law and the Prophets, but perfected (them), as he says in the Gospels. The plural number proves clearly that he spoke of several written Gospels.

Again, he says: And Nephthalim is taken as a type of our affairs, as the Gospels teaches: Land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea across the Jordan, and that which follows. He could only call attention to that which follows in a written text. Excepting the Epistle to Philemon, he employs all Pauls Epistles as Holy Scripture. In loco citato, we find the following: For verily the only-begotten Word of God, being God of God, emptied himself (ἐαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν) according to the Scriptures … and appeared in the form of a slave, becoming obedient to God the Father, even to death; for which cause, we read that he is henceforth highly exalted … and hath received a name above every other name, according to the words of St. Paul. This is a paraphrase on the Scripture found in Pauls Epistle to the Philippians, 2:7–9.

St. Hippolyte defended the Apocalypse of St. John in a special work against Caius.

He had a certain predilection for the Apocalypse, and the fourth Gospel. In his treatise against Noetus, VII., he argues as follows: We who have the mind of the Father believe thus; they who have not, deny the Son. If they say, as Philip said, questioning concerning the Father: Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us; to whom the Lord replied: Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? and if they dare say that in these words their dogma is confirmed from the Lords confession, that he is in the Father, let them know that they greatly contradict themselves, for the Scripture confutes them and convicts them.

The greatest part of Hippolytes arguments are drawn from the New Testament; and in the IX. Chap. against Noetus, he describes his sources: Just as one who would know the wisdom of the world, must study the doctrines of philosophers; thus we, who would have the religion of God, can learn not elsewhere than in the Holy Scriptures. Let us know, therefore, what the Holy Scriptures proclaim, and let us study what they teach.

Hippolyte refuted Noetus principally from the Gospel and Apocalypse of St. John.

St. Theophilus, who, according to Jerome, was the sixth bishop of Antioch, and who governed the Church of Antioch from 168 to 186, has a clear testimony in favor of the Gospels and Pauline Epistles: Moreover, concerning the justice which the Law commands, the statements of the Prophets and the Gospels are found consonant since they all spoke in the inspiration of the same Spirit of God … Regarding chastity, the Holy Scripture teaches us not only not to sin in deed, but also not in thought … and the voice of the Gospels, commands more earnestly of chastity: Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Math. 5:28); and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery, and whosoever putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery. (Ibid. 32. Ad Autolycum III. 13.)

Again in opere citato, 14: This also doth the Holy Scripture enjoin, that we be subject to magistrates and powers, and pray for them, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life. (1 Tim. 2:2) And it teaches to render all things to all persons: Honor to whom honor; fear to whom fear; tribute to whom tribute; and to owe no man anything, but to love one another. (Rom. 13:7, 8).

In Book II. ad Autolycum 22, he canonizes the fourth Gospel: These things the Holy Scriptures teach us, and whosoever were inspired by the Holy Ghost, among whom is John, saying thus: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

According to Eusebius, (Hist. Eccles. IV. 24) Theophilus also composed a treatise against the heresy of Hermogenes, in which he makes use of testimony from the Apocalypse of John.

We come now to examine the famous document commonly known as the Canon of Muratori.

This document was discovered by Muratori in the Ambrosian Library, and published by him in the Antiquitates Italicæ, in 1740. The document is mutilated at the beginning and end. It is written in barbarous Latin. Bleek, Wieseler, Reuss and others maintain that it was originally written in Latin. Hilgenfeld, Volckmar, Zahn, Lightfoot, Cornely, Loisy and Muratori himself consider it a translation from the Greek. Its author is unknown. Muratori conjectured that it was written by Caius, a priest of Rome, disciple of St. Irenæus; Simon de Magistris believes Papias to be the author; Bunsen ascribes it to Hegesippus; Lightfoot believes it to be the work of Hippolyte.

While we remain in uncertainty as to its author and original tongue, we may not doubt that the document is a product of the second half of the second century. This makes it of first importance in establishing the Canon of Scripture of the Church of Rome in that age. It is highly probable that its original language was Greek, the liturgical tongue of Rome of that day.

The age of the Codex found by Muratori is not more remote than the eighth century; and the barbarisms seem to have originated from the ignorance and negligence of the copyist.

The original author evidently wished to draw up a canon of Scripture, and distinguish the genuine from the apocryphal books. We here produce the document after the facsimile published by Tregelles at Oxford, in 1867. It is not our intention to enter into the world of conjecture which has been created by the learned interpreters of this document. It suffices us to show only its import in its relation to the New Testament Canon.

quibus tamen Interfuit et ita posuit.

Tertio [tertium] Evangelii librum secundo [secundum] Lucan

Lucas Iste medicus post acensum [ascensum] XPI,

Cum eo [eum] Paulus quasi ut iuris studiosum

Secundum adsumsisset, numeni [nomine] suo

ex opinione concribset [conscripsit]; dnm tamen nec Ipse

dvidit [vidit] in carne, et ide prout asequi [assequi] potuit;

ita et ad [ab] nativitate Iohannis incipet [incipit] dicere.

Quarti Evangeliorum Iohannis ex decipolis [discipulis]

Cohortantibus condescipulis et eps [episcopis] suis

dixit: conieiunate mihi odie [hodie] triduo [triduum], et

quid cuique fuerit revelatum, alterutrum

nobis enarremus. Eadem nocte reve-

latum andreæ ex apostolis, ut recognis-

centibus [recognoscentibus] cuntis [cunctis] Iohannis [Ioannes] suo nomine

cunta [cuncta] discribret [describeret] et ideo licit [licet] varia

sinculis [singulis] evangeliorum libris principia

doceantur, Nihil tamen differt creden-

tium fidei, cum uno ac principali spu [Spiritu] de-

clarata sint in omnibus omnia, de nativi-

tate, de passione, de resurrectione,

de conversatione cum decipulis [discipulis] suis,

ac de gemino eius advento [adventu],

Primo In humilitate dispectus [despectus], quod fo-

tu [fuit], secundum potestate regali pre-

clarum quod foturum [futurum] est. quid ergo

mirum, si Iohannes tam constanter

sincula [singula] etia In epistulis suis proferat

dicens in semeipsu [semetipsum]: Quæ vidimus oculis

nostris et auribus audivimus et manus

nostra palpaverunt, hæc scripsimus vobis;

Sic enim non solum visurem [visorem], sed et auditorem,

sed et scriptore omnium mirabiliu dni [Domini] per ordinem profetetur [profitetur]. Acta aute omniu apostolorum

sub uno libro scribta [scripta] sunt, Lucas obtime theofi-

le comprindit [comprehendit], quia sub præsentia eius singula

gerebantur, sicut et semote passione Petri

evidenter declarat, Sed et profectionem pauli ad ur-

bes [urbem] ad spania proficescentis. Epistulæ autem

Pauli, quæ, a quo loco, vel qua ex causa directe [directæ]

sint, volentatibus [volentibus] intellegere Ipse [ipsæ] declarant.

Primu omnium corintheis scysmæ [schisma] hæresis In-

terdicens, deinceps B callatis [Galatis] circumcisione,

Romanis autem ornidine [ordinem] scripturarum sed et

principium earum esse XPM Intimans,

prolexius [prolixius] scripsit, de quibus sincolis [singulis]

necesse est [a] nobis desputari. Cum ipse beatus

apostolus Paulus sequens prodecessoris [prædecessoris] sui

Iohannis ordine nonnisi comenati [nominatim] semptæ

[septem] eccleses [ecclesiis] scribat, ordine tali: a [ad] corenthios

prima; ad efesios seconda, ad philippinses ter-

tia, ad colosensis quarta, ad calatas [Galatas] quin-

ta, ad tensaolenecinsis [Thessalonicenses] sexta, ad romanos

septima, Verum corintheis et thessaolecen-

sibus, licet pro cerrebtione [correptione] Iteretur, una

tamen per omnem orbem terræ ecclesia

deffusa [diffusa] esse denoscitur [dignoscitur]; Et Iohannis [Ioannes] eni

In apocalebsy [Apocalypsi] licet septe eccleseis scribat,

tamen omnibus dicit. Veru ad filemonem una;

et ad titu una, et ad tymotheu duas [duæ] pro affec-

to et dilectione, In honore [honorem] tamen ecclesiæ ca-

tholice [catholicæ], in ordinationem ecclesiastice [ecclesiasticæ]

descepline [disciplinæ] scificate [sanctificatæ] sunt. Fertur etiam ad

Laudecenses [Laodicenses], alia ad alexandrinos Pauli no-

mine fincte [fictæ] ad heresem Marcionis, et alia plu-

ra, quæ in catholicam ecclesiam recepi [recipi] non

potest: Fel enim cum melle misceri non concruit

[congruit]. epistola sane Iude [Iudæ] et superscriptio [suprascripti]

Iohannis duas [duæ] In catholica habentur. Et sapi-

entia ab amicis Salomonis in honore ipsius

scripta. apocalapse [apocalypsim vel apocalypses] etiam Iohannis et Pe-

tri tantum recipimus, quam quidam ex nos-

tris legi In ecclesia nolunt. Pastorem vero

nuperrim et [nuperrime] temporibus nostris In urbe

roma herma conscripsit, sedente [in] cathe-

tra [cathedra] urbis romæ ecclesiæ Pio eps frater [episcopo, fratre]

eius; et ideo legi eum quidem Oportet, se pu-

plicare [publicare] vero in eclesia populo Neque inter

profetas [prophetarum] completum numero [numerum] neque Inter

apostolos In fine temporum potest.

Arsinoi autem seu valentini, vel miltiadis

nihil In totum recipemus [recipimus]. Qui etiam novu

psalmorum librum marcioni conscripse-

runt una cum basilide assianum catafry-

cum constitutorem.

The Epistle of St. James finds no place in the document. That Epistle had been used as divine Scripture by the author of Pastor, but doubts remained in some minds concerning it. Thus, Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. II. 23) speaks concerning it:

These accounts are given respecting James, who is said to have written the first of the Epistles general, (catholic); but it is to be observed that it is considered spurious. Not many indeed of the ancients have mentioned it, and not even that called the Epistle of Jude, which is also one of the seven called catholic Epistles. Nevertheless we know, that these, with the rest, are publicly used in most of the churches.

Funk (Patres Apost.) found eight references to St. James Epistle in the I. Epistle to the Corinthians of Clement of Rome. He found five references in the II. Cor. by some attributed to the same author; and six references in Clements Epistles to Virgins. References are also found in Justin and Irenæus. It is not clear whether certain passages in the works of Clement of Alexandria were taken from James Epistle or from the Gospels. Origen is the first among the Fathers who quoted the work as Holy Scripture under the name of James the Apostle.

One of the strongest proofs of its early approbation by the Church is its presence, under its proper name, in the Peshitto, which dates from early times.

We here compare two passages from the Pastor of Hermas with the Epistle of St. James, having in mind to prove that he drew material from the same Epistle.

St. Jas. 5:4.

              Pastor, Lib. I. Vis. III. 9.

Ecce, merces operariorum, qui messuerunt regiones vestras, quæ fraudata est a vobis, clamat; et clamor eorum in aures Domini Sabaoth introivit.

              Videte ergo vos, qui gloriamini in divitiis, ne forte ingemiscant ii qui egent, et gemitus eorum ascendat ad Dominum—.

Jas. 4:7.

              Pastor, Lib. II. Mand. XII. 5.

Subditi ergo estote Deo: resistite autem diabolo, et fugiet a vobis.

              —Potest autem diabolus luctari, sed vincere non potest. Si enim resistitis illi, fugiet a vobis confusus.

Toward the close, therefore, of the second century the Canon of the New Testament in the Church of Rome contained all the books of the Catholic Canon, excepting the Epistle of St. James, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and probably the Second Epistle of St. Peter.

The Canon of the Church of Gaul of the same age is sought in the works of Irenæus.

A splendid testimony for the four Gospels is found in the Third Book of his Treatise against Heresy, XI. 7, 8: So great is the certitude of the Gospels that the heretics themselves render testimony to them, and every heretic that comes forth strives to prove his doctrine from them. For the Ebionites, who use only the Gospel of Matthew, are confuted by it, that their presumption concerning the Lord is not well founded. Marcion, who mutilates St. Luke, by that which he retains of it, is shown to be a blasphemer against the Lord. Those who separate Jesus from Christ, and who, selecting the Gospel of Mark, say that Christ remained impassible, and that Jesus suffered, if they read it with the love of truth can be corrected of their error. The Valentinians, who exclusively use the Gospel of John for the ostentation of their unions, are by it shown to be false in everything, as we have shown in the first book. Since, therefore, our opponents render testimony for us, and use these (Gospels), our demonstration regarding them is shown to be true and firm. For the Church receives neither more in number nor fewer in number than these Gospels. For of the world in which we live, there are four great regions; and there are four principal winds; and the Church is spread over the whole earth; and the pillar and ground of the Church (1 Tim. 3:15) is the Gospel, and the spirit of life; therefore it follows that the Church has four columns blowing forth in all directions incorruption, and vivifying men. From which it is manifest that the divine Architect of all things, the Word who is borne upon the Cherubim, and rules all things, who was made manifest to men, gave us the fourfold Gospel, which is actuated by one Spirit. Continuing, he applies the vision of Ezekiel to the four Evangelists, which interpretation has continued in the Church since that time. The conclusion of Irenæus is better than his reasoning. His mysticism avails naught, but his conclusion is independent of it. The conclusion was the faith of the Church of his time, which he strove to illustrate. We could add nothing to this testimony by adducing the numberless quotations of the Gospels in the works of Irenæus. It is sufficient in itself to establish the status of the Gospels in the Church of Gaul of the second century. Irenæus was a disciple of the disciples of St. John. The voice of Apostolic times is perpetuated by them to him. He speaks in the tone of a man who was sure of his point, knowing that he had back of him the faith of the Catholic Church. The Church from the Apostolic times received four Gospels, and only four. Irenæus wrote, in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters of this same third book, a commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. In the beginning of the fourteenth chapter, he vindicates their authorship to St. Luke.

No mention is found in Irenæus of the Epistle to Philemon, but this fact is not strange, considering that the nature of the book did not bring it within the scope of his writing. Eusebius testifies (Hist. Eccles. V. 26) that Irenæus, in a book of various disputes, quoted the Epistle to the Hebrews. In Lib. II. contra Hær. XXX. 9, he uses the phrase: Deus omnia fecit verbo virtutis suœ; the form of expression, so eminently Pauline, is evidently taken from Hebrews 1:3.

All the other Epistles of St. Paul are used with equal frequency with the Gospels. All the works of Irenæus are rich in quotations from them. Pauls pastoral Epistles are received with equal favor with the others. He begins his great work against the heresies with a quotation from Timothy, I. 4. In Lib. II. XIV. 1, he says: And Paul himself has manifested in his Epistles, saying: Demas has left me, and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens, into Galatia; only Luke is with me. (2 Tim. 4:10, 11). In op. cit. Lib. IV. XVI. 5, he quotes the first Epistle of St. Peter: And for this cause, Peter says: That we have not liberty for a cloak of maliciousness. 1 Pet. 2:16.

In op. cit. Lib. V. XXIII. 2, he has the following allusion to the Second Epistle of St. Peter: Certain ones place the death of Adam in the thousandth year, for a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Loisy believes that Irenæus here draws from Psalm 90. (Vulg. 89); but the phraseology and the context plainly point to 2 Peter, 3:8: But, beloved, be not ignorant of one thing that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.

Again in op. cit. Lib. IV. XIII. and XVI. Irenæus speaks of Abraham as the friend of God. In the latter place, he quotes the passage: Credidit Deo, et reputatum est illi ad justitiam, et amicus Dei vocatus est. Now, although the first part of the expression is found in Genesis, 15:6, and in the Epistles of Paul, the whole expression is found only in James 2:23.

In Lib. V. I. 1, Irenæus calls the Christians, the first fruits of his (Gods) creatures, which peculiar expression is only found in James 1:18.

No mention is found in the works of Irenæus of the Epistle of Jude. But I believe with Loisy that it was in the collection of the Church of Gaul at the time. The Canon of Muratori shows us that it had a secure place in the Canon of Rome, and the Church of Gaul was in strict conformity with Rome.

St. Irenæus directly quotes from the First and Second Epistles of St. John.

In op. cit. Lib. III. 5, he writes: Wherefore, also in his Epistle, he (John) has testified to us: Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have heard that antichrist cometh: even now there are many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.—1 Jo. 2:18.

A little farther on in the same work in Paragraph 8, he has this testimony: And these are the ones whom the Lord bade us avoid, and also his disciple John in the aforesaid Epistle, bade us fly from them saying: Many seducers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ, is come in the flesh. This is a seducer and is antichrist. Look to yourselves, that ye lose not those things which ye have wrought. And again in his Epistle he says: Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

By this is the spirit of God known: every spirit which confesseth Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh, is of God:

And every spirit, that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God, and this is antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.

The first quotation is literally quoted from Johns Second Epistle. Irenæus was familiar with them both, and, quoting from memory, it is due to a fault of memory that he refers the passage to the First Epistle.

In op. cit. Lib. LXVI. 3, he again quotes the Second Epistle: For John, the disciple of the Lord, places damnation upon them, not allowing us to bid them God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds. —2 Jo. 1:11.

These data leave no doubt that Irenæus received and employed as Holy Scripture, at least the First and Second Epistles of John. But since the history of the Second and Third has always been the same, it is highly probable that he received also the Third, though he had no occasion to quote it.

Irenæus made great use of the Apocalypse. In op. cit. Lib. IV. XXVI. 1, Irenæus speaks thus of the Apocalypse: And yet more evidently, of the last age, and of the ten kings, among whom will be divided the Empire which now exists, has John the disciple of the Lord made known in the Apocalypse, etc.

In the same book, Chap. XIV. 2, he testifies: And for this cause, John in the Apocalypse says: And his voice was as the voice of many waters.—Apoc. 1:15.

Ibidem, Chap. XVII. 6: Incense, saith John in the Apocalypse, is the prayers of the saints.

In Chapter XVIII. 6: There is an altar in Heaven (for thither our prayers and oblations are directed) and a temple, as John says in the Apocalypse: And the temple of God was opened; and there is a tabernacle: For behold, he saith, the tabernacle of God in which he dwells with men. —Apoc. 11:19; 21:3.

Equally clear quotations are found in op. cit. Lib. IV., XX. 11; XXI. 4; XXX. 4; Lib. V., XXVIII. 2; XXX. 2, 4; XXXIV. 2; XXXV. 2, etc.

From these researches, we are led to believe that the church of Gaul in the second century possessed the entire Canon.

The Canon of the church of Proconsular Africa at the close of the second century, is made known to us from the works of Tertullian, whose literary activity ranges from 195 to 220.

Tertullian defends against Marcion the four Gospels, Lib. II. adversus Marcionem, Cap. II.

Again in Chapter V. he asserts the authorship of Matthew, Luke, Mark and John. The chapter opens with a clear testimony of the greater Pauline Epistles:

In summa, si constant id verius quod prius, id prius quod et ab initio, id ab initio, quod ab Apostolis; pariter utique constabit, id esse ab Apostolis traditum, quod apud ecclesias Apostolorum fuerit sacrosanctum. Videamus quod lac a Paulo Corinthii hauserint; ad quam regulam Galatæ sint recorrecti; quid legant Philippenses, Thessalonicenses, Ephesii; quid etiam Romani de proximo sonent, quibus Evangelium et Petrus et Paulus sanguine quoque suo signatum reliquerunt. Habemus et Joannis alumnas ecclesias. Nam etsi Apocalypsim ejus Marcion respuit, ordo tamen episcoporum ad originem recensus, in Joannem stabit auctorem.

Tertullian certainly received thirteen Epistles of Paul. In Lib. V. adv. Marcion, XXI. he speaks thus of the Epistle to Philemon:

Soli huic Epistolæ brevitas sua profuit, ut falsarias manus Marcionis evaderet. Miror tamen, cum ad unum hominem literas factas receperit, quid ad Timotheum duas, et unam ad Titum, de ecclesiastico statu compositas recusaverit. Adfectavit, opinor, etiam numerum Epistolarum interpolare.

In Lib. V. adv. Marcion, Cap. I. he defends the Acts of the Apostles: Hæc figurarum sacramenta, si tibi displicent, certa Acta Apostolorum (Act. 9) hunc mihi ordinem Pauli tradiderunt, a te quoque non negandum.

In Lib. de Pudicitia, Cap. XX. Tertullian cites the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the work of Barnabas.

Volo tamen ex redundantia alicujus etiam comitis Apostolorum testimonium superducere, idoneum confirmandi de proximo jure disciplinam magistrorum. Exstat enim et Barnabæ titulus ad Hebræos, adeo satis auctoritatis viri, ut quem Paulus juxta se constituerit in abstinentiæ tenore: Aut ego solus et Barnabas non habemus hoc operandi potestatem. Et utique receptior apud Ecclesias Epistola Barnabæ illo apocrypho Pastore mœchorum. Monens itaque discipulos, omissis omnibus initiis, ad perfectionem magis tendere, nec rursus fundamenta pœnitentiæ jacere ab operibus mortuorum: Impossibile est enim, inquit, eos qui semel illuminati sunt, et donum cœleste gustaverunt, et participaverunt Spiritum Sanctum, et verbum Dei dulce gustaverunt, occidente jam ævo cum exciderint, rursus revocari in pœnitentiam, refigentes cruci in semetipsos Filium Dei et dedecorantes. Terra enim quæ bibit sæpius devenientem in se humorem, et peperit herbam aptam his propter quos et colitur, benedictionem Dei consequitur: proferens autem spinas, reproba et maledictioni proxima, cujus finis in exustionem. Hoc qui ab Apostolis didicit et cum Apostolis docuit, nunquam mœcho et fornicatori secundam pœnitentiam promissam ab Apostolis norat; optime enim legem interpretabatur, et figuras ejus jam in ipsa veritate servabat.

In introducing this passage, Tertullian shows clearly that, though not personally certain of its inspiration, he considered the Epistle to the Hebrews of great authority.

He made much use of the Apocalypse, and of the First Epistle of St. John. I found no direct references to the other two in his works, but in Chapter XIX. De Pudicitia, he says: Shall we, forsooth, say that John erred, who in his first Epistle denies that we are without sin. It was certainly in contradistinction to other Epistles that he calls this the first. The Second and Third of John are brief, and written to private individuals. For this reason, they have never been quoted as much as the First. This was the evident cause, also, why they are not expressly quoted by Tertullian.

In Chapter III. De Cultu Feminarum, Tertullian wishes to obtain endorsement for the Book of Henoch: And moreover, Henoch has a testimony in Jude the Apostle. (Jude V. 14.) Though he erred in explaining the passage of Jude, he is a competent witness that the Church of Africa possessed in that day the Epistle of Jude among the Holy Books.

Tertullian often quotes the First Epistle of St. Peter. I found no quotations from the Second Epistle in his works. This argues nothing against its reception by the Church of Africa; Tertullian may have had no occasion to quote it.

In Lib. adversus Judæos, II. he used the expression, Abraham amicus Dei deputatus, which seems to be taken from James, 2:23.

The Second Epistle of Peter is the only book of the New Testament which has nothing in the works of Tertullian; the First and Second of John, and the Epistle of James have but probable approbation; the Epistle to the Hebrews with him stops a little short of canonicity, but all the other books, both by direct declaration and practical use are endorsed as undoubted Holy Scripture.

In the works of St. Cyprian, who succeeded Tertullian as chief representative of the African Church, abundant quotations are found of all the homologoumena, including the Apocalypse, but he is silent concerning the antilegomena. It would be absurd to interpret this silence as a condemnation of the books. At most, we may say that the exceedingly conservative spirit of Cyprian drew him more strongly to the books of which no one doubted.

The tradition of the Church of Alexandria of the second century is made known to us by Clement. Among all the early Fathers, Clement is the most favorable to apocryphal writings. There is no evidence that he made them equal to Holy Scripture, but he was willing to treat with consideration any work which had a claim to respectability. In Lib. III. Stromatum, XIII. he shows that he admitted four and only four Gospels. Replying there to an objection taken from an apocryphal gospel, he says: In the first place, in the four Gospels which have been handed down to us, we have not this saying, but in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

Clements position regarding the books of Scripture may be learned from Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. VI. 14.

In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up the matter briefly, he has given us abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures, not even omitting those that are disputed, (The Antilegomena), I mean the book of Jude, and the other general Epistles. Also the Epistle of Barnabas, and that called the Revelation of Peter. But the Epistle to the Hebrews he asserts was written by Paul, to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew tongue; but that it was carefully translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks. Whence, also, one finds the same character of style and of phraseology in the Epistle as in the Acts. But it is probable that the title, Paul the Apostle, was not prefixed to it. For as he wrote to the Hebrews, who had imbibed prejudices against him, and suspected him, he wisely guards against diverting them from the perusal, by giving his name. A little after this he observes: But now as the blessed presbyter used to say, since the Lord who was the apostle of the Almighty, was sent to the Hebrews, Paul by reason of his inferiority, as if sent to the Gentiles, did not subscribe himself an Apostle of the Hebrews; both out of reverence for the Lord, and because he wrote of his abundance to the Hebrews, as a herald and Apostle of the Gentiles. Again, in the same work, Clement also gives the tradition respecting the order of the Gospels, as derived from the oldest presbyter, as follows: He says that those which contain the genealogies were written first; but that the Gospel of Mark was occasioned in the following manner: When Peter had proclaimed the word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel under the influence of the spirit; as there was a great number present, they requested Mark, who had followed him from afar, and remembered well what he had said, to reduce these things to writing, and that after composing the Gospel he gave it to those who requested it of him. Which, when Peter understood, he directly neither hindered nor encouraged it. But John, last of all, perceiving that what had reference to the body in the Gospel of our Saviour, was sufficiently detailed, and being encouraged by his familiar friends, and urged by the spirit, he wrote a spiritual Gospel. Thus far Clement.

The commentaries of Clement on the First Epistle of St. Peter, and the Epistle of St. Jude have been preserved to us by Cassiodorus in a Latin translation (Cassiod. De Inst. Div. Lit. VIII.).

In the works of Clement that remain to us, I found no certain reference to II. Peter. Some allusions to St. James Epistle exist (Strom. V. 14; VI. 18); but the testimony of Eusebius leaves no doubt that Clement received these works. Eusebius testimony is corroborated by Photius, who testifies that Clement commented the Epistles of Paul and the Catholic Epistles. (Biblioth. 109. Patrol. G. 103, 384)

In II. Strom. XV. Clement speaks of I. John, as the greater Epistle, Ἰωάννες ἐν τῇ μείξονι ἐπιστολῇ. This shows shows plainly that he recognized at least one of the others, and, as we have said before, the history of the two is the same. We believe, therefore, that Clement received them both. The defect of explicit quotations would be unjustly invoked against those short books, which are of secondary importance from a doctrinal standpoint.

The greater part of Clements Hypotyposes, was devoted to the exegesis of the New Testament. Only fragments of the work remain in the Latin translation of Cassiodorus. Hence, is explained that in those fragments we find not Clements commentary on the Epistle of St. James, on II. Peter, and III. John. Without doubt, they had place in the complete work according to the explicit testimony of Eusebius.

We find, therefore, at the close of the second century, that all the churches concur in receiving the four written Gospels. These were sometimes called the Writings of the Lord. Thus Dionysius of Corinth in Epistle to Romans: It is not, therefore, matter of wonder if some have also attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord, since they have attempted the same in other works, that are not to be compared with these.

The writers of this period also give evidence that they already of old time received these Gospels, and only these Gospels were received by all the churches.

Certain allusions to the Acts of the Apostles are found in the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius Martyr, and St. Justin; but the testimony of the Canon of Muratori is explicit for their canonicity. The faith of Irenæus, as we have seen, was the same. Tertullian inveighs bitterly against those (the Manicheans) who rejected the Acts:

et utique implevit repromissum, probantibus Actis Apostolorum, descensum Spiritus Sancti. Quam Scripturam qui non recipiunt, nec Spiritus Sancti esse possunt, qui necdum Spiritum possint agnoscere discentibus missum, sed nec Ecclesiam defendere, qui, quando et quibus incunabulis institutum est hoc corpus, probare non habent.

Clement of Alexandria also makes great use of this Scripture, and attributes it to Paul. All things warrant that it had a place in the Canon in all the churches, before the close of the second century, and no doubt has since been raised in the Catholic Church concerning it.

From a conspectus of the preceding data, it is evident that, excepting the Epistle to the Hebrews, all the Epistles of Paul were universally accepted as Holy Scripture. It is not the place here to answer the objections of F. Chr. Baur against the Epistles to the Thessalonians. Those objections, or rather cavils, are sought from the nature of the books themselves, and will be answered in the exegesis of the books. We are here dealing only with the belief of the Church regarding the books of Scripture and the evidence of this, as regards thirteen Epistles of Paul, is convincing. Even the short Epistle to Philemon finds its place in Muratoris Canon: in the words of Tertullian (loc. cit), it escaped the mutilation of Marcion. In the words of St. Jerome: It would never have been received by all the churches throughout the whole world, unless it was held to be Pauls Epistle. (Prol. in Philem.)

In this period, the Epistle to the Hebrews was received with more favor in the East than in the West. We know from Eusebius (loc. cit.) that Clement of Alexandria received it. Clements testimony is confirmed by that of Pantænus (the blessed presbyter). (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. VI. 14.) All the Fathers of the Alexandrian Church have accepted and used the Epistle.

Its presence, as fourteenth among Pauls Epistles, in the Peshitto, is sufficient guarantee of its reception by the ancient Syrian Church.

In reviewing the works of Irenæus, we have pointed out his references to this Epistle. Eusebius (loc. cit.) confirms our belief that Irenæus received it.

The testimony of Tertullian, while it does not place the book beyond the possibility of doubt, recognizes the book as widely known and respected. The status of the book grew constantly more favorable in the Western Church from this time forth.

Rome seems to have been the center of the doubts of that period regarding the divine authority of the book. We have seen that it is omitted from the Canon of Muratori, and Eusebius testifies also in Hist. Eccles. VI. 20, that Caius of Rome and other Romans did not receive the Epistle.

The testimony of the first two centuries in favor of St. James Epistle might be summed up as follows: Clear references in the works of Clement of Rome; allusions in the works of Justin and Irenæus; quotations in the Pastor of Hermas; and a place among the canonical Scriptures in the Peshitto.

The testimonies of this period in favor of the First Epistle of Peter are clear and explicit. Eusebius testifies, Hist. Eccles. III. 39, that Papias made use of testimonies from it. At least eight quotations from it are found in the short Epistle of Polycarp that is preserved for us. The finest testimonies for it exist in the works of Clement, Irenæus and Tertullian. We have already explained its omission from Muratoris Canon.

For the Second Epistle of St. Peter, we have nothing clearer in the first two centuries, than the references already adduced in the works of Irenæus. With Origen the data becomes more convincing.

The Epistle of Jude has a secure place in the Canon of Muratori. Tertullian (loc. cit.) uses it as an authority acknowledged by all. Clement of Alexandria commented it. St. Jerome declares that: Jude left a short epistle, which is one of the seven Catholic Epistles; since he assumes a testimony from the apocryphal book of Henoch, it is rejected by several; nevertheless, it merits authority by its antiquity and use, and is reckoned among the Holy Scriptures. (S. Hier. De. Vir. Ill. M. 23, 645.)

The First Epistle of John was known and used by Papias and Polycarp. Irenæus quotes it frequently, often naming its author. The Canon of Muratori places it among the canonical Scriptures. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria make it equal to the Gospel of St. John. The Peshitto of the Syriac places it among the canonical Scriptures, and no reasonable doubt has ever been raised concerning it.

The other two Epistles of John have not equal endorsement in these two centuries. In the testimony of Jerome (De Vir. Ill. IX. 18), Johns authorship of these two Epistles was rejected by many (plerisque). Investigation into patristic literature fails to make known who these many were.

The Epistles have an indirect approbation in Tertullian, De Pudic. 19, where he speaks of the First Epistle of John as prima. Had he admitted only two, he would undoubtedly have used, in priore. We have before shown that Irenæus received the Second Epistle of John, and as the history of the two is intimately bound up together, we believe that he received also the Third. The same can be said of Clement of Alexandria, who in Strom. II. 15, speaks of I. John as the greater Epistle. Fragments of his commentary on II. John are preserved for us by Cassiodorus, (op. cit.). Finally Muratoris Canon leaves no reasonable doubt that the three Epistles were received in the Church of Rome.

There is scarcely a book in the New Testament, which received so many clear testimonies in the second century as the Apocalypse. On the testimony of Irenæus, we know that the book was written toward the close of the reign of Domitian, therefore, about the year 95 A. D. Wherefore no testimonies of the first century are to be sought. But in the following age St. Justin, St. Hippolyte, Tertullian, Irenæus, Papias, Melito of Sardis, St. Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria and the Canon of Muratori, testify to its authenticity and divine character. Opposition and doubt arose in the following century concerning it. Certain heretics arose at that time who abused its authority to acquire favor for Millenarianism. Hence, though we find none who reject it, the Fathers made less use of it, as its deep mysterious sense perplexed the minds of these who were defending Catholic truth against the error of the Chiliasts. St. Dionysius the Great, one of the leading Fathers, in combating this heresy, thus speaks of the book:

Some, indeed, before us, have set aside, and have attempted to refute the whole book, criticising every chapter, and pronouncing it without sense and without reason. They say that it has a false title, for it is not of John. Nay, that it is not even a revelation, as it is covered with such a dense and thick veil of ignorance, that not one of the Apostles, and not one of the holy men, or those of the church could be its author. But that Cerinthus, the founder of the sect of Cerinthians, so called from him, wishing to have reputable authority for his own fiction, prefixed the title. For this is the doctrine of Cerinthus, that there will be an earthly reign of Christ; and as he was a lover of the body, and altogether sensual in those things which he so eagerly craved, he dreamed that he would revel in the gratification of the sensual appetite, i. e. in eating and drinking, and marrying; and to give the things a milder aspect and expression, in festivals and sacrifices, and the slaying of victims. For my part I would not venture to set this book aside, as there are many brethren that value it much; but having formed a conception of its subject as exceeding my capacity, I consider it also containing a certain concealed and wonderful intimation in each particular. For, though I do not understand, yet I suspect that some deeper sense is enveloped in the words, and these I do not measure and judge by my private reason; but allowing more to faith, I have regarded them as too lofty to be comprehended by me, and those things which I do not understand, I do not reject, but I wonder the more that I cannot comprehend.

At the opening of the third century, we find the Canon of the New Testament well established, not by official decree but by traditional usage. Certain divergencies existed regarding a few books. Muratoris Canon omits the Epistle of St. James while Clement of Alexandria uses it as though all the churches recognized its divine authority.

The two great representatives of Catholic thought of the third century are Origen and Eusebius.

The capacious mind of Origen examined the different collections of Scripture of the different churches, and compared them. His views respecting the Gospels are manifested in his Homily on Luke: The Church has four Gospels; heresy has many.… Only four Gospels are approved, out of which as representing our Law and Saviour, dogmas are to be proven.… In all these we admit naught else than is admitted by the Church, that only four Gospels are to be received.

Some recur to a testimony from Origen in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. VI. 25, to establish Origens Canon:

As I have understood from tradition, respecting the four Gospels which are the only undisputed ones in the whole Church of God throughout the world. The first is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a publican, but afterwards an Apostle of Jesus Christ, who having published it for the Jewish converts, wrote it in the Hebrew. The second is according to Mark, who composed it, as Peter explained to him, whom he also acknowledges as his son in his general Epistle, saying, The elect church in Babylon, salutes you, as also Mark my son. And the third, according to Luke, the Gospel commended by Paul, which was written for the converts from the Gentiles, and last of all the Gospel according to John. And in the fifth book of his Commentaries on John, the same author writes as follows: But he (Paul) being well fitted to be a minister of the New Testament, I mean a minister not of the letter but of the spirit; who, after spreading the Gospel from Jerusalem and the country around as far as Illyricum, did not even write to all the churches to which he preached, but even to those to whom he wrote he only sent a few lines. But Peter, upon whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, has left one Epistle undisputed. Suppose, also, the second was left by him, for on this there is some doubt. What shall we say of him who reclined upon the breast of Jesus, I mean John? who has left one Gospel, in which he confesses that he could write so many that the whole world could not contain them. He also wrote the Apocalypse, commanded as he was, to conceal, and not to write the voices of the seven thunders. He has also left an Epistle consisting of very few lines; suppose, also, that a second and third are from him, for not all agree that they are genuine, but both together do not contain a hundred lines. To these remarks he also adds the following observation on the Epistle to the Hebrews, in his homilies on the same: The style of the Epistle with the title, To the Hebrews, has not that simplicity of diction which belongs to the Apostle, who confesses that he is but common in speech, that is in his phraseology. But that this Epistle is more pure Greek in the composition of its phrases, every one will confess who is able to discern the difference of style. Again, it will be obvious that the ideas of the Epistle are admirable, and not inferior to any of the books acknowledged to be apostolic. Every one will confess the truth of this, who attentively reads the Apostles writings. To these he afterwards again adds: But I would say, that the thoughts are the Apostles, but the diction and phraseology belong to some one, who has recorded what the Apostle said, and as one who noted down at his leisure what his master dictated. If, then, any church considers this Epistle as coming from Paul, let it be commended for this, for neither did those ancient men deliver it as such without cause. But who it was that really wrote the Epistle, God only knows. The account, however, that has been current before us, is, according to some, that Clement who was bishop of Rome wrote the Epistle; according to others, that it was written by Luke, who wrote the Gospel and the Acts.

The Epistles of James and Jude are omitted; II. Peter and II. and III. John are considered doubtful. It would be erroneous to accept this as Origens position on the Canon. The passage is found in the beginning of the fifth tome of his Commentary on St. John. He is there justifying himself for not writing more, and cites the example of some of the writers of the New Testament. To make the argument forcible, he restricts the works in the narrowest compass, and uses for this scope the occasional doubts that existed in some churches. In fact, Origen, through display of erudition, mentions these doubts which he did not personally entertain. There was no need of a complete list of the writers, and he has not drawn up a complete list. He took the more prominent. It is evident that it was not his intention to enumerate all the books of the New Testament.

Origen quoted II. Peter in his XII. Homily on Exodus, 4: I know that it is written: For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. (2 Pet. 2:19).

Again in Hom. IV. on Levit. 4: And again Peter saith: Ye are become partakers of the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:14).

Hom. XIII. on Num. 8: —as the Scripture saith in a certain place: —the dumb ass, speaking with mans voice, forbade the madness of the prophet. (2 Pet. 2:16.)

Origen reveals his personal opinion of the Epistle of Jude in Comment. in Math. Tom. X. 17: And Jude wrote an Epistle, of few verses, indeed, but full of efficacious words of divine grace; which he begins by saying: Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, brother of James. Nevertheless, Origen was not ignorant that some doubted of this Epistle, and he takes account of this doubt in op. cit. Tom. XVII.: If any one receives also the Epistle of Jude, let him consider what follows from this doctrine, for the reason that, The Angels who kept not their first estate, but left their first habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude, 1:6.)

In this citation Origen simply shows his comprehensive knowledge of the thought of his day. He received the Epistle, but in arguing therefrom, he had to take into consideration that its authority would not have equal weight with all. It required a great deal in those days to secure for a book immunity from doubt: a slight cause was sufficient to raise some doubt, which crescebat eundo, concerning some of the minor books of the Testament.

Equally certain are Origens views on St. James Epistle. In Hom. VIII. in Exod. 4, he says: But the Apostle James says: A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James, 1:8.)

In Hom. II. in Levit. 4: Thus saith Holy Scripture: —who converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James, 5:20.)

In Hom. XIII. in Genesim 2, Origen likens the books of the New Testament to the wells which Isaac and his servants dug, and he places James and Jude in the number. In this simile, Isaac represents the Lord. The servants of Isaac represent the other authors of the New Testament: Isaac, therefore, dug new wells; the servants of Isaac dug new wells also. The servants of Isaac are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His servants are Peter, James and Jude, and also Paul, for they all dug the wells of the New Testament.

Upon this data we believe that Origens Canon is that which he makes known to us in his Seventh Homily on the Book of Joshua, 1, wherein he compares the authors of the New Testament to Joshua and the priests who besieged Jericho: The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom that first Joshua was a type, coming, sends priests, his Apostles bearing trumpets of rams horns, the grand and heavenly doctrine of the Gospel. Matthew sounded first the sacerdotal trumpet in his Gospel; Mark follows; then Luke and John blow their proper trumpets. Peter sends forth blasts from the trumpets of his two Epistles; James and Jude do likewise. John joins in with the trumpet-blast of his Epistles and Apocalypse and Luke with the Acts of the Apostles. And lastly comes he who said: For I think that God hath set forth us, the Apostles, the least of men, and thundering through the trumpets of his fourteen Epistles completely overthrows the engines of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers.

In ascribing a plurality of Epistles to John, the Second and Third of his Epistles are virtually approved, for they are inseparably linked together in their history.

Origen is not there formulating a new theory. He is here the oracle of two centuries of Catholic belief and practice.

The place in the Catholic Church which the Holy Books had acquired in Origens time, they have retained ever since.

The sporadic doubts which in the course of the centuries arose and fell, availed naught to shake their credit in the Church. The books were a part of the mighty life of the Church, and the occasional doubts of individuals only served to bring out more clearly the doctrine which was the same from the beginning.

The documents which we shall henceforth adduce will be chosen out of the universal testimony of tradition, on account of their special bearing on the deuterocanonical books.

DIONYSiUS THE GREAT, the disciple of Origen, cites the Epistle to the Hebrews as the work of Paul. He employs the Epistle of James (Fragment on Luke XXII.), and recognizes the First and Second Epistles of John. (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. VII. 25).

METHODIUS OF TYRE, cites the Apocalypse as inspired by Christ, and makes the Epistle to the Hebrews equal to the other Epistles of Paul. (Conviv. Or. I. 5; Or. VIII. 4).

Eusebius of Caesarea, who was a diligent searcher into the traditions and documents of his times, has treated the question of the Canon of the New Testament ex professo in his Hist. Eccles. III. 25:

This appears also to be the proper place, to give a summary statement of the books of the New Testament already mentioned. And here, among the first, must be placed the holy Quaternion of the Gospels; these are followed by the book of the Acts of the Apostles; after this must be mentioned the Epistles of Paul, which are followed by the acknowledged First Epistle of John, as also the First of Peter, to be admitted in like manner. After these, are to be placed, if proper, the Revelation of John, concerning which we shall offer the different opinions in due time. These, then, are acknowledged genuine. Among the disputed books, although they are well known and approved by many, are reputed that called the Epistle of James and that of Jude. Also the Second Epistle of Peter, and those called The Second and Third of John, whether they are of the Evangelist or of some other of the same name. Among the spurious must be numbered both the books called The Acts of Paul, and that called Pastor, and The Revelation of Peter. Beside these, the books called The Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called The Institutions of the Apostles. Moreover, as I said before, if it should appear right, The Revelation of John, which some, as before said, reject, but others rank among the genuine. But there are also some who number among these, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have received Christ are particularly delighted. These may be said to be all concerning which there is any dispute. We have, however, necessarily subjoined here a catalogue of these also, in order to distinguish those that are true, genuine, and well authenticated writings, from those others which are not only not embodied in the Canon, but likewise disputed, notwithstanding that they are recognized by most ecclesiastical writers.

Eusebius has not passed definite judgment on the question of the Canon. As a faithful historian he records the historical status of the books. The echo of the doubts which had their origin in the preceding ages could not be stilled except by the authoritative voice of the Church.

Eusebius arranges the books in three classes. First came τὰ ὁμολογούμενα, the books of which no one ever doubted. These are the four Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles of Paul, the I. of Peter, the I. of John, and, if one judges well, (εἰ φανείη) the Apocalypse. It is evident that Eusebius includes the Epistle to the Hebrews in Pauls Epistles, since it was universally known in his day, and he places it in no other class. Moreover, in lib. cit. III. he had declared, that the fourteen Epistles of Paul were manifestly known to all.

The second class is made up of the ἀντιλεγόμενα, γνώριμα δέ τοῖς πολλοῖς, the books which had been doubted of by some, but received by the many. These are the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, II. Peter, and II. and III. of John.

The third class he calls spurious, νόθα, composed of the Acts of Paul, Pastor, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Doctrine of the Apostles, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and, if it seems well, the Apocalypse of John. In an inferior place he ranges the impious books, the inventions of heretics.

This document contains not so much the present status of the books, as their past history; Eusebius fills the role of a chronicler, not a critic.

The peculiar position of the Apocalypse is the effect of the causes before mentioned. Up to the middle of the third century the work had been received by all. In virtue of this universal acceptance Eusebius gives it its place among the books of the first Canon. The rise of the Millenarian heresy drew opposition upon the book. Its mysterious sense was abused by the Millenarians; and the defenders of the faith, being hard pressed, began by casting doubt upon the authenticity of the book, and later, upon its divine character. Hence, some rejected the book as spurious. As Eusebius rightly says, it was accepted by all in one period of history; it was rejected by some in another. He does not decide the issue; he adduces the historical data, and allows the reader to decide.

In op. cit. Lib. 3, Eusebius speaks thus: As to the writing of Peter, one of his Epistles called the First, is acknowledged as genuine. For this was anciently used by the ancient Fathers in their writings, as an undoubted work of the Apostle. But that which is called the Second, we have not, indeed, understood to be embodied with the sacred books, ἐνδιαθηχόν, yet as it appeared useful to many, it was studiously read with the other Scriptures.

Again, ibid.: The Epistles of Paul are fourteen, all well known and beyond doubt. It should not, however, be concealed, that some have set aside the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying, that it was disputed, as not being one of St. Pauls Epistles; but we shall in the proper place, also subjoin what has been said by those before our time respecting this Epistle.

Eusebius is inclined to magnify the importance of the individual doubts, lest he should be thought to have been ignorant of them. The fact that a book was not mentioned by many ancient Fathers, though explainable from the nature of the writing, was often taken by him as an evidence of doubt. And yet, the testimony of tradition even at his hands is most favorable to our books.

The Church of Alexandria seems to have cleared itself from all doubt in the fourth century.

ST. ATHANASIUS, its oracle in that age, thus manifests its faith: The books of the New Testament are the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John respectively; the Acts of the Apostles; Seven Epistles, which are one of James, two of Peter, three of John and one of Jude. The Fourteen Epistles of Paul follow in this order: Romans, two to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus and one to Philemon. Lastly comes the Apocalypse of John.

These are the fountains of salvation, where the thirst of those who thirst for the living words is slaked. Through these alone the doctrine of faith is delivered. Let no one add to them or take from them. (Epist. Fest. XXXIX) There is an air of security in these words that indicates that the faith of the Church of Christ was back of the speaker. The Canon of Athanasius is the Canon of Trent, because the faith of the Church in whose name he spoke was the same then as when she pronounced her definitive decree.

Cyril of Jerusalem formulates the same canon with the exclusion of the Apocalypse, (Cyril, Cat. IV. 36). In the fourth century this book encountered severe opposition in the East, on account of its abuse by the Chiliasts.

ST. EPIPHANIUS enumerates the books of the Canon: The Four Gospels, the fourteen Epistles of Paul, the Acts of the Apostles, the seven Catholic Epistles, and the Apocalypse. (Haer. 76)

GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS has the same Canon, with the exception of the Apocalypse, which is placed among the books that are not authentic. (P. G. 41. 892.)

The Canon of Amphilochius is the same. He defends the Epistle to the Hebrews against those who term it apocryphal. It is, he says, verily inspired.

His testimony is rather unfavorable for the Apocalypse, which he says is judged apocryphal by the greater number. (P. G. 37, 1595–1598.)

The doubts of these doctors seem to have regarded more the authorship of the Apocalypse than its divine inspiration. It was an echo of the opinion of Dionysius the Great, who called in question not the divine character of the book, but Johns authorship of it. In fact, Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Basil, and Gregory of Nyssa have employed the Apocalypse as divine Scripture.

The Council of Laodicea in its sixtieth Canon receives all our books except the Apocalypse of John. (Mansi II. 573.)

No clear reference is found in the works of John Chrysostom of the II. and III. of John, the II. of Peter, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse. But this is not an indication that he rejected them. It was due to the minor doctrinal importance of the four. Epistles that he found no occasion to employ them, and most probably the peculiar mysterious character of the Apocalypse moved him to seek his materials from other sources.

His temper of mind always favored the literal interpretation of Scripture, and there is little in the Apocalypse that appeals to such a mind. However, Suidas in his Lexicon, at the word Ἰωάννης declares that St. John received the Apocalypse as canonical.

In the works of St. Ephrem we find commentaries on all the books of our Canon of the New Testament. He seems to have paid slight heed to the doubts of some concerning the Apocalypse. As St. Ephrem knew not Greek, his use of all the books is an evidence that they then existed in Syriac.

The testimony of the four great Codices is favorable to the Catholic Canon.

Codex א, of Mt. Sinai, contains all the books.

Codex B, of the Vatican, undoubtedly did contain all the books, but as it is now mutilated, a portion of Hebrews, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Apocalypse are wanting.

Codex A, Alexandrinus, contains all the books.

The palimpsest Codex C, of St. Ephrem, originally contained all the books.

The Bohairic version of Scripture contains all the books of the Catholic Canon. The Sahidic version, also, though existing now only in fragments, plainly shows that it contained the same Canon.

The same Canon is found in the Ethiopian version, and in the Armenian version. The Peshitto, as it exists now in the Nestorian Church, contains not II. Peter, II. and III. John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Apocalypse, but it is certain that St. Ephrem recognized these books, as frequent quotations from all of them are found in his works. This gives us cause to suspect that the Nestorians, after the time of St. Ephrem, expunged these books from the Canon of Scripture.

In the Western Church, as time goes on, we find continued evidences that the Catholic Canon of to-day was then the practical Canon of the Church.

HILARY OF POITIERS cites Hebrews, and attributes it to Paul. (De Trin. IV. II.) He cites also II. Peter (De Trin. I. 17), and the Epistle of St. James (De Trin. IV. 8).

LUCIFER OF CAGLIARI, (†371) cites the Epistle to Hebrews, and the Epistle of Jude (De non conv. cum. Haer. 10, ed. Hartel).

ST. AMBROSE (†397) also employs often in his works the Epistle of the Hebrews and the Epistle of Jude.

ST. PHILASTRIUS OF BRESCIA (Haeres. 88) formulates this Canon: It has been established by the Apostles and their successors, that nothing should be read in the Catholic Church except the Law, the Prophets, the thirteen Epistles of Paul and the seven Catholic Epistles. The omission of Hebrews and the Apocalypse is due to some shade of doubt that possessed his mind at that time. In other portions of his works he characterizes as heretics those who do not receive the Apocalypse and the Epistle to the Hebrews.

RUFINUS OF AQUILEIA (Expos. Symbol. 37) has formulated the complete Catholic Canon, and terminates his list with these words: These are the books which the Fathers have placed in the Canon, and upon which they build our faith.

The history of the New Testament has this advantage over that of the Old Testament, that it has not St. Jerome as an adversary. The works of Jerome are vast, and his references to the New Testament many. We can only adduce here some representative passages to show forth what was his mind on our Canon. In his Epistle to Paulinus (Migne, Patrol. Lat. 22, 548) he has the following testimony: I will touch briefly upon the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the quadriga of the Lord and the true Cherubim.… Paul wrote to seven Churches: the eighth to the Hebrews is placed by many outside the Canon. He exhorts Timothy and Titus, and entreats Philemon for the fugitive slave Onesimus.… The Acts of the Apostles seem to contain but dry history, and to portray the infancy of the Church, but when we know that the writer was Luke, the physician, whose praise was in the Gospel, we will understand that all his words are medicine for a sick soul. James, Peter, John, and Jude wrote seven Epistles, brief but deep, in mystery; brief in words, but long in the sense, so that many stumble in the understanding of them. The Apocalypse contains as many mysteries as words. This is insufficient praise; the book is above all praise.

Though made in an oratorical way, and somewhat lacking in precision, this list contains Jeromes views on the Canon. He receives all the books, but records the doubts concerning the Epistle to the Hebrews. We shall now examine a few special references in the works of Jerome to the books of the New Testament, concerning which there existed doubt.

In his treatise de Viris Illustribus (Migne Pat. L. 23, 615 Cap. V.) he enumerates Pauls Epistles thus: Paul wrote nine Epistles to seven churches, to the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Galatians one, to the Ephesians one, to the Philippians one, to the Colossians one, to the Thessalonians two, and besides two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon. The Epistle which is styled, To the Hebrews, is not believed to be of his authorship, on account of the difference in style and diction. By Tertullian it is ascribed to Barnabas; others attribute it to Luke the Evangelist; and some believe it to be of Clement of Rome, afterwards Pope, who, they say, was associated with Paul, and ordered and embellished Pauls teaching in his own language, or to speak more precisely, since Paul wrote to the Hebrews, and on account of their hatred of his name, he omitted it in the salutation in the beginning. He wrote as a Hebrew in Hebrew, eloquently in his own tongue, and what was eloquently spoken in Hebrew, was more eloquently translated in Greek, and for this cause the Epistle differs from the other Epistles of Paul.

Jerome estimated the thought of the Eastern world above that of the Western. The doubts concerning Hebrews were nearly all centered in the West, and moved him little. Though he is ready to adopt any plausible theory to explain the absence of the Pauline style in Hebrews, he, in no uncertain terms, vindicates to Paul the formal creation of the work.

In his Epistle to Dardanus (Migne, 22, 1103), he is even more explicit in favor of the Hebrews. The Epistle which is entitled: To the Hebrews, is received as the Epistle of Paul, not only by all the churches of the Orient, but also by all the Greek writers up to the present time; although many claim that the words were written by Barnabas or Clement. It matters not who the writer was, since he was an ecclesiastical man, and the Epistle is promulgated by the daily reading of the churches. And if the Latin usage does not receive it among the canonical Scriptures, neither do the Greek churches receive the Apocalypse with full sanction; but we receive them both, following not the usage of our time, but the authority of the old writers.

Jerome has exaggerated the doubts of the Western Church in regard to Hebrews. It was received by that Church, and the doubts were only scattering and individual. No doubt had properly invaded the corporate belief of the Church. Jerome rises above these doubts, and receives the book on the warrant of tradition and the usage of the Church. Wherever he mentions elsewhere in his works these doubts, it is simply to historically state that which he did not personally entertain.

In his Commentary on Ezekiel, VIII. (Migne, 25, 1465), he introduces a quotation from Hebrews, with the remark: If, in receiving the Epistle, the Latin people do not reject the authority of the Greeks. I believe this to be a rhetorical figure to belittle the importance of the occasional doubts of the West. It was equivalent to saying: Against the few doubts of the West is arrayed the authority of the whole Greek world.

Jerome also records a doubt which regarded not the divine character, but the authorship of II. Peter. Peter, he says, wrote two Epistles which are called Catholic. The second of these is not believed to be his by many, on account of its difference from the first in style. The statement of Jeromes own views is clear enough, namely, that Peter wrote two Epistles; but it was inexact to say that many rejected the second. The doubt of Peters authorship of the Second Epistle only existed in some Greek churches, who strove thus to justify its omission from their incomplete Canon.

In his Epistle to Hedibia, (Migne, 22, 1002) he sets at naught this doubt, and ascribes the difference in style to different amanuenses: The two Epistles ascribed to Peter differ in tenor and style, whence we understand that he used different scribes.

In the before-mentioned treatise, De Viris Illustribus, II. (Migne, P. L. 23, 607), Jerome delivers the following testimony concerning the Epistle of James: James, who is called the brother of the Lord, wrote one Epistle which is one of the seven Catholic Epistles. It is said that it was published under his name by another, and that gradually, with the course of time, it acquired authority. The evident reason why Jerome does not deal with the opinion which he here notices is that it left intact the divine inspiration of the book.

In op. cit. (Migne, 23, 613) he makes a similar statement respecting Judes Epistle: Jude, the brother of James, left a short Epistle, which is one of the Catholic Epistles. For the reason that he employs a testimony from the Apocryphal book of Henoch, it is rejected by many, but it has merited authority by its antiquity and usage (in the Church), and is reckoned among the Holy Scriptures. There is a lack of precision, a lack of critical weighing of data, in these testimonies that has drawn from the Bollandists the just declaration: Il convient le peser avec la défiance que doit inspirer un écrivain qui se montre plutôt publiciste de talent, écrivant au courant de la plume qu historien consciencieux.

In the same work, (Migne P. L. 23, 623, 637), Jerome inserts a loose testimony concerning the Epistle of St. John: John … has written one Epistle which is approved by all the ecclesiastical writers and learned men. The two others are attributed to John the Ancient, of whom they show the tomb at Ephesus, distinct from that of the Apostle, although others believe that both monuments belong to the Evangelist. As we have said before, these theories in the mind of Jerome left intact the divinity of the books. He separated the authorship of the books from their inspiration. He accepted their inspiration on the warrant of the Church; the other question interested him but little. He was willing to record every legend concerning it, and suspend judgment. Much of Jeromes erudition is crude and uncritical.

Traces of the last mentioned opinion of Jerome are found in the DECREE OF GELASIUS. That decree contains all the books of the Catholic Canon, although the II. and III. of John are in some manuscripts ascribed to John the Ancient. Its evidential force is independent of this detail, for it plainly receives all the books as divine Scripture.

THE CANON OF POPE INNOCENT sent to Exuperius is identical with the Canon of the Council of Trent.

We have before adduced the Canon of ST. AUGUSTINE (Christian Doctrine, Chap. VIII.) which also is identical with that of the Council of Trent. He was not ignorant of the scattering doubts in the Western Church. The Epistle to the Hebrews, he says has been doubted by some; but I prefer to follow the authority of the Eastern churches which receive it as canonical. (Migne, P. L. 44, 137).

The authority of St. Augustine is not shaken by the least shadow of doubt. He received all the books as divinely inspired Scripture.

The three African Councils held in 393, 397, and 419, formulated a canon identical in substance with that of the Council of Trent.

In the writings of representative men of the churches of Gaul and Spain of that period, we always find evidences of the complete Canon. Thus we see that at the end of the fourth century, all the great churches of the world possessed complete Canons. Some of the books had entered into their estate easier than others, but the energy of the divine character finally placed there those which, considered from a doctrinal standpoint, were unimportant.

It is needless to attempt to record the data of the following centuries in favor of these books. The whole Christian world was unanimous in adopting them. The Syriac Version made in the sixth century contains them all. The Council in Trullo which is authority for the Greeks approved them all. In the West, the Bible of Cassiodorus contains all the books. The great doctors of the Latin Church are unanimous in receiving the complete Canon. In fact the complete Canon enjoyed a period of undisturbed peace up to the fifteenth century.

We have before mentioned the peculiar views on the Canon held by John of Salisbury. His views on the New Testament are also strange. The Epistles of Paul, he says, are fifteen, comprised in one volume, although the common and almost universal opinion is that there are only fourteen, ten to the churches, and four to individuals, if the Epistle to the Hebrews is to be enumerated with the Epistles of Paul, which the doctor of doctors, Jerome, endeavors to prove in his Preface, where he refutes the cavils of those who contend that it was not of Paul. The fifteenth is that written to the Church at Laodicea, and although, as Jerome says, it is rejected by all, nevertheless it was written by the Apostle. Neither is this judgment founded on the opinion of others, but rests on the testimony of the Apostle who makes mention of such Epistle, in his Epistle to the Colossians.

The uncritical mind of Salisbury failed to advert that his argument does not conclude. Paul wrote a letter to the Church of Laodicea, but that fact can not be alleged to prove that the letter of which Salisbury spoke was that letter of Paul. Salisbury had no followers; his opinion died with him.

Toward the middle of the fifteenth century POPE EUGENE IV., in his Bull of Union with the Jacobites, enumerated the complete Canon of all our books as the Holy Scriptures. The definition awakened no word of discussion, for it was but promulgating in official form what the whole Christian world believed.

In the general upheaval of the settled status of things, which came with the great apostasy of the sixteenth century, doubt and error also invaded the thought of the age concerning Holy Scripture.

In the first edition of his Greek New Testament, which he dedicated to Leo X., Erasmus outlined certain doubts concerning the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St. James, II. Peter, II. and III. John, and the Apocalypse. The faculty of the Sorbonne rose up against him and censured him. One must confess, however, that the arguments of the Sorbonne are not conclusive, and their action inconsiderate.

Erasmus protested that he held to the divinity of the books; he only doubted of the authors. There has always been doubt, he says, regarding the author of Hebrews; and I confess candidly that I doubt yet. The faculty responded by affixing to the opinion the note of temerity and schism. Erasmus appealed to history. Doubt was entertained for a long time, he says, regarding the Apocalypse, not by heretics, but by orthodox men, who, though uncertain of the author, received the book as coming from the Holy Ghost. Though Erasmus adduces here a fact, he does not deal justly thereby. The mere fact that certain scattering doubts arose in some churches concerning the author of this book was not sufficient data to cast a doubt upon its author. The Sorbonne would have acted more wisely in pointing out the weakness of the great humanists position than in condemning him in toto for that which was more against a sound critique than against faith.

Erasmus at length sent to the faculty the following response, which does honor to the man: According to the mind of man, I believe not that the Epistle to the Hebrews is of Paul, or of Luke, nor that II. Peter is of the Apostle, nor the Apocalypse of John.… Only this doubt holds my mind, whether the Church receives the titles of the books, so that she not only bids us hold as infallible what is written in the books, but also commands us to hold as infallible that the books came from the authors whose names they bear. If she has canonized the titles, I renounce my doubt. A clear judgment of the Church moves me more than all the arguments of men.

Issues are mixed here. The Church has certainly canonized some titles, and some she has not. But regarding the books of which Erasmus spoke, the mind of the Church is now clear, since she mentioned them in the decree of Trent as belonging to their respective authors.

The most notable opposition to the antilegomena in this period came from Cajetan.

We have before reviewed his position on the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. His views on the antilegomena are focalized in the following statement: From these and other words of Jerome, the prudent reader will know that Jerome was not absolutely certain of the author of this Epistle, and since we have taken Jerome for our rule, lest we should err in the discernment of the canonical books, and those which he delivered to be canonical, we hold canonical, and those which he cut off from the Canon, we place outside the Canon; therefore, from the fact that the author of this Epistle is doubtful with Jerome, the Epistle becomes doubtful, for if it be not of Paul, it is not clear that it is canonical. Wherefore, from the authority of this Epistle alone, questions of faith cannot be decided.

Regarding Judes Epistle he says: From which things (the statements of St. Jerome) it appears that the Epistle is inferior in authority to Holy Scripture. He repeats in effect this statement in regard to II. and III. John and the Epistle of James. He says naught of the Apocalypse, but he defends the canonicity of II. Peter. In regard to this Epistle, there was no choice between authenticity and a literary forgery, for the author claims to be Peter. (2 Peter, 1:1). Cajetan shrank from characterizing a book, which the Church had used for centuries, as a literary fraud.

In examining the testimonies of Cajetan, we find him more of a Jeromist than Jerome himself. Jerome had noted certain doubts regarding the antilegomena, but he had never admitted that the books were of doubtful inspiration. The great doctor rightly separated the question of authorship from that of divinity. He incidentally mentioned doubts regarding the former question, the other question with him was fixed and sure. It is a lamentable lack of logic in Cajetans reasoning to say, that if the author of a book be uncertain, the book itself is of inferior authority. The two questions were distinct in Jeromes time, and in Cajetans time.

The prerogative given to Jerome by Cajetan in the matter of the Canon is absurd. The Church, and the Church alone merits such authority. The whole testimony is like much that Cajetan wrote, an intense expression of himself. He had a perfect confidence in his heroes and himself, he cared little for what other men thought.

It is generally stated that the opinion of Cajetan was one of the disposing causes which drew from the Church the defined Canon of the Scriptures. The protestants had already set forth similar views in Germany. The great credit of Cajetan would tend to draw Catholics towards the new opinions. The juncture had come for the Church to act, and she in her Decree of Trent defined the faith which she had held from the beginning: The books of the New Testament are the four Gospels, of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John: the Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke: the fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, viz., Romans, two to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; two Epistles to Peter the Apostle, three Epistles of John the Apostle, one of James the Apostle, one of Jude the Apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the Apostle. If any man will not receive as sacred and canonical all these books entire, with all their parts, as they have been wont to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they exist in the old Latin Edition of the Vulgate, … let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Sess. IV.)

In the Council of Trent, the discussion of the Canon of the New Testament was less extensive and intense, than that which had come upon the Canon of the Old Testament. Not a voice opposed the canonicity of the antilegomena of the New Testament; Luther and his supporters were recognized as their sole opponents.

Regarding the last verses of the Gospel of Mark; Lukes account of the sweat of the Lord in Gethsemane; and the section relating to the adulteress in the Gospel of John, some discussion was moved. Cardinal Pacheco demanded in the general assembly of the Council on the 27th of March, that these portions should be expressly indicated in the decree. Cajetan had placed that the final verses of Mark were of less authority in matters of faith. (Mark. 16:9–20).

The Fathers believed that it was inopportune to even notice the doubts concerning these passages. The question was put to vote whether express mention should be made of these passages, and it was decided in the negative by thirty-four votes against seventeen. Some discussion followed till finally the point raised by Pacheco was safeguarded by the clause: the books with all their parts.

The next point of discussion regarded the authors of the books.

The question was submitted: Whether the books should be received together with the authors. Forty-four of the assembly voted on the 1st of April, that the authors should be received as well as the books.

In consequence of this the schema was modified, so that the author of every book of the New Testament is most clearly mentioned with the respective books. Hence the question which had been open up to that time was settled.

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