The Development of the Canon of the New Testament

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Early Lists of the Books of the New Testament

Catalogue inserted in codex Claromontanus
The Canon of Cyril of Jerusalem
The Cheltenham Canon
The Canon approved by the Synod of Laodicea
The Canon approved by the 'Apostolic Canons'
The Canon of Gregory of Nazianus
The Canon of Amphilochius of Iconium
The Canon approved by the third Synod of Carthage
The Decretum Gelasianum
Catalogue of the Sixty Canonical Books
The Stichometery of Nicephorus

The Canon of Amphilochius of Iconium (after 394 CE)

A list of Biblical books is included in a poem that is generally attributed to Amphilochius, a Cappadocian by birth, a lawyer, and then bishop of Iconium in Lycaonia. The poem, entitled Iambics for Seleucus, instructs Seleucus how to follow a life of study and virtue, and urges him to apply himself to the Scriptures more than any other writing.

[List of books of the Old Testament ...]
It is time for me to speak of the books of the New Testament.
Receive only four evangelists:
Matthew, then Mark, to whom, having added Luke
As third, count John as fourth in time,
But first in height of teachings,
For I call this one rightly a son of thunder,
Sounding out most greatly with the word of God.
And receive also the second book of Luke,
That of the catholic Acts of the Apostles.
Add next the chosen vessel,
The herald of the Gentiles, the apostle
Paul, having written wisely to the churches
Twice seven Epistles: to the Romans one,
To which one must add two to the Corinthians,
That to the Galatians, and that to the Ephesians, after which
That in Philippi, then the one written
To the Colassians, two to the Thessalonians,
Two to Timothy, and to Titus and the Philemon,
One each, and one to the Hebrews.
But some say the one to the Hebrews is spurious,
not saying well, for the grace is genuine.
Well, what remains? Of the Catholic Epistles
Some say we must receive seven, but others say
Only three should be received -- that of James, one,
And one of Peter, and those of John, one.
And some receive three [of John], and besides these, two
of Peter, and that of Jude a seventh.
And again the Revelation of John,
Some approve, but the most
Say it is spurious, This is
Perhaps the most reliable (lit. most unfalsified)
canon of the divinely inspired Scriptures.

Amphilochius reports some of the earlier debate concerning Hebrews, the Catholic Epistles, and the Revelation of John. In fact, not only does he report the doubts of others concerning these books, but he himself appears to reject II Peter, II and III John, and Jude, and almost certainly rejects Revelation of John. The most curious feature is that, having thus stated doubts as to the right of several books to be included in the sacred collection, the author ends with the incredible phrase:

This is perhaps the most reliable canon of the divinely inspired Scriptures.

The presence of the word 'canon' is scarcely more noteworthy than the hypothetical form of the sentence as a whole. In other words, here we have a bishop in Asia Minor, and yet he seems to be uncertain as to the exact extent of the canon!

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