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 Cheltenham Canon

This Latin list was discovered by the German classical scholar Theodor Mommsen (published 1886) in a 10th century manuscript (chiefly patristic) belonging to the library of Thomas Phillips at Cheltenham, England. The list probably originated in North Africa soon after the middle of the 4th century.

[An Old Testament list is followed by:]

Likewise the catalogue of the New Testament:
Four Gospels: Matthew, 2700 lines
Mark, 1700 lines
John, 1800 lines
Luke, 3300 lines
All the lines make 10,000 lines
Epistles of Paul, 13 in number
The Acts of the Apostles, 3600 lines
The Apocalypse, 1800 lines
Three Epistles of John, 350 lines
one only
Two Epistles of Peter, 300 lines
one only

Since the index of lines [= stichometry] in the city of Rome is not clearly given, and elsewhere too through avarice for gain they do not preserve it in full, I have gone through the books singly, counting sixteen syllables to the line, and have appended to every book the number of Virgilian hexameters.

Note the two enigmatic lines containing 'one only' (una sola). What does 'one only' mean? Harnack's suggestion, adopted by Jülicher, is exceedingly improbable - that the first 'one only' refers to the Epistle of James, and the second one to the Epistle of Jude. This would be a most unusual way in which to bring the scriptural character of these books to the attention of the reader.

The words look like the expression of two opinions on the list. The writer appears to have been of reactionary opinions, for he omits Hebrews and Jude as well as James. As to the notation of the Johannine and Petrine Epistles, the explanation is probably as follows. The writer copied the first and third lines from some earlier list, but he himself thought that only I John and I Peter were Scripture, and therefore added in each case 'one only'. Why did he then write 'Three Epistles of John' and 'Two Epistles of Peter'. The reason lay in the number of stichoi lines, binding I, II, and III John together as a unit, and I and II Peter as a unit. Since he could not tell precisely how many stichoi were to be subtracted if he omitted II and III John and II Peter, he was, so to speak, forced to copy the lines preceding 'one only' as units. But by adding the words 'one only' he was able to express his own opinion that the shorter Epistles were not to be reckoned as canonical.

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