The Development of the Canon of the New Testament

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Early Christian Authorities

Ignatius of Antioch
Polycarp of Smyrna
Justin Martyr
Irenaeus of Lyons
Clement of Alexandria
Tertullian of Carthage
Muratorian Canon
Eusebius of Caesarea
codex Sinaiticus
Athanasius of Alexandria
Didymus the Blind

Vulgate (from the Latin editio vulgata meaning "common version")

This thumbnail image of St. Jerome in his Study by Claude Vignon is taken from the Art Imagebase at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. A larger version is available.

The Vulgate is the version of the Latin Bible, primarily translated from Hebrew and Greek by St. Jerome, used by the Roman Catholic Church for more than 1000 years. In 382 Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, the leading biblical scholar of his day, to produce an acceptable Latin translation of the Bible from the several divergent translations then in use. His revised Latin translation of the Gospels was delivered to the Pope in 384. Using the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament, he produced new Latin translations of the Psalms (the Gallican Psalter), the Book of Job, and some other books. Later, he decided the Septuagint was unsatisfactory and began translating the entire Old Testament from the original Hebrew, completing it ~405. The remainder of the New Testament was from older Latin versions, perhaps slightly revised by Jerome. For much more on Vulgate history, see the article at The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism. The Vulgate can be browsed online at the ARTFL Project, and it can be downloaded from The World.

There is little doubt that the first editions of the Vulgate contain the present 27 books of the New Testament. The list of the 27 is included in Jerome's Epistle to Paulinus (53.9), and is printed as a prologue in older editions of the Vulgate Bible. For further development of the Vulgate, see Closing the Canon in the West. For a visual summary of the Vulgate canon see the Cross Reference Table.

The Vulgate and the Epistle to the Laodiceans

The Epistle to the Laodiceans appears in more than 100 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate, including the oldest surviving manuscript, the celebrated Codex Fuldensis 546 CE, commissioned by Victor, bishop of Capua. The appearance in these Vulgate manuscripts may derive from Old Latin ones. There are about 10,000 extant manuscripts of the Vulgate, though only about 2,500 have been catalogued. Thus:

... for more than nine centuries this forged epistle hovered about the doors of the sacred Canon, without either finding admission or being peremptorily excluded. [Lightfoot] p. 297.

Pages created by Glenn Davis, 1997-2010.
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