How the New Testament Canon Arose

How the Gospels and other documents that have come to comprise the New Testament became recognized as scripture and other documents did did not, is the subject of this piece.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / janaka
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / janaka

In this piece, I largely follow a presentation given by Dr. Danial Wallace*, but I add in some additional information about the early church to round out the information. Dr. Wallace underscores the fact that the early church was particularly concerned about the authorship of the writings they relied upon. They only trusted the writings of the apostles and associates of the apostles. We see this concern reflected in the writings of the earliest church fathers.

The original gospels, however, were anonymous, notes Wallce; that is they did not have internal references to who wrote them. They were only given names to distinguish them from each other externally, and this tradition went all the way back as far as we can trace them. The fact that the early church was so concerned with authorship, but universally accepted and used the four canonical gospels, suggests that the authorship of the Gospels was never in doubt.

This point will become more important below. How the Gospels and other documents that have come to comprise the New Testament became recognized as scripture and other documents did not, is the subject of this piece.

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