The Canon of the New Testament - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-12-27
The Canon of the New Testament - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Islam God Christianity
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1143 words
10 min read

The formation of a canon of the New Testament by Metzger was inextricably bound up with the ancient's church history in its institutional and literary aspects. Early Christians used several criteria to determine the worthiness in different books to obtain a location in such findings. The Scripture is a textual guideline for all the world's great religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is considered as a sacred book containing the decrees and divine knowledge from God (Metzger, 1997). Additionally, the author established incarnation in beneficial circles, which were reflected in the canon. The canon and the rule of truth were used differently to propose how the truth itself is the ordinary through which practice and teaching are judged (Metzger, 1997). These truths take Christian communities a tangible and definite form; for instance, the Mosaic Law was meant for the Jews.

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The Scripture is also an authoritative text for both Christianity and Judaism, where God's will is revealed. In the Old Testament, God revealed himself through other people, such as prophets and institutions, including temples rather than sacred written materials (Metzger, 1997). Scriptures were first administered as laws in Israel after the reforms of Josiah but before Ezra’s reforms. Jesus' proclamation was also absorbed in the Church's oral tradition, which was later written down and gained complete attention. It was during this time that the New Testament started functioning as sacred Scripture. The NT, however, was not that authoritative as it was not considered to be a scripture since only the book of Revelation is written through inspiration. Although Paul’s writings often involved classic communication about Jesus, he was divinely inspired by Jesus since only Jesus alone holds the divine authority (Metzger, 1997).

Based on ancient Christianity and Judaism, Scriptures were defined by four classifications; a written collection, a divine origin from God, communicating his truth and will on his covenant people, to operate as a long-lasting regulations source for the individual and corporate life of the people (Metzger, 1997). On the other hand, Bentley Layton argues that Scripture is just a collection of written religious literature considered to be authoritative in belief, conduct, rhetoric, or the functioning of practical affairs (Metzger, 1997).

Conversely, canon is generally described as a body of fixed normative literature that describes a specific religious community's identity and faith. Hence, in religion, scriptures are a canon; however, a biblical canon comprises scriptures comprising the authoritative instruction and witness for a religious body (Metzger, 1997). Canon was widely used in the ancient world, although not just in the context of religion, but every domain of human activities. According to Bayer, canon was the basic guideline through which what was true or false and worth exploration could be distinguished (Metzger, 1997). The canon was first adopted in the religious body in the first century after the Clement of Rome declared the Corinthians as the glorious and venerable laws of their tradition. By mid of the fourth century, the canon had been largely adopted and applied to sacred writings in the Old Testament and the New Testament (Metzger, 1997).

The first canon of Christian Scriptures was the Eusebius, which focused on the Church's rules of faith or traditions. But there were concerns about whether canon was used to collect sacred writings or a rule of faith, as his canon referred to a body of writings (Metzger, 1997). Canon of holy scriptures was widely accepted in the fourth century, as there was a need for a normative to distinguish authentic Christianity since there were many heretical teachings. Therefore, the closed canon of authoritative literature was established. James Sanders outlined the canon aspects, including adaptability and survivability – where the literature must be implementable to the life settings and historical situations of the people. It should be able to survive and promote life in a community (Metzger, 1997).

Christian scriptures, which were majorly OT writings, could not independently articulate the Church's identity, hence the adoption of the NT canon, which provided the earliest principle in Christianity, the story of Jesus. Accordingly, the principle enabled them to establish their identity and give their community (Metzger, 1997).

The formation of the Christian Biblical Canon by McDonald explains how Islam, Judaism, and Christianity present their selves based on sacred written messages. The collection of various scriptures originated from a holy book containing decrees and defined knowledge from God. Egypt and Mesopotamia illustrated God's plans, as well as people's destiny. In Judaism, before the canon's idea, the Torah was assumed to have been received directly from God, and Moses was ordered by God to write them down. Since God was thought to have created the Ten Commandments, it developed the notion that God's law was scripted in scriptures form and had an essential role in forming the idea of authoritative and revealed scriptures.

Conformance with the rule of faith entailed having the given book corresponding to Christianity's familiar traditions, which were recognized as standard by the Church (McDonald, 1995). The writings' content was the ground basis used in measurement, and which the Church would either accept or decline. Besides, conforming to the standard Christian traditions, the content's truth was also a vital, integral factor examined in the range. To the early Church community valued truth as a normative on which teachings and acts could be judged. Tied along with the rule of faith and truth is church canon, which requires a book to adhere to the church institutions' doctrine and tradition (McDonald, 1995).

Considering that the canon is a Holy book, inspiration from the Holy Spirit is expected not only to form the basis of the writings but also to be a significant criterion in determining canonicity (McDonald, 1995). Nonetheless, since it was not used, it does not mean that the writings were not inspired. The early Church believed that all Scriptures were an inspiration from God. Yet, all other literature, including non-scriptural documents, were also considered to be inspired, hence the broad concern as to why inspiration is not a unique aspect used to classify canonical writings (McDonald, 1995).

In considering what non-inspired, Christian leaders are, about Scriptures do not think non-Scriptural writings as inspired. The author evaluated the difference between inspired and non-inspired writings. Non-inspired literature was usually affiliated with false and unorthodox reports and not to any Church's orthodox writings (McDonald, 1995). But the recent Church theologians started appreciating Biblical authors' inspiration as they were termed as people working under God's superior performance through the Holy Spirit, who used them as a channel to pass his message (McDonald, 1995). However, the significant standing is that Scripture cannot be canonical because the writer is inspired. Instead, the author is believed to be encouraged since their writings are classified as authoritative in the Church, hence canonical (McDonald, 1995).


McDonald, L. M. (1995). The formation of the Christian biblical canon. Peabody^ eMA MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Metzger, B. M. (1997). The Canon of the New Testament: its origin, development, and significance. Clarendon Press.

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