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Monday, May 27th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Dictionaries
Canon of Scripture

Morrish Bible Dictionary

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The word κανών signified a rod or rule by which things were tested. It is thus used by Paul in Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16 . As to the scriptures the expression refers to what books should be included: thus the 'canon' of scripture is often spoken of, and the books are called 'canonical' or 'uncanonical.' Happily most Christians are not troubled with such questions. In christian simplicity they believe that in the Bible they have nothing but what God caused to be written, and that it contains all that He intended to form a part of His book. Still, as everything is now challenged it may be well to examine the subject a little.

In the first place, the Church of Rome boldly declared that it was only 'thechurch' that could decide what books were canonical: as early as the Council of Carthage (about A.D. 400) lists of the books were made out, and at the Council of Trent they dogmatically settled what books constituted the scripture. They decided to include the books now known as the APOCRYPHA (q.v. ), as may be seen in the Latin Vulgate, which is the version used by that church. Now the scripture informs us that to the Jews were committed the oracles of God, Romans 3:2 , and as is well known they most carefully guarded the O.T. scriptures for centuries before there was any christian church. The books were written in the Jews' language — the Hebrew — with which the Apocrypha never had a place. They were written in Greek, and were first added to the LXX. The above principle — that the scriptures require to be accredited by the church — is false. Surely God could make a revelation that would in no wise need to have the seal of a body of men placed upon it, be they ever so holy. But the Church of Rome was not holy, nor was it universal, so that even if the alleged principle were correct, that corrupt section of the church would be the last to be taken as an authoritative guide.

The N.T. has also had its perils. With the Greek MSS apocryphal books are found, parts of which were read in the churches in early days. Later on several of the Fathers of the church so called had their doubts respecting some of the Epistles. Even as late as the Reformers it was the same. Luther spoke disrespectfully of the Hebrews, James, Jude, and the Revelation, and set them apart at the end of his version. Calvin doubted the authenticity of James, 2Peter, and Jude. In modern times many portions of books in the O.T. and N.T. are being called in question. But the Bible needs not to be accredited by man. It carries its own credentials to the heart and conscience of the Christian in the power of the Holy Spirit. The natural man is not competent to judge of such a question. The Bible has the stamp of God upon it, and the more it is studied by the Christian the more perfect it is found to be — no part redundant, and no part lacking.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Canon of Scripture'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​mbd/​c/canon-of-scripture.html. 1897.
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