Biblical canon/Talk

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With all due respect, what about the parts of the Bible that were destroyed because they were written by WOMEN? The Bible everyone is reading is broken, even as a history...

Out of curiosity, do we know there were any? Culture in the ancient world didn't normally encourage such exploits, but there are notably exceptions, like Hypatia and Sappho. Have we found any woman-written apocrypha?

I agree. I do not know of any evidence that certain writings were rejected because of being written by women. another relevant fact is that the ability to write was a very specialized skill in the first century, and women were generally considered to be property, hence there was not a tendency to train them. I have heard some arguments that some of Jesus's disciples were women, (Mary and Martha immediately spring to mind, probably Mary Magdelene as well), however that doesn't mean they wrote anything down.

Sappho survives almost entirely because people quoted her poetry approvingly. MOST lyric poets from antiquity survive only in the most pitifully fragmentary form (see the Loeb classical library, which I think has 5 volumes of Greek Lyric, very little of which is in good shape). Catullus, for instance, survived in ONE mansucript copy up to the 16th century. Not impressive. So if a book did or didn't survive, it was because no one read it very much -- frequency of use is the best indicator for survival from Antiquity. The accidental survival of a bunch of papyrus (e.g., the Nag hammadi material) is a 20th century revolution in linguistic study, but we make all too much of them I sometimes think just because they survive. --MichaelTinkler (oh, and by the way, no one has ever disagreed that there were women disciples - only that the fact that there were no women among the apostles means something about priesthood or not. Though a not uncommon title for Mary Magdalen in the middle ages was Apostola Apostolorum, "Apostle to the Apostles", because she knew about the resurrection first and went to tell them. --MCT.

Would this be an appropriate place to discuss New Testament Apocrypha (such as the Gospel of Thomas)? I can see what I can dig up on this, unless someone with more knowledge of the subject pipes up. --Claudine

I expect that it is a reasonable place. I would also like some mention of the principles used by the early church in establishing what was canon in the New Testament, and by the early Jewish scholars as what was canon in the Tanakh

I'm not sure it's entirely accurate to say the Jews/early church "were not interested in laying down a Canon, or set list of inspired books. " The Jewish sect of Sadducees for instance did not accept anything other than the Pentateuch (The first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible attributed to Moses) and various church fathers discussed inclusion/exclusion of various books. It's certainly true that their approach to the idea of canon was different than much modern thinking.

Also, what about mention of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox? They have their own canons, and a slightly different approach.

Probably should have an article about the LXX (ie. the Septuagint) as well


On a minor strand, I MUCH prefer Septuagint to the abbreviation LXX. Not that either is common knowledge, but especially in an encyclopedia aimed at the normal reader we owe it to them not to have a lot of abbreviations. Remember, Wiki isn't paper, and we don't have to worry about digital conservation issues yet. One has to know that septuaginta in Greek means 70 and that LXX is the Roman numeral for 70. It's not, for instance, the Greek numeral. If one wanted to link to the miracle of the Seventy, that would be one thing. Oh, well, just a little peevishness. I need lunch. --MichaelTinkler


I made LXX redirect to Septuagint, and additionall replaced most of the references the search engine found. That should take care of it --Alan Millar


What does "Books considered heretical or fraudulent" mean? Passive voice is avoided in good writing, and for a reason... ;-)

Also, the "other books" are neither quoted in New Testament but not included themselves, nor considered heretical or fraudulent, nor considered Gnostic (which are themselves not considered heretical or fraudulent?). I'm confused, as you can see. --LMS


That would mean books considered heretical or fraudulent according to those setting up the canon. Gnostic would be I suppose a specific heresy, don't remember why it was separate. Other books was just where I put books I knew nothing specific about besides their titles. Not a great system I know. -rmhermen


Perfection isn't required (yet), but I think it needs to be relabled. According to all of them? According to Protestants, Catholics, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, etc.? --LMS


Another point: this article should begin with a general description of what a Biblical canon in general is and why it is important. --LMS


This is a pretty good article, but it needs a lots of work. It seems inacurate in sveral places to me, but i will have to doa little more research before i dive in and change a bunch of stuff! until then i will say this: the use of the term "doubtfull books" is confusing to say the least. The link refers to the Apocrypha, but the NT books refered to have never been part of that group. It is confusing because the "doubtfull" OT ones listed are now considered non canocial by non-Catholics (also, that means they were excluded, not included!). A clear distinction needs to be made between the doubtfull books that were never considered scripture by most (untill the counter-reformation of the 17th c.) - Apocrypha, and books that were doubted by some early Christians for reasons such as uncertain authorship - eg Hebrews. To lump the Apocyrpha together with books that were left off some canon tables before Eusebius' (circa 260-340 AD) is highly inacurate.

A seperate but related point: Revelation's canocial status was not doubted by early christians. or am i wrong? someone have a reference to show this? That its author was the apostle John is supported as far back as c. 140 AD by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and many others. --Asa

Revelation did not have a quick acceptance despite the tradition of Johannine authorship, and there were serious doubts about its inclusion in the Canon. It's not in the Peshitto (Syriac) version, and as late as the 4th century it's still being left off some lists in the East (Gregory of Nazianzen, patriarch of Constantinople, leaves it off). The West was never so doubtful. Most scholars think the reluctance was the problematic use it was always put to by apocalyptic groups, but that isn't ever explicit in the evidence. --MichaelTinkler

ok. i did not know that. cheers. Asa