AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by A H McNeile. Copyright A H McNeile - first published at the University Press, Oxford 1927. 2nd Edition revised by C S C Williams 1953. - This Edition prepared for Katapi in Arial Unicode MS by Paul Ingram 2003.

Chapter X - Part 1


HOME | contents | The word Canon | The Formation of a Canon of the New Testament | The Sub‑Apostolic Age | (pages 310-343)


THE word κανών - kanon denotes a straight rod or bar, especially as used to keep something straight, such as a rule or line employed by masons. Cf. Eurip. Tro. 6 πύργους ... ὀρθοῖσιν ἔθεμεν κανόσιν - purgous orthoisin ethemen kanosin.
[It is connected with κάννα - kanna 'cane', 'reed'; but that word was generally used for something made of reeds.]
Hence metaphorically it means a 'rule', 'norm', 'standard'.
Aristotle, Eth. Nic. iii. 4 f., calls the good man the κανών and πέτρον of the truth.
The statue of a spearman by Polykleitos was considered a κανών or standard of physical beauty (Muller, Archaol. d. Kunst, 120.4).
To the Alexandrian grammarians the old Greek classics were 'canons', models of excellence.
In the early Church only the metaphorical force is found.
See 2 Cor.x.13, 15, 16;, the only passages in which the word occurs in the New Testament.
Clement Rom. ad Cor.i.3: women are under 'the canon of obedience'; xli.1: 'The canon of his service.'
Hegesippus (ap. Eus. H.E. iii.32) speaks of 'the sound canon of the saving preaching'; Clement Alex. ( of the harmony between the Old and the New Testaments as the 'ecclesiastical canon', and (vii.16) of heretics as those who 'steal the canon of the Church'.
Gradually the meaning became more concrete.
The canon of the Church, or the ecclesiastical canon, was the rule of doctrine or practice.
Cornelius told Fabian (ap. Eus. H.E. vi.43) that Novatus, who was baptized when he was ill, after recovery did not receive what was necessary 'according to the canon of the Church' including the sealing by the bishop.
A synod at Antioch in AD 266 declared a doctrine of Paul of Samosata to be 'foreign to the ecclesiastical canon'.
[See A. Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbols, 1877, p.98.]
And the council of Nicaea in 325 frequently refers to the general ortho?dox doctrine simply as 'the canon'.
A further step was taken towards the middle of the fourth century when the decisions or rules of councils, called dogmata in earlier times, came to be called also 'canons' in the plural.

But if 'the canon' was the general rule of doctrine or practice, the Scriptures that were generally recognized by the Church could be described as 'canonical' or 'canonized'.
The 59th canon of Laodicea (see p. 369) laid down that 'Psalms privately composed are not to be read in the churches, nor un-canonized (ἀκανόνιστα - akanonista) books, but only the canonical [books] of the New and the Old Testaments'.
[See Westcott, The Canon of the New Test., p. 540.]
Origen (Latin trans.) speaks of 'canonized Scriptures' [Comm. in Matt., ? 28.], and Athanasius of 'books, which have been canonized'.
[Epist. Fest. xxxix; see Westcott, op. cit., pp. 554 f.]
In these cases the word appears to be used as though well understood, and the origin of this usage most probably dated in the middle of the fourth century.

Finally, the recognized custom of the Church with regard to a group of books would naturally cause the books that conformed to it to be written in a list.
And thus the Canon of Scripture became equivalent to the contents of Scripture contained in an authoritative list.


The Bible of the first Christians was the Old Testament, whether confined as in Palestine to that which we usually call the Old Testament, or extended to include several apocryphal writings that were held in high honour among Hellenistic Jews, many of which are included in the Septuagint.
The Old Testament was not discarded, as it might have been, when Christianity emancipated itself from Judaism; it was recognized as containing the Christian economy in symbol and prediction and type.
And part of the duty and delight of the early preachers was to show how these found their fulfilment in the narratives of the Lord's life, especially those of the Passion.
But first came the oral tradition of the Lord's words, which were as authoritative as the Old Testament; and side by side with them the apostolic interpretation of them, and the teaching of what He was and meant to men.
This apostolic doctrine consisted partly, as has been said, of the Messianic application of Old Testament passages, and partly of dogma such as was afterwards enshrined in Creeds.
Thus the Lord's words and the teaching of the apostles formed a parallel to the Law and the Prophets.

Soon came the time when they began to be written down.
The Lord's words were put together in collections (such as Q), the contents of which would be somewhat different in the different local centres, and the words would be accompanied by brief narratives of the circumstances under which they were spoken.
These, together with accounts of events in which was seen the fulfilment of the Old Testament, began to form the nucleus of the Gospels.
Such collections as each Church possessed would be read at the services on the First day of the week, and the copying of them would go on apace, so that each Church would obtain a larger and larger store of evangelic material.
But as long as it was available the living voice of the apostles and those who consorted with them would be preferred to the writings.
See the words of Papias quoted on p.284. St. Paul does not refer to any Gospel written-material, but to oral tradition - 'that which I also received' (1 Cor.xv.3).
And he speaks of the Romans as having been 'delivered into' a form of tradition, as though put into a mould ( The apostolic kerygma was such a mould or pattern (cf. Ch. II above).

With St. Paul also we reach the stage when the apostolic doctrinal interpretation of facts began to find expression in writing. In his widening activities he began to send letters to his converts in various Churches, containing dogmatic teaching and pastoral advice and injunctions.
Such letters were read, as St. Paul expressly intended them to be read, in church on Sunday, because in that way, though absent in body, he could be present in spirit, and teach the whole community.
Other teachers afterwards imitated this practice of pastoral letter-writing, but for some time the letters of St. Paul stood far the highest in the Church's estimation.
The sayings and doings of the Lord in the Gospels, and the apostolic teaching in St. Paul's epistles formed the indispensable groundwork of the New Testament.

Somewhere between 65 and 70 St. Mark wrote his Gospel, in all probability in Rome.
It would help to inspire with faith and courage the stricken Christians who had survived the persecution under Nero.
[See A. E. J. Rawlinson, St. Mark, pp. xvi f.]
Copies of it found their way in a very short time to different parts of the empire.
It was far the best account of the Lord's life that had yet appeared, supplementing on the narrative side the existing collections of His words.
It was known to be the work of one who had been in close connexion with St. Peter, despite the Form critics; and its production at Rome gave it additional prestige.
It was therefore treated as of high value by the authors of Matthew and Luke, the former probably in Antioch and the latter in Greece.
A few years later, at the end of the century, came the Fourth Gospel, probably from Ephesus.
But in the early centuries the favourite and most highly valued Gospel was Matthew, and this in spite of three considerations: Matthew was the most Judaic of all the Gospels; and to anything which savoured of Judaism the spirit of second-century Christianity was in strong opposition.
St. Mark and St. Luke were the immediate fol?lowers of the two greatest apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul. And they produced their Gospels at the two most influential Churches, Rome and Ephesus.
The reason was that the First Gospel was universally believed to be the actual work of an apostle.
But though highly valued, as being from the pen of one who had stood in the closest intimacy with the Lord, there was no inclination at first to treat the book as divinely inspired, on a level with the Old Testament, though the inspiration and authority of the Lord's words contained in each of the Gospels was supreme.
Oral tradition, for something like half a century, was felt to be better than any writing.
There is not a passage in the New Testament that is certainly quoted from words of our Lord.
In Acts xx.35 occurs the only sentence which is avowedly a quotation of them, and that is one, which is not contained in any of the Gospels.
But it is possible that the author of the Apocalypse knew Matthew.
[See Charles, Revelation, vol. i, pp. Ixxxiv ff., where, however, the extent of his dependence on books of the New Testament is greatly exaggerated.]

The evidence is unmistakable that other New Testament writers knew some of St. Paul's epistles (all of which were earlier than any of our written Gospels), though the extent of their indebtedness is probably less than has often been supposed.
It is not clear that any of them - except, perhaps, the writer of 2 Peter - knew 'all' his epistles; some seem to have known only one or two.

We take our stand, then, at the beginning of the second century, and during, roughly, the first three-quarters of it we find the conception of a canon being formed, i.e. the separation of a group of apostolic writings from all other Christian writings to be reverenced on a level with the Old Testament.
The Christian writings were of four main kinds: Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses; in the case of all four classes some being rejected, most of them decisively from the first, but some after hesitation and sporadic use as Scripture.
Conversely, of our canonical epistles some were accepted slowly and late, while our canonical Apocalypse had a unique history, being accepted with practical unanimity in early times, but rejected in the third and fourth centuries with equal unanimity in the East.

In order, therefore, to gain a clear idea of the development, we must keep these four classes distinct.
But we must also keep distinct the four chief geographical areas in the Church, the ganglions of its system - Rome and the West, Carthage, Alexandria, and what may be broadly called the East, i.e. Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine.


(a) The Gospels

Rome gives us the first Christian writer outside the New Testament.

CLEMENT OF ROME wrote in the name of his Church to the Corinthians a letter usually cited as 1 Clement (because a writing commonly known as 2 Clement, and indeed a large literature, afterwards appeared to which his name was attached).
He frequently quotes the Old Testament with such expressions as 'it is written', 'that which is written', 'the (holy) writing', 'the Holy Spirit saith'; and he uses the LXX with considerable accuracy.
But his allusions to passages in the New Testament are loose and inexact [Cf. W. K. L. Clarke, First Epistle of Clement, 1937, pp. 32 f.], which seems to imply that some of them were known and valued at Rome when he wrote (c. AD 96), but that none of them was yet sacred, as Scripture was sacred.
He must have known Luke, and also the Acts, and it is possible that he knew Matthew.
But he seems to have possessed a collection of sayings of the Lord, which had reached him in forms partly like, and partly unlike, sayings in those Gospels.
He writes, for example, 'Especially remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching forbearance and long-suffering; for He said: Shew mercy that ye may receive mercy; forgive that it may be forgiven unto you.
As ye judge so shall ye be judged; as ye are kind so shall kindness be done to you.
With what measure ye mete, in it shall it be measured to you' (i.1 f.).
'Remember the words of Jesus our Lord, for He said: Woe to that man, for it were good for him that he had not been born; it were better for him for a millstone to be hung round him (περιτεθῆναι - peritethevai), and that he should be drowned in the sea, than that he should pervert one of my elect' (xlvi. 8).

For forty years or more no Roman writing is forthcoming.
But by the time that Jerusalem had finally passed away, and been replaced by Aelia Capitolina, and we reach the period 135-50, we find that a great advance has been made.
The so-called 2 Clement is not an epistle, but a homily by an unknown writer, which was wrongly ascribed to Clement.
[Eusebius (H.E. iii.16) knew of only one epistle of Clement.]
The writer sometimes uses formulas of quotation that imply that the Lord's words now stand permanently in writing.
We read, for instance, side by side with 'the Lord said' (as in Clement), 'the Lord saith ' (λέγει or φησί).
His quotations, indeed, are often loose, but not looser in the New Testament than in the Old.
In xi.2-4 a passage is quoted from a lost apocryphal work (Eldad and Modad) with the formula 'For the prophetic discourse (λόγος) also saith'; so that it is not surprising to find passages apparently from an apocryphal Gospel or Gospels: 
'The Lord said, If ye are with Me united in My bosom and do not My commandments, I will cast you away, and say unto you, Depart from Me, I know not whence ye are, workers of iniquity' (iv.5).
'For the Lord saith, Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves.
And Peter answering saith unto Him, What then if the wolves tear the lambs?
Jesus saith unto Peter, Let not the lambs after they are dead fear the wolves.
And you, fear ye not them which kill you and can do nothing to you, but fear Him who, after ye are dead, hath authority over soul and body to cast into the Gehenna of fire' (v.2-4).
'For the Lord Himself, when asked by someone when His kingdom should come, saith.
When the two shall be one, and the outside as the inside, and the male with the female, neither male nor female' (.2). 'For the Lord said, I come to gather all nations, tribes, and tongues' (xvii.4).
(It has been conjectured that all these are from the Gospel according to the Egyptians.)
In viii.5 words identical with part of Lk.xvi.10 are combined with extraneous matter under one formula:
'For the Lord saith in the Gospel, If ye have not kept that which is little, who will give you that which is great?
For I say unto you that he which is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.'
And after quoting and commenting on Is.liv.1, the author writes, 'And another Scripture saith, I came not to call the righteous but sinners' (ii. 4).
And there are other passages that appear to be quotations from, or allusions to, the Gospels, but with great differences in wording.
Some have thought that he may have used an early harmony of various evangelic material, which contained much that stands in our Gospels but also much besides.
However that may be, his attitude seems to be that the words of the Lord are authoritative, and the writings in which he found them are 'Scripture', but the wording, as such, of our Gospels is still short of being regarded as sacred.
It was that kind of attitude which admitted most of the important corruptions of the original text which lie behind all our manuscripts.
Finally, there is the interesting expression, 'The Books and the Apostles say that the Church existeth not now [for the first time] but from the beginning' (xiv.2).
'The Apostles' seems to mean all that the apostles have bequeathed, both in the epistles that he knew (especially those from which he derived the idea in question) and the Gospels.
His New Testament formed a parallel with the Old, though it had not yet become clearly enough defined as a corpus to be described as 'the Books'.
It should be noted that Lightfoot assigned 2 Clement to Corinth, dating it 120-40 and Harnack to Rome, c. 130-60, but Streeter to Alexandria before 140. [The Primitive Church, 1929, pp. 233 ff.]

The DIDACHE is of uncertain date.
J. Armitage Robinson [Barnabas, Hermas, and the Didache, 1920.] contended that the author borrows from both 'Barnabas' and Hermas.
He holds that 'Barnabas' was probably the author of the piece of writing known as 'The Two Ways', which, therefore, had no Jewish original such as was conjectured by C. Taylor [The Shepherd of Hermas, 1903-6.] and accepted by Harnack; and that it was echoed by Hermas and by the writer of the Didache.
The language of Did. i. 5 seems clearly borrowed from Hermas, Mand. ii.4b-7.
[Many have thought that i.3b-ii.1 is a later interpolation; but the evidence for this has been weakened. See Dom Connolly, O.S.B., J.T.S., xxiv, 1923, pp. 147-57, and xxv, 1924, pp. 151-3; cc. J M Creed, J.T.S. xxxix, 1938, pp. 370-87 who concluded that it has yet to be shown that the Didache will fit easily into the conditions of any period considerably later than the first three decades of the second century.
F. E. Vokes (The Riddle of the Didache, 1938) has not convinced everyone that the Didache was written after the Montanist heresy arose and as Montanist propaganda.]

This strange writing may be tentatively dated 145-50.
It is of little help towards the history of the Gospels.
The writer shows no knowledge of Mark or John; but the nature of his work would give no occasion for quoting the latter.
In the first part, The Two Ways (chs.i-vi), an apocryphal sentence, 'Let thine alms sweat into thine hands until thou knowest to whom thou givest', is introduced with 'it has been said'.
In the ecclesiastical portion (chs.vii-xv) we read, 'The Lord said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs' (ix.5), which occurs in Matt.vii.6. (Similarly, in reference to the Old Testament in xiv.3, 'This was what was spoken by the Lord' introduces a free reproduction of Mal.i.14 and 11.)
And in vii.2 'As the Lord commanded in His Gospel, Thus pray ye' is followed by the Lord's Prayer, very nearly, but not quite, identical with that in Matthew, together with a doxology in the form, 'Thine is the power and the glory for ever'.
This is apparently not quoted from Matthew but from current liturgical usage.
Also, 'But concerning Baptism thus baptize ye: having recited all things, baptize into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water' (vii.1).
In the closing, apocalyptic chapter (xvi) Zech.xiv.5 is loosely quoted with 'as it was said'.
Besides these 'the Gospel' is mentioned three times: 'But concerning the apostles and prophets [i.e. their reception when they visited a Church] according to the ordinance (δόγμα - dogma) of the Gospel so do ye' (xi.3).
'Reprove one another not in wrath but in peace, as ye have in the Gospel' (xv.3).
'Your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do as ye have in the Gospel of our Lord' (xv.4).
The first and third may be allusions to Matt.x.40 f. and vi.1-18; the second is apocryphal.
There are numerous other echoes, mostly loose and inexact, of the language of Matthew and Luke, especially the former, without formula of quotation; but also, no less loose and inexact, of the Old Testament.
It and the First and Third Gospels and apocryphal sayings are all treated as if they were on a par.

But when the second half of the century begins we have clear evidence from Rome as to the position of the four Gospels in JUSTIN, often called Justin Martyr.
He was a Greek Samaritan who was converted to Christianity at Ephesus, and came to Rome where he taught as a Christian philosopher and died for his faith c. 165.
Between 151 and 163 he wrote two Apologies for Christians to the Roman government (or rather one, since the second is little more than a postscript or appendix to the first), and then a Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew who knew the Gospel tradition.
At Ephesus he would have read Matthew and John, and at Rome Mark and Luke.
He quoted a great deal from the first and last, and a little from the other two; but he quoted very loosely, sometimes combining separate passages; sometimes even quoting them more than once with differences.
There was, naturally, not much peculiar to Mark which he could use; but it is noteworthy that he did not quote much from John, though his apologetic system was profoundly influenced by its Logos doctrine.
This is probably to be explained by the fact that the Roman Christians had not yet been persuaded that it was written by an apostle, and a Gospel coming from Ephesus without apostolic authority was not valued very highly.

He mentions the Gospels under the name of the Memoirs (ἀπομνημονεύματα - apomnemoneumata) of the Apostles, or simply the Memoirs, probably in imitation of Xenophon's Memoirs of Socrates. In the Apology there are only three references to them, but in the Dialogue there are thirteen.
A few of them are important:

1. The account of the Last Supper is given with the words, 'For the apostles, in the Memoirs made by them, which are called "Gospels", handed down, &c.' (Apol. Ixvi).
This is probably the earliest known writing in which the plural appears.
In Dial. x he still uses the singular - 'the commands in that which is called the Gospel' - as was done by many writers after him; and in Apol. xcviii he uses the plural in referring to a passage in a single Gospel.
That is to say he used the. word with exactly the same varieties as it might be used today.

2. The fact is stated that the memoirs of the apostles were still read, together with the writings of the prophets, in the weekly services (Apol. Ixvii).

3. 'It is written in his [Peter's] Memoirs as having taken place' (Dial. cvi).
This can refer only to Mark. It was thought to have St. Peter's apostolic sanction, as Luke was to have St. Paul's.
The apocryphal Gospel of Peter even if it was written by that time, had a Docetic colour, and could not have been in general use.
[M. R. James (The Apocryphal N.T., p. 90) thinks that it is not safe to date it much earlier than AD 150.
Its Doceticism was recognized by Serapion, Bishop of Antioch, c. 190 (Eus. H.E. vi.12).
But see Gardner-Smith, J.T.S. xxvii, 1926, 255-71, 401-7, who dates it 80-100.
The evidence is set out in L. Vaganay's edition, 1930, pp. 147 ff.]

4. 'Memoirs ... which I say were composed by His apostles and those who followed them' (Dial. ciii).
This is usually taken to mean that the First and Fourth Gospels were attributed to apostles, and the others to those who were not apostles but their followers.
It is quite as likely that the First and Second were thought of as the work of apostles (the Second being derived immediately from St. Peter), and the Third and Fourth by their followers (the writer of the Fourth being not yet raised to the rank of 'apostle' at Rome).

With all his use, however, of the written Gospels, Justin did not, in fact, speak of them quite in the same way as of the Old Testament.
He frequently refers to the former with 'it is written' (γέγραπται- gegraptai), but never, as in the case of the latter, as 'Scripture' (γραφή - graphe).

He has a few uncanonical details, but he does not refer any of them to the Memoirs.
He may have derived them from written sources, but they can probably be accounted for as reminiscences of floating tradition.

It will be seen that Justin is a landmark.
It was probably owing to his teaching, and perhaps still more to his martyr death, that the Fourth Gospel was accepted at Rome before the last quarter of the second century.
In all likelihood it was accepted still earlier in the East, but now the weight of Rome was added to the general consensus.

The date at which Carthage was first evangelized is unknown to us, and it supplies no writing in our period.
Alexandria must have received Christianity at an early date, but for some time it lay outside the main current of Church life.

The so-called EPISTLE OF BARNABAS may not have been written there, but it is marked by a characteristic Alexandrian colouring, and an allegorical use of the Old Testament.
Some would date it 70-79, others 100-30.
The answer to this debatable problem depends on the answer to three others:
Did Hermas quote from it? (see p.317).
Did Hermas write as early as 100?
Did the author of Barnabas know Hebrews? (see p.334).

Whatever his date his evidence with regard to our written Gospels is indecisive.
'His handling of the Passion in terms of Old Testament types, especially from the Psalms, seems parallel to, rather than dependent on, Matthew's narrative' (Bartlet [J. V. Bartlet in The NT, in the Apostolic Fathers, 1905, p. 18.]); e.g. 'Having been crucified He was given to drink vinegar and gall' (viii.3); cf. Ps.Ixix [Ixviii].22; but in Matthew the gall is given before the Crucifixion, the vinegar after.
'When they shall smite their Shepherd, then the sheep of the flock shall perish' (v.12) is an allusion to Zech.i.7, with no hint of the context in which the similar allusion stands in Matthew, Mark.
'For my garment they cast a lot' (vi.6), from Ps.x.[xxi].19, is combined with other passages from the same Psalm and from cxviii.[cxvii].12, to which no reference is made in the Gospels.
Traditions of the trial and mocking by the Sanhedrin and by the soldiers (cf. Matt., Mk.) are combined in vii.9 with verbal touches reminiscent of Luke.
If the earlier date is assigned to the writing, any use of Matthew or Luke is impossible; the writer must have been dependent on earlier written material, or oral tradition, or both.
With the later date he may have combined other material with a free use of Matthew and Luke.

One passage requires special notice: 'Let us take heed lest, as it is written, we may be found many called but few chosen.' [This saying, popularized in the East by Tatian, is added to Matt.xx.16 in some manuscripts and versions, of which Syr.sin. pesh agree with Barnabas in omitting γάρ - gar.]

This has the appearance of being an explicit quotation from a written Gospel to which authoritative value is attached.
This might be possible at the later date, [H. Windisch 'Der Barnabasbrief in Handbuch z, N.T., 1920 holds the writing to be a compilation; behind it lie a collection of testimonia and a work on 'The Two Ways', and the book underwent a revision.
He places it between 100 and 135, though he thinks that the first edition could have been earlier.]
and would stand as the earliest known instance of the quotation of a Gospel with such a formula, which would be of importance for the history of the Canon.
But the writer may be quoting from a Jewish apocryphal work containing a contrast between 'many' and 'few' such as is found in 4 Esdr.viii.3; x.57.
[The formula of citation does not forbid this, since he uses 'it is written' and 'the Scripture saith' when citing Enoch (iv.3, xvi.5).]

Or he is referring to our Lord's words, but 'he had forgotten the reference, and consequently has employed the formula "as it is written" by inadvertence for the more appropriate "as the Lord said to His disciples", or something of that kind'.
[Burkitt, The Gospel History and its Transmission, p.320.]

If Africa and Egypt do not yet help us much, we get plenty of light from the East.
The probability that Matthew was written at Antioch is supported by the fact that it is IGNATIUS, Bishop of Antioch, who gives us the first clear evidence of it.
He wrote the seven letters that we possess on his way to martyrdom at Rome, c. 115.
He speaks (Trail, xi.1; Philad. iii.1) of errorists who are 'not the Father's plant' (cf. Matt.xv.13); and says that Jesus Christ was 'truly born of a virgin, and baptized by John that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him' [Smyrn. i.1), the latter clause of which, as Sanday said, it is unreasonable to refer to any other than Matthew.
'He that receiveth let him receive it' (Smym. vi.1), and 'Be thou wise as the serpent in all things and harmless always as the dove', are echoes of Matt. xix. 12 and x. 16.
The only possible reference to Luke is the statement that Jesus Christ was crucified 'under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch' (Smyrn. i.1).
Oral tradition might have supplied the last words.
But the tone of his letter to Rome is perhaps the result of his having read Clement's letter to Corinth; and if that could reach him from Rome or Corinth, Luke could reach him.
He would not, however, treat it with anything like the same deference as his own local Gospel written by an apostle.
The often-quoted passage, 'Take, touch Me, and see that I am not a bodiless demon' (Smyrn. iii.2), is like Lk.xxiv.39, and yet so unlike that a use of the written words is improbable.
[Was Ignatius quoting a Syriac phrase originally?
Shi'da' could be translated into Greek by either
δαιμόνιον - daimonion or φάντασμα - phantasma, the word used in D in Lk.xxiv.37, cf. F H Chase, The Syro-Latin Text of the Gospels, 1895, pp. 72 f.]
Eusebius (H.E. iii.36) confesses ignorance of its source; Jerome (De vir. illustr. 2) and Origen (DePrinc., praef. 8) refer it respectively to the Gospel ace. to the Heb. and the Doctrine of Peter.

A knowledge of John by Ignatius, if it cannot be proved with certainty, is highly probable despite J. N. Sanders.
Their theology is akin, and there are echoes of wording, the clearest being the sentence about the Spirit (Philad. 7): 'for It knoweth whence It cometh and whither It goeth' (cf. John iii.8).

Two interesting passages show how the Old Testament was valued chiefly as pointing to Christ and Christianity.
'That I may attain unto the inheritance wherein I have obtained mercy, fleeing for refuge to the Gospel as the Flesh of Jesus, and to the Apostles as the Presbytery of the Church. Yea and we love the prophets also, because they too pointed to the Gospel in their message, and hoped in Him, and awaited Him' (Philad. v.1).
The 'Gospel' here means not the written Gospels but the whole Christian tradition, oral and written, in many forms and fragments, about the life and teaching of Christ.
The 'Apostles' means the whole apostolic teaching, as it had been preached and written in letters.
And the prophets are the Old Testament prophets. Ignatius, therefore, probably does not refer, as Westcott suggested, to a definite collection of books as on a par with the written prophecies, but to Christian truth as that to which Old Testament hopes pointed. Similarly in Philad. viii f.:

I heard certain persons saying, If I find it not in the charters (τοῖς ἀρχείοις - tois archeiois) I believe it not in the Gospel.
And when I said to them, It is written,
they answered me, That is the question.
But as for me, my charter is Jesus Christ, the inviolable charter His Cross and Death and Resurrection, and faith which is through Him...
But a singular value hath the Gospel, [namely] the Advent of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, His Passion, His Resurrection.
For the beloved prophets pointed to Him in their message, but the Gospel is the perfect provision of immortality.

That is to say, the charter of Christians consisted, not in writings corresponding to those of the prophets, but in the facts that the evangelic message proclaimed.
And some people had questioned whether certain passages in the Old Testament contained predictions that Ignatius insisted in finding in them.

POLYCARP, Bishop of Smyrna.
Though important in the history of the Christian tradition, he does not supply much evidence as to the canonicity of the Gospels.
He lived till 155/6, but his only letter that we possess was written to the Philippians soon after the martyrdom of Ignatius, forty years earlier1 so soon after that he asks them to send him such news as they can obtain of Ignatius and his companions.
1[According to P. N. Harrison, chs.i- were written c. AD 135 (Polycarp's Two Epistles to the Philippians, 1936) but if his theory of two letters of Polycarp is accepted there is no necessity to date these chapters so long after the remainder, chs.i-xiv. He finds (pp.328-35) numerous references and possible allusions in i- to Matt. and to Lk. (over twenty times each), a dozen to Acts and half a dozen to Mk., but none to the Fourth Gospel, the expression in v. a 'According as he promised to raise us from the dead' being referred to 2 Cor.iv.14, Rom.viii.11 and not to Jn.v.21, as in The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, 1905, p.103.]
His references to the Old Testament are so allusive and inexact that we cannot expect great precision in his quotations from Christian books.
He appears to have known the Acts (see below), and, if so, he must have known Luke; and if Luke, then Mark may also have reached him from Rome.
And Matthew would probably have come to Smyrna from Antioch by 115, but we cannot be sure.
He gives some sayings of our Lord similar to those in St. Luke's Sermon on the Plain, and one clause in a Matthaean form: 'Remembering what the Lord said teaching, Judge not that ye be not judged; forgive and it shall be forgiven unto you; shew mercy that ye may receive mercy; with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.
And, Blessed are the poor, and they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God' (ii.3).
But his forms of quotation, and his catena of sayings, are similar to those in Clement (see above), which he apparently knew, and the sayings as they appeared in Matthew and Luke were not more sacred to him than as they appeared in the collection known to Clement.
'According as the Lord said, The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak' is verbally identical with Matthew-Luke. 'According to the truth of the Lord who became Servant of all', διάκονος πάντων - diakonos panton (v.2), preserves the thought of Matt.xx.28, while πάντων διάκονος - panton diakonos occurs in a different context in Mark ix.35.

Irenaeus, who had seen Polycarp, tells us that he was a companion of John (see p.282).
And if the Fourth Gospel was written in Ephesus, the Bishop of Smyrna would certainly know it twenty years later.
But if it was not the work of an apostle, and if Polycarp knew it was not, he would have little inducement to quote it, differing widely as it did from the apostolic Matthew.
Only one sentence, 'According as He promised to raise us from the dead' (v.2), might seem to point to John v.21; vi.44, the Synoptic Gospels containing no such promise.

PAPIAS, Bishop of Hierapolis, has been variously dated, but most of the suggestions border round 140.
His importance for the history of the Canon lies not in any quotations from the Gospels but in the fact that, in the fragments that we possess, he voices an earlier tradition with regard to Matthew and Mark.
The passages are quoted on pp.4-6.
The latter is the first explicit evidence in patristic writings that we possess of the existence of the Second Gospel, but it shows that it was well known to the Elder whom he quotes, and recognized as carrying apostolic sanction, since St. Mark, as St. Peter's interpreter, did his best in putting down what he remembered of the apostle's teaching of Christ's deeds and words.
The theory of an Ur-Marcus, to which some have thought that he was referring, is discussed on pp. 65-67, and shown to be improbable.
The First Gospel was believed by the Elder to be the work of an apostle, no less than the Second; it was one of the translations made by various persons, as best they could, of St. Matthew's work.
It had been enlarged, as we know, far beyond the limits of his original collection of the logia, and was current among Eastern Christians with all the apostolic authority of St. Matthew's own Gospel.

As regards John, Papias is important in relation to the authorship; and as Bishop of Hierapolis he must have known it.
But we have no words of his that afford any help with regard to its canonicity, unless he understood the Elder's remark about Matthew as (according to Streeter) a disparaging contrast with the Fourth Gospel. Possibly the quotation by Irenaeus (v.xxxvi) from 'the Elders', which contains the words of John xiv.2, is from the comments of Papias.
But the statement of the latter himself shows that, though he knew written records, 'what could be learnt from a living and abiding voice' (see p.284), i.e. oral tradition, was still of the first importance to him.
And the title of the work attributed to him by Eusebius, An exposition of Oracles of the Lord, does not conflict with this.
A passage is sometimes quoted from Irenaeus (iv.xx.1) as referring to him: 'In the same manner also the Elder, a disciple of the apostles, used to discuss concerning the two testa-menta, showing that both were from one and the same God.'
If 'a disciple of the apostles' is correct, this cannot have been Papias.
But whoever it was, 'de duobus testamentis' must be a translation of περὶ τῶν δύο διαθηκῶν - peri ton duo diathekon, an echo of Gal.iv.24, where the word means 'dispensations', not the Jewish and Christian Canons (see p.2).

By about 160, then, the Gospels had emerged into prominence in the East and in the West.
They were perhaps not yet explicitly defined everywhere as a corpus of Four, though with Justin at Rome they were near to it.
But by their intrinsic superiority they had risen into unique recognition.
'As soon as the feeling of the need of authoritative writings grew up, Christian sentiment took to the Four as instinctively as a child to its mother's milk.' [C. H. Turner, J.T.S. x, 1908-9, p. 166.]
And if the interpolations in the Western text go back to a single interpolated copy (see p.438), the Four were a unity at about the middle of the century.
The esteem in which they were held is only emphasized by the fact that there were other Gospels in existence, and in sporadic use, before the middle of the century: the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes [At the very beginning of the century there are Talmudic allusions, in a play on the word εὐαγγέλιον - evangelion, to the 'Gospel' in Greek as used by Minim, i.e. Palestinian Christians (see Burkitt, Christian Beginnings, pp. 47 f.).]  (see pp.16, 44); the Gospel according to Peter [In its story of the Passion strands from all our four Gospels can perhaps be traced, woven together.] - used, apparently, by Justin, and still read at the close of the century at Rhossus, but condemned as docetic by Serapion, Bishop of Antioch (c. 190); the Protevangelion of James?known to Origen, and possibly to Justin; the Gospel according to the Egyptians - coloured with Encratite views, known to the author of 2 Clement, to some Gnostic writers, and later to Clement of Alexandria; and the Gospel as edited by Marcion (140-50), i.e. an arbitrary recension of the Third Gospel with its contents manipulated in accordance with his views.
His text (as restored) will be found in Zahn, Geschichte d. nt.lichen Kanons, ii.455 ff., and Harnack, Marcion (Texte u. Untersuch. xlv, 1921).
None of these was ever a serious rival to the Four.
Either on account of date or authority or character they were recognized as inferior to them.

(b) The Acts

There is very little sign that anyone in this period possessed or knew the Acts.
It must, of course, have been known in Rome when it first appeared. In writing for Theophilus St. Luke no doubt wrote for a wider public, and his accounts of the life of the Lord and of the life of the Church were two volumes of the same work.
But the separation between them, as regards general use, would soon take place.
Few among the rank and file of the Church would at first be interested in the deeds of the apostles, while every Christian was eager to know the deeds and words of Christ.
So that the former would supply little material as compared with the latter for catechetical instruction or for mission preaching.
Thus the Gospels would be copied and read widely, but not the Acts.
And all that we can find are a few echoes, more or less doubtful.
, who must have known a work composed at the capital as a kind of public apologia only five or six years possibly before he wrote, combines (in xviii.1) words from Ps.Ixxxviii [Ixxxix].21 with words from 1 Sam.i.14, and reads ἄνδρα (Ps. δοῦλον, i Sam. ἅνθρωπον) as in Acts i.22.
But the clause 'a man after My own heart' is transposed; and while Acts ends with 'who shall do all My will', Clement ends with 'in eternal mercy (ἐλέει [The Psalm has, according to one reading, 'in holy mercy', ἐλέει for ἐλέῳ) (= ἐλαίῳ).]) have I anointed Him'.
It might almost seem as if Clement was influenced by a collection of testimonia as well as by the Acts.
'Ye were all humble . . . with more pleasure giving than receiving' looks like an allusion to Acts xx.35, though he may have known the Lord's words independently from oral tradition.
The author of the EPISTLE OF DIOGNETUS, an apologia to a pagan, has a clear allusion (ch.iii) to the apologia to pagans in Acts xvii.24 f.: 'For He that made heaven and earth and all things that are in them, and supplies us with all that we need, Himself would need none of those things which He affords to them that think they give [to Him].'
To these may be added one doubtful parallel in HERMAS (Vis. iv.ii.4): 'Having believed that by nothing canst thou be saved but by the great and glorious name' (cf. Acts iv.12); and one in the DIDACHE (iv.8): 'Thou shalt share all things with thy brother, and not say that they are thine own' (ἴδια εἶναι, cf. Acts iv.32).

In the East there is similar fragmentary evidence.
IGNATIUS says (Magn. v.1.] that 'each man will go [sc. after death, μέλλει χωπεῖν] to his own place', which reads like an allusion to Acts i. 25, although the latter has πορευθῆναι.
And 'After His Resurrection He ate and drank with them' (Smirn. iii. 3) recalls the general statement in Acts i.4 (συναλιζόμενος) rather than the particular story in Lk.xxiv.41-43.
has a striking coincidence with Acts ii. 24: 'Whom God raised up (ἤγειπεν, Acts ἀνέστησεν), having loosed the pangs of Hades' (Acts 'Death' [θανάτου א A B C &c.; but ᾅδου D e vg. pesh. cop.]).
Both have the same structure of the sentence, and both have 'pangs' (ὠδῖνας), a mistranslation of חֶבְלֵי , which also means 'cords'.
In Ps.xvii [xviii].5, 6 (LXX) occur both 'pangs of death' and 'pangs of Hades', and the former in Ps.cxiv.[cxvi].3.
If Polycarp's expression is not due to a collection of testimonia, it is a pretty clear instance of quotation from the Acts.
He has a few other uncertain echoes of language. [See P. V. M. Benecke, in The N.T. in the Apostolic Fathers, pp. 98 f.]

Reference has already been made (p. 122) to W. L. Knox's argument {The Acts of the Apostles, 1948, pp. 40 f.) that the Pastoral writer knew and used Acts especially in 2 Timothy and that Ignatius knew and used the Pastorals as authoritative writings.

(c) The Pauline Epistles

Behind our Gospels there was oral tradition, and there were early attempts at the writing of Gospel material, both of which might be the source of some of the patristic language.
But in the case of the epistles there is no such uncertainty.
If a writer clearly echoes or paraphrases a passage it proves his knowledge of the epistle containing it. St. Paul's writings would be eagerly copied, mostly, of course, in full, but sometimes probably with the omission of what had purely local and immediate reference.
If one Church made a copy for another, some salutations or personal details, possibly also some rebukes to individuals, might be excised; it might even happen that there would be sent, or a visitor might copy, only a fragment which it was thought would be of general Church interest.
It is possible, as we have seen (pp.157 f.), that Romans was an instance of such editing if we reject T. W. Manson's theory that St. Paul wrote two recensions of Romans, the later including xvi and being sent to Ephesus.
And the Pauline corpus finally contained, in all probability, some fragments of epistles that found their way into the Canon attached to other epistles, e.g. 2; Phil.hi.i-iv.1; (Rom.xvi.1-23). Only deliberate editing of all the available material will account for this.
When this was accomplished is unknown.
It has been thought that it was Marcion who first formed the corpus. [Cf.J. Knox, Marcion and the New Testament, 1943.]
Christians in general possessed a Bible in the Old Testament; but Marcion, rejecting that, was without a Bible at all.
And he therefore made his own Bible; he defined for the first time (some hold), quite clearly, a New Testament Canon, which consisted of his recension of Luke and of the Pauline epistles, i.e. his 'Gospel' and 'Apostolicon', in which he 'erased' (as Tertullian says) by his 'heretical industry' what did not suit him.
But there is no evidence that he formed the corpus.
If he did, not only was this heretic's collection accepted in all parts of the Church less than half a century later, but within that time it was contrived to reintroduce into it both whole epistles (1, 2 Tim., and Tit.), which he had omitted, and all the sections, sentences, and words which he had 'erased'; e.g. in Galatians and Romans appeared the ideas of the righteousness of Abraham, and of the pedagogic function of the Jewish Law, which fundamentally altered St. Paul's presentation of Christianity.
It is easier to suppose that Marcion issued his revised edition of an already existing corpus, as he did of an already existing Gospel of St. Luke.
There is not much weight in the fact that St. Paul is comparatively little quoted by the Fathers in the second and third centuries.
The literature is largely apologetic and controversial, directed against pagans and Gnostics.
And for this purpose the apostle's language in argument against Judaizers did not supply much material.

There is evidence that a quarter of a century before Marcion some, at least, of the Pauline epistles were beginning to be collected in the East.
A treasuring-up of his letters is antecedently probable; and it may very likely have been owing to the fact that the apostle's letters were beginning to be collected that the Philippians wanted to do the same with those of Ignatius.
They asked Polycarp to send them a copy of the letter that Ignatius had written to him, with any others that he had.
At least, as Turner says, this action would give an impetus to the collection of the Pauline letters.
Polycarp himself, as his letter in reply to them shows, knew at least Rom., 1, 2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil., and 1, 2 Tim., so that some of them had been collected at Smyrna.
And before that, again, Ignatius, in writing to the Philippians, says to them that St. Paul makes mention of them 'in every letter', which implies a collection of at any rate some of them.
And when we remember that every one of his letters, except that to the Romans, was written to a Church either in Asia Minor, or in Macedonia or Achaia on the other side of the water, it is natural to suppose that it was in those regions that the first collections were made.
And they must have been made independently, which explains why, in collections known to us a little later, they are arranged in different orders.
Textually this is an advantage to us, because it gives us independent evidence of text from different local centres.

In accordance with the probability that it was in the East that the corpus began to be formed, CLEMENT OF ROME shows a knowledge of very few epistles.
Since he wrote from Rome to Corinth it is not surprising that the only two epistles with which he shows undoubted acquaintance are Romans and 1 Corinthians.
[1 Clem.xlvi.6 may echo Eph.iv.4-6, and the phrase 'ready unto every good work', 1 Clem.ii.7, cf. xxxiv.4, may echo Tit. iii.1 ; cf. also 1 Clem.xxix.1 'lifting up holy and undefiled hands' with 1 Tim.ii.8 'lifting up holy hands'.]
In xlvii.1 he writes, 'Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the apostle.
What did he first and foremost write to you in the beginning of the Gospel [i.e. soon after your conversion]?
Of a truth he spiritually enjoined you concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos.'
'The epistle' need not necessarily mean that Clement did not know the Second Epistle to Corinth.
(Lightfoot ad loc. shows that similar expressions were used by several later writers about the First Epistle, and also by Origen and Chrysostom about 1 Thess. and 2 Thess. respectively.)
But in fact he shows no sign that he knew it.
Romans he would of course know, though only in one passage does he quite clearly echo it.
In xxxv.5, 6 he gives a list of thirteen sins, eight of which occur, in the same order, in Rom.i.29-32; and he adds a remark similar to St. Paul's: 'For they who do such things are haters of God, and not only they who do them but also they who take pleasure in them [sc. that do them].'

But Rome must rapidly have received other letters of St. Paul.
MARCION, as has been said, issued his own edition of them, consisting of ten epistles in the following order (according to Tert. Adv. Marc. v.): Gal., 1, 2 Cor., Rom., 1, 2 Thess., Laodiceans (=Eph.), Col., Phil., Philem.
[The theory that Marcion's order of the Pauline Epistles gives us a clue to the original order in the Church's canon has been seriously challenged by C. H. Buck, Journal of Biblical Literature, Ixviii, 1949, pp. 351-7.]
[Besides De Bruyne and Corssen, who first maintained this, Harnack (^eitschr. f. d. mutest. Wiss., 1925, p. 205) names Rendel Harris, Lietzmann, Armitage Robinson, Souter, Wordsworth-White, Zahn, and himself, as supporting it.]

In some Vulgate manuscripts, including cod. Amiatinus, are preserved prologues to these epistles, which many authorities2 hold to be the work of Marcion.
1, 2 Timothy and Titus are not of such a character that he would reject them in toto for subjective reasons.
He probably did not know them, and it is questionable if they were known at all in Rome at his date.
[Later Marcionites added prologues on these epistles, and also on Eph. when the spurious Epistle to the Laodiceans had become known. 'Ambrosiaster' afterwards made use of the prologues, unaware, as were the scribes of the Vulgate, of their heretical origin.]
Hebrews he would certainly reject if he knew it; but it was not accepted at Rome as the work of St. Paul till late in the fourth century.

This very able and wrong-headed New Testament critic was opposed by JUSTIN [Iren. iv. vi. 2, Eus. H.E. iv. 18.], who must, therefore, have known at least the ten epistles in his Apostolicon.
His thoughts and language are not infrequently moulded by the epistles, especially Rom., 1 Cor., and 2 Thess.
This is most noteworthyin the case of his Old Testament citations.
In Dial. xxvii, for instance, he quotes part of the catena of passages in Rom.iii.10-18.
In Dial. xxxix the words of Elijah, and the answer made to him, are given in a form very similar to that in Rom.xi.3, 4, but widely different from the LXX of 1 Kings xix.10, 14, 18.
See others in Westcott, Canon of the N.T., p. 171 note.
The EPISTLE OF DIOGNETUS maybe mentioned here, if Lightfoot is right in dating it c, 150, but B. Altaner [Precis de patrologie, 1941, p. 106.], who cites Dom Connolly's suggestion that the author was Hippolytus, dates it at the beginning of the third century.
The genuine chapters, i-x, have very few verbal parallels with the New Testament, but the writer is one who may be called a Pauline Christian.
In ch.ix the whole section shows the influence of Rom. iii.21-26, and ch.v that of Phil.iii.18 ff.
There are echoes of 1, 2 Corinthians and several Pauline words and phrases.
[Westcott, op. cit., p. 91 note.]

The EPISTLE OF BARNABAS, as has been said, savours of Alexandria.
It contains little that is decisive.
Echoes, more or less clear, can be heard of 1, 2 Corinthians and Ephesians. But the only thing that is really striking is in i.7: '
What, then, saith He to Abraham, when he alone believed and was appointed for righteousness?
Behold, I have appointed thee, Abraham, a father of nations that believe in God (v.l. the Lord) in uncircumcision (δι᾽ ἀκροβυστίας - di akrobustias).'
Here the writer, as often, blends two Old Testament passages (Gen.xv.6; xvii.4 f.), but he also blends with them reminiscences of Rom.iv.3, 10 f. (cf. vv.17f., where St. Paul also quotes Gen.xvii.5), showing that he felt little or no difference between the authority of Genesis and of the words of St. Paul.

In the East many of the Pauline epistles were well known fifty years after the apostle's death.
Ignatius certainly knew 1 Cor., and scarcely less certainly Rom. and Eph.; very possibly Gal., Phil., and Col., and perhaps 2 Cor. and 1, 2 Tim. POLYCARP perhaps knew more.
Turner speaks of his epistle as 'crowded with indubitable echoes of at least eight'.
Besides using Rom., 1 Cor., and Eph., he combines words from 2 Cor. and 2 Thess. when he writes to the Philippians as those 'among whom the blessed Apostle Paul laboured, who were his epistles in the beginning.
For he boasteth of you in all the Churches which alone at that time knew God.'
And he speaks of the letter that St. Paul wrote to them.
He shows a knowledge of 1, 2 Timothy when he says of St. Paul and others that 'they loved not this present world' (ix.2); and when he combines and transposes 1, 10, prefixing 'knowing that' (εἰδότες ὅτι - eidotes hoti)as a sort of quotation-formula to the words 'We brought nothing into this world, &c.'
The same formula in v.1 introduces 'God is not mocked' from, and in i.3 words similar to Eph.ii.8.
The most interesting passage is in .1, which unfortunately has come down to us only in a Latin translation:
'For I am persuaded that you are well practised in the sacred writings (sacris literis)....
As it is said in these scriptures (scripturis, i.e. passages of Scripture),
Be ye angry and sin not; and,
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.'
The two halves of Eph.iv.26, only the former of which occurs in Ps.iv.4, are quoted as passages from the sacred writings. This, and the passage quoted above from the EPISTLE OF BARNABAS, speaks volumes for the reverence in which the apostle was held.
Similarly the author of 2 PETER (who prob?ably wrote somewhere in the-East) in iii.16 seems to rank St. Paul's writings ('all his epistles') on a level with the Old Testament ('the other Scriptures').

(d) The Epistle to the Hebrews

This epistle must be treated by itself.
In later times it was gradually accepted as the work of St. Paul, and on that account canonical.
But in this period very few writers show any knowledge of it, and there is not a sign that anyone thought it was St. Paul's.
It is open to question, indeed, whether it was known outside Rome.
The fact that CLEMENT shows a clear knowledge of it is one of the reasons for thinking that the epistle was addressed to Rome (see p.233).
Among other echoes of language, those in xxxvi.1-5 are decisive:

This is the road, beloved, on which we found our salvation,
Jesus Christ the High Priest of our offerings,
the Assister and Helper of our weakness
(cf. Heb.ii.18; iii.1).
Through Him let us gaze at the heights of the heavens;
through Him we see mirrored His faultless and most excellent visage... 
Who being the effulgence
(ἀπαύγασμα - apaugasma) of His majesty is so much greater than the angels as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name.
For it is written thus:
Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.
But of His Son thus said the Master,
Thou art My Son,
I this day have begotten Thee.
Ask of Me, and I will give Thee nations as Thine inheritance,
and as Thy possession the ends of the earth.
And again He saith to Him,
Sit Thou on My right hand till I make Thine enemies a footstool of Thy feet.

This is clearly an abbreviation of Heb.i.1-13 with some alterations, preserving the πυρὸς φλόγα - pyros phloga of Hebrews instead of πῦρ φλέγον - pyr phegon [Aa πυρὸς φλέγα - pyros phlega] of the LXX of Ps.civ.4.
HERMAS uses the words 'to depart from the living God'; 'those who finally depart from the living God' (Vis. ii.iii.2; iii.vii.2); cf. Heb.iii.12.
And he says 'For your city is far from this city ... he, then, that prepareth for this city does not look to return (ἐπανακάμψαι - epanakampsai) to his own city' (Sim.I.i.2); cf. Heb.xi.15 f.
But he seems to have heard the language of the epistle in sermons or instructions rather than read it, for in denying the possibility of repentance after post-baptismal sin (Mand.iv.iii), as in (cf. x.26-31), he says that he had 'heard it from certain teachers'.
JUSTIN twice (Apol., Ii) speaks of Jesus as 'Apostle', a designation of Him confined in the New Testament to Heb.iii.1.
But in the latter of the two passages it is 'Angel and Apostle', and reference is made to the Lord's words, 'he that heareth Me heareth Him that sent (ἀποστείλαντα - aposteilanta) Me'; so that the thought of the divine Messenger sent by God may not be due to Hebrews at all.

Passing from Rome it is doubtful if we find any trace of the epistle in this period.
The relation to it of the EPISTLE OF BARNABAS is of interest.
On the surface it seems to be con?nected at various points, but their spirit and purpose are widely different.
In Hebrews the Jewish economy of priesthood, sacrifices, tabernacle, covenant, and law are the copy, shadow, figure, type of which the Christian economy is the perfect Ideal made real.
In Barnabas, on the other hand, the Jewish economy was one huge mistake, and Christianity as the Truth has taken its place.
In the one the Perfect was evolved out of the Imperfect (Heb.i.1); in the other, the Perfect was present all the time, but wholly misunderstood and misinterpreted by the Hebrew race.
So the question to be decided is whether the two teachers of an Alexandrian type independently made the Jewish system the basis of their presentation, or whether the author of Barnabas knew Hebrews and deliberately rejected its line of argument in favour of another.
The former alternative is kinder to him, and also more probable.
But if the latter is the true one, he treats Hebrews as anything but sacred and authoritative.

In Asia there is no evidence at all.
IGNATIUS (Philad.ix) says, 'The priests also (were) good, but better (is) the High Priest who hath been entrusted with the Holy of Holies, who only hath been entrusted with the deep things of God.
And POLYCARP (. 2) says, 'May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High Priest Himself, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, build you up'.
But the comparison in the former case with the priests of Israel is different in kind from that in Hebrews, and it is impossible to suppose that the idea of Christ as the High Priest, and of His eternity, could not have occurred to anyone without dependence on that epistle.

Hebrews, then, existed in Rome, but was not thought of as apostolic, and elsewhere was virtually, if not entirely, neglected.

(e) The Catholic Epistles

The position held by the acknowledged Pauline epistles during this early period may be gathered from some indications a little later, in the last quarter of the century.
In the Passion of the Scillitan martyrs (AD 180) we read, 'Saturninus the Proconsul said, "What are the things in your satchel?" Speratus said, "The books [sc. presumably the Gospels] and the letters of one Paul, a righteous man".'
The New Testament rolls that they considered worthy to be kept in one satchel, their sacred collection, were the Gospels and the Pauline epistles; no others were thought of as canonical.
That was in Africa.
But in the East we find the same thing.
The Doctrine of Addai says, 'The Law and the Prophets and the Gospel... and the Epistles of Paul... and the Acts of the twelve apostles ... these books read ye in the Church of God, and with these read not others'.
This was in the Syriac Church of Edessa, and belongs to the latter half of the fourth century when the Catholic Epistles were still not included in the Canon.
And therefore, once more, when we read in Tertullian (De Praescr. xxxvi), 'She [the Church at Rome] combines the Law and the Prophets with the Evangelic and the Apostolic writings', we understand that 'Apostolic' means 'written by the Apostle', St. Paul.
Throughout the whole Church, so far as we can see, no other epistles were canonical.

The only ones of which there is any trace are 1 Peter, 1 John, and perhaps James.
It is possible, of course, that St. Peter's letter (if Petrine) to the churches in Asia Minor was known by CLEMENT in Rome thirty years or so later.
But the signs that he knew it are far from decisive.
Prov.iii.34 is quoted in xxx.2, and in 1 Peter, but also in James.
The quotation of Prov.x.12 (in xlix.5) is more noticeable; 'a multitude of sins', found also in 1 Peter, differs from the Heb., which has 'all sins', and is quite different from the LXX.
Various explanations of this, however, are possible; e.g. a variant reading in the LXX, not preserved in our manuscripts.
The only other coincidences that have been found are the words ἀγαθοποιΐα - agathopoiia (ii.2) and ἀδελφότης - adelphotes (ii.4] [The former is unique in biblical literature, the latter occurs in the sense of 'brotherly affection' in i, 4 Mace.], which are peculiar to 1 Peter in the New Testament.
But we do not possess enough early Christian literature to determine whether two isolated words must have been borrowed by Clement.
Goodspeed's theory has already been mentioned, that Hebrews challenged the Church in Rome to produce leaders in thought and deed and that 1 Peter and 1 Clement were the result; written about the same time in the same community.

There are signs at Rome of a knowledge of 1 John.
'For God loved men ... to whom He sent His only-begotten Son'; cf. 1 John iv.9.
And 'How shalt thou love Him who so loved thee before?' cf. v.19.
(Behind both passages John iii.16 can also be felt.)
And JUSTIN writes (Dial.123): 'We Christians are called the true children of God, and we are, who keep Christ's commandments'; cf. 1 John iii.1.
Again, it is possible that HERMAS knew James.
'Although the passages which point to James fail to reach, when taken one by one, a high degree of probability, yet collectively they present a fairly strong case'.
[J. Drummond in The NT. in the Apostolic Fathers, p.113.]

The writer of EP. BARNABAS perhaps knew 1 Peter.
In vi.2-4 he quotes Is.xxviii.16 and Ps.cxviii.22 as in 1 Pet.ii.6-8 with textual variations.
But this may have been due, in both writings, to a collection of testimonia.
And in v.6 it is said that 'the prophets having their grace from Him [Christ] prophesied of Him'. But the thought that Christ inspired the Old Testament prophets, though it is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, may easily be supposed to have been current in the circles in which testimonia were current.

But in the East a knowledge of 1 Peter and 1 John is fairly clear.
The former seems to be echoed by lGNATIUS (Rom. ix) in his collocation of God as the 'Shepherd' of the Church in Syria and Jesus Christ as its 'Episcopos'; cf. 1 Pet.ii.25 (cf. v.2).
POLYCARP is strongly influenced by it.
Several close parallels may be seen in The N.T. in the Apost. Fathers, pp.86 ff. (Benecke).
And he seems certainly to use 1 John.
'For everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is anti-Christ.
And whosoever does not confess the witness of the Cross, is of the devil' (vii.1; cf. 1 John iv.2; iii.8).
If he did not use the epistle he may, at any rate, have known the author.
[See further, Stanton, The Gospels as Historical Documents, i.20, notes 3, 4.]

PAPIAS is stated by Eusebius (H.E.iii.39) to have made use of 'the former Epistle of John, and that of Peter likewise'.
Finally, 2 PETER explicitly refers (iii.1) to the First Epistle, and shows the high regard in which he held its value and apostolic authority.

(f) The Apocalypse of John

It is pointed out by C. H. Turner  (J.T.S. x, 1908-9, p. 366.] that much might be said for admitting apocalyptic works into the Canon.
They corresponded to, and carried on, Old Testament prophecy;
and if in successive periods of persecution these comforting 'revelations' were produced,
inspired messages of consolation to the Church,
must not all these be as authoritative as the inspired messages of the Old Testament prophets?
The Canon would thus be susceptible of infinite expansion.
But in fact only two of these, which were finally rejected from the Canon, enjoyed sufficient recognition at first to be able to hover on the borders of it - the Apocalypse of Peter and the Shepherd of Hermas.
M. R. James dates the former early in the second century, and says [The Apocryphal N.T., p. 505.], 'The second book of the Sibylline Oracles contains (in Greek hexameters) a paraphrase of a great part of the Apocalypse: and its influence can be traced in many early writings - the Acts of Thomas (chs.55-57), the Martyrdom of Perpetua, the so-called Second Epistle of Clement, and, as I think, the Shepherd of Hermas.'
Both it and the Shepherd are included in the canonical list appended to cod.
Claromontanus (D2];
[Some people, as we learn from Tert. (De Oral. xvi), treated its words with such reverence that because Hermas said (Vis.v.1) 'when I had prayed in my house and sat down on my bed' they sat down after concluding prayer.]

a passage from the Shepherd is quoted as ἡ γραφή - he graphe in Iren.iv.xx.2;
Clem. Alex. uses it;
in Pseudo-Cypr. Adv. Aleatores it is 'Scriptura divina';
and Orig. (in Ep. Rom., Lommatzsch, vii.437) says of it (according to the Lat. translation), 'scriptura valde mihi utilis videtur, et ut puto divinitus inspirata';
and owing doubtless to Origen's authority it was included in cod. Sinaiticus (א).
Turner [J.T.S. xiv, 1912-13, pp. 404-7.], from the numerations of the gatherings of the manuscript conjectured that the Shepherd originally stood at the end of the Old Testament as part of the prophetic Canon;
but Mercati (op. cit. xv.452) argues that this is impossible, and that it stood in its present position at the end of the New Testament.

But for different reasons both works soon failed to obtain canonical recognition.
The Apoc. Pet. was seen to be tainted with the Docetic heresy, and the Shepherd was not apostolic.
Origen, indeed, claimed that it was, and identified Hermas with his namesake mentioned in Rom.xvi.14; but the writer of the Muratorian fragment (see below) rejected it because it was so recent; and Tertullian, as a Montanist, because he was shocked at any idea of reconciliation after post-baptismal mortal sin.
And he claims that it is not worthy to be included in the 'divine Instrument' because it was judged 'by every council even of your .own Churches to be among the apocryphal and false writings' (De Pudic.10).
Generally speaking, it was opposition to the Montanists that prevented late apocalypses from being added to the Canon; nothing in the ecstatic vagaries of Montanus and his prophetesses could contribute anything new to the divine Revelation, which was given in its final and complete form by the apostles.

The Apocalypse of St. John had a unique history, in that it was the only book of the New Testament, which, after being accepted in the East at an early date, was later rejected there, though it at last came fitfully into its own.
That will be shown later. In this period there are already signs of its use both in the East and West.
The date of its composition was practically contemporary with that of the letter of CLEMENT OF ROME, and therefore a knowledge of it by Clement is not to be expected of him.
But HERMAS seems to be familiar with its imagery: the Church as a woman (Vis.ii.4); the enemy of the Church as a beast (iv.1,2), from whose mouth fiery locusts come forth (iv.1); the apostles and teachers are stones in the heavenly tower (iii.3); the faithful receive crowns and white robes {Sim.viii.2).
And JUSTIN definitely refers to it by name: 'Moreover also among us a man named John, one of the apostles of Christ, prophesied in a revelation made to him that those who have believed on our Christ shall spend a thousand years in Jeru?salem' (Dial. Ixxxi).
And he says [Apol.i.28), 'The leader of the evil demons is called Serpent, and Satan, and Devil'; cf. Rev.xx.2.
Where the book was thus received as the work of 'one of the apostles of Christ' its authority was assured, and its acceptance in the West remained uninterrupted.

In the East we learn that Papias, among others, was a witness to its credibility (τὸ ἀξιόπιστον - to axiopiston), as stated by Andreas in the prologue to his commentary on the book.
And a quotation of Papias from Rev..9 is given in Cramer's Catena, viii, p.360.
Irenaeus (v.xxi.3, 4) says that certain elders 'who had seen John the disciple of the Lord' (of whom 'Papias the hearer of John' is just afterwards expressly mentioned) remembered that they had heard from him - and then follows, in the form of teaching ascribed to our Lord, words expressing a materialistic chiliasm, condemned by Eusebius (H.E.iii.39), in the development of which the Apocalypse probably played a part.

Note on some early Heretics

Some of those who differed from the Catholic Fathers in doctrinal matters are important in the Church's history because they felt it necessary to appeal to apostolic authority for the support of their views.
Some of them claimed a secret tradition from the apostles.
And when the Church met this by pointing to the open and public tradition of its writings, they made use of the same writings, or such of them as suited them.
But they also published other works for the dissemination of their heretical ideas, in some cases gaining currency for them by attaching to them apostolic names.
This led the Church-writers to define more clearly those which early tradition had handed down as truly apostolic.
Heretics thus gave an impetus to the crystallizing of the Canon, which persecution helped to complete.

SIMON MAGUS (see Acts viii.18-24), a Samaritan Gnostic, exercised an influence that can be traced in the second century.
Of the views attributed to him we have some account in a work called Philosophumena, written, in all probability, by Hippolytus, to whom a summary of them was available in a Simonian work named the Great Pronouncement (ἀπόφασις - apophasis).
In the notices of it by Hippolytus there are two echoes of the language of Matthew and Luke, and one of John.
And the value put upon apostolic writings is shown by the fact that the Simonians 'wrote books in the name of Christ and His disciples, and gave them currency' to deceive believers [Apost. Const. vi.16.1).

CERINTHUS, an Egyptian Jew, was thought of in tradition as the special opponent of St. John.
This probably reflects the fact that the Corinthians were strongly Judaistic.
Epiphanius {Haer. xxviii.5) says that 'they make use of the Gospel according to Matthew on account of the human genealogy, but part of the Gospel, not the whole'; and that they opposed the genealogy to the Johannine prologue.
But since he confused both the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Ebionites with Matthew, we cannot be sure of the facts.
(On the strange ascription of the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse to Cerinthus see p.280).

BASILIDES (c. 120-30) is more useful to us, if the accounts of him are to be trusted.
In a Disputation between Archelaus and Manes (3rd cent.), originally a Syriac work, it is stated that he lived 'not long after the times of our apostles'; and Clement Alex., who knew his writings, and Jerome place him in the reign of Hadrian.
Origen, followed by Ambrose and Jerome, speaks of his 'Gospel', which is probably to be understood in the same sense in which St. Paul wrote 'my Gospel' (Rom.ii.16; cf. xvi.25), viz. his presentment of Christian truth.
He wrote ἐξηγητικά - exegetika or Expository Comments, and, according to Hippolytus, referred to words in Matt.ii.1 and to some Pauline epistles with the formula 'it is written', to Lk.i.35 with 'that which is written', and to John i.9; ii.4 with 'that which is said in the Gospels', while a passage in 1 Corinthians is cited as ἡ γραφή - he graphe.
If these are genuinely the language of Basilides, the use of such formulas by an Alexandrian heretic at so early a date is remarkable.
A further fact about him is noteworthy.
According to Clem. Alex. (Strom.vii.17) he appealed to the authority of GIaucias, whom he claimed to be an 'interpreter of Peter', as Papias his contemporary claimed for St. Mark. Whether he knew the work of Papias, and tried to imitate it by a rival claim, we cannot say; but it is a further indication that for sufficient proof of Christian doctrine heretics and orthodox alike appealed to the sanction of an apostle.

Similarly, VALENTINUS (c. 140), who propounded his views at Rome, thought it necessary to link himself with an apostle, and claimed to have listened to Theodas, who was acquainted with St. Paul (ibid.).
But Tertullian supplies us with an important piece of evidence.
He says (De Praescr. Haer. 38) that 'Even if Valentinus appears to have used the whole Instrument, and did not, like Marcion, mutilate Scripture, he perverted the text by verbal additions and alterations with even greater impunity; 'alius manu scripturas, alius sensus expositione intervertit.'
'The whole Instrument' need not imply that Valentinus quoted from every book of the Canon as known to Tertullian, but it does imply that the latter thought of a definite Canon as being then recognized by the general agreement of Christians.
He could not accuse him of rejecting whole books as Marcion did.

HERACLEON, a contemporary and follower of Valentinus, has an importance of his own, in being the earliest known New Testament commentator.
Origen refers repeatedly to his comments on the Fourth Gospel, [See E. A. Brooke, 'The Fragments of Heracleon', Texts and Studies, i.4.] which, no doubt, modified his Valentinianism.
The extent of these suggests that he treated of the whole of John; if so, he may perhaps have written on the other Gospels in the same way, but we have a comment on only one passage in Lk. quoted by Clem. Alex. (Strom.iv.9).
His work shows that he regarded the language of the Fourth Gospel as the language of the Old Testament was regarded; the smallest verbal detail was significant, and capable of yielding hidden truth.

PTOLEMAEUS, another contemporary and follower of Valentinus, in a letter to an 'honourable sister Flora' (quoted by Epiph. Haer. xxi.3 ff.) uses sayings of our Lord which occur in Matthew and words from the prologue of John.

MARCION [See Harnack's'Marcion', Texte und Untersuchungen, xlv, 1924; E. C. Blackman, Marcion and his Influence, 1948, and C. S. C. Williams, Alterations to the Text. of the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, pp.10 ff.], son of a bishop of Sinope, came to Rome c. 140, where he soon afterwards left the Church, and expounded his heretical ideas with great ability and stormy force.
C. R. Gregory describes him as 'the most active and influential man, bearing the name of Christian, between Paul and Origen'.
He did not aim at adding to or extending Christian truth, but of purifying it from the false ideas with which it had been overlaid, i.e. that the God and Messiah of the Old Testament were the God and Christ of the New.
The God who made the world, the Demiurge, was just but not good - hard-hearted, cruel, and bloodthirsty; and all Jewish, Old Testament notions of Him must be purged out of Christianity.
The Third Gospel and ten of St. Paul's epistles (1, 2 Tim. and Tit. being omitted) alone supplied him with the required material, which he revised and expurgated (see p.329).

TATIAN, an Assyrian who came to Rome, was converted to Christianity by Justin, after whose death he developed Gnostic views.
The tendency of the Gnostic ideas on the inherent evil of matter, which was created by the Demiurge, was either towards antinomianism, or, as in Tatian's case, towards a rigid asceticism.
He returned to the East, where he became head (Eus. ἀρχηγός - archegos, Jer. patriarches) of the Encratites.
On the speculative side he was allied to Valentinus, on the ascetic to Marcion.
But this did not lead him to Marcion's conclusions on the Christian writings.
His chief importance consists in the fact that he arranged a harmony of the Four Gospels (probably composed at Rome in Greek unless Baumstark and Plooij are right in their theory of a Syriac original or Burkitt in that of a Latin one), known by the Greek title Diatessaron, [Cf. ibid., pp. 19 ff., A. J. F. Klijn, A Survey of the Researches into the Western Text of the Gospels and Acts, 1949, pp. 87-110, and M.M. Parvis and A. P. Wikgren, New Testament Manuscript Studies, 1950, pp. 28 f. (by B. M. Metzger).], which was naturalized in Syriac, and also the (to us) less known Syriac title Evangelion da-Mehallete, 'Evangel of the Mixed ones'.
This supports the evidence from other quarters that the Four were by this time a recognized group.
The combination into one rendered it easier and less noticeable to excise those passages that did not suit his views.
Theodoret says that he 'removed the genealogies, and all the other passages which show that the Lord was born of David according to the flesh.
And not only did the members of his party use this, but also those who followed the apostolic doctrines, not realizing the evil design of the composition, but quite simply using the book as being concise.'
This was probably the earliest form in which the Gospel reached the district of which Edessa was the literary centre.
A Greek fragment of the Diatessaron discovered at Dura in 1933 Was published by C. H. Kraeling.
A translation of the separate Gospels (Evangelion da-Mephallete), which we call the 'Old Syriac', was made (about AD 200), but it does not seem to have had much vogue, and remains to us only in two somewhat different manuscripts (see pp.386 f.).
The Diatessaron was completely put aside, first by Rabbula (411-35), who, though he continued quoting sometimes from older manuscripts, substituted in Edessa his own revision known as the Peshitta, containing the separate Gospels, and a rather larger Canon than had been recognized by the Syriac-speaking peoples; and secondly, by Theodoret of Cyrrhus (423-57), who 'swept up more than two hundred copies of it in the churches of his diocese, and introduced the four Gospels in their place' [Wright, Syriac Literature, p. 9.].
It would be wrong, however, to infer that the Peshitta completely displaced the Diatessaron, which was known in Armenia in the fifth century, or the older translation (s) of the separate Gospels.

Besides the Gospels he recognized some of St. Paul's epistles.
Jerome (Praef. in Tit.) says that he rejected some, but disagreed with Marcion and others in accepting Titus.