Last Section on New Testament Canon

We will look at translations in future posts, but for now let’s finish the story of how the New Testament was put together:

By the last half of the second century, substantial lists of the New Testament books appeared. One of the earliest lists contains all the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and perhaps 3 John. From the very first time that books of the New Testament are mentioned, the four Gospels we currently have (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were always included; no other collections of Jesus sayings (for example, the Gospel of Thomas) were ever mentioned. In the third century, a church father, Origen, listed the four Gospels we know. He seemed hesitant about Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John. By the mid-300s A.D. the 27 books of the New Testament we have today were accepted. Again, just a reminder that the disputed books were questioned, not because they taught some odd doctrine but, especially in several instances, because they were not well-known and widely circulated in all church areas. Like the Old Testament writings, the New Testament books do not depend upon the decision of the church or a council of bishops. Any council that did meet simply recognized what had been accepted by the church with a growing conviction over several hundred  years.