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What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?

by Michael J. Kruger

In the study of the New Testament canon, scholars like to highlight the first time we see a complete list of 27 books. Inevitably, the list contained in Athanasius’ famous Festal Letter (c.367) is mentioned as the first time this happened.

As a result, it is often claimed that the New Testament was a late phenomenon. We didn’t have a New Testament, according to Athanasius, until the end of the fourth century.

But, this sort of reasoning is problematic on a number of levels. First, we don’t measure the existence of the New Testament just by the existence of lists. When we examine the way certain books were used by the early church fathers, it is evident that there was a functioning canon long before the fourth century. Indeed, by the second century, there is already a “core” collection of New Testament books functioning as Scripture.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

 

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