From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

a word used to denote the authorized catalogue of the sacred writings. The word is originally Greek, κανων , and signifies a rule or standard, by which other things are to be examined and judged. Accordingly, the same word has been applied to the tongue of a balance, or that small part which, by its perpendicular position, determines the even poise or weight, or, by its inclination, either, way, the uneven poise of the things which are weighed. Hence it appears, that as the writings of the Prophets, Apostles, and Evangelists contain an authentic account of the revealed will of God, they are the rule of the belief and practice of those who receive them. Canon is also equivalent to a list or catalogue, in which are inserted those books which contain the rule of faith.

For an account of the settling of the canon of Scripture, see Bible. The following observations of Dr. Alexander, in his work on the canon, proving that no canonical book of the Old or New Testament has been lost, may here be properly introduced.—No canonical book of the Old Testament has been lost. On this subject, there has existed some diversity of opinion. Chrysostom is cited by Bellarmine as saying, "that many of the writings of the prophets had perished, which may readily be proved from the history in Chronicles. For the Jews were negligent, and not only negligent, but impious; so that some books were lost through carelessness, and others were burned, or otherwise destroyed." In confirmation of this opinion, an appeal is made to   1 Kings 4:32-33 , where it is said of Solomon, "that he spake three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes." All these productions, it is acknowledged, have perished. Again, it is said in  1 Chronicles 29:29-30 : "Now, the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer; with all his reign, and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries." The book of Jasher, also, is twice mentioned in Scripture. In  Joshua 10:13 : "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?" And in  2 Samuel 1:18 : "And he bade them teach the children of Israel the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher."

The book of the wars of the Lord is referred to in  Numbers 21:14 . But we have in the canon no books under the name of Nathan and Gad, nor any book of Jasher, nor of the wars of the Lord. Moreover, we frequently are referred, in the sacred history, to other chronicles or annals, for a fuller account of the matters spoken of, which chronicles are not now extant.

And in  2 Chronicles 9:29 , it is said, "Now, the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer, against Jeroboam, the son of Nebat?" Now, it is well known that none of these writings of the prophets are in the canon; at least, none of them under their names. It is said, also, in  2 Chronicles 12:15 , "Now, the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer, concerning genealogies?" Of which works nothing remains under the names of these prophets.

1. The first observation which may be made on this subject is, that every book referred to or quoted in the sacred writings is not necessarily an inspired or canonical book. Because St. Paul cites passages from the Greek poets, it does not follow that we must receive their poems as inspired.

2. A book may be written by an inspired man, and yet be neither inspired nor canonical. Inspiration was not constantly afforded to the prophets; but was occasional, and for particular important purposes. In common matters and especially in things no way connected with religion, it is reasonable to suppose that the Prophets and Apostles were left to the same guidance of reason and common sense as other men. A man, therefore, inspired to deliver some prophecy, or even to write a canonical book, might write other books with no greater assistance than other good men receive. Because Solomon was inspired to write some canonical books, it does not follow that what he wrote on natural history was also inspired, any more than Solomon's private letters to his friends, if ever he wrote any. Let it be remembered that the Prophets and Apostles were only inspired on special occasions, and on particular subjects, and all difficulties respecting such works as these will vanish. How many of the books referred to in the Bible, and mentioned above, may have been of this description, it is now impossible to tell; but probably several of them belong to this class. No doubt there were many books of annals much more minute and particular in the narration of facts than those which we have. It was often enough merely to refer to these state papers, or public documents, as being sufficiently correct, in regard to the facts on account of which the reference was made. The book of the wars of the Lord might, for aught that appears, have been merely a muster roll of the army. The word translated book has so extensive a meaning in Hebrew, that it is not even necessary to suppose that it was a writing at all. The book of Jasher (or of Rectitude. if we translate the word) might have been some useful compend taken from Scripture, or composed by the wise, for the regulation of justice and equity between man and man. Augustine, in his "City of God," has distinguished accurately on this subject. "I think," says he, "that those books which should have authority in religion were revealed by the Holy Spirit, and that men composed others by historical diligence, as the prophets did these by inspiration. And these two classes of books are so distinct, that it is only by those written by inspiration that we are to suppose that God, through them, is speaking unto us. The one class is useful for fulness of knowledge; the other, for authority in religion; in which authority the canon is preserved."

3. But again: it may be maintained, without any prejudice to the completeness of the canon, that there may have been inspired writings which were not intended for the instruction of the church in all ages, but composed by the prophets for some special occasion. These writings though inspired, were not canonical. They were temporary in their design; and when that was accomplished, they were no longer needed. We know that the prophets delivered, by inspiration, many discourses to the people, of which we have not a trace on record. Many true prophets are mentioned, who wrote nothing that we know of; and several are mentioned, whose names are not even given. The same is true of the Apostles. Very few of them had any concern in writing the canonical Scriptures, and yet they all possessed plenary inspiration. And if they wrote letters on special occasions, to the churches planted by them; yet these were not designed for the perpetual instruction of the universal church. Therefore, Shemaiah, and Iddo, and Nathan, and Gad, might have written some things by inspiration which were never intended to form a part of the sacred volume. It is not asserted that there certainly existed such temporary inspired writings: all that is necessary to be maintained is, that, supposing such to have existed, which is not improbable, it does not follow that the canon is incomplete by reason of their loss.

4. The last remark in relation to the books of the Old Testament supposed to be lost is, that it is highly probable that we have several of them now in the canon, under another name. The books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, were, probably, not written by one, but by a succession of prophets. There is reason to believe that, until the canon of sacred Scripture was closed, the succession of prophets was never interrupted. Whatever was necessary to be added, by way of explanation, to any book already received into the canon, they were competent to annex; or, whatever annals or histories it was the purpose of God to have transmitted to posterity, they would be directed and inspired to prepare. Thus, different parts of these books might have been penned by Gad, Nathan, Iddo, Shemaiah, &c. That some parts of these histories were prepared by prophets, we have clear proof in one instance; for Isaiah has inserted in his prophecy several chapters which are contained in 2 Kings, and which, I think, there can be no doubt were originally written by himself. The Jewish doctors are of opinion that the book of Jasher is one of the books of the Pentateuch, or the whole law. The book of the wars of the Lord has by many been supposed to be no other than the book of Numbers.

Thus, it sufficiently appears from an examination of particulars, that there exists no evidence that any canonical book of the Old Testament has been lost. To which we may add, that there are many general considerations of great weight which go to prove that no part of the Scriptures of the Old Testament has been lost. The translation of these books into Greek is sufficient to show that the same books existed nearly two hundred years before the advent of Christ. And, above all, the unqualified testimony to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, by Christ and his Apostles, ought to satisfy us that we have lost none of the inspired books of the canon. The Scriptures are constantly referred to, and quoted as infallible authority by them, as we have before shown. These oracles were committed to the Jews as a sacred deposit, and they are never charged with unfaithfulness in this trust. The Scriptures are declared to have been written "for our learning;" and no intimation is given that they had ever been mutilated, or in any degree corrupted.

As to the New Testament, the same author proceeds: With respect to the New Testament, I am ready to concede, as was before done, that there may have been books written by inspired men that have been lost: for inspiration was occasional, not constant; and confined to matters of faith, and not afforded on the affairs of this life, or in matters of mere science. And if such writings have been lost, the canon of Scripture has suffered no more by this means, than by the loss of any other uninspired books. But again: I am willing to go farther, and say that it is possible (although I know no evidence of the fact) that some things, written under the influence of inspiration, for a particular, occasion, and to rectify some disorder in a particular church, may have been lost, without injury to the canon. For, since much that the Apostles preached by inspiration is undoubtedly lost, so there is no reason why every word which they wrote must necessarily be preserved, and form a part of the canonical volume. For example: suppose that when St. Paul said, "I wrote to you in an epistle not to company with fornicators,"  1 Corinthians 5:9 , he referred to an epistle which he had written to the Corinthians, before the one now called the First; it might never have been intended that this letter should form a constituent part of the canon; for although it treated of subjects connected with Christian faith or practice, yet, an occasion having arisen, in a short time, of treating these subjects more at large, every thing in that epistle (supposing it ever to have been written) may have been included in the two Epistles to the Corinthians which are now in the canon.

1. The first argument to prove that no canonical book has been lost, is derived from the watchful care of providence over the sacred Scriptures. Now, to suppose that a book written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and intended to form a part of the canon, which is the rule of faith to the church, should be utterly and irrecoverably lost, is surely not very honourable to the wisdom of God, and in no way consonant with the ordinary method of his dispensations, in regard to his precious truth. There is good reason to think that, if God saw it needful, and for the edification of the church, that such books should be written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by his providence he would have taken care to preserve them from destruction. We do know that this treasure of divine truth has been, in all ages, and in the worst times, the special care of God, or not one of the sacred books would now be in existence. And if one canonical book might be lost through the negligence or unfaithfulness of men, why not all? And thus the end of God, in making a revelation of his will, might have been defeated. But whatever other corruptions have crept into the Jewish or Christian churches, it does not appear that either of them, as a body, ever incurred the censure of having been careless in preserving the oracles of God. Our Saviour never charges the Jews, who perverted the sacred Scriptures to their own ruin, with having lost any portion of the sacred deposit intrusted to them. History informs us of the fierce and malignant design of Antiochus Epiphanes, to abolish every vestige of the sacred volume; but the same history assures us that the Jewish people manifested a heroic fortitude and invincible patience in resisting and defeating his impious purpose. They chose rather to sacrifice their lives, and suffer a cruel death, than to deliver up the copies of the sacred volume in their possession. And the same spirit was manifested, and with the same result, in the Dioclesian persecution of the Christians. Every effort was made to obliterate the sacred writings of Christians; and multitudes suffered death for refusing to deliver up the New Testament. Some, indeed, overcome by the terrors of a cruel persecution, did, in the hour of temptation, consent to surrender the holy book; but they were ever afterward called traitors; and it was with the utmost difficulty that any of them could be received again into the communion of the church, after a long repentance, and the most humbling confessions of their fault. Now, if any canonical book was ever lost, it must have been in these early times, when the word of God was valued far above life, and when every Christian stood ready to seal the truth with his blood.

2. Another argument which appears to me to be convincing is, that in a little time, all the sacred books were dispersed over the whole world. If a book had, by some accident or violence, been destroyed in one region, the loss could soon have been repaired, by sending for copies to other countries. The considerations just mentioned would, I presume, be satisfactory to all candid minds, were it not that it is supposed that there is evidence that some things were written by the Apostles which are not now in the canon. We have already referred to an epistle to the Corinthians, which St. Paul is supposed to have written to them, previously to the writing of those which we now possess. But it is by no means certain, or even probable, that St. Paul ever did write such an epistle; for not one ancient writer makes the least mention of any such letter, nor is there any where to be found any citation from it, or any reference to it. It is a matter of testimony, in which all the fathers concur, as with one voice, that St. Paul wrote no more than fourteen epistles, all of which we now have. But still, St. Paul's own declaration stands in the way of our opinion "I wrote to you in an epistle,"   1 Corinthians 5:9;  1 Corinthians 5:11 . The words in the original are, ‘Εγραψα υμιν εν τη επιστολη : the literal, version of which is, "I have written to you in the epistle," or "in this epistle;" that is, in the former part of it; where, in fact, we find the very thing which he says that he had written. See  1 Corinthians 5:2;  1 Corinthians 5:5-6 . But it is thought by learned and judicious commentators, that the words following, Νυνι δε εγραψα

υμιν , But now I have written unto you," require that we should understand the former clause, as relating to some former time; but a careful attention to the context will convince us that this reference is by no means necessary. The Apostle had told them in the beginning of the chapter, to avoid the company of fornicators, &c; but it is manifest, from the tenth verse, that he apprehended that his meaning might be misunderstood, by extending the prohibition too far, so as to decline all intercourse with the world; therefore, he repeats what he had said, and informs them that it had relation only to the professors of Christianity, who should be guilty of such vices. The whole may be thus paraphrased: "I wrote to you above in my letter, that you should separate from those who were fornicators, and that you should purge them out as did leaven; but, fearing lest you should misapprehend my meaning, by inferring that I have directed you to avoid all intercourse with the Heathen around you, who are addicted to these shameful vices, which would make it necessary that you should go out of the world, I now inform you that my meaning is, that you do not associate familiarly with any who make a profession of Christianity, and yet continue in these evil practices." In confirmation of this interpretation, we can adduce the old Syriac version, which, having been made soon after the days of the Apostles, is good testimony in relation to this matter of fact. In this venerable version, the meaning of the eleventh verse is thus given: "This is what I have written unto you," or, "the meaning of what I have written unto you."

The only other passage in the New Testament which has been thought to refer to an epistle of St. Paul not now extant, is that in  Colossians 4:16 : "And when this epistle is read among you, cause also that it be read in the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." But what evidence is there that St. Paul ever wrote an epistle to the Laodiceans? The text on which this opinion has been founded, in ancient and modern times, correctly interpreted, has no such import. The words in the original are, και την εκ Λαοδικειας ινα και υμεις

αναγνωτε , "and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea,"

 Colossians 4:16 . These words have been differently taken; for, by them some understand that an epistle had been written by St. Paul to the Laodiceans, which he desired might be read in the church at Colosse. Chrysostom seems to have understood them thus; and the Romish writers almost universally have adopted this opinion. "Therefore," says Bellarmine, "it is certain that St. Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans is now lost." And their opinion is favoured by the Latin Vulgate, where we read, eamque Laodicensium, "that which is of the Laodiceans;" but even these words admit of another construction. Many learned Protestants, also, have embraced the same interpretation; while others suppose that St. Paul here refers to the epistle to the Ephesians, which they think he sent to the Laodiceans, and that the present inscription is spurious. But that neither of these opinions is correct, may be rendered very probable. That St. Paul could not intend, by the language used in the passage under consideration, an epistle written by himself, will appear by the following arguments:

(1.) St. Paul could not, with any propriety of speech, have called an epistle written by himself, and sent to the Laodiceans, an epistle from Laodicea. He certainly would have said, προς Λαοδικειαν , [to Laodicea,] or some such thing. Who ever heard of an epistle addressed to any individual, or to any society, denominated an epistle from them?

(2.) If the epistle referred to in this passage had been one written by St. Paul, it would have been most natural for him to call it his epistle; and this would have rendered his meaning incapable of misconstruction.

(3.) All those best qualified to judge of the fact, and who were well acquainted with St. Paul's history and writings, never mention any such epistle: neither Clement, Hermas, nor the Syriac interpreter, knew any thing of such an epistle of St. Paul.

But it may be asked, To what epistle, then, does St. Paul refer? It seems safest in such a case, where testimony is deficient, to follow the literal sense of the words, and to believe that it was an epistle written by the Laodiceans, probably to himself, which he had sent to the Colossians, together with his own epistle, for their perusal.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

According to the word’s early usages, a canon was a rule, standard, measure or list. According to popular Christian usage, the ‘canon’ of Scripture is that collection of writings that the church acknowledges as the authoritative Word of God. In other words, it is the list of books that make up the Bible. It consists of the Old Testament canon, which had become established during the centuries before the time of Christ, and the New Testament canon, which became established during the early centuries of the Christian era.

Canonical books are those acknowledged as being written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (see Inspiration ). Non-canonical books are religious books of the biblical era that are not acknowledged as being the inspired Word of God and have therefore not been collected in the Bible. They may be useful, and may even be referred to by the writers of the Bible (e.g.  Numbers 21:14;  Joshua 10:13;  1 Chronicles 29:29;  Judges 1:9;  Judges 1:14), but they have no divine authority.

Israelite writers

From the beginning of their history as a nation, Israelites kept written accounts of their law and significant events in their history ( Exodus 24:4;  Numbers 33:2;  Joshua 24:26;  1 Kings 11:41). Some of these writings were regarded as sacred and were kept at Israel’s sanctuary ( Deuteronomy 31:24-26;  2 Kings 22:8). Others were used as sources of information for the writing of books that later became part of the Bible ( 1 Kings 14:19;  1 Kings 15:7;  2 Chronicles 9:29;  2 Chronicles 12:15;  2 Chronicles 20:34).

While some people made written records of laws and events, others made collections of proverbs and psalms ( 1 Kings 4:32;  Psalms 72:20;  Proverbs 25:1). In addition prophets often wrote down their messages ( Isaiah 30:8;  Isaiah 34:16;  Jeremiah 36:2;  Jeremiah 51:60) and people who recognized these messages as God’s Word quoted them as authoritative ( Jeremiah 26:17-18;  Daniel 9:2).

The Old Testament collection

Under the guiding control of God, a recognized body of sacred writings was growing up in Israel. However, the formation of an official canon was not something that people planned. No person or group of persons decided to make an Old Testament canon. From the time of Moses people had clearly recognized certain writings as being the voice of God speaking to them, and as the years passed the collection of authoritative books grew. No one gave the books their authority. The books had authority within themselves, and people could do no more than acknowledge this.

No one knows for certain when the collection of sacred writings that we call the Old Testament was completed, but there are good reasons for thinking that Ezra and Nehemiah helped shape it towards its final form. They had come to Jerusalem in 458 and 445 BC respectively ( Ezra 7:1-10;  Nehemiah 2:1-8), and played an important part in establishing the sacred writings as the basis of Israel’s religious life in the post-captivity period ( Nehemiah 8:1-3;  Nehemiah 8:8;  Nehemiah 9:1-3). Leaders of following generations probably completed the work that Ezra and Nehemiah had begun.

It seems clear that the Jewish canon (i.e. our Old Testament) was firmly established by the time of Christ ( Matthew 21:42;  Luke 24:27;  John 5:39). Towards the end of the first century AD a council of Jewish leaders confirmed that Jews recognized these books, and no others, as canonical. (For the composition of the Old Testament see Scriptures . For the authority of the Old Testament canon that Jesus and New Testament writers acknowledged see Inspiration .)

Apocryphal writings

The third and second centuries BC produced many new Jewish writings. Some of these were vividly written and therefore were very popular, particularly in an age when great changes were occurring in the Jewish world. But their popularity did not give them authority, and they were never accepted into the Jewish canon.

These non-canonical books are in two groups. One group is known as the Apocrypha (literally, ‘hidden’, but meaning ‘disapproved’ or ‘outside’; i.e. outside the canon). The other group is known as the Pseudepigrapha (meaning ‘written under a false name’). In popular usage, ‘Apocrypha’ often refers to the two groups together. Early Christians may have read the books (e.g.  Judges 1:9;  Judges 1:14), but they did not regard them as Scripture.

Early Christian writings

In the early days of the church, the ‘Bible’ that the Christians used was what we call the Old Testament ( Luke 24:27;  Luke 24:44;  Acts 8:32;  Acts 17:2;  Acts 17:11;  Romans 1:2;  Romans 4:3;  Romans 9:17;  2 Timothy 3:15-16). But with the coming of Jesus, Christians saw that God’s revelation did not end with the Old Testament.

Jesus had promised the apostles that after he returned to his Father, the Holy Spirit would come to indwell them, enabling them to recall, interpret and apply his teachings ( John 14:25-26;  John 16:13-15). The writings of the New Testament are part of the fulfilment of that promise. Apostles had God-given authority, and Christians recognized their teachings and writings as having the same authority as the Old Testament Scriptures ( 1 Corinthians 14:37;  1 Thessalonians 5:27;  2 Thessalonians 2:15;  2 Thessalonians 3:14;  2 Peter 3:2;  Revelation 1:1-3).

A growing collection

As the writings of the apostles circulated, they gradually grew into a new collection in addition to, yet equal to, the Old Testament collection ( 2 Peter 3:15-16). It seems that when the early Christians evaluated the worth of the writings available to them, an important consideration was whether those writings came from the apostles or those who had the apostles’ approval. The Gospels, the letters of Paul, the book of Acts, and the letters 1 Peter and 1 John were accepted everywhere as authoritative from the time they began to circulate.

During the latter part of the first century and the early part of the second, a number of other Christian writings were circulating widely. Some of these were useful, but they were not accepted by the churches as authoritative. In time Christians in general acknowledged that these writings were not inspired Scripture, with the result that they were excluded from the developing New Testament canon.

On the other hand people in some regions took longer to accept all the writings that are now part of the New Testament. Although a particular church or group of churches may have accepted an apostolic letter as having authority for them, churches elsewhere may not have immediately seen the relevance of the letter for all churches. No doubt there were many letters which, though having apostolic authority, were not preserved ( 1 Corinthians 5:9

Completion of the canon

By the middle of the second century, churches in some places had a collection of books approximately equal to the present New Testament. But in other places people still had doubts about a small minority of books.

The damaging activity of false teachers was one factor that prompted church leaders to consider more closely which books were to be regarded as canonical and which were not. Church Councils met to discuss the matter at length, and by the end of the fourth century there was general agreement that the New Testament canon consists of the twenty-seven books that we recognize today.

Church Councils may have performed a useful service, but they could give no authority to the biblical books. The authority lay within the books themselves. They were the living Word of God ( John 7:17;  1 Thessalonians 2:13), and the Councils could do no more than acknowledge that authority. They did not create the canon, but merely acknowledged that Christians and churches everywhere recognized the books as being God’s inspired and authoritative Word.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): (n.) The largest size of type having a specific name; - so called from having been used for printing the canons of the church.

(2): (n.) A catalogue of saints acknowledged and canonized in the Roman Catholic Church.

(3): (n.) A member of a cathedral chapter; a person who possesses a prebend in a cathedral or collegiate church.

(4): (n.) A musical composition in which the voices begin one after another, at regular intervals, successively taking up the same subject. It either winds up with a coda (tailpiece), or, as each voice finishes, commences anew, thus forming a perpetual fugue or round. It is the strictest form of imitation. See Imitation.

(5): (n.) See Carom.

(6): (n.) The part of a bell by which it is suspended; - called also ear and shank.

(7): (n.) In monasteries, a book containing the rules of a religious order.

(8): (n.) The collection of books received as genuine Holy Scriptures, called the sacred canon, or general rule of moral and religious duty, given by inspiration; the Bible; also, any one of the canonical Scriptures. See Canonical books, under Canonical, a.

(9): (n.) A law or rule.

(10): (n.) A law, or rule of doctrine or discipline, enacted by a council and confirmed by the pope or the sovereign; a decision, regulation, code, or constitution made by ecclesiastical authority.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

The Old Testament Canon is witnessed to by the New Testament writers. Their evidence is conclusive. The quotations in the New from the Old are very numerous, and the references are much more numerous. These quotations and references by our Lord and the apostles most clearly imply the existence at that time of a well-known and publicly acknowledged collection of Hebrew writings under the designation of "The Scriptures;" "The Law and the Prophets and the Psalms;" "Moses and the Prophets," etc. The appeals to these books, moreover, show that they were regarded as of divine authority, finally deciding all questions of which they treat; and that the whole collection so recognized consisted only of the thirty-nine books which we now posses. Thus they endorse as genuine and authentic the canon of the Jewish Scriptures. The Septuagint Version (q.v.) also contained every book we now have in the Old Testament Scriptures. As to the time at which the Old Testament canon was closed, there are many considerations which point to that of Ezra and Nehemiah, immediately after the return from Babylonian exile. (See Bible, Ezra, Quotations .)

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

The Greek word denotes, primarily, a straight rod; hence a rule or standard, by a reference to which the rectitude of opinions or actions may be decided. In the latter sense it is used in  Galatians 6:16   Philippians 3:16 . In the same sense it was used by the Greek fathers. As the standard to which they sought to appeal on all questions was the will of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, they came naturally to apply this term to the collective body of those writings, and to speak of them as the canon or rule. Canon is also equivalent to a list of catalogue, in which are inserted those books which contain the inspired rule of faith.

In order to establish the canon of Scripture, it must be shown that all the books are of divine authority; that they are entire and incorrupt; that it is complete without addition from any foreign source; and that the whole of the books for which divine authority can be proved are included. See Bible .

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [6]

See Canon Of The Bible

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [7]

Ca´non. This word was frequently employed to denote a rule or standard, by a reference to which the rectitude of opinions or actions may be determined; and as the great standard in all matters of faith and duty was the revealed will of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the term came insensibly to be applied to the collective body of those writings which were designated the Canon or Rule.

The Canon then may be defined to be 'The Authoritative Standard of Religion and Morals, composed of those writings which have been given for this purpose by God to men.'

According to this definition, in order to establish the Canon of Scripture, it is necessary to show that all the books of which it is composed are of divine authority; that they are entire and incorrupt; that, having them, it is complete without any addition from any other source; and that it comprises the whole of those books for which divine authority can be proved. It is obvious that, if any of these four particulars be not true, Scripture cannot be the sole and supreme standard of religious truth and duty.

Respecting the evidence by which the Canon is thus to be established, there exists considerable difference of opinion amongst Christians. Some contend, with the Catholics, that the authoritative decision of the Church is alone competent to determine the Canon; others appeal to the concurrent testimony of the Jewish and early Christian writers: and others rest their strongest reliance on the internal evidence furnished by the books of Scripture themselves. We cannot say that we are satisfied with any of these sources of evidence exclusively. As Michaelis remarks, the first is one to which no consistent Protestant can appeal, for the matter to be determined is of such a kind, that, unless we grant the Church to be infallible, it is quite possible that she may at any given period of her existence determine erroneously; and one sees not why the question may not be as successfully investigated by a private individual as by the Church. The concurrent testimony of the ancient witnesses is invaluable so far as it goes; but it may be doubted if it be sufficient of itself to settle this question, for the question is not entirely one of facts, and testimony is good proof only for facts. As for the internal evidence, one needs only look at the havoc which Semler and his school have made of the Canon, to be satisfied that where doctrinal considerations are allowed to determine exclusively such questions, each man will extend or extruncate the Canon so as to adjust it to the Procrustean couch of his own preconceived notions. As the question is one partly of fact and partly of opinion, the appropriate grounds of decision will be best secured by a combination of authentic testimony with the evidence supplied by the books themselves. We want to know that these books were really written by the persons whose names they bear; we want to be satisfied that these persons were commonly reputed and held by their contemporaries to be assisted by the divine spirit in what they wrote; and we want to be sure that care was taken by those to whom their writings were first addressed, that these should be preserved entire and uncorrupt. For all this we must appeal to the testimony of competent witnesses, as the only suitable evidence for such matters. But after we have ascertained these points affirmatively, we still require to be satisfied that the books themselves contain nothing obviously incompatible with the ascription to their authors of the divine assistance, but, on the contrary, are in all respects favorable to this supposition. We want to see that they are in harmony with each other; that the statements they contain are credible; that the doctrines they teach are not foolish, immoral, or self-contradictory; that their authors really assumed to be under the divine direction in what they wrote, and afforded competent proofs of this to those around them: and that all the circumstances of the case, such as the style of the writers, the allusions made by them to places and events, etc., are in keeping with the conclusion to which the external evidence has already led. In this way we advance to a complete moral proof of the divine authority and canonical claims of the sacred writings.

The books specified as canonical in the 6th Article of the Church of England, and the 1st of the Confession of the Church of Scotland, are received as such by the majority of Protestants. To these the Church of Rome adds, as part of the Old Testament, ten other books, or parts of books, which Protestants reject as Apocryphal [APOCRYPHA]. For the evidence in support of the genuineness and divine authority of those books universally regarded by Christians as canonical, taken individually, we may refer to the articles we find them in use almost on all in this work under the titles of these books respectively.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(from Κανών , or Canna1 a straight reed used for ruling lines), in ecclesiastical usage, is (1) A rule ( Galatians 6:6) ordained by the Fathers; a constitution of the Church. (2) The creed, as the criterion for distinguishing a Christian; the "rule of faith" of Tertullian, Irenueus, and Jerome. (3) A clerk who observes the apostles' rule, or fellowship ( Acts 2:42); one borne on the list, or canon of a cathedral or collegiate church, as the term is used by the councils of Nice and Antioch, and bound to observe its: statutes or canons, and the rule of a good and honest life. Hence, in later times, when the names of benefactors were inserted in the rolls or canons of numberless communities, the popes confined the term canonization to those whom they admitted to the title of saint. The word is one of rank and precedence, and should be prefixed in addressing a prebendary. Canons are primarii among all others of the clergy of the city or diocese. The name is attributed to pope Pelagius or Gregory, and was certainly common in the reign of Charlemagne; in the 6th century it designated all clergy on the Church register affording a perfect example of liturgical obedience, and receiving a canonical portion a regular annual pension -out of its revenues. This list is called Album by Sidonius Apollinarius; Matricula by the Council of Nice; and by Augustine the Table of Clerks.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [9]

The name given to the body of Scripture accepted by the Church as of divine authority.