SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XII. EUSEBIUS, Hist. Eccles. iii. 25.


The Canon of the New Testament


Εὔλογον δ᾿ ἐνταῦθα γενομένους ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰς δηλωθείσας τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης γραφάς. καὶ δὴ τακτέον ἐν πρώτοις τὴν ἁγίαν τῶν εὐαγγελίων τετρακτύν, οἷς ἕπεται ἡ τῶν Πράξεων τῶν ἀποστόλων γραφή· μετὰ δὲ ταύτην τὰς Παύλου καταλεκτέον ἐπιστολάς, αἷς ἑξῆς τὴν φερομένην Ἰωάννου προτέραν καὶ ὁμοίως τὴν Πέτρου κυρωτέον ἐπιστολήν· ἐπὶ τούτοις τακτέον, εἴ γε φανείη, τὴν Ἀποκάλυψιν Ἰωάννου, περὶ ἧς τὰ δόξαντα κατὰ καιρὸν ἐκθησόμεθα. καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ἐν ὁμολογουμένοις· τῶν δ᾿ ἀντιλεγομένων, γνωρίμων δ᾿ οὖν ὅμως τοῖς πολλοῖς, ἡ λεγομένη Ἰακώβου φέρεται καὶ ἡ Ἰούδα ἥ τε Πέτρου δευτέρα ἐπιστολὴ καὶ ἡ ὀνομαζομένη δευτέρα καὶ τρίτη Ἰωάννου, εἴτε τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ τυγχάνουσαι εἴτε καὶ ἑτέρου ὁμωνύμου ἐκείνῳ. ἐν τοῖς νόθοις κατατετάχθω καὶ τῶν Παύλου Πράξεων ἡ γραφὴ ὅ τε λεγόμενος Ποιμὴν καὶ ἡ Ἀποκάλυψις Πέτρου καὶ πρὸς τούτοις ἡ φερομένη Βαρναβᾶ ἐπιστολὴ καὶ τῶν ἀποστόλων αἱ λεγόμεναι Διδαχαὶ ἔτι τε, ὡς ἔφην, ἡ Ἰωάννου Ἀποκάλυψις, εἰ φανείη· ἥν τινες, ὡς ἔφην, ἀθετοῦσιν, ἕτεροι δὲ ἐγκρίνουσιν τοῖς ὁμολογουμένοις. ἤδη δ᾿ ἐν τούτοις τινὲς καὶ τὸ καθ᾿ Ἑβραίους εὐαγγέλιον κατέλεξαν, ᾧ μάλιστα Ἑβραίων οἱ τὸν Χριστὸν παραδεξάμενοι χαίρουσιν. ταῦτα δὲ πάντα τῶν ἀντιλεγομένων ἂν εἴη, ἀναγκαίως δὲ καὶ τούτων ὅμως τὸν κατάλογον πεποιήμεθα, διακρίνοντες τάς τε κατὰ τὴν ἐκκλησιαστικὴν παράδοσιν ἀληθεῖς καὶ ἀπλάστους καὶ ἀνωμολογημένας γραφὰς καὶ τὰς ἄλλως παρὰ ταύτας, οὐκ ἐνδιαθήκους μὲν ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀντιλεγομένας, ὅμως δὲ παρὰ πλείστοις τῶν ἐκκλησιαστικῶν γινωσκομένας, ἵν᾿ εἰδέναι ἔχοιμεν αὐτάς τε ταύτας καὶ τὰς ὀνόματι τῶν ἀποστόλων πρὸς τῶν αἱρετικῶν προφερομένας ἤτοι ὡς Πέτρου καὶ Θωμᾶ καὶ Ματθία ἢ καί τινων παρὰ τούτους ἄλλων εὐαγγέλια περιεχούσας ἢ ὡς Ἀνδρέου καὶ Ἰωάννου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἀποστόλων πράξεις· ὧν οὐδὲν οὐδαμῶς ἐν συγγράμματι τῶν κατὰ τὰς διαδοχὰς ἐκκλησιαστικῶν τις ἀνὴρ εἰς μνήμην ἀγαγεῖν ἠξίωσεν, πόρρω δέ που καὶ ὁ τῆς φράσεως παρὰ τὸ ἦθος τὸ ἀποστολικὸν ἐναλλάττει χαρακτήρ, ἥ τε γνώμη καὶ ἡ τῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς φερομένων προαίρεσις πλεῖστον ὅσον τῆς ἀληθοῦς ὀρθοδοξίας ἀπᾴδουσα, ὅτι δὴ αἱρετικῶν ἀνδρῶν ἀναπλάσματα τυγχάνει, σαφῶς παρίστησιν· ὅθεν οὐδ᾿ ἐν νόθοις αὐτὰ κατατακτέον, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἄτοπα πάντῃ καὶ δυσσεβῆ παραιτητέον.

Now that we have reached this point, it is reasonable to sum up the writings of the New Testament already mentioned. Well, then, we must set in the first place the holy quaternion of the Gospels, which are followed by the writing of the Acts of the Apostles. After this we have to place on the list the Epistles of Paul; and next to these we must maintain the current Former Epistle of John, and likewise that of Peter. In addition to these we must set down, if it do seem right, the Apocalypse of John; but the opinions which have been held concerning this book we will set forth in due course. And these are counted as acknowledged. But of the disputed books, which are nevertheless familiar to most [writers], the so-called Epistle of James is current, and that of Jude; also the Second of Peter, and those called Second and Third of John, whether they be the work of the Evangelist, or possibly of some other John. Among the spurious we must set down the writing of the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter; and in addition to these the current Epistle of Barnabas, and the so called Teachings of the Apostles, and, moreover, as I said, the Apocalypse of John if it seem good; though some, as I said, reject it, while others include it in the acknowledged books. Some moreover have also counted in this class the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which is in especial honour with those of the Hebrews who have received the Christ. Now all these will belong to the disputed books. We have been obliged to include these also in our list notwithstanding [the doubts about them], distinguishing the writings which according to orthodox tradition are true and genuine and fully acknowledged, from the others outside their number, which are not canonical but disputed, yet recognized by most orthodox [writers], that we might be able to mark these books, and those put forward by the heretics in the name of the Apostles, whether as containing Gospels of Peter and Thomas and Matthias or also of others beside them, or as Acts of Andrew and John and the other Apostles – books of which no one of the succession of ecclesiastical [writers] ever condescended to make any mention in his writings. Moreover, the character of their language differs greatly from the apostolic spirit, and the sentiment and purpose of their contents, which is in the highest degree discordant with true orthodoxy, plainly shows that they are forgeries of heretics; so that we must not count them even among the spurious books, but reject them as in every way monstrous and impious.


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