A Brief History of the Canon By Robert Gorelik
The word ‘canon’ has come into our language (through Latin) from the Greek word kanôn. In Greek it meant a rod, especially a straight rod used as a rule; from this usage comes the other meaning which the word commonly bears in English—’rule’ or ‘standard’ … but a straight rod used as a rule might be marked in units of length (like a modern ruler marked in inches or centimeters); from this practice, the Greek word kanôn came to be used of the series of such marks, and hence to be used in the general sense of a ‘series’ or ‘list.’ It is this last usage that underlies the term ‘the canon of Scripture.’
Therefore, it does not refer to a single Book, but to a collection of works (or books), written (or spoken) by many different authors over a period of a thousand years, collected, treasured, considered authoritative and therefore used as a "rule" for living in subsequent generations.
The question to be examined in this class is: how did these documents, and these only, come to receive this recognition? Who, if anyone, decided that these, and no others, should be admitted to the list of the Holy Scriptures, and what were the criteria which influenced this decision?
Our objective is to understand how both the Hebrew Bible and the Apostolic Writings came "to be". And, to learn something about the role of Oral Tradition, the exacting work of Scribes and Inspiration in the process.
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