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The Muratorian fragment, also known as the Muratorian Canon or Canon Muratori, is a copy of perhaps the oldest known list of most of the books of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
. The fragment, consisting of 85 lines, is a 7th-century
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
manuscript bound in a 7th- or 8th-century
codex The codex (plural codices ()) was the historical ancestor of the modern book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or i ...

codex
from the library of
Columbanus Columbanus ( ga, Columbán; 540 – 21 November 615) was an Hiberno-Scottish mission, Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monastery, monasteries after 590 in the Franks, Frankish and Lombards, Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeui ...
's monastery at
Bobbio Abbey Bobbio Abbey (Italian: ''Abbazia di San Colombano'') is a monastery founded by Irish Saint Columbanus Columbanus ( ga, Columbán, 540 – 21 November 615) was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries after 590 in the ...
; it contains features suggesting it is a translation from a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
original written about 170 or as late as the
4th century The 4th century (per the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in Crisis of the ...
. Both the degraded condition of the manuscript and the poor Latin in which it was written have made it difficult to translate. The beginning of the fragment is missing, and it ends abruptly. The fragment consists of all that remains of a section of a list of all the works that were accepted as
canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geo ...
by the churches known to its original compiler. It was discovered in the
Ambrosian Library The Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a historic library in Milan, Italy, also housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Ambrosian art gallery. Named after Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, it was founded in 1609 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, whose agents ...

Ambrosian Library
in
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

Milan
by Father
Ludovico Antonio Muratori Lodovico Antonio Muratori (21 October 1672 – 23 January 1750) was an Italian historian, notable as a leading scholar of his age, and for his discovery of the Muratorian fragment, the earliest known list of New Testament books. Born to a poor ...

Ludovico Antonio Muratori
(1672–1750), the most famous Italian historian of his generation, and published in 1740. The definitive formation of the New Testament canon did not occur until 367, when bishop
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
in his annual
Easter letterThe Festal Letters or Easter Letters are a series of annual letters by which the Bishops of Alexandria, in conformity with a decision of the First Council of Nicaea, announced the date on which Easter Easter,Traditional names for the feast in ...
composed the list that is still recognised today as the canon of 27 books. However, it would take several more centuries of debates until agreement on Athanasius' canon had been reached within all of Christendom.


Characteristics

The text of the list itself is traditionally dated to about 170 because its author refers to
Pius I Pope Pius I was the tenth bishop of Rome from 140 to his death 154, according to the ''Annuario Pontificio''. His dates are listed as 142 or 146 to 157 or 161, respectively. He is considered to have opposed both the Valentinians and Gnostics dur ...

Pius I
,
bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...
(140—155), as recent:
But Hermas wrote ''The Shepherd'' "most recently in our time", in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome. And therefore it ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church either among the Prophets, whose number is complete, or among the Apostles, for it is after their time.
The document contains a list of the books of the New Testament, a similar list concerning the Old Testament having apparently preceded it. It is in barbarous Latin which has probably been translated from original Greek—the language prevailing in Christian Rome until c. 200.
Bruce Metzger Bruce Manning Metzger (February 9, 1914 – February 13, 2007) was an American biblical scholar, Bible translator and textual critic who was a long time professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of th ...
has advocated the traditional dating, as has Charles E. Hill. This is no longer a universally agreed dating, however: in 2003, one Biblical historian noted that "both this early dating and the Roman origin of the Muratorian canon list have been strongly challenged" and claimed that "it is now widely regarded as a fourth-century list of eastern origin". ; see Hahneman, Geoffrey Mark. ''The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon.'' (Oxford: Clarendon) 1992 or Sundberg, Albert C., Jr.
Canon Muratori: A Fourth Century List
in ''Harvard Theological Review'' 66 (1973): 1–41.
The unidentified author accepts four
Gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Te ...

Gospel
s, the last two of which are Luke and
John John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) * John (surname), including a list of people who have the name John John may also refer to: New Testament Works ...
, but the names of the first two at the beginning of the list are missing. Scholars find it highly likely that the missing two gospels are Matthew and
Mark Mark may refer to: Currency * Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark The Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (Bosnian Bosnian may refer to: *Anything related to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina or its inhabitants *Anything related to Bo ...
, although this remains uncertain. Also accepted by the author are the " Acts of all Apostles" and 13 of the
Pauline Epistles The Pauline epistles, also known as Epistles of Paul or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen books of the New Testament attributed to Paul the Apostle, although the authorship of some is in dispute. Among these epistles are some of the earliest extant ...
(the
Epistle to the Hebrews The Epistle to the Hebrews, or Letter to the Hebrews, or in the Greek manuscripts, simply To the Hebrews (Πρὸς Ἑβραίους, ''Pros Hebraious'') is one of the books of the New Testament. The text does not mention the name of its author ...

Epistle to the Hebrews
is not mentioned in the fragment). The author considers spurious the letters claiming to have
Paul Paul may refer to: *Paul (name), a given name (includes a list of people with that name) *Paul (surname), a list of people People Christianity *Paul the Apostle (AD 5–67), also known as Saul of Tarsus or Saint Paul, early Christian missionar ...
as author that are ostensibly addressed to the Laodiceans and to the Alexandrians. Of these he says they are "forged in Paul's name to urtherthe heresy of
Marcion Marcion of Sinope (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; 85 – c. 160) was an Diversity in early Christian theology, early Christian theologian, an Evangelism, evangelist, and an important figure in early Christianity. Marcion preached that the benevo ...

Marcion
." Of the
General epistles The catholic epistles (also called the general epistlesEncarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. "katholieke brieven". Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum.) are seven epistles of the New Testament. Listed in order of their appearance in t ...
, the author accepts the
Epistle of Jude The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Chris ...
and says that two epistles "bearing the name of John are counted in the catholic church"; 1 and
2 Peter The Second Epistle of Peter, often referred to as Second Peter and written 2 Peter or in Roman numerals II Peter (especially in older references), is a book of the New Testament of the Bible, traditionally held to have been written by the Apostl ...
and
James James is a common English language surname and given name: * James (name), the typically masculine first name James * James (surname), various people with the last name James James or James City may also refer to: People * King James (disambiguati ...
are not mentioned in the fragment. It is clear that the author assumed that the author of the Gospel of John was the same as the author of the First Epistle of John, for in the middle of discussing the Gospel of John he says "what marvel then is it that John brings forward these several things so constantly ''in his epistles also,'' saying in his own person, "What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears, and our hands have handled that have we written," (1 John 1:1) which is a quotation from the
First Epistle of John The First Epistle of John, often referred to as First John and written 1 John or I John, is the first of the Johannine epistles of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la ...
. It is not clear whether the other
epistle An epistle (; el, ἐπιστολή, ''epistolē,'' "letter") is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic Didacticism is a philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qual ...
in question is
2 John The Second Epistle of John, often referred to as Second John and often written 2 John or II John, is a book of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) ...
or
3 John The Third Epistle of John, often referred to as Third John and written 3 John or III John, is the third-to-last book of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testament ...
. Another indication that the author identified the Gospel writer John with two epistles bearing John's name is that when he specifically addresses the epistles of John, he writes, "the Epistle of Jude indeed, and the two belonging to ''the above mentioned John.''" In other words, he thinks that these letters were written by the John whom he has already discussed, namely John the gospel writer. He gives no indication that he considers the John of the Apocalypse to be a different John from the author of the Gospel of John. Indeed, by calling the author of the
Apocalypse of John The Book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John, Revelation to John or Revelation from Jesus Christ) is the final book of the New Testament, and consequently is also the final book of the Christian Bible. Its title is derived fro ...
the "predecessor" of Paul, who, he assumes, wrote to seven churches (Rev 2–3) before Paul wrote to seven churches ines 48–50 he most likely has in mind the gospel writer, since he assumes that the writer of the Gospel of John was an eyewitness disciple who knew Jesus, and thus preceded Paul who joined the church only a few years after Jesus' death (Acts 9). In addition to receiving the
Apocalypse of John The Book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John, Revelation to John or Revelation from Jesus Christ) is the final book of the New Testament, and consequently is also the final book of the Christian Bible. Its title is derived fro ...
into the church canon, the author remarks that they also receive the ''Apocalypse of Peter'', although "some of us will not allow the latter to be read in church" ine 72 However, it is not certain whether this refers to the '''' or the quite different '' Coptic Apocalypse of Peter'', the latter of which, unlike the former, was
Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Judaism, Jewish and Early Christianity, early Christian sects. These ...
. The author also includes the
Book of Wisdom The Book of Wisdom, or the Wisdom of Solomon, is a Jewish work written in Greek and most likely composed in Alexandria, Egypt. Generally dated to the mid first century BC, the central theme of the work is "Wisdom" itself, appearing under two prin ...
, "written by the friends of
Solomon Solomon (; he, , ), ''Šlēmūn''; : سُلَيْمَان ', also : ' or '; el, Σολομών ''Solomōn''; : Salomon) also called Jedidiah (, ), was, according to the and Christian , a fabulously wealthy and wise monarch of the who suc ...

Solomon
in his honour" ine 70ref name="bible-researcher.com"/> in the canon.


Comparison


References


Sources

* According t
''The Catholic Encyclopaedia'' ("Muratorian Canon")
lines of the Muratorian fragment are preserved in "some other manuscripts", including codices of Paul's Epistles at the abbey of
Monte Cassino Monte Cassino (today usually spelled Montecassino) is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of ...

Monte Cassino
.


Further reading

* Metzger, Bruce M., 1987. ''The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance''. (Clarendon Press. Oxford) * Jonathan J. Armstrong, "Victorinus of Pettau as the Author of the Canon Muratori," ''Vigiliae Christianae'', 62,1 (2008), pp 1–34. *''
Anchor Bible Dictionary '' in Portsall, north-west Brittany, France An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, used to connect a Watercraft, vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind Wind is the flow of gases on a ...

Anchor Bible Dictionary
'' *Bruce, F.F. ''The Canon of Scripture.'' Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988. *Verheyden, J., "The Canon Muratori: A Matter of dispute," Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium (2003), The Biblical Canons, ed. by J.-M. Auwers & H. J. De Jonge, p. 487–556.


External links


Text of the Muratorian fragment.

"The development of the canon of the New Testament"
The Muratorian Canon * https://lexundria.com/mur_frag/1-6/nsherk * Henry Wace

Muratorian fragment

* ttp://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/extras/Muratorian.html Muratorian Fragment in the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible* C. E. Hill
“The Debate Over the Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon,” Westminster Theological Journal 57:2 (Fall 1995): 437–452
PDF)


More information at Earlier Latin Manuscripts
{{DEFAULTSORT:Muratorian Fragment 7th-century biblical manuscripts Development of the Christian biblical canon Works published anonymously