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“The Muratorian Canon - Latin Text with English translation”

This fragment containing a “canon” of Christian scriptures, if it can be accurately dated to the late 2nd century, is the first clear witness to a list of “approved ” Christian writings as found in the New Testament. The text was discovered by Lodovica Antonio Muratori (1672-1750).

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Click here to read at in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from H.M Gwatkin, Selection from Early Christian Writers

  • Is like an electronic encyclopedia of the first five centuries of Church History, with extensive links (subscription version only) to information on around 800 people and themes, and around 230 Church Councils;

  • Is a Reader in Early Christian History and Theology with 250+, with over 2,200 printable pages, carefully prepared on-site texts (Greek and/or Latin with English translation alongside) from the first five centuries of the life of the Church. These cover a range of significant themes and represent several authors (a sample text is here and a complete list of on-site texts here). All have dictionary lookup links. There is also an introduction to each text (to help in understanding its context and significance) together with background notes linked with the text, carefully prepared printable versions, a site search engine and many other helpful features;

  • Gives easy access to complete Greek and Latin texts which are in the public domain and translations (where found available) from the first five centuries. There are carefully indexed links to authors and their works, including an index of commentaries, homilies etc. by biblical book. Nearly all of the Greek and Latin texts from this period contained in the Migne Patrologia series are covered. Some other sources are also used. The texts used are the scanned versions available at Google Books and elsewhere. A distinctive feature of the Early Church Texts website is that where English translations have been found available online they can easily be read immediately alongside the original Greek and Latin. (A complete list of authors represented is here. A sample text is here.)

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….but at some he was present, and so he set them down. The third book of the Gospel, that according to Luke, was compiled in his own name in order by Luke the physician, when after Christ’s ascension Paul had taken him to be with him like a student of law. Yet neither did he see the Lord in the flesh; and he too, as he was able to ascertain [events, so set them down]. So he began his story from the birth of John. The fourth of the Gospels [was written by] John, one of the disciples. When exhorted by his fellow-disciples and bishops, he said ‘Fast with me this day for three days; and what may be revealed to any of us, let us relate it to one another.’ The same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that John was to write all things in his own name, and they were all to certify. And therefore, though various elements are taught in the several books of the Gospels, yet it makes no difference to the faith of believers, since by one guiding Spirit all things are declared in all of them concerning the Nativity, the Passion, the Resurrection, the conversation with his disciples and his two comings, the first in lowliness and contempt, which has come to pass, the second glorious with royal power, which is to come. What marvel therefore if John so firmly sets forth each statement in his Epistle too, saying of himself, ‘What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things we have written to you’? For so he declares himself not an eyewitness and a hearer only, but a writer of all the marvels of the Lord in order.

The Acts however of all the Apostles are written in one book. Luke puts it shortly to the most excellent Theophilus, that the several things were done in his own presence, as he also plainly shows by leaving out the passion of Peter, and also the departure of Paul from town on his journey to Spain.

The Epistles however of Paul themselves make plain to those who wish to understand it, what epistles were sent by him, and from what place and for what cause. He wrote at some length first of all to the Corinthians, forbidding schisms and heresies; next to the Galatians, forbidding circumcision; then to the Romans, impressing on them the plan of the Scriptures, and also that Christ is the first principle of them concerning which severally it is [not] necessary for us to discuss, since the blessed Apostle Paul himself, following the order of his predecessor John, writes only by name to seven churches in the following order – to the Corinthians a first, to the Ephesians a second, to the Philippians a third, to the Colossians a fourth, to the Galatians a fifth, to the Thessalonians a sixth, to the Romans a seventh; whereas, although for the sake of admonition there is a second to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians, yet one Church is recognized as being spread over the entire world. For John too in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, yet speaks to all. Howbeit to Philemon one, to Titus one, and to Timothy two were put in writing from personal inclination and attachment, to be in honour however with the Catholic Church for the ordering of the ecclesiastical mode of life. There is current also one to the Laodicenes, another to the Alexandrians, [both] forged in Paul’s name to suit the heresy of Marcion, and several others, which cannot be received into the Catholic Church; for it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey. The Epistle of Jude no doubt, and the couple bearing the name of John, are accepted in the Catholic [Church]; and the Wisdom written by the friends of Solomon in his honour. The Apocalypse also of John, and of Peter [one Epistle, which] only we receive; [there is also a second] which some of our friends will not have read in the Church.

But the Shepherd was written quite lately in our times by Hermas, while his brother Pius, the bishop, was sitting in the chair of the city of Rome; and therefore it ought indeed to be read, but it cannot to the end of time be publicly read in the Church to the people, either among the prophets, who are complete in number, or among the Apostles.

But of Valentinus the Arsinoite and his friends we receive nothing at all; who have also composed a long new book of Psalms; together with Basilides and the Asiatic founder of the Montanists.


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Canon of Scripture
Canon of the New Testament
Books of Scripture recognised by the Early Church


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