The original meaning of the word “canon” κανων is “standard”, “rule”, “law”, “measuring rod”, “criterion”), based on the Hebrew קנה (= reed, rod, measuring stick). The later meaning “list” of God-breathed books, is based on the original meaning of “standard”, “rule”, “criterion”.
If a book is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16), then it is automatically “canon” (standard, rule, criterion) when it is written.
The discernment/process/discovering of all the God-breathed books written in the first century, took a while for all the churches to get all the scrolls together, since all were scrolls in first and second century, and early forms of “codex” (sheets flattened and tied together) only started becoming standard practice (from what I understand) in the later part of second and third centuries.
The second meaning of “canon” as “list” of authoritative books, is based on the first meaning of “standard” / “rule”, which is based on the quality of being “God-breathed”.
Thanks to Dr. Michael Kruger and Dr. James White – who are a great blessing in this area of the canon and the early church, in equipping the saints in apologetic answers as we do evangelism and missions. For more, see here.
Canon Revisited, by Michael J. Kruger
Michael J. Kruger has some excellent books and a very informative web-site on the issues on the New Testament canon.
I recommend his book, Canon Revisitedfor people wanting to study the issue of the New Testament canon more accurately and deeply.
Professor Kruger has another book coming out later this year on the canon.
Also, he co-wrote another important book, the Heresy of Orthodoxy, with Andreas Kostenberger which deals with the whole Bauer-Pagels-Ehrman thesis that Gnostics and other heretical groups like Ebionites, Sabellians, Montanists, Arians, etc. were equally valid as expressions of early Christianity. The thesis claims that it was the political power of Rome in the 4th and 5th Centuries that won the victory over them by force and persecution and the result was that “the victors wrote the history”, which is a common modern attack against orthodox Christian doctrine regarding the…
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