The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 172 of 202
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any alteration, addition, or subtraction, for such a fraud would immediately become
known and exposed, unless, indeed, we are credulous enough to believe that both friend
and foe, of different nations, languages, and opinions, should all, without exception, and
by some tremendous miracle have agreed to countenance such a fraud.
The third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica says:--
"This argument is so strong, that, if we deny the authenticity of the N.T., we may with
a thousand times greater propriety reject all the other writings in the world."
Look at the following facts that traverse any legitimate objections to the canonicity of
the books of the N.T.:--
(1) It cannot be shown that any one doubted the authenticity of any book of the N.T. in
the period when such books appeared.
(2) No account is on record that would lead one to reject any such book as spurious.
(3) No great length of time elapsed after the death of the writers before the N.T. was
widely known.
(4) The books of the N.T. are actually mentioned by writers living at the same time as
the apostles.
(5) No facts are recorded which actually happened after the deaths of the writers, apart,
of course, from prophecy.
Let us now bring forward a few eminent witnesses to the canon of the N.T.
Irenaeus, born A.D.120, calls the books of the N.T., Kanona tes aletheias, "the Rule
of the Truth". Tertullian said of Marcion, the Gnostic, that he appeared to make use of a
complete document. Clement of Alexandria, speaking of those who quoted from the
Apocrypha, exclaims against those who followed any authority besides "the true
evangelical canon".  Origen was zealous in maintaining the ecclesiastical canon,
recognizing "four Gospels only, which alone are received without controversy in the
universal church spread over the whole earth". He has given us the list of the canonical
Scriptures, "that is Scriptures contained in the New Testament". Athanasius speaks of
three sorts of books:--
(1) The canonical, those recognized at the present time.
(2) The ecclesiastical, which were allowed to be read in assemblies.
(3) The apocryphal, which had no place in the canon at all.
When, in A.D.364, the Council of Laodicea ordained that no other book should be
read in the churches but the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, there
was no idea that there they had for the first time the conception of a canon: on that
contrary it was the enforcement of a principle already established in the church.
We will now consider a little more carefully the witness of three of those cited above,
Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. First of all, in order that these names
may represent to the reader real persons, we give a brief biographical note:--