A list of the works to be considered authoritative began to take form in the Christian community earlier than I had supposed. We always hear that the “definitive” list was not compiled in the 4th century, but less attention is paid to the fact that many of these works were considered authoritative well before then.
In about 180 CE (at almost the same time Irenaeus was defending the four Gospels against Marcion, who wanted to acknowledge Luke alone) there appeared the first listing of the books of the New Testament that bears a similarity with the present Christian canon. The Muratorian canon (as the list came to be known) listed the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline letters, and the rest of the present New Testament with the omission of Hebrews, James, and the two letters attributed to Peter. The list included, however, the Shepard of Hermas, a popular work of the late first century. No definitive canon was established until the fourth century, and even then there would be disagreement over the Epistle to the Hebrews, but the attempt to form a distinctive Christian canon had begun.
— Robert Bruce Mullin, A Short World History of Christianity (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008)
Yesterday’s scripture reading from the Morning Prayer made me think about that cowboy logic: I came into this world with next to nothing, and by God’s grace I still have most of it. There is something beautifully simple about it.
The scripture is taken from Job 1:21, 2:10:
Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord! We accept good things from God, and should we not accept evil?
A great piece of Scripture from today’s first reading:
Jer 20:7-9 (NAB)
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Published August 12, 2008
Tags: Romans, Saint Paul, Scripture
The Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans; Chapter 7, verses 15 through 25 (RSV):
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!