Expert Answer Forum
Canon QUESTION from Patrick December 8, 2000 I understand this question may be better suited for the Scripture forum but he is not taking questions at the time so I hope you do not mind me asking you.
I had read previously that the Canon was made offical at the Synod of Hippo in 393 AD. Your Scripture expert said it was The Church in Africa at the Synod of Carthage [that] ruled on the Canon of Scripture by 419A.D.. Can you explain the discrepancy please?
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on December 13, 2000 Dear Patrick
In the fourth and fifth centuries, there were a series of local councils that ruled on the canon of Scripture. They were not infallible pronouncements, but as far as the hierarchy was concerned, the canon of Scripture was a decided issue. There were councils in 393 and 419 in the areas you mentioned. The Council of Carthage reaffirmed an earlier decision of Rome and Hippo on the canon. Since the Council was the last local council to rule on this matter, they are seen to have settle the matter.
I must underline that these were not infallible declarations. The Council of Trent made the current canon a dogma of the Church. But the canon listed by these early local councils was not re-opened. It was questioned by certain theologians, but no synod or other hierarchical body overruled this particular canon, so the issue was closed by the early fifth century.
What is noteworthy is that the Catholic Church can operate without a definite canon of Scripture, because her doctrines are not based solely on the Bible. Evangelical Christianity, in order to function properly, requires a definite canon of Scripture, otherwise, how do you know what is true doctrine or not? The problem is that it must derive its canon from principles outside Scripture, otherwise it argues in a vicious circle. They derive their principles of Inspiration from inspired the Bible to prove which Bible book is inspired.
Thank you for your question.
God bless and Merry Christmas, Suzanne Fortin
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