This post is part of an ongoing series on the history of communion.
Second to Fifth Centuries
After Justin, we see a proliferation of Christian writers, many of whom speak about Communion, some with great regularity. These Christians come from all corners of the Roman Empire and beyond: Gaul (Irenaeus), Egypt (Clement of Alexandria and Origen), Carthage (Tertullian and Cyprian), Rome (Hippolytus), Jerusalem (Cyril), Syria (Aphraahat and Ephrem), Italy (Ambrose), North Africa (Augustine), and Asia Minor (Theodore and the Cappadocians). Continue reading
This post is part of an ongoing series outlining the formation of the New Testament canon.
Athanasius of Alexandria
We now turn to an examination of canonical lists, an important step on the road to formal canonization. The importance of the core scriptures increased throughout the second and third centuries and were in due course joined in prestige and use by the rest of the books of the New Testament by the third century. Outside of these works were the “fringe” writings, including those of the Apostolic Fathers. Around this time the process of formal canonization began with the creation of lists of books that were permissible for Christians to use. The exact timing of formal canonization varies amongst scholar; Barton and others postulate that a ‘Pauline canon’ was likely in circulation among churches by the end of the first century. Our earliest lists of canonical books that are clearly datable are from Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (ca. 303-325 CE), which includes the threefold division of canonical, non-canonical, and fringe books; Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catechetical Lectures (ca. 350); and Athanasius in his Festal Letter Thirty-Nine (ca. 367), which also includes the threefold division of books and includes in the canonical division the New Testament books exactly as we have them today.Towards the middle to end of the fourth century numerous canonical lists began appearing within the Church, placing an increased importance on earlier lists such as those mentioned above. Continue reading