In these pages of The Canon of Scriptures F.F. Bruce continues a thorough history of the development of the New Testament canon. He writes about the life and scholarly efforts of men such as Irenaues, Hippolytus, and Novatian. Irenaues was one who was able to distinguish the writings of truth from that of apocryphal and spurious writings.
The author also provides historical truth from the lives of Tertullian and Cyprian. Tertullian is one of special note. His writings came in AD 196-212. Tertullian is the first writer that is known to give the second part of the Bible the designation of the ‘New Testament’. Since he recognized the New Testament as a collection of books, he had a good idea as to what books are to be contained in the New Testament.
After looking at the contributions of Tertullian and Cyprian, the author focuses attention on the Alexandrian fathers. These men are those such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Dionysius. Clement of Alexandria was a contemporary with Tertullian. Clement was of the tradition of the acceptance of the fourfold Gospel. Those four Gospels were considered by Clement as authoritative. Clement also refers often to the book of Acts and recognizes Luke as its author. Clement had great influence over Origen as his teacher. There is substantial proof that Origen recognized both the New Testament and Old Testament writings as authoritative and inspired by God. Origin, however, interpreted the Bible in an allegorical way. Origen’s conviction that the contents of the Old and New Testament were, word for word, the product of the Spirit of God gave him confidence in the validity of their allegorical interpretation. Origen is known for his firm belief in the inspiration of scriptures and in his allegorical method of interpretation. Dionysius became bishop of Alexandria in AD 247. He, like Origen, followed an allegorical method of interpretation. He also added some observations as to the authorship of the book of Revelation. He agreed that it was written by a man named John, but he did not hold to the idea that it was written by the same John who wrote the fourth Gospel and the epistles of John. Dionysius recognized what was later to be termed a ‘canon within the canon.’
Finally, in these pages, F.F. Bruce writes about Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea and was also a great historian. He is credited to preserving ancient writings which would otherwise have been lost to us today. Eusebius contributed greatly to our understanding of which writings should be in the canon of scripture.
The amazing thing we find as we study the history of the canon of scripture; is the preservation of God’s Word. In all the scholarly efforts and writings of men, in all the research and many hours of study, we can be assured that the Bible we have today is truly the inspired Word of God. Looking at history, we find the providential hand of God guiding men into all truth.