The Muratorian Canon, 1–6

Unknown Author  translated in The New Schaff-Herzog Encycl. of Rel. Knowl.

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Four Gospels

1. . . at which nevertheless he was present, and so he placed it [in his narrative]. The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, wrote it in his own name, according to [the general] belief, after the ascension of Christ, when Paul had associated him [with himself?] as one zealous for correctness [i.e., one who took pains to find out the facts]. It is true that he had not seen the Lord in the flesh, yet having ascertained the facts he was able to begin his narrative with the nativity of John. The fourth book of the Gospel is that of John, one of the disciples. In response to the exhortation of his fellow disciples and bishops he said: “fast ye with me for three days, and then let us tell each other whatever shall be revealed to each one.” The same night it was revealed to Andrew (who was one of the apostles) that John it was who should relate in his own name what they collectively remembered [or, that John was to relate in his own name, they all acting as correctors]. And so to the faith of believers there is no discord, even although different selections are given from the facts in the individual books of the Gospels, because in all [of them] under the one guiding Spirit all the things relative to his nativity, passion, resurrection, conversation with his disciples, and his twofold advent, the first in the humiliation arising from contempt, which took place, and the second in the glory of kingly power, which is yet to come, have been declared. What marvel is it, then, if John adduces so consistently in his epistles these several things, saying in person: “what we have seen with our eyes, and heard with our ears, and our hands have handled, those things we have written.” For thus he professes to be not only an eyewitness but also a hearer and narrator of all the wonderful things of the Lord, in their order.

Acts of the Apostles

2Moreover, the acts of all the apostles are written in one book. Luke [so] comprised them for the most excellent Theophilus, because the individual events took place in his presence—as he clearly shows [by] omitting the passion of Peter as well as the departure of Paul when the latter went from the city [of Rome] to Spain.

Pauline Epistles

3Now the epistles of Paul, what they are, whence or for what reason they were sent, they themselves make clear to him who will understand. First of all he wrote at length to the Corinthians to prohibit the schism of heresy, then to the Galatians [against] circumcision, and to the Romans on the order of the Scriptures, intimating also that Christ is the chief matter in them—each of which it is necessary for us to discuss, seeing that the blessed Apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name in the following order: to the Corinthians (first), to the Ephesians (second), to the Philippians (third), to the Colossians (fourth), to the Galatians (fifth), to the Thessalonians (sixth), to the Romans (seventh). But though he writes twice for the sake of correction to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, that there is one church diffused throughout the whole earth is shown (? i.e., by this sevenfold writing); and John also in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, yet speaks to all. But [he wrote] out of affection and love one to Philemon, and one to Titus, and two to Timothy; [and these] are held sacred in the honorable esteem of the Church catholic in the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline. There are adduced also (one) to the Laodiceans, another to the Alexandrians, forged in the name of Paul for (i.e., against) the heresy of Marcion, and many others which can not be received into the Church catholic, for it is not fitting that gall be mingled with honey.

Catholic Epistles

4Further, an epistle of Jude and two bearing the name of John are counted among the Catholic [Epistles][*]; and Wisdom, written by the friends of Solomon in his honor.


5We receive the apocalypses of John and Peter only, which [latter] some of us do not wish to be read in church. But Hennas wrote the Shepherd in the city of Rome most recently in our own times while his brother bishop, Pius, was occupying the chair of the church of Rome; and so indeed it ought to be read; but that it be made public to the people in the church or [placed] among the prophets (whose number is complete) or among the apostles is not possible to the end of time.

Rejected Works

6Of Arsinous (or Valentinus) or Miltiades we receive nothing at all. Those also who wrote the new book of psalms for Marcion, together with Basilides who founded the Asian Cataphrygians (?) . . .

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  • [*] The Latinity of this sentence makes it untranslatable; the translation given is an approximation only.

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