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APOSTLES AND EVANGELISTS,
WRITERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
General denominations of the collection of sacred books received by christians. I. Scripture.
I. Scripture. II. Bible. III. Canon. IV. Old and New Testament. V. Instrument. VI. Digest. VII. Gospel.
I. ONE of the general denominations of the sacred books is Scripture, or Scriptures, literally or primarily signifying writing. But by way of eminence and distinction the books in highest esteem are called Scripture, or the Scriptures.
This word occurs often in the New Testament, in the gospels, the Acts, and the epistles. Whereby we perceive, that in the time of our Saviour and his apostles this word was in common use, denoting the books received by the Jewish people, as the rule of their faith. To them have been since added by christians the writings of the apostles and evangelists, completing the collection of books, received by them as sacred and divine.
Some of the places, where the word scripture is used in the singular number for the books of the Old Testament, are these : 2 Tim. iii. 16, “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” And Luke iv. 21; John ji. 22; Acts i. 16; viii. 32, 35; Rom. iv. 3; Gal. iii. 8; James ii. 8, 23; 1 Pet. ii. 62; Pet. i. 20. Scriptures, in the plural number, in these following, and many other places. Matt. xxi. 42; xxij. 29; xxvi. 54; Luke xxiv. 27, 32, 45; John v. 39; Acts xvii. 2, 11; xviii. 24, 28; 2 Tim. iii. 15; 2 Pet. iii. 16.
St. Peter applies this word to the books of the New as well as of the Old Testament, to St. Paul's epistles in particular: 2 Pet. iii. 16,—" as also in all his epistles,—which they that are unlearned wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Plainly denoting, thata St. Paul's epistles are scriptures in the highest sense of the word.
II. Bible is another word, which has now been long in use among christians, denoting the whole collection of writings received by them as of divine authority.
The word, primarily, denotes book : but now is given to the writings of prophets and apostles by way of eminence. This collection is the Book or Bible, the book of books, as superior in excellence to all other books.
The word seems to be used in this sense by Chrysostom in a passage already cited. I therefore exhort all of you to procure to 'yourselves Bibles, Biblia. . If you have nothing else, take • care to have the New Testament, particularly the Acts of * the Apostles, and the gospels, for your constant instructors.' And Jerom says, "That the scriptures, being all written by • one Spirit, are called one book.' We likewise saw formerly a passage of Augustine, where he informs us, . That some • called all the canonical scriptures one book, on account • of their wonderful harmony, and unity of design through• out.' And I then said : . It is likely, that this way of
speaking gradually brought in the general use of the word • Bible, for the whole collection of the scriptures, or the • books of the Old and New Testament,'
In short, the ancient christians were continually speaking of the divine oracles, and the divine books, and were much employed in reading them, as Chrysostom directs in a passage transcribed below: where he recommends the reading the divine books daily, forenoon and afternoon. At length the whole collection was called the Book, or the Bible.
* Hac parte (quod bene notandum est) Petrus canonizat, ut ita loquar, id est, in canonem sacrarum scripturarum ascribit, atque canonicas facit, epistolas Pauli
. Dicens enim, ' sicut et cæteras scripturas,' utique significat, se etiam illas in scripturarum numero habere. De sacris autem scripturis eum loqui, in confesso est. Est. in loc.
• Vol. iv. ch. cxviii. num. xii. 13. c Ibid. ch. cxiv, num. xi. 1.
Ibid. ch. cxvii. num. X. 14. • Αλλα δει παντα καιρον επιτηδειον ηγεισθαι προς την των πνευματικων λογων διαλεξιν.-Δυνησομεθα και επι οικιας διατριβοντες, και μετα την εσιασιν, και προ της εσιασεως μετα χειρας λαβοντες τα θεια βιβλια την εξ αυτων kapreolai wpedetay. In i. Gen. Hom. x. T. iv. p. 81. C. Bened.
Dr. Heumann has an epistle, or short dissertation concerning the origin of this name of our sacred collection of books. And for some while he was of opinion, that 8 it was so called, as being the most excellent of all books: in like manner as the Jews had before called their collection the scriptures, by way of eminence. So Acts xviii. 24 and 28. Buth afterwards he suspected, that the origin of this name was in those words of Paul, 2 Tim. iv. 13. “The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books: kai ta Biblia,” For he believed, that thereby the ancient christians understood the sacred code. But he afterwards acknowledgeth, that he had not found any instance of that interpretation in ancient writers. It seems to me therefore, that this conjecture should be dropt, as destitute of foundation; and that it should be better for us to adhere to the fore-mentioned origin of this name, which appears to have in it a good deal of probability.
III. Canon is originally a Greek word, signifying a rule or standard, by which other things are to be examined and judged.
As the writings of the prophets and apostles and evangelists contain an authentic account of the revealed will of God, they are the rule of the belief and practice of those who receive them.
Sometimes canon seems equivalent to a list or catalogue in which are inserted those books, which contain the rule of faith.
Du Pin says, " This i word signifies not only a law or "rule, but likewise a table, catalogue, list. Some have sup
posed, that the canonical books were so called, because • they are the rule of the faith. But though it be true, ' that they are the rule of our faith : yet the reason of their * being called canonical, is, because they are placed in the catalogue of sacred books.' Perhaps, there is no need to dispute about this; for there
* De Origine Nominis Bibliorum. Heum. Pæcile. Tom. I. p. 412—415.
8 Suspicari deinde cæpi, ideo Biblia' dictum esse sacrum codicem, quod tanquam liber omnium praestantissimus, κατ' εξοχην dictus sit τα βιβλια. Suppetias conjecturæ huic ferre videbatur illa appellatio, quâ idem divinum opus vocari solet ai ypapai. e. gr. Act. xviii. 24, 28. Id. ib. p. 413. Ib. p. 414.
Le mot signifie non seulement une loi, une règle, mais aussi une table, un catalogue, une liste-Quelques uns ont cru que les livres canoniques étoient ainsi appellés parcequ'ils sont la règle de la foi. Mais, quoique cela soit vrai, ce n'est pas ce qui leur a fait donner le nom de canoniques, qu'ils n'ont que parceque l'on a nommé canon le catalogue des livres sacrés. Diss. Prelim. 1. 1. ch. I. sect. 2.