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In the ancient church there were two categories in the New Testament canon, the ὁμολεγούμενα (ho-mo-leh-GOO-meh-na; homolegoumena) which designated the books that were fully accepted, and the ἀντιλεγόμενα (ann-tee-leh-GOm-meh-nah; antilegomena) which means "spoken against" and designated those books that were not accepted by everyone but were disputed. The antilegomena are the Epistle to the Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and the Revelation of John. The importance of this distinction was that doctrine was to be founded only on the homolegoumena while the antilegomena were only to be used to support such doctrine.

I know that many Lutherans maintain this distinction, but I'm wondering if anyone else does.

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  • What's the source of this? Who gave this designation and when?
    – Michael16
    Feb 27 at 3:49
  • This is very obscure and requires more clarity and detail. Substantiation with citation and reference would be helpful.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 27 at 10:44
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    I've upvoted because the heart of the question is good and, instead of editing in content, here is an informative link to substantiate the subject: sermons.logos.com/sermons/… Feb 27 at 14:10

1 Answer 1

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To address the claim in the question, that the epistle to the Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2nd and 3rd John, and the Revelation (given to John) were disputed, let me list the early church fathers who either doubted them or only seemed to acknowledge a limited number.

Clement of Rome mentioned at least 8 N.T. books (95)

Ignatius of Antioch acknowledged about 7 books (115)

Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, acknowledged 15 books (108)

Later, Irenaeus mentioned 21 books (185)

Hippolytus recognised 22 books (170-235)

The N.T. books attracting the most controversy were the ones listed above.

The first 'canon' was the Muritorian Canon, compiled 170. It included all of the N.T. books except Hebrews, James, and 3rd John. In 363, the Council of Laodicea stated that 27 books of the N.T. were to be read in the churches. Those are the 27 we have today, and which The Council of Hippo (393), and the Council of Carthage (397) also affirmed the same 27 books as authoritative - the homolegoumena.

This shows that it took some time for 27 to be viewed as inspired of God and Holy Scripture. Five criteria finally agreed upon enabled how to determine this:

  1. Was the book written by a prophet [anointed spokesperson] of God?

  2. Was the writer authenticated by miracles to confirm his message?

  3. Does the book tell the truth about God, with no falsehood or contradiction?

  4. Does the book evince a divine capacity to transform lives?

  5. Was the book accepted as God's Word by the people to whom it was first delivered? http://www.gotquestions.org/canon-of-Scripture.html and http://www.gotquestions.org/canonicity-scriptural.html

As has been pointed out, "many Lutherans maintain this distinction" but the history of developments show more than one branch of distinctions. So it could turn out that several groups within Lutheranism hold to differing lists of the antilegomena. It would require a Lutheran scholar to deal with that, and to say whether non-Lutheran denominations held to the list detailed in the question, or to any of the other lists. I cannot say, but I shall continue searching for information, and will add it as an edit, if found.

EDIT: This link deals with the homolegoumena and the antilegomena, confirming what I said above. However, it does not deal with Lutheran (or other) denominations and their views on this. I will keep looking. https://www.gotquestions.org/antilegomena.html

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