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Some religions claim to have a newer revelation of God: the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an are presented to be the latest revelation of God.

The Old Testament closes with a climax of expectation of the Savior. The New Testament presents the Savior and finishes with his return. What are the biblical arguments that the canon is closed?

I do understand that Catholics include in the canon what protestants calls the Apocrypha, but I don't want to make a distinction about that in this question. Although, there is no need to quote out of these books to answer this question.

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    Great question! I do not have an answer, but I wanted to show support for your question. There is also the Book Common of Prayer. – user1054 Jan 20 '12 at 13:35
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    I'm no expert at all, and that's why this is a comment. But, I don't think there can possibly be any Biblical argument that the canon is closed because what is known as the Bible was not compiled as the Bible until 300 years after Jesus. But, there were some criteria for the books in the Bible, specifically the NT, such as the authors had firsthand experience of Jesus. Some people use Revelation's bit about any one adding to this book, but again, the Bible wasn't compiled as it is now until 300 years after Jesus. That bit in Revelation can only be seen as a comment on Revelation. – Graphth Jan 20 '12 at 13:38
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    By the way, I'm not saying the canon should or should not be closed. And, if it is open, there are still many reasons not to believe books like The Book of Mormon. – Graphth Jan 20 '12 at 13:40
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    Book of Common Prayer is not considered canon, says the episcopalian part-time priest... – Affable Geek Jan 20 '12 at 14:07
  • @Graphth Just to clarify - the books were all written in the 1st Century, but you are right, the canon as we know it wasn't even started until 367, and wasn't settled until the 13th Century. – Affable Geek Jan 20 '12 at 15:57
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The problem with this question is that the Bible is not a single book, and as such does not directly address what "other books" are considered canon.

Peter, for instance, writes that Paul's books are highly profitable for reading, "even if they are sometimes hard to understand," but there is no book anywhere that says "these books are canon, these are not."

Indeed, the "closed canon" of the NT wasn't even recorded in its entirety until 367, when Athanasuis published his festal letter. This letter is merely a recommendation list, much like the NY Times best-seller list. It lists books which are "profitable" (see 1 Tim 3:16) for a Christian to read, but it merely reflects consensus, not dogma.

As such, there has only been common consensus as to what is canonical and what is not. (This is also why it is downright silly for people to talk about "suppressed" books or "hidden gospels", because frankly there is no authority on what is or is not canonical.)

That said, for the NT, one of the "marks" of canonicity has been aposotolic authorship. While scholars will tell you that Paul, for example, probably didn't write many of the "Pauline" letters (and never claimed to write Hebrews!), they were traditionally ascribed to apostles. (This is why Jude got in - apostolic claim). Because the original 12 apostles are no longer writing, this avenue of new canon is pretty much closed.

One biblical admonition that is often cited is Rev 22:19,

and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

This can't really be used for canonicity claims, however, since "this book" would only refer to Revelation itself - a completely separate work from the other 65.

  • really nice answer. Just correct the spelling for "entirety" and then I can just copy-paste this information. :-) – nico_c Jan 20 '12 at 19:10
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    I would normally just say, "good answer." However, what I have to say is that this is the most thorough answer on here yet and deserves acceptance. Also ... BIG +1 for responsibly handling Revelation 22:19. – swasheck Jan 22 '12 at 3:53
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    Great answer. Considering how the canon was compiled, it does seem odd that we would be so firm in our belief that all the books and only the books in the current canon are God's inspired word. Since no one knows the authorship of the Gospels, for example, it doesn't seem that they meet the "apostolic authorship" requirement. – kaques Jan 15 '14 at 15:50
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Can this be seen as an appropriate Biblical base for the closing of the Canon?

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3)

Also, it should be noted how the New King James Version renders the last part of this verse: Which was once for all delivered to the saints. (NKJ)

My understanding if this verse: If I were to say: "I will answer this once and for all.", it would imply that I have nothing further to say on the subject. Jude seems to state that 'the faith' in my understanding 'the Word or salvation message' was shared in the time of Jude 'once and for all', implying that there can not be any further revelation on the subject. If any other books where written after Jude (I don't know if there were) it should contain the 'same' message as the books written before Jude - there may not be any new revelation. Again, this is more a thought I ponder on than a fact I'm stating.

  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? – David Stratton Jan 15 '14 at 12:50
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I do understand that Catholics include in the canon what the protestant calls the apocrypha, I do not want to make a distinction in this question. Although, there is no need to quote out of these books to answer this question.

But this actually yields one of the more satisfactory answers.

One of the arguments for exclusion of the apocrypha is that Jesus never quotes any of them. In contrast, virtually all other OT books are quoted by Jesus Himself, and at the very least His apostles or one of the sources He quotes. Based on this criteria, no further books would ever be added to the OT, as these parties are no longer walking this earth and quoting additional material.

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    Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther? I'm gonna call you on this one. Jesus quotes from Isaiah, Psalms, Genesis, and Dueteronomy. Beyond that, you may find allusions, but not direct quotations. Even if you expand the definition to include Pauline and Johanine literature, you're going to find that not all OT books are quoted directly by Jeuss or even the NT. – Affable Geek Jan 20 '12 at 15:53
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    @affable geek Deuterocanonical references in New Testament I read this on the National Catholic Register a while ago haven't listened to the podcast yet. – Peter Turner Jan 20 '12 at 16:23
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When Jesus, the Word, became flesh, He revealed to us all that can be known concerning God. Before He came, there was only dim light, but He came as the light of the world. “In many and various ways God spoke of old to the fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has begun to speak to us through his beloved Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). God will no longer speak as He once spoke in old times through the prophets, for now the full revelation of God has come in Christ, in whom every promise of God is yea and amen. The last days spoken of in Hebrews and throughout the New Testament refer to the time starting with the earthly ministry of Christ until His return in judgment. In these last days, God speaks to us through His Son and through no other. What we have in the New Testament are the words of Christ and the words of those whom He ordained as His messengers during His time among them, and His messengers spoke of what they heard and saw from Jesus.

But what new revelation should we hope to hear from man when the Word of God has personally revealed Himself to us? We have been given “true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). However, shall we say it is impossible for Christ to appear to a man now as He once did to Paul, who was not a disciple of Christ during His earthly ministry? I will not say it is impossible, but I will say it seems highly unlikely given all that I have already mentioned. Therefore let all men be wary of anyone claiming new revelation from God.

  • Welcome! Thanks for contributing. If you haven't already done so, I hope you'll take a minute to take the tour and learn how this site is different from others. – Nathaniel is protesting Sep 6 '18 at 14:15
  • the words of Christ and the words of those whom He ordained as His messengers -- can you clarify which written record you're referring to? i.e. which written record says that he ordained people as his messengers? – Jordan May 25 at 19:26

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