Would Christianity accept a new book into the Biblical canon?

Let's assume for a momemt that some archaeological team somewhere in the ancient Roman Empire stumbled across a document, that they were able to prove was from the hand of the apostle Paul himself--say, a second letter to Galatia, or a previously unknown letter to one of the other churches he started (Berea, Athens, etc...). Or maybe we found a sequel to Acts, that we could prove was written by Luke. Or possibly another letter that we could prove was written by the apostle John.

If we had this previously unknown document, and we could prove BEYOND ALL DOUBT that it was directly from the hand of one of the know writers of the New Testament, how much doctrinal authority would Christianity as a whole give to this document? Would Christianity consider actually including it in the New Testament?

How do you as a Christian feel about this hypothetical prediciment?

Update:

Points to consider here:

1) Things like the Book of Mormon are a far cry from what I'm talking about here. What I am referring to are documents that we know (Don't ask how we know... it's a hypothetical question anyway!) were penned by the same men who wrote the books that are part of our canon.

2) Until this moment, these books were unknown, and therefore the Council of Nicea could not have included them in the canon. Do we look at the Nicene criteria for which books were canon and apply them to our new book?

28 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Officially, the canon was never closed. My pastor (I'm a Confessional Lutheran) told me this once, and it makes a lot of sense. As long as the texts are valid, I'd support it. Extrabiblical texts are a favorite study of mine, and I'd really like to see some of the writings of the students of the apostles (Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, etc.) added to the Bible. I can't think of too much that are in these writings that isn't in the Bible already, but certain things are made more clear. The Real Presence is one of those doctrines that's made abundantly clear by the writers of the texts I've mentioned. I think you even answered a question of mine some time back about the Didache, a manuscript that was discovered in the late 1800's in a Turkish church. That's another favorite of mine. It mentions Closed Communion, fasting before receiving the Sacrament, and gives specific details as to how we should baptize. The problem is, it's a composite text. Noone knows exactly who wrote it, when exactly it was written, or how many authors there were. It also seems to be more Judeo Christian than Orthodox (accepted) Christian in nature, which could be troublesome. But back to your question... Yes. If these texts were proven to be valid and reliable, and could help unify the Church (as there is only one, with many denominations), I would fully support adding more books to the canon. I'm sure others would stand in complete opposition to it, as it would leave them to rethink and reshape their particular doctrines, but I wouldn't be among them.

    Peace,

    Drew

  • Diane
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    A Biblical canon or canon of scripture is a list or set of Biblical books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community, generally in Judaism or Christianity. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example: the Masoretic Text is the canonical text for Judaism, and the King James Version is the canonical text for the King-James-Only Movement, but this is not the general meaning of canon. These lists, or canons, have been developed through debate and agreement by the religious authorities of those faiths. Believers consider these canonical books to be inspired by God or to express the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people. Books excluded from a particular canon are considered non-canonical — however, many disputed books considered non-canonical or even apocryphal by some are considered Biblical apocrypha or Deuterocanonical or fully canonical, by others. There are differences between the Jewish and Christian canons, and between the canons of different Christian denominations. The differing criteria and processes of canonization dictate what the communities regard as the inspired books. The closure of the canon reflects a belief that public revelation has ended and thus the inspired texts may be gathered into a complete and authoritative canon. By contrast, an open canon permits the addition of additional books through the process of continuous revelation. In Christian traditions, an open canon is most commonly associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The Christian bible wasn't compiled until centuries after the Crucifixion. It included a selection of books and letters from the European continent. The Book of Mormon was written by prophets who lived in the Americas. They also testified of Christ. Since the Book of Mormon was translated from the reformed Egyptian characters into English, it has caused quite a stir. The core doctrine of both Jews and Christians has always been that God can and does talk through prophets and/or apostles. It turned out that most modern Christians didn't believe that at all. Few had the faith to believe in a modern prophet. In this they joined the Jews who killed the prophets, and crucified the savior, by murdering the prophet Joseph Smith. A mob of over five hundred men stormed the jail where Joseph was being held, and killed him in a hail of bullets. None were ever convicted of their crime.

    It takes faith to believe in a living prophet. Maybe they would accept a new found book from a well know apostle - I'll bet if they do, it will take many years before it happens. It is likely that doctrines taught in the newly found gospel would not agree with what they already believe. Almost no one wants that.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You have to prove it, first. The problem is, there are already plenty of pseudoprigraphical writings - texts that claim to have been written by apostolic authority. None of them have been shown to be of apostolic authority. There are even doubts about the apostolic "authenticity" of some of the current books of the canon. So, I would say your question is hypothetically unlikely. It is more likely that books would be "dropped" before any more would be added. Even Martin Luther challenged the canonicity of such books as Hebrews, James and the Revelation. Btw: The Council of Nicea NEVER established the canon of scripture. That is nowhere to be found in any of the decisions of the Council. This is a common misconception. The canon was debated right up to the Reformation and the Council of Trent in the Latin Church.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Mainline Christianity teaches that we have all we need to accept salvation as brought about by Jesus. As the Catholic Church states it, something like

    Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle.

    Nothing additional is needed. That is why they are very cautious about reported heavenly apparitions. Very cautious. The approval they issue is more like a statement that "we find no reason to prohibit this."

    So, I would be inclined to believe that there would not be much acceptance. If it was consistent with existing Canon, it would be superfluous. If it differed in any substantial way, it would be judged as contrary to the revelation which ended with the death of the last Apostle.

    In either case, it would be marginalized; perhaps properly so.

  • 1 decade ago

    As a non-Christian but have read the Bible, I would state in my opinion that it would NOT be accepted into the Bible because of the passage that states not to change or allow anything new in. Can't recall where. The Catholic version of the Bible has extra books in it that were 'edited' from the Protestant version and not only are they considered heretical in some places to the Protestants but also to the Jews since they involve the Old Testament. Besides, it'd take the Pope so long to decide whether or not to even consider the idea of considering a new book that you'd be long dead before it ever occurred.

  • 1 decade ago

    You are hypothetically assuming that the canon of the Roman Church came whole and complete without material that contradicted the work of Constantine, mother Helena and the committees and synods of the "Church Fathers" editorial board. Nothing has to be discovered or rediscovered. It is a matter of closely held secrets and written materials to be found in the depths of the Vatican and repositories in Istanbul, Mecca and Media.

    What was removed from the depths of the repositories in Baghdad by the agents of Orthodoxy that had a free hand in the invasion and protection from the US military?

    Give that last one a good think!

    Ok! Totally hypothetical. No.

  • Interesting question. I don't see it being added to the canon regardless of authenticity. However I can see many Christians reading it. The thing is if it were written by one of the Apostles or someone such as Luke there would be nothing to fear. It would be in perfect harmony with the Bible. Thus including it would pose no real problem.

    EDIT: to the first poster: the book of mormon was not God inspired so there is no reason to accept it. Instead I truly believe if any angel appeared to Old Joe it was Satan himself.

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I doubt that those who follow mainstream Christianity would accept additional books added to the Bible. The majority of Christians may view the Bible as complete in itself already and take heed to the warning in the Bible about adding or talking away for the Bible and what it contains as far as the Word of God is concerned. Just my thoughts.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If God gave a divine revelation to an extremely large percentage of Christians, then the new book would probably be accepted into the Bible. This is the only way we could know everything you claim FOR SURE (people have ways of forging things nowadays).

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