How Much Did Early Christians Refer to the New Testament? - Summary Grid – Mar 2008

   A number of people have made outrageous claims, making lots of money, selling books claiming early Christianity believed in a different Bible from today. Many assume no one really knows what early Christians believed. But we do know, and quite well, by observing what scriptural books they referred to when they wrote their religious letters, commentaries, and treatises. This actually undercounts, because they might consider some books scripture that they never happened to mention. (For example, in your writing, how often do you mention the book of Philemon?) Nevertheless, this shows at a minimum some of what they accepted as scripture. Of course, writings with few pages usually refer to only a few New Testament books, as one would expect. Early Christians referred to every book of the New Testament. They did not refer to other books as possibly being in the New Testament canon, with only a few exceptions, such as Tatian’s Diatessaron, a harmony of the four gospels together in Syriac used until the 5th century. There were many other books out there, of Greek philosophy, paganism, and Gnostic works, but these were called “poisons”, and “foreign food” to avoid.

 Legend of the row colors

red = persecution of Christians

pink = strange teacher

green  = heresy

 

orange= schism

Blue = Bible manuscript

W = Books and quotes mentioned by name or by writer     4G = Mention of 4 gospels           I = Implied. ex: “14 letters of Paul”       J = Quotes mentioned as words of God/Jesus/Savior m = debated  X = rejected

S = Referred to as scripture, gospel, or by apostle(s)        E =not scripture but good to read Q = Quote of 1 or more verses               ½  = quote of ½ verse                                         A = Allusion   - = no reference

Christian writer, heretic, or Bible manuscript

pages

Date A.D.

NT

Gos pels

Mt

Mk

Lk

Jn

Acts

Rm

1Cor

2Cor

Gal

Eph

Php

Col

1 Th

2 Th

1Tm

2Tm

Tt

Pm

Heb

Jms

1 Pt

2 Pt

1 Jn

2 Jn

3 Jn

Jude

Rev

pos. reference to other

books as authoritative

Nero and Domitian persecute Christians

 

50 & 95/96

Est 500K Christians. Christians were labeled atheists and killed for refusing to worship the emperor and pagan idols.

 

Clement of Rome (wrote 1 Clement)

16 ¼

97/98

-

-

J

J

½

-

¼

Q

W

-

-

-

-

A

A

-

A

-

Q

-

Q

Q

Q

A

-

-

-

-

Q

-

Ignatius disciple of John (shortest version)

13

c.100-117

-

-

Q

-

-

A

-

-

¼

A

-

W

-

-

Q

-

¼

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

Trajan persecutes Christians

 

107

Answered Pliny the Younger’s letter. Christians are not to be sought after, but only killed if found.

 

Didache (=Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)

4 ¾

before 125

-

-

Q

-

Q

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Letter to Diognetus (=Mathetes to Diognetus)

5 ¼

c.130

-

W

A

-

-

A

-

-

-

-

A

-

A

-

-

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hadrian persecutes Christians

 

118 & 134

Hadrian loved Greek culture. He persecuted both Jews & Christians. Jewish Bar Cochba revolt happened under him.

 

p52 (=John Rylands) John 18:31-33; 18:37-38

117-138

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Letter of Barnabas

12 ½

100-150

-

-

Q

½

Q

A

A

-

-

A

-

-

-

A

-

-

A

-

-

-

Q

A

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

p46 (=Chester Beatty II) 1,680 verses 70% Paul+Heb

100-150

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2 Clement (anonymous writer)

5 ¾

c.150

-

-

Q

-

Q

-

-

-

Q

-

Q

-

-

-

-

-

Q

-

-

-

-

A

Q

A

-

-

-

-

-

Gos. of Egyptians quote

Polycarp to the Philippians

3 ½

100-155

-

-

Q

½

Q

-

½

Q

Q

A

¼

Q

W

-

Q

½

Q

Q

-

-

-

-

Q

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

Papias, disciple of John + “Presbyters”

2+½ 

130-150

-

-

W

W

-

½

-

-

S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

A

-

A

-

-

-

?

-

Bar Cochba persecutes Christians

 

135

Christians persecuted in Israel because Christians would not join the revolt.

 

Total Apostolic Fathers – until 150 A.D.

62

-150

0

1

8

4

5

4

3

2

5

3

3

2

2

2

3

1

6

1

2

0

2

3

6

3

3

0

0

0

1

1

Justin Martyr, philosopher and apologist

137

138-165

W

W

J

J

J

J

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

Shepherd of Hermas

46 ½

c.160

-

-

Q

-

Q

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

½

Q

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hegesippus (chronicler)Hegesippus

170

-

W

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Gnostic heresies become widespread

 

c.170-

Gnostics all believed the Creator was evil/foolish. Rejecting the O.T., they mixed Greek paganism & parts of N.T..

more than 33

Tatian+The Diatessaron, Encratite later

18+86

died 172

-

-

W

W

W

W

-

A

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

¼ 

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

p66(=Bodmer II) p14/15 92% of John 808½ verses

125-175

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

p4+p64+p67 Lk 1:58-59,etc. Mt 26:7-8,etc. 95 verses

c.150-175

-

-

W

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Melito/Meleto of Sardis (Quartodecimian)

11

170-177/180

-

-

A

S

S

-

-

-

S

-

-

-

-

-

S

-

-

-

-

-

¼

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Persecution of Marcus Aurelius

 

162/166-80

Aurelius was a Stoic philosopher. Persecution, mainly in Gaul, ended with his death.

 

Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum (Lyons)

6 ½

177

-

-

-

-

Q

J

¼

¾

-

A

-

-

Q

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Q

-

Athenagoras (apologist)

19 ½

177

-

-

Q

-

Q

-

-

-

S

-

-

-

-

Q

-

-

Q

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Claudius Apollinaris of Hierapolis (Quartod.)

½

177,160-180

-

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Theophilus of Antioch (to Autolycus)

32

168-181/188

-

W

Q

-

Q

W

Q

Q

Q

Q

-

Q

-

-

-

-

Q

-

-

-

Q

-

-

-

Q

-

-

-

Q

Shepherd of Hermas

Ebionites & Clementina (Law, Father, Son)

265½+

- 181 -

-

-

Q

Q

Q

J

-

-

A

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Protoevangelium of James, Recognit’ns of Clement, etc.

Irenaeus of Lyons, disciple of Polycarp

262

182-188

W

4G

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

W

Q

W

½ 

I

W

-

A

W

Hermas, X Gospel of Truth

X others

Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs

¾

180-202

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

P

a

u

l

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Caius and the Muratorian Canon

3

190-217

-

4G

I

I

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

-

-

-

W

W

-

W

W

Some accept Apoc. of Peter

Sabellian heresy (Praxeas, Noetus,Callistus)

 

200-257-

Sabellians believed the Father, Son, & Spirit were one person. Also called Patripassians for “passion of the Father”.

 

Persecution of Septimus Severus

 

202

Est. 2M Christians. Although a Christian helped him through an illness, he didn’t repeal existing laws against them.

 

Serapion of Antioch (against Marcion)

1/3

200-210

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

X Gospel of Peter

Apollonius of Ephesus (against Montanists)

1

c.210

-

-

J

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Clement of Alexandria

424

193-217/20

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

S

W

W

W

S

W

W

W

-

W

Q

W

½

W

W

-

W

W

Preaching of Peter, Hermas, Gospel of the Egyptians

p75 Lk 3:18-22; etc. Jn 1:1-11:45,etc. 1,166 verses

175-225

-

-

-

-

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

p45 (=Chester Beatty I) Gospels+Acts 833 verses

200-225

-

-

W

W

W

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

p30 1Th 4:12-13,16-17 etc. 2Th 1:1-2 etc. 25 verses

ca.225

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Tertullian (joined Montanist church)

741

200-240

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

Q

Q

W

Q

W

A

-

W

W

combined Gal 3:15 & 4:3

Asterius Urbanus (against Montanists)

2 ¾

c.232

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hippolytus, pupil of Irenaeus (undisputed)

218

222-235/6

W

W

J

W

J

W

Q

W

S

W

W

S

W

W

W

W

W

Q

½

-

A

-

Q

W

W

-

-

W

W

X Gospel of the Egyptians,

X others, X Gos. of Thomas

Maximin Thrax persecutes Christians

 

235-238

First empire-wide persecution, but only of clergy. Persecution stopped when his soldiers assassinated him.

 

Instructions of Commodianus & Julius Africanus

25

232-245,240

-

-

W

A

W

-

-

P

a

u

l

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

A

-

Origen (heterodox teacher)

622

225-254

W

4G

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

W

Q

W

X

W

m

m

W

W

Hermas (disputed), Acts of Paul inferior to John’s gosp.

Severe persecution by Decius and Gallus

 

250-251-3

1st Christian schism. Were Christians who sacrificed but repented eventually restored, or doomed forever (Novatian)?

 

Novatian (his schism lasted over 200 years)

38 ½

250/254-7

W

W

J

-

W

W

¾

W

W

W

W

W

S

S

-

-

W

-

Q

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian

6 ½

254-256

-

-

J

-

J

W

-

Q

Q

-

-

S

S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Q

½

-

-

Q

-

-

-

W

-

Anonymous Treatise on Rebaptism

11

c.250-258

W

-

-

W

W

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

X book Preaching of Paul

Cyprian of Carthage (against Novatian)

250¾  

c.246-258

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

A

-

W

W

W

W

-

-

W

-

Roman church leaders (ltr 2,29,30)

1 + 4¾

250-251

-

-

-

-

-

J

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Moyses, et al. to Cyprian (letter 25)

2 ½

250

-

-

J

-

-

-

-

S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

½

-

Cornelius to Cyprian (letters 45,47)

1 ¼

c.246-256

-

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Firmilian of Caesarea to Cyprian (74)

7 ¼

254-257

-

-

J

½

J

J

-

Q

S

S

W

S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

Seventh Council of Carthage (85 bishops)

7 ¼

258

-

-

Q

-

-

-

S

-

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

Valerian persecutes Christians

 

257-260

Tolerant at first, but then 2nd most severe persecution. Stopped when captured by Persian Shapur II.

 

Theognostus of Alexandria (Origenist)

½

260

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Gregory Thaumaturgus (undisputed works)

28 ½

240-265

-

-

J

Q

Q

-

-

-

S

-

-

Q

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

½

-

Dionysius of Alexandria (Origenist)

39 ½

246-265

-

W

W

W

W

W

W

S

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

Q

-

-

W

W

W

-

*

-

Dionysius of Rome, Malchion & Pierius

1+3

259-275

W

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Aurelian Persecution

 

270

At first tolerant, Aurelian died soon after he decided to persecute Christians.

 

Archelaus (against Manichaeans)

58 ¾

262-278

W

W

J

½

J

Q

-

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

Q

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

p47 (=Chester Beatty III) 31% of Rev. Rev 9:10, etc.

c.250-300

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

Theonas of Alexandria Letter to Lucianus

3

282-300

-

-

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

p72 + p38+0162+0171+0220+0232 191 + 70 verses

ca.300

-

-

W

-

W

W

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

W

W

-

-

-

W

-

-

Arnobius Against the Heathen

126½

297-303

-

-

-

-

-

A

-

-

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Victorinus of Petau, Austria (OT comment’r)

18 ½

martyr 304

W

4G

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

-

W

W

W

W

-

W

W

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

Phileas of Thmuis, Egypt + Pamphilus

2½+2¾

-307, -309

-

-

-

-

W

-

W

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

Most severe persecution by Diocletian

 

284,303-05

Est 5M Christians. Most severe persecution. Destroyed churches & scriptures. Killed Christians for not sacrificing.

 

Peter of Alexandria (undisputed)

8 ½

285-311

-

-

J

-

-

W

½

½

-

A

-

Q

W

-

-

-

W

-

-

-

-

A

-

-

Q

-

-

-

-

-

Methodius (corrected Origen’s followers)

86 ½

260-312

-

W

J

½

Q

Q

Q

S

W

S

W

W

½

A

W

-

Q

-

A

-

A

-

½

-

-

-

-

-

W

-

Total Christian writer references to 312 A.D.

3433.1

until 312

13

18

37

23

31

26

22

23

26

17

16

19

17

15

13

9

21

9

14

1

13

11

17

8-1

18

7

1

6

18

+ = 7; disputed = 3; X = 6

Christian writer, heretic, or Bible manuscript

pages

Date A.D.

NT

Gsp

Mt

Mk

Lk

Jn

Ac

Rm

1C

2C

Ga

Ep

Pp

Cl

1T

2T

1T

2T

Tt

P

He

Jm

1P

2P

1J

2J

3J

Jd

Re

+ reference to other books

www.Biblequery.org/Bible/BibleCanon/EarlyChristianNTGrid.doc. References at www.Biblequery.org/Bible/bibleCanon/EarlyChristianNTGridReferences.htm. Copyright (c) 2008 Steve Morrison. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA