Did the Catholic Church Canonize the New Testament? NO!

Who canonized the New Testament?

2 Peter 2:12– 21, Near the end of Peter’s life (in the mid sixties of the first century) Peter was concerned with preserving the true and precious Gospel message for posterity. The principal subject of Peter’s Second Epistle was “the precious and exceeding great promises” of Messiah (2 Pet. 1:12) (Martin, p. 285). Second Peter 1:12-21 records Peter’s thoughts on this subject. In this passage, Martin calls our attention to several key phrases that express Peter’s intentions in this regard. Please note them.

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things[the Gospel message], though ye know them, and be firmly fixed in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Master Yeshua Messiah hath showed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. [or, But I will give diligence that at each time you may be able after my death to recall these things to remembrance.] 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Master Yeshua Messiah, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from Elohim the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount [the Mount of Transfiguration]. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy [as opposed to those who propagate fables]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed [to what we are saying, as opposed to those who propagate heretical fables] as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but set-apart men of Elohim spoke as they were moved by the Set-apart Spirit. (emphasis added)

What Peter is saying here is that believers would always have the truth with them. According to Ernest Martin, the only way this could rationally be accomplished is for Peter to leave some authorized written record. He alludes to this when he says, “But I will give diligence that at each time you may be able after my death to recall these things to remembrance … The phrase “at each time” means that the reader could return again andagain to consult the document he was leaving them, even after his death, in order to be assured of what those great and precious promises of [Messiah] really were. Clearly, he is speaking of a written document.” Martin then quotes the Expositors Greek Testament that says that Peter is about to leave “some systematic body of instruction” (vol. 5, p. 129) (Restoring the Original Bible, by Ernest Martin, p. 286).

Professor David Trobisch confirms Martin’s assertion about Peter leaving a literary legacy after his death. In 2 Peter 1:15, Peter states that “he wants to pass his message along to future generations. Aware of his impending death, he writes, ‘And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time recall these things’” (2 Pet 1:15) (The First Edition of the New Testament, by David Trobisch, p. 87). Both Martin (above) and Trobisch agree that this statement is a reference to the formation of the New Testament in Peter’s day. Trobisch continues, “The reader may safely assume that Peter is talking about a literary legacy, since the expression ‘that you should remember’ is repeated later as an explicit reference to Peter’s writings: ‘In both letters … I am reminding you, that you should remember’ (2 Pet 3:1b–2a). Since the Canonical Edition (i.e., the first century New Testament canon compiled and published by the apostles and their helpers) displays a special interest in the writings of the apostle Peter, readers may further assume that the writing referred to is part of the Canonical Edition, though obviously not published under Peter’s name. Once these conclusions are reached, it is not difficult to identify the literary legacy of Peter as the gospel according to Mark.

Among the New Testament authors, Mark is the only disciple of an apostle linked to Peter in the text (Acts 12:12 and 1 Pet 5:13). Readers may feel that these conclusions are confirmed by two corroborating observations. The expression ‘I will make every effort’ (2 Pet 1:15) supports the notion that Peter did not write down his recollections himself but commissioned this work to someone else” (Ibid.). As Trobisch then notes, the historical record indeed states that Mark, who was Peter’s amanuensis (scribal secretary), indeed authored the Gospel of Mark at Peter’s behest (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., 3.39.14–15). “Concerning the contents of this legacy, in the following sentence Peter insists that he and others ‘did not follow cleverly devised myths … but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty’ (2 Pet. 1:16). This describes the claim of the canonical Gospel collection very precisely: it intends to narrate the ministry of [Yeshua] based on the reliable testimony of eyewitnesses” (Ibid., pp. 87–88). In 2 Peter 1:17–18, Peter recounts the event at the Mount of the Transfiguration. Trobisch says, “This reference to the account of the Transfiguration prepares the readers for another, very remarkable cross-reference to the first part of the Canonical Edition, the Old Testament” (Ibid., p. 88).

To read my full teaching article on the canonization of the New Testament, I invite the reader to go to http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/nt_canon_full.pdf.