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Explanation of the word Canon in the New Testament?


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Many people are familiar with the word “canon” as it is used when discussing fictional works.  It refers to those books or other works that are an official part of the created world, as opposed to those created by others, like fan fiction.  It also distinguishes the written word from speculation or theories built on that word, but not directly supported by it.  Canon has a similar meaning in Biblical studies of the New Testament.  It refers specifically to those books believed to have been divinely inspired and incorporated into the New Testament.  This makes Christianity somewhat different from many other religions, which may incorporate interpretive texts into their canon as well as the original holy book. 

Christianity is a huge religion, and its umbrella actually covers a number of different religions that have as many differences as similarities.  Which books are considered canon depends on the denomination of Christianity.  However, because Christianity traces its roots to a single church, there is a general consensus about many of the books that are considered canon.  What is now known as the Roman Catholic Church was the original Christian church, though it had relatively early splits with eastern Orthodox versions of the religion, and a later major schism with protestant variants.  Mormonism is the most recent large Christian denomination to develop, and it introduced the Book of Mormon as canon, however this is considered a distinct work from the New Testament and is not considered New Testament Canon for Mormons. 

At this time, almost all Christian denominations recognize the same 27 books as New Testament canon, though the translations of those works differ between denominations, in ways that can be significant in terms of meaning and religious practice.  Those books include the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the 14 Epistles of Paul, the…

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