Muratorian Fragment, a very ancient list of the
books of N.T. first pub. in 1740 by Muratori (Ant. Ital. Med. Aev. iii.
851) and found in a 7th or 8th cent. MS. in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. The
MS. had come from the Irish monastery of Bobbio, and the fragment seems to have
been a copy of a loose
The first line of the fragment evidently concludes its notice of St. Mark's Gospel; for it proceeds to speak of St. Luke's as in the 3rd place, St. John's in the 4th. A notice of St. Matthew's and St. Mark's must have come before, but we have no means of knowing whether the O.T. books preceded that notice. The document appears to have dealt with the choice of topics in the Gospels and the point where each began (cf. Iren. iii. 11). It is stated that St. Luke (and apparently St. Mark also) had not seen our Lord in the flesh. For its story as to the composition of St. John's Gospel see LEUCIUS. The document goes on to say that by one and the same sovereign Spirit the same fundamental doctrines are fully taught in all concerning our Lord's birth, life, passion, resurrection, and future coming. At the date of this document, therefore, belief was fully established in the pre-eminence of the four Gospels, and in their divine inspiration. Next comes the Acts, St. Luke being credited with purposing to record only what fell under his own notice, thus omitting the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul's journey to Spain. Thirteen epistles of St. Paul are then mentioned. (a) epistles to churches, in the order: I. and II. Cor., Eph., Phil., Col., Gal., I. and II. Thess., Rom. It is observed that St. Paul addressed (like St. John) only seven churches by name, 1 shewing that he addressed the universal church. (b) Epistles to individuals: Philemon, Titus, and two to Timothy, written from personal affection, but hallowed by the Catholic church for the ordering of ecclesiastical discipline. Next follow words which we quote from Westcott's trans.: "Moreover there is in circulation an epistle to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, bearing on [al. 'favouring'] the heresy of Marcion, and several others, which cannot be received into the Catholic church, for gall ought not to be mingled with honey. The epistle of Jude, however, and two epistles bearing the name of John, are received in the Catholic [church] (or, are reckoned among the Catholic [epistles]). And the book of Wisdom, written by the friends of Solomon in his honour [is acknowledged]. We receive, moreover, the Apocalypses of St. John and St. Peter only, which latter some of our body will not have read in the church." Marcion entitled his version of Eph. "to the Laodiceans," and there is a well-known pseudo-Pauline epistle with the same title. It has been generally conjectured that by the epistle "to the Alexandrians," Hebrews is meant; but it is nowhere else so described, has no Marcionite tendency, and is not "under the name of Paul." The fragment may refer to some current writing which has not survived, or the Ep. of Barnabas might possibly be intended. Though only two Epp. of John are mentioned, the opening sentence of I. John had been quoted in the paragraph treating of the Gospel, and our writer may have read that epistle as a kind of appendix to the Gospel, and be here speaking of the other two. The mention of Wisdom in a list of N.T. books is perplexing. Perhaps we should read "ut" for "et"; and the Proverbs of Solomon and not the apocryphal book of Wisdom may be intended. There may be an inaccurate reference to Prov. xxv. 1 (LXX). The fragment next says that the Shepherd was written "very lately, in our own time" in the city of Rome, his brother-bishop Pius then occupying the chair of the Roman church; that, therefore, it ought to be read, but not in the public reading of the church. The text of the last sentence of the document is very corrupt, but evidently names writings which are rejected altogether, including those of Arsinous, Valentinus, and Militiades, mention being also made of the Cataphrygians of Asia.
Westcott has shewn that no argument can be built upon
the omissions (Ep. of James, both Epp. of Peter, and Hebrews) of our fragment,
since it shews so many blunders of transcription, and some breaks in the sense.
Certainly I. Peter held, at the earliest date claimed for the fragment, such a
position in the Roman church that entire silence in respect to it seems
incredible. Of disquisitions on our fragment we may name Credner, N. T.
Kanon, Volkmar's ed. 141 seq. 341 seq.; Routh, Rell. Sac. i. 394;
Tregelles, Canon Muratorianus; Hesse, op. cit.; Westcott, N. T.
Canon, 208 seq. 514 seq.; and esp. Zahn, Gesch. der N.T. Kanons, ii.
1 (1890), pp. 1-143; also Lietzman's Das Mur Frag. (Bonn, 1908), besides
countless arts. in journals, e.g. Harnack, in Text und Unters.
(1900); Overbeck, Zur Geschichte des Kanons (1880); Hilgenfeld,
Zeitschrift (1881), p. 129. Hilgenfeld (Kanon, p. 44), and
Bötticher (De Lagarde) in Bunsen's Hippolytus i. 2nd ed. Christianity
and Mankind, attempted its re-translation into Greek; an ed., with notes and
facsimile by S. P. Tregelles, is pub, by the Clar. Press. The present writer
expressed in 1874 (Hermathena i.) an opinion which he now holds with more
1 I.e. "nomination," which might suggest the acknowledgment as St. Paul's of Hebrews as not addressed to a church by name. But no mention of that epistle follows, as we should in that case expect. Cyril's mention of Paul's Epp. to Seven Churches (de Exhort. Mort. 11, cf. Tert. adv. Jud. and Optatus, de Schism. Don. ii. 3) and the language of Augustine (de Civ. Dei. xvii. iv. 4), Victorinus of Padua (in Apoc. 1) and Pseudo-Chrys. (Op. imperf. in Matt. i. 6 pp. vi. xvii. Bened. ed.) suggest the acquaintance of those writers with our document.
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