This is a subsidiary post of The Formation of the New Testament…from Beginning to End.
It is also a subsidiary post of Editorial Activity of the New Testament.
It is also a subsidiary post of Obstacles in the Study of New Testament Formation.
When we study the history of how the New Testament canon of 27 books came to be, we must be prepared to deal with the vagaries of semantics. For example, the very word “canon” – in the sense I just used it – is not found in the New Testament. The word is there, but not in the sense of a collection of writings. The same can be said about “New Testament.” Therefore, the very concept of a “New Testament canon” is not discussed in the New Testament, yet we see it commonly used from the late fourth century onward. We must peer into the second and third centuries to determine when and how these terms were coined. As with a term like “9/11,” many more people use the term than understand its origins. Fewer still stop to write about those origins.
This semantic issue I am discussing applies to terms such as “canon,” “new testament,” “Bible,” and “gospel.” If we do not consider the etymology of such words, our study of the history of the New Testament canon will be subject to anachronisms and therefore misunderstandings.
Here are individuals treatments of terms subject to anachronism: