Canon Muratori

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Last page of the Muratori Canon after the publication of Tregelles , 1868

The Muratori canon is one of the most important testimonies of early New Testament canon history . This directory, probably written in Latin in the 8th century, is named after its discoverer, the archivist Lodovico Antonio Muratori . He published it in 1740 as an example of a bad type of medieval manuscript. Most historians suspect that this is a Latin translation of a text originally written in the Greek language in the late 2nd century.

Date of origin and author

The Muratori canon is handed down in a codex (Cod Ambr. I.101 supp.) From the 8th century . Muratori found this fragment in 1700 among the manuscripts donated by Columban to the library of Bobbio Abbey when he was doing historical research at the Dottori School of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan .

This fragment is probably a translation of a Greek original written in Rome around 170–200 AD into clumsy Latin (see, for example, the clearly recognizable spelling mistake “apocalapse” in line 9 of the page shown). This dating is based mainly on the fact that the Shepherd of Hermas (written around 145) is described as having "recently emerged in our time". In addition, several rejected authors who wrote before or around 150 AD are named at the end ( Valentinus , Marcion , Basilides ), but not later authors such as B. Montanus , about whom there were disputes from around 170 AD.

Alternative conjectures about the origins of the directory date it to the second half of the 3rd century or the 4th century; Sundberg as well as Hahneman assumed the late 4th century. However, these late dates have not caught on. For a late date has been of Christoph Markschies argued that although the word emerging there, the last paragraph of the fragment obtained Kataphryges of Sundberg and Hahneman with "Montanist (s)" is translated, precludes. According to Markschies, in the 4th century it was no longer to be expected that the writings of Valentinus would be included in the canon, this suggests an earlier date.

The name of the author does not appear from the text. As the author, some suspect, on the basis of textual or content parallels, Hippolytus of Rome or Victorinus of Poetovio .

Literary genre

The fragment cannot be clearly assigned to any known literary genre. It is “a fragment without its original beginning and end”. At the beginning there is apparently no information on the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark, at the end the document breaks off suddenly. Some passages give brief explanations of New Testament books, while other sections are more catechtical .

According to Markschies, it could have been a prologue to an edition of the Bible, a lexical index or a summary of explanations in letters on questions relating to biblical topics. Another possibility is that the document was intended as a "monastic manual to the Bible".

Directory of New Testament books

The beginning of the manuscript with the references to Matthew and Mark has not survived. Of the canonical writings of the New Testament, the Muratori canon mentions the Gospel of Luke "as the third Gospel" and the Gospel of John as the fourth, followed by the Acts of the Apostles of Luke . Then he enumerates the Pauline letters , names three of the Catholic letters ( Jude , 1st and 2nd John ) and the Book of Wisdom , which today is one of the Deuterocanonical writings of the Old Testament . Except for the letter to the Hebrews , the 1st and 2nd Peter , the James and the 3rd letter of John are not included .

In addition to the Apocalypse of John , the apocryphal Apocalypse of Peter is also mentioned, in relation to the latter with the addition quam quidam ex nostris legi in ecclesia nolunt (which some do not want to be read in the congregation) .

The apocryphal shepherd of Hermas may be read ( legi eum quidem oportet ), but not publicly read to the community ( publicare vero in ecclesia populo ). Other apocryphal writings are discarded: the Letters Paul to the Laodiceans and Alexandrians are rejected as forgeries ( Pauli nomine fictae ), as well as writings of Arsinous, Valentinus , Miltiades and one allegedly for Marcion authored the book of Psalms ( nihil in totum recipimus ).


book Canon Muratori Today's canon
Gospel according to Matthew Probably Yes
Gospel according to Mark Probably Yes
Gospel according to Luke Yes Yes
Gospel according to John Yes Yes
Acts of Luke Yes Yes
Romans Yes Yes
1st letter to the Corinthians Yes Yes
2 Corinthians Yes Yes
Galatians Yes Yes
Ephesians Yes Yes
Philippians Yes Yes
Colossians Yes Yes
1st letter to Thessalonians Yes Yes
2. Letter to the Thessalonians Yes Yes
1. Timothy Yes Yes
2. Timothy Yes Yes
Letter to Titus Yes Yes
Philemon letter Yes Yes
Hebrews Yes Yes
James No Yes
1. Peter’s letter No Yes
2. Peter’s letter No Yes
1. Letter to John Probably Yes
2. John Maybe Yes
3. Letter to John Maybe Yes
Jude's letter Yes Yes
Revelating of the Johannes Yes Yes
Revelation of Peter Yes No
Wisdom of Solomon Yes No


  • Karl August Credner : About the oldest registers of the holy scriptures of the Catholic Church. In: Ferdinand Christian Baur, Eduard Zeller (Hrsg.): Theological year books. Vol. 16, Tübingen 1857, p. 299 ( available online ).
  • Karl August Credner: On the history of the canon. Verlag des Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses, Halle 1847, pp. 69-94 (Chapter 2: The fragmentum de canone scripturarum see at Muratori ( available online )).
  • Geoffrey Mark Hahneman: The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1992, ISBN 0-19-826341-4 .
  • CE Hill: The Debate Over the Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon. In: Westminster Theological Journal 57 (1995), pp. 437-452.
  • Werner Georg Kümmel : Introduction to the New Testament. Quelle + Meyer, Heidelberg 1983, ISBN 3-494-00089-1 .
  • Hans Lietzmann : The Muratoric Fragment and the Monarchian Prologues to the Gospels (= small texts for theological lectures and exercises. Ed. By Hans Lietzmann. Vol. 1). A. Marcus and E. Weber's Verlag, Bonn 1902 ( available online ).
  • Wilhelm Schneemelcher : New Testament Apocrypha in German translation. Vol. 1. Mohr, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-16-147252-7 (German translation pp. 27-29).
  • Samuel Prideaux Tregelles : Canon Muratorianus. The earliest catalog of the books of the New Testament. Edited with notes and a facsimile of the MS in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1867 ( available online ).
  • J. Verheyden: The Canon Muratori; A matter of dispute. In: Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium (BEThL). Leuven 2003, pp. 487-556.
  • Christoph Markschies : Imperial Christian theology and its institutions. Prolegomena to a History of Ancient Christian Theology. Mohr Siebeck, 2009, ISBN 978-3-16-149957-9 .
  • Joachim Orth, The Muratorian Fragment. The question of its dating , Patrimonium, Aachen 2020 ( Diss. University of Vienna 2018 ).

Web links

Wikisource: Bible  - especially Jülicher, Canon Muratorianus

Single receipts

  1. ^ A b c d Christoph Markschies: Imperial Christian theology and its institutions. Prolegomena to a History of Ancient Christian Theology. Mohr Siebeck, 2009, p. 229 f.
  2. ^ A b Christoph Markschies: Imperial Christian theology and its institutions. Prolegomena to a History of Ancient Christian Theology. P. 234.
  3. ^ Albert C. Sundberg : Canon Muratori: A Fourth-Century List. In: Harvard Theological Review 66 (1973) pp. 1-41, and Hahneman: Muratorian Fragment , 1992.
  4. So Jens Schröter : From Jesus to the New Testament. Studies on the early Christian history of theology and the emergence of the New Testament canon. Tübingen 2007, p. 310, note 60.
  5. ^ Jonathan J. Armstrong: Victorinus of Pettau as the Author of the Canon Muratori. In: Vigiliae Christianae 62 (2008), pp. 1-34.
  6. a b The beginning of the Muratorian Canon is lost; the fragment that survived begins by naming Luke the third gospel and John the fourth. Historians therefore assume that the first two Gospels would have been Matthew and Mark, although this remains uncertain.
  7. a b c d Martin Luther doubted the canonies of the Hebrews, James, Judas and the Revelation of John. He showed this the way he sorted them. However, he did include the books in his canon, and all Lutheran communities have since.
  8. a b c Canon Muratori mentions two letters from John, but gives little indication of which. Therefore, it is not known which of the three was excluded, but which would later be considered canonical. Bruce Metzger decided that the canon is quoting Muratori 1 John 1: 1-3 when he writes: “What wonder then that John so consistently mentions these specific points in his letters, saying about himself, 'What we Have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and treated with our hands these things that we wrote to you? '" Bruce Metzger (translator): The Muratorian fragment . Retrieved July 9, 2018.