New Testament Canon

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The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, (272-337) had a great effect on Orthodox Christianity. With his Edict of Milan in 313, Christians had more freedom and Church leadership took aggressive public stances. As a result, Church controversies now flared into public schisms, sometimes with violence. Constantine saw the quelling of religious disorder as the divinely-appointed emperor’s duty and called the 314 Council of Arles against the Donatists and the first Ecumenical Council: the First Council of Nicaea (May 20 - July 25, 325), to settle some of the doctrinal problems seen as plaguing Early Christianity. A number of early Christian writings were lost or destroyed during this time.


Background

Early in the first century, a small group of Jews near Jerusalem started to claim that a young man named Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah. They said that the Romans had executed Jesus, and that their God Yahweh had raised him from the dead.

In the year 62, Iudaea Province began to revolt against the Romans. During this period of instability, temple priests loyal to Herod murdered the group’s leader, James the Just. In the suppression of the rebellions, lasting till 135, Roman troops depopulated and destroyed much of Judaea, including the city of Jerusalem. One account of the life and teachings of Jesus, dating from this time, was written by a person named Matthew.

According to the Orthodox Fathers, the apostle Matthew, wrote his account in Aramaic. Although circulated among Jewish followers of Jesus, this Gospel of the Hebrews was little known among the churches founded by Paul of Tarsus, for even among Paul’s literate followers few were fluent in Aramaic written in Hebrew script.


The Hebrew Text

According to the Fathers, the Gospel of the Hebrews or the Hebrew Gospel was authoritative and apostolic in nature. For example, Papias and Irenaeus wrote that the Apostle Matthew wrote it in “Hebrew letters

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