Father Ludovico Antonio Muratori – the most famous Italian historian of his era – discovered the Muratorian fragment in the Ambrosian Library of Milan and published it in 1740.

The Muratorian Fragment itself can be traced back to the 7th century, a Latin manuscript from the library of the Bobbio Abbey, a monastery of Saint Columbanus. However, the Latin manuscript is actually a translation from the Greek original dated to 170 A.D., making it the earliest known copy of a New Testament canon.

Containing 85 lines, the beginning of the fragment is missing, and it ends abruptly. As the fragment is degraded and written in a poor quality barbarous Latin, translation of it proved difficult. However, the fragment is traditionally dated to 170 A.D. as it mentions the pontificate of Pius I (140-155 A.D.) as recent.

“But Hermas wrote The Shepherd “most recently in our time”, in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome.”

The unidentified author of the fragment lists the four Gospels, all Acts of the Apostles, and all Pauline epistles save for the Letter to the Hebrews. The author says the now-lost Epistles to the Laodiceans and Alexadrians by Paul were actually “forged in Paul’s name to further the heresy of Marcion.”

The author also accepts the Epistle of Jude, but makes no mention of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, James, nor Hebrews. Curiously, the author accepts both the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) and the non-canon Apocalypse of Peter, but makes note that “some of us will not allow the latter to be read in church.”

Below is a comparison of the canon in the fragment versus today’s canon:

Book Muratorian Canon Catholic Canon
Gospel of Matthew Probably Yes
Gospel of Mark Probably Yes
Gospel of Luke Yes Yes
Gospel of John Yes Yes
Acts of the Apostles Yes Yes
Romans Yes Yes
1 Corinthians Yes Yes
2 Corinthians Yes Yes
Galatians Yes Yes
Ephesians Yes Yes
Philippians Yes Yes
Colossians Yes Yes
1 Thessalonians Yes Yes
2 Thessalonians Yes Yes
1 Timothy Yes Yes
2 Timothy Yes Yes
Titus Yes Yes
Philemon Yes Yes
Hebrews No Yes
James No Yes
1 Peter No Yes
2 Peter No Yes
1 John Probably Yes
2 John Maybe Yes
3 John Maybe Yes
Jude Yes Yes
Apocalypse of John Yes Yes
Apocalypse of Peter[12] Yes No
Wisdom of Solomon Yes Yes
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3 COMMENTS

  1. […] of Hospitality Best Way for Parishes to Serve the Disabled – K. Jones at CNA via NC Rgstr The Muratorian Fragment: The Oldest Known List of Books in the New Testament – uCatholic Fit For Neri: A Well Tailored Chasuble in the “Neri” Form – Sh. […]

  2. Note that in the Muratorian Canon, the book of Wisdom is listed as among the NEW Testament books, whereas in every other known list, ancient and modern, it is rightly listed as among the Old Testament books (or Apocrypha).
    Perhaps the author was aware that it was not considered canonical by Jews, but had heard it read in the 2nd-century Christian liturgy, and so should be included in a New Testament list.
    Or perhaps he thought that the description in Wisdom 2:16 (“He boasts that God is his Father”) and 18 (“if the just one be the Son of God”) is so reminiscent of Christ, that it could only have been written by a Christian?

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