Interactive Media: Canon Comparison

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This post has 9 Replies | 2 Followers

Posts 172
Jonathan J Watson | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Oct 24 2014 2:40 PM

What is it?

Better understand the history of the Bible with the Canon Comparison tool. With a click, discover the canonical differences between religious traditions and how the Bible evolved throughout history.

Compare the books in the Orthodox canon to the Roman Catholic canon, explore ancient canon lists, like the Muratorian canon and Origen canon, and study ancient editions and manuscripts. Every book in the Bible is color coded to suit its genre and theme, so you can easily scan the information for the Gospels, the Pauline Epistles, Major Prophets, and more.

This new tool offers easily-digestible ways to better understand canonical differences and the history of the Bible.

Open in Logos 6

How do I get it?

For more information, check out this product on

Posts 1033
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 8:06 AM

Good morning Jonathan, God bless you:

Pardon my ignorance, but I would like to know in your opinion what are some of the more important issues related to the different canons as per different traditions (i.e. to the lay believer what consequences in doctrine and practice have, and what should normal sheep be aware of).

My first language is Spanish, and in Logos I use the BTX (Santa Biblia Textual), in the notes it says that they use documents older than Byzantine to produce the version, and thus they consider it to be closer to the originals.

BTX says: 


Traducción Contextual al Castellano [Contextual translation to Spanish]

Santa Biblia: La Biblia Textual, Segunda Edición. (1999). Sociedad Bíblica Iberoamericana, Inc.

Thanks ahead of time for any orientation you can give us.  Blessings.

Posts 36311
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 2:33 PM

The BTX is, as you note, based on the current critical editions -- as are most recent translations. Besides the two critical editions you mentioned, there are two other critical editions to consider:

  • Gottingen Septuagint, especially important to the Eastern Orthodox tradition
  • Leiden Peshitta, especially important to the Oriental Orthodox tradition

Basic history:

At the time of Jesus mission, many Jews did not understand Hebrew. Therefore the Targums (in Aramaic) and the Septuagint (in Greek) were used in Jewish communities in addition to the Hebrew. There are lists of New Testament quotations of Old Testament scripture that show which version (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) was most likely being quoted.

As the church developed, it had three major branches - the easternmost Church used Syriac as its liturgical language i.e. the language follows the Aramaic thread. The primary Syriac Bible is the Peshitta and most other Bibles are built off it. However, the Armenian Bible has an independent tradition while being part of the "Oriental Orthodox" tradition. The Nestorian controversy split this branch off from the rest of the Church. With one exception, the Oriental Orthodox have reconciled but not merged with the Eastern Orthodox and Catholics.

The second major branch, the middle Church geographically is the Byzantine (Eastern) Orthodox Church. It simply retained the Greek Bible - the Greek Old Testament of Jesus time and the Greek New Testament as written. It includes the Georgian and Slavic Bibles. Like the Armenian, the Georgian Bible has a somewhat independent tradition. Sidenote: Armenia was the first country to declare Christianity their national religion; Georgia followed fairly closely behind.

The third major branch of the Church is the Western branch which used Latin as their liturgical language and the Vulgate as their primary Bible. The Vulgate includes translations from both the Hebrew and from the Greek as its Old Testament. The Byzantine and Western churches split in 1054 over very small theological differences but a huge cultural divide.

All three of these branches included non-Hebrew books in their Old Testament, often using terminology to distinguish them from the Hebrew books. Examples:

  • (Proto)canonical (all traditions) i.e. canonical across “all” traditional definitions
  • Deuterocanonical (Catholic) i.e. second canon
  • Ecclesiastical (Catholic) i.e. used in church
  • Anagignoskomena (Eastern Orthodox) i.e. worthy to be read
  • Outside (Syrian Church) i.e. outside the Hebrew canon but worthy to be read[1]
  • Biblical but not canonical[2] (Lutheran)
  • Apocrypha as used by the Reformation movement in the Western Church
  • Not (proto)canonical but useful reading – all traditions

During the Reformation, Anglicans and Lutherans resequenced the books so that the presumably non-Hebrew books were together. The Calvinists deleted the books.

The canon comparison tool includes bibliographic references that should fill in the details. There are still some errors in the data which will eventually be corrected.

[1] See Council of Partaw for an example of this terminology.

[2] Rich Futrell, “The Apocrypha and Change within the Lutheran and Roman Churches”, Shepherd of the hills Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, (Accessed December 15, 2014).


Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1033
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 12 2015 12:23 PM

Good afternoon, God Bless you all:

Wow M.J., you are the best. Thanks for clarifying this. 

Are there any particular Bible versions that you endorse?

Do you know if there is much divergent theological conclusions drawn from the different versions, or in the foundational doctrines are them pretty much close?

Thanks in advance for your valuable input, God bless.

Posts 36311
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 12 2015 1:31 PM

Hamilton Ramos:

Are there any particular Bible versions that you endorse?

Not on the forums Smile It depends on the use as there are Bibles that are good for serious study that are not good for public reading. And my choice for devotional reading and the Psalms is again a separate choice. But for serious study here the source for evaluation that I use:

"Something I just ran across in a Journal of Hebrew Scriptures review that might be of interest regarding selecting a translation (Of course, it's one person's opinion).

In Part One (chapters 1 and 2) Gorman discusses the task and text of exegesis. In chapter one he briefly defines exegesis before discussing the strengths and weaknesses of various ways in which exegesis has been done. He compares and contrasts the synchronic approach (focusing on the final form of the text as seen, for example, in narrative-critical, social-scientific, or socio-rhetorical readings) with the diachronic approach (the historical-critical method) and the existential approach (his name for readings which focus on hermeneutics, transformation, or theology, such as missional interpretation, sacred readings, postcolonial criticism, or liberationist exegesis). He argues for an eclectic approach in which synchronic exegesis is the first among equals. In chapter two Gorman focuses on the selection of an English translation for exegesis. He expresses a preference for formal-equivalence translations and divides translations into four categories: 1) preferred for exegesis (NRSV, NAB, TNIV, and NET), 2) useful for exegesis, with caution (RSV, NIV, NASB, REB, ESV, HCSB), 3) unacceptable for exegesis, but helpful in others ways (NLT, NJB, CEV, GNB, The Message), and 4) unacceptable for exegesis (KJV, NKJV, LB)."

Gorman, Michael J. Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers

(Revised and Expanded Edition; Peabody MA; Hendrickson, 2009). Pp. xii+286, Paperback, US$19.95, ISBN 978-1-59856-311-5--

Hamilton Ramos:

Do you know if there is much divergent theological conclusions drawn from the different versions, or in the foundational doctrines are them pretty much close?

The foundational doctrines are extremely close to the point that discussions of theologians across the traditions spend most of their time understanding differences in vocabulary, emphasis and cultural implementation. The primary theological split in Christianity is between the Radical Reformation (i.e. exclude Anglicans and Lutherans) and the rest of the church (Anglican, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox). That theological divide is not the result of differences in canon rather the theological differences caused the difference in canon. However, either side could adopt the other's canon without diminishing their ability to argue their theology.

Note: the Anglicans and Lutherans represent a middle position between the Catholics and Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental) and the Radical Reformation. As such they have more distinctive doctrines but few of them are foundational as I would use the term.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1033
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 14 2015 5:51 AM

Good morning, God bless you richly in all areas M.J.:

Thanks for the input, I do have the book you mention, I will read it.

My question is: the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures is part of bot the the Academic journal bundle, and the master journal bundle, in your opinion, do you recommend getting either of the bundles or the journal alone? that is: if you were to obtain the journal, would you buy it alone, or would pick one of the bundles?

Have you thought of writing a condensed e book comparing the theology of some of the different traditions?, I find that each tradition has something really good to offer, and I know of no one that points to the good of each one, so that others can learn from.  The closest is the book Survivor's guide to theology by Mr. Sawyer.

Thanks for your valuable input, and your time, God bless you.

Posts 6111
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Nov 4 2015 5:47 PM

Today I decided to explore this feature, and I immediately spotted a typo, one which happens to also be visible in Jonathan's screenshot.

It should be "Samaritan Pentateuch", not "Samartian Pentateuch".

Other than that, this is quite a nice little tool.

EDIT: The description write-up for the Athanasian Canon needs to be cleaned up. There are a lot of stray question marks.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

Posts 819
Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 5 2015 11:58 AM

Thanks for the typo reports. We'll get those fixed in a future update.

Posts 31
Jonathan Haas | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 5 2015 12:29 PM

Hey SineNomine,

We have fixed the typos in question, and the update will go out shortly.

Thanks for reporting,


Posts 3140
Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 5 2015 12:50 PM

Samartian Pentateuch

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

Faithlife Corp. owes the MVPs free resources for life.

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