The Muratorian canon.

A canonical list dating to late century II known for its terrible Latin spelling.


I have never read a Latin text with such bad spelling as the Muratorian canon. It also bears odd abbreviations (such as an overstrike to take the place of a final m).

This list of accepted Christian texts must date to the second century, as it describes the Shepherd of Hermas as having been composed recently (nuperrime), in the episcopate of Pius, early second century. It was named for the discoverer and publisher of the original manuscript (which dates to century VIII), Ludovico Muratori.

With its original lineation and terrible spelling intact:

  1. ...quibus tamen interfuit et ita posuit.
  2. tertio evangelii librum secundo Lucan.
  3. Lucas iste medicus post ascensum Xri,
  4. cum eo Paulus quasi ut iuris studiosum
  5. secundum adsumsisset, numeni suo
  6. ex opinione conscripset. dnm tamen nec ipse
  7. d vidit in carne et ide prout asequi potuit,
  8. ita et ad nativitate Iohannis incipet dicere.
  9. quarti evangeliorum Iohannis ex decipolis.
  10. cohortantibus condescipulis et eps suis
  11. dixit: Conieiunate mihi odie triduo et quid
  12. cuique fuerit revelatum alterutrum
  13. nobis ennarremus. eadem nocte reve-
  14. latum andreae ex apostolis ut recognis-
  15. centibus cuntis Iohannis suo nomine
  16. cuncta describeret. et ideo licet varia sin-
  17. culis evangeliorum libris principia
  18. doceantur; nihil tamen differt creden
  19. tium fidei, cum uno ac principali spu de
  20. clarata sint in omnibus omnia de nativi-
  21. tate, de passione, de resurrectione,
  22. de conversatione cum decipulis suis,
  23. ac de gemino eius adventu,
  24. primo in humilitate dispectus quod fo-
  25. tu, secundum potestate regali pre-
  26. clarum, quod foturum est. quid ergo
  27. mirum si Iohannes tam constanter
  28. sincula etia in epistulis suis proferam,
  29. dicens in semeipsu: Quae vidimus oculis
  30. nostris et auribus audivimus et manus
  31. nostrae palpaverunt, haec scripsimus vobis.
  32. sic enim non solum visurem sed et auditorem,
  33. sed et scriptore omnium mirabiliu dni per ordi-
  34. nem proftetur. acta aute omniu apostolorum
  35. sub uno libro scribta sunt. Lucas obtime Theofi-
  36. le comprindit quia sub praesentia eius sincula
  37. gerebantur, sicute et semote passione Petri
  38. evidenter declarat, sed et profectione Pauli ab ur-
  39. be ad Spania proficiscentis. epistulae autem
  40. Pauli, quae a quo loco vel qua ex causa directe
  41. sint volentatibus intellegere ipse declarant.
  42. primu omnium Corintheis scysmae heresis in
  43. terdicens, deinceps b Callaetis circumcisione,
  44. Romanis aute ordine scripturarum sed et
  45. principium earum osd esse Xrm intimans
  46. prolexius scripsit. de quibus sincolis neces-
  47. se est ad nobis disputari, cum ipse beatus
  48. apostolus Paulus sequens prodecessoris sui
  49. Iohannis ordine non nisi nominati sempte
  50. ecclesiis scribat ordine tali, a Corenthios
  51. prima, ad Efesius seconda, ad Philippinses ter-
  52. tia, ad Colosensis quarta, ad Calatas quin-
  53. ta, ad Tensaolenecinsis sexta, ad Romanos
  54. septima. verum Corintheis et Thesaolecen-
  55. sibus licet pro correbtione iteretur, una
  56. tamen per omnem orbem terrae ecclesia
  57. deffusa esse denoscitur. et Iohannis eni in a-
  58. pocalebsy licet septe eccleseis scribat,
  59. tamen omnibus dicit. veru ad Filemonem una,
  60. et at Titu una, et ad Tymotheu duas pro affec-
  61. to et dilectione. in honore tamen eclesiae ca-
  62. tholice in ordinatione eclesiastice
  63. discepline scificate sunt. fertur etiam ad
  64. Laudecenses, alia ad Alexandrinos, Pauli no-
  65. mine fincte ad heresem Marcionis, et alia plu-
  66. ra, quae in chatholicam eclesiam recepi non
  67. potest, fel enim cum melle misceri non con-
  68. cruit. epistola sane Iude et superscrictio
  69. Iohannis duas in catholica habentur, et sapi-
  70. entia ab amicis Salomonis in honore ipsius
  71. scripta. apocalapse etiam Iohanis et Pe-
  72. tri tantum recipimus, quam quidam ex nos-
  73. tris legi in eclesia nolunt. pastorem vero
  74. nuperrimet temporibus nostris in urbe
  75. Roma Herma conscripsit, sedente cathe-
  76. tra urbis Romae aecclesiae Pio eps fratre
  77. eius. et ideo legi eum quide oportet, se pu-
  78. blicare vero in eclesia populo, neque inter
  79. profetas, completum numero, neque inter
  80. apostolos, in fine temporum potest.
  81. Arsinoi autem seu Valentini vel Mitiadis
  82. nihil in totum recipemus, qui etiam novu
  83. psalmorum librum Marcioni conscripse-
  84. runt una cum Basilide Assianom Catafry-
  85. cum constitutorem....
  1. ...among which however he was and so he put them down.
  2. The third book of the gospel, that according to Luke.
  3. This Luke, the physician, after the ascension of Christ,
  4. when Paul had taken him with him as studied in the law,
  5. wrote it down in his own name from
  6. opinion. The Lord, however, he did not see
  7. in the flesh either, and thus, as he was able to follow up,
  8. so he begins to speak even at the nativity of John.
  9. The fourth of the gospels, of John from the disciples.
  10. To his own fellow disciples and bishops, who were exhorting him,
  11. he said: Fast together with me today three days and what
  12. will be revealed to each of us
  13. let us narrate to each other. That same night it was
  14. revealed to Andrew from the apostles that with all recognizing
  15. it John should write down all things
  16. in his own name. And on that account various
  17. principal things are taught by the single books
  18. of the gospels; nevertheless it makes no difference
  19. to the faith of believers, since from one principal spirit
  20. all things are declared in all of them of the nativity,
  21. of the passion, of the resurrection,
  22. of conversation with his disciples,
  23. and of his twin advent,
  24. the first despised in humility, which is past,
  25. the second manifest in royal power,
  26. which is future. What marvel, therefore,
  27. is it if John so constantly
  28. also in his epistles profers single points,
  29. saying about himself: What we saw with our eyes
  30. and heard with our ears and our hands
  31. handled, these things we wrote to you?
  32. For so not only an eyewitness and earwitness,
  33. but also a writer of all the marvelous things of the Lord,
  34. in order, he professes to be. The Acts, moreover, of all the apostles
  35. were written in one book. Luke for the most excellent
  36. Theophilus compiled the singular things that happened in his presence,
  37. as he also evidently declares with the removal of the
  38. passion of Peter, but also the departure of Paul from the city
  39. proceeding to Spain. The epistles of Paul, however, themselves
  40. declare, to those willing to understand, which ones
  41. are from what place or for what cause they were directed.
  42. First of all to the Corinthians against the schism
  43. of heresy, then to the Galatians against circumcision;
  44. to the Romans, however, he wrote rather at length,
  45. but also intimating by an order of scriptures that Christ
  46. was their beginning. Concerning these it is necessary
  47. that the single epistles be discussed by us, since the blessed
  48. apostle Paul, following the order of his predecessor
  49. John, wrote only to seven churches
  50. by name, in this order, to the Corinthians
  51. first, to the Ephesians second, to the Philippians
  52. third, to the Colossians fourth, to the Galatians
  53. fifth, to the Thessalonians sixth, to the Romans
  54. seventh. Though, granted, it was repeated to the
  55. Corinthians and to the Thessalonians for corruption,
  56. nevertheless one church is made known to be diffused
  57. throughout the whole orb of the earth. For John too,
  58. granted that he wrote to seven churches in the apocalypse,
  59. nevertheless spoke to all. Nevertheless, he wrote one
  60. to Philemon and one to Titus, and two to Timothy for his
  61. affection and love. In honor of the catholic church,
  62. however, they were sanctified by the ordination
  63. of the ecclesiastical discipline. There is also extant
  64. one to the Laodiceans, another to the Alexandrians,
  65. forged in the name of Paul for the heresy of Marcion,
  66. and many others, which cannot be received in the catholic
  67. church, for it is not fit to mix gall with
  68. honey. An epistle of Jude indeed and two by the superscription
  69. of John are held in the catholic, and also
  70. the wisdom of Solomon written by his friends in his
  71. honor. We also receive only the apocalypses of John
  72. and of Peter, though some from among us
  73. do not wish them to be read in the church. However,
  74. Hermas composed the Shepherd recently, in our own times,
  75. in the city of Rome, while his brother Pius the bishop
  76. was sitting in the chair of the city of Rome.
  77. And therefore it is fitting that it be read,
  78. but it cannot be published for the people in the church, neither
  79. among the prophets, since their number is complete, nor among
  80. the apostles, since it is the end of their times.
  81. We receive nothing at all, however, of Arsinoes
  82. or of Valentinus or of Mitiades, those also who
  83. composed a new book of psalms for Marcion
  84. together with Basilides and the Cataphrygians
  85. of Asia....

What follows is a possible reconstruction of the text, relieving it of its atrocious spelling. Nomina sacra are expanded with braces; the final m abbreviation is expanded without them:

  1. ...quibus tamen interfuit et ita posuit.
  2. tertium evangelii librum secundum Lucam.
  3. Lucas iste medicus post ascensum Xr{ist}i,
  4. cum eum Paulus quasi ut iuris studiosum
  5. secundum adsumsisset, nomene suo
  6. ex opinione conscripsit. d{omi}num tamen nec ipse
  7. vidit in carne et idem prout assequi potuit,
  8. ita et ad nativitate Iohannis incipit dicere.
  9. quartum evangeliorum Iohannis ex discipulis.
  10. cohortantibus condiscipulis et ep{iscopi}s suis
  11. dixit: Conieiunate mihi hodie triduum et quid
  12. cuique fuerit revelatum alterutrum
  13. nobis enarremus. eadem nocte reve-
  14. latum andreae ex apostolis ut recognos-
  15. centibus cunctis Iohannis suo nomine
  16. cuncta describeret. et ideo licet varia sin-
  17. gulis evangeliorum libris principia
  18. doceantur; nihil tamen differt creden
  19. tium fidei, cum uno ac principali sp{irit}u de-
  20. clarata sint in omnibus omnia de nativi-
  21. tate, de passione, de resurrectione,
  22. de conversatione cum discipulis suis,
  23. ac de gemino eius adventu,
  24. primum in humilitate despectus quod fu-
  25. it, secundum potestate regali prae-
  26. clarum, quod futurum est. quid ergo
  27. mirum si Iohannes tam constanter
  28. singula etiam in epistulis suis proferat,
  29. dicens in semetipso: Quae vidimus oculis
  30. nostris et auribus audivimus et manus
  31. nostrae palpaverunt, haec scripsimus vobis.
  32. sic enim non solum visorem et auditorem,
  33. sed et scriptorem omnium mirabilium d{omi}ni per ordi-
  34. nem profitetur. acta aute omnium apostolorum
  35. sub uno libro scripta sunt. Lucas optimo Theophi-
  36. lo comprehendit quia sub praesentia eius singula
  37. gerebantur, sicut et remote passionem Petri
  38. evidenter declarat, sed et profectionem Pauli ab ur-
  39. be ad Spaniam proficiscentis. epistulae autem
  40. Pauli, quae a quo loco vel qua ex causa directae
  41. sint volentibus intellegere ipsae declarant.
  42. primum omnium Corinthiis schisma haeresis in
  43. terdicens, deinceps Galatis circumcisionem,
  44. Romanis autem ordine scripturarum, sed et
  45. principium earum esse Xr{istu}m intimans
  46. prolixius scripsit. de quibus singulis neces-
  47. se est a nobis disputari, cum ipse beatus
  48. apostolus Paulus sequens prodecessoris sui
  49. Iohannis ordinem non nisi nominatim septem
  50. ecclesiis scribat ordine tali, ad Corinthios
  51. prima, ad Ephesios secunda, ad Philippenses ter-
  52. tia, ad Colossenses quarta, ad Galatas quin-
  53. ta, ad Thessalonicenses sexta, ad Romanos
  54. septima. verum Corinthiis et Thessalonicen-
  55. sibus licet pro correptione iteretur, una
  56. tamen per omnem orbem terrae ecclesia
  57. diffusa esse denoscitur. et Iohannes enim in a-
  58. pocalypsi licet septem ecclesiis scribat,
  59. tamen omnibus dicit. verum ad Philemonem unam,
  60. et ad Titum unam, et ad Timotheum duas pro affec-
  61. tu et dilectione. in honore tamen ecclesiae ca-
  62. tholicae in ordinatione ecclesiasticae
  63. disciplinae sanctificatae sunt. fertur etiam ad
  64. Laodicenses, alia ad Alexandrinos, Pauli no-
  65. mine fictae ad haeresem Marcionis, et alia plu-
  66. ra, quae in catholicam ecclesiam recipi non
  67. potest, fel enim cum melle misceri non con-
  68. gruit. epistola san Iudae et superscriptio
  69. Iohannis duas in catholica habentur, et sapi-
  70. entia ab amicis Salomonis in honorem ipsius
  71. scripta. apocalypses etiam Iohannis et Pe-
  72. tri tantum recipimus, quam quidam ex nos-
  73. tris legi in ecclesia nolunt. pastorem vero
  74. nuperrime temporibus nostris in urbe
  75. Roma Hermas conscripsit, sedente cathe-
  76. dra urbis Romae ecclesiae Pio ep{i}s{copo} frater
  77. eius. et ideo legi eum quidem oportet, se pu-
  78. blicare vero in ecclesia populo, neque inter
  79. prophetas, completum numero, neque inter
  80. apostolos, in finem temporum potest.
  81. Arsinoe autem seu Valentini vel Mitiadis
  82. nihil in totum recipimus, qui etiam novum
  83. psalmorum librum Marcioni conscripse-
  84. runt una cum Basilide Assianum Cataphry-
  85. gum constitutorem....

Lines 42-46 of the Muratorian canon invite comparison to certain passages from Dionysius bar Salibi and Epiphanius of Salamis. These lines run as follows:

Primum omnium Corinthiis schisma haeresis in terdicens, deinceps Galatis circumcisionem, Romanis autem ordine scripturarum, sed et principium earum esse Xr{istu}m intimans prolixius scripsit.

First of all to the Corinthians against the schism of heresy, then to the Galatians against circumcision; to the Romans, however, he wrote rather at length, but also intimating by an order of scriptures that Christ was their beginning.

Dionysius bar Salibi, introduction to Commentary on the Apocalypse (modern Latin provided by I. Sedlacek; refer to my page on Gaius of Rome):

Ille quidem Cerinthus docebat circumcisionem, et iratus est in Paulum quod non circumciderat Titum, et vocat apostolum eiusque discipulos in quadam e suis epistulis apostolos falsos et operarios fallaces. docebat etiam mundum ab angelis creatum esse; et non e virgine dominum nostrum natum esse, et cibum et potum materiales, et multas blasphemias.

This Cerinthus indeed used to teach circumcision, and was angry against Paul because he did not circumcise Titus, and he calls the apostle and his disciples in some of his letters false apostles and workers-for-hire. He also used to teach that the world was created by angels, and that our Lord was not born from a virgin, and the importance of food and drink, and many blasphemies.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 28.1:

Τα ισα γαρ τω προειρημενω εις τον Χριστον συκοφαντησας εξηγειται και ουτος εκ Μαριας και εκ σπερματος Ιωσηφ τον Χριστον γεγεννησθαι και τον κοσμον ομοιως υπο αγγελων γεγενησθαι.

For [Cerinthus] too slanders the same things as the aforementioned [Carpocrates] against Christ and provides the exegesis that Christ was born from Mary and from the seed of Joseph and that the the world likewise was made by angels.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 28.4:

Αλλα ταυτα μεν τοτε επραγματευθη κινηθεντα υπο του προειρημενου ψευδαποστολου Κηρινθου, ως και αλλοτε στασιν αυτος τε και οι μετ᾿ αυτου ειργασαντο εν αυτη τη Ιερουσαλημ, οπηνικα Παυλος ανηλθε μετα Τιτου και ως ουτος εφη οτι, Ανδρας ακροβυστους εισηνεγκε μεθ᾿ εαυτου, ηδη περι Τιτου λεγων· Και κεκοινωκε τον αγιον τοπον. ....

But these things were instigated, set into motion by the aforementioned false apostle Cerinthus, as also at another time he himself and those with him worked out a tumult in Jerusalem itself, when Paul came up with Titus and [Cerinthus] said: He has brought uncircumcised men in with him, now saying concerning Titus: And he has made the holy place common. ....

Και ουτοι εισιν οι παρα τω αποστολω Παυλω ειρημενοι· Ψευδαποστολοι, εργαται δολιοι, μετασχηματιζομενοι εις αποστολους Χριστου.

And these are those about whom it has been said by the apostle Paul: False apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.