Counterlight has written some very interesting entries about the influences on early Christian art on his Blog and today he has reached Emperor Constantine’s time and the emergent Church Catholic. Which makes me wonder if the use by Constantine and his successors of Christianity as a means of unifying the Empire was an afterthought…?
Likeways it seems that there were no Bibles in our sense yet, only lose books sometimes collected, but more often separate: the 4 Gospels in different order in West (Matthew, John, Mark, Luke) and East (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the Corpus Paulinum (originally of 7 letters by length), in the end of 14, the Corpus Iohanneum (including the Apokalypis, which having 7 addressees is often thought of as an Epistle), the 7 Alexandrian Catholic Letters.
The Codex Vaticanus seems to have been among the first Pandects or whole Bibles, closely (after perhaps half a century) followed by the (somewhat different) Codex Sinaiticus.
The suspicion being, that they too were the product of a need/use for “unity” in State and Religion.
Remember that to Roman State theory (and all later State Ideo-logy…) these were one and the same. The nescessitas of Unity for stabilitas; the quiet of the State, was a never questioned dogma, up till the arrival of Democracy in the 20th century.
But the Idea that it was Constantine who established the Bible as a "Canon" is heard only in America – typical 20th century Ameri-can Integrism, I would say. Also, the concept of Canonical itself is in my mind very late and spurious.
1st Millennium Bibles were a hotch potch of this and that – to be excised piece after piece from the 12th century into the end pro-duct; the Bibles we know.
Take the big Codex Gigas at the Royal Library in Stockholm, for instance. Click on the Headline!
Gigas is not like a modern Bible. It was taken from Emperor Rudolph’s library in Prague in 1648, whence it had been taken from a convent in Bohemia which had gotten it from a German convent around 1200 (the Bohemian Chronicle of Kosmas having been added in the process).
Codex Gigas contains the OT in the Alexandrian pre Christian order, and with the Historical books after the lesser Prophets, ending with the Maccabees, to which is added Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities and an Old Latin NT, with the Catholic letters preced-ing Revelation and the Pauline Epistles last. Then follow some works we wouldn’t dream of putting in a Bible including the Encyclopaedia and letters (Laodicians) by Isidor of Seville, a Confession (unclear whether Saint Augustine's), his City of God, with illustration.
Then follows the famous illustration of the Devil, which popularly gives the book its name "The Devils Bible", followed by witchcraft formulas DE FURTIS & FEBRIBUS : on Thieves and Fevers, Kos-mas’ Bohemian Chronicle c:a 1045-1125, and the Necrologium or Names of Benefactors, to which is added a Calendar.
In reality the first canonical Bible in the Modern sense seems to have been the short (Calvinist, that is without the OT Apocrypha, but with the NT ones = the Alexandrian writs) 1555 Geneva Bible, closely followed by the Tridentine canonisation (erroneously in Hieronomys’s name) of the 12th century Parisian changes (the Versio vulgata parisiensis) in the Old Latin translation of the long LXX Bible (including the OT Apocrypha), as further changed by Erasmus and the boys in the 16th century (editing out the 5th century Byzantine additions in favour of the more familiar Parisian ones – so they clearly were aware of what they were doing ;=)
A 17th century edition of this 16th century Bible is what often is referred to as the Texus Receptus; the received Text.