A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts which a particular religious community regards as authoritative scripture. The English word "canon" comes from the Greek κανών, meaning "rule" or "measuring stick". Christians became the first to use the term in reference to scripture, but Eugene Ulrich regards the notion as Jewish.
Most of the canons listed below are considered by adherents "closed", reflecting a belief that public revelation has ended and thus some person or persons can gather approved inspired texts into a complete and authoritative canon, which scholar Bruce Metzger defines as "an authoritative collection of books".
In contrast, an "open canon", which permits the addition of books through the process of continuous revelation, Metzger defines as "a collection of authoritative books".
These canons have developed through debate and agreement on the part of the religious authorities of their respective faiths and denominations. Believers consider canonical books as inspired by God or as expressive of the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people. Some books, such as the Jewish–Christian gospels, have been excluded from various canons altogether, but many disputed books—considered non-canonical or even apocryphal by some—are considered to be biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical or fully canonical by others. Differences exist between the Jewish Tanakh and Christian biblical canons, although the Jewish Tanakh did form the basis for the Christian Old Testament, and between the canons of different Christian denominations. In some cases where varying strata of scriptural inspiration have accumulated, it becomes prudent to discuss texts that only have an elevated status within a particular tradition. This becomes even more complex when considering the open canons of the various Latter Day Saint sects—which are usually viewed as divergent from biblical Christianity —and the scriptural revelations purportedly given to several leaders over the years within that movement.
Rabbinic Judaismrecognizes the twenty-four books of the Masoretic Text, commonly called the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible. Evidence suggests that the process of canonization occurred between 200 BC and 200 AD, and a popular position is that the Torah was canonized c. 400 BC, the Prophets c. 200 BC, and the Writings c. 100 AD perhaps at a hypothetical Council of Jamnia—however, this position is increasingly criticised by modern scholars. According to Marc Zvi Brettler, the Jewish scriptures outside the Torah and the Prophets were fluid, different groups seeing authority in different books.
of the Book of Esther; one of the five megillot of the Tanakh.
The Book of Deuteronomy includes a prohibition against adding or subtracting which might apply to the book itself or to the instruction received by Moses on Mt. Sinai. The book of 2 Maccabees, itself not a part of the Jewish canon, describes Nehemiah as having "founded a library and collected books about the kings and prophets, and the writings of David, and letters of kings about votive offerings".
The Book of Nehemiah suggests that the priest-scribe Ezra brought the Torah back from Babylon to Jerusalem and the Second Temple around the same time period. Both I and II Maccabees suggest that Judas Maccabeus likewise collected sacred books, indeed some scholars argue that the Jewish canon was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty. However, these primary sources do not suggest that the canon was at that time closed; moreover, it is not clear that these sacred books were identical to those that later became part of the canon.
The Great Assembly, also known as the Great Synagogue, was, according to Jewish tradition, an assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, in the period from the end of the Biblical prophets to the time of the development of Rabbinic Judaism, marking a transition from an era of prophets to an era of Rabbis. They lived in a period of about two centuries ending c. 70 AD. Among the developments in Judaism that are attributed to them are the fixing of the Jewish Biblical canon, including the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, and the Twelve Minor Prophets; the introduction of the triple classification of the oral Torah, dividing its study into the three branches of midrash, halakot, and aggadot; the introduction of the Feast of Purim; and the institution of the prayer known as the Shemoneh 'Esreh as well as the synagogal prayers, rituals, and benedictions.
In addition to the Tanakh, mainstream Rabbinic Judaism considers the Talmud to be another central, authoritative text. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs, and history. The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah, the first written compendium of Judaism's oral Law; and the Gemara, an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh. There are numerous citations of Sirach within the Talmud, even though the book was not ultimately accepted into the Hebrew canon.
The Talmud is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is often quoted in other rabbinic literature. Certain groups of Jews, such as the Karaites, do not accept the oral Law as it is codified in the Talmud and only consider the Tanakh to be authoritative.Ethiopian Jews—also known as Beta Israel —possess a canon of scripture that is distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. Mäṣḥafä Kedus is the name for the religious literature of these Jews, which is written primarily in Ge'ez. Their holiest book, the Orit, consists of the Pentateuch, as well as Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. The rest of the Ethiopian Jewish canon is considered to be of secondary importance. It consists of the remainder of the Hebrew canon—with the possible exception of the Book of Lamentations—and various deuterocanonical books. These include Sirach, Judith, Tobit, 1 and 2 Esdras, 1 and 4 Baruch, the three books of Meqabyan, Jubilees, Enoch, the Testament of Abraham, the Testament of Isaac, and the Testament of Jacob. The latter three patriarchal testaments are distinct to this scriptural tradition.
A third tier of religious writings that are important to Ethiopian Jews, but are not considered to be part of the canon, include the following: Nagara Muse, Mota Aaron, Mota Muse, Te'ezaza Sanbat, Arde'et, the Apocalypse of Gorgorios, Mäṣḥafä Sa'atat, Abba Elias, Mäṣḥafä Mäla'əkt, Mäṣḥafä Kahan, Dərsanä Abrəham Wäsara Bägabs, Gadla Sosna, and Baqadāmi Gabra Egzi'abḥēr.
In addition to these, Zëna Ayhud and the sayings of various fālasfā are sources that are not necessarily considered holy, but nonetheless have great influence.
Samaritan canonAnother version of the Torah, in the Samaritan alphabet, also exists. This text is associated with the Samaritans, a people of whom the Jewish Encyclopedia states: "Their history as a distinct community begins with the taking of Samaria by the Assyrians in 722 BC."
The Samaritan Pentateuch's relationship to the Masoretic Text is still disputed. Some differences are minor, such as the ages of different people mentioned in genealogy, while others are major, such as a commandment to be monogamous, which only appears in the Samaritan version. More importantly, the Samaritan text also diverges from the Masoretic in stating that Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Gerizim—not Mount Sinai—and that it is upon this mountain that sacrifices to God should be made—not in Jerusalem. Scholars nonetheless consult the Samaritan version when trying to determine the meaning of text of the original Pentateuch, as well as to trace the development of text-families. Some scrolls among the Dead Sea scrolls have been identified as proto-Samaritan Pentateuch text-type. Comparisons have also been made between the Samaritan Torah and the Septuagint version.
Samaritans consider the Torah to be inspired scripture, but do not accept any other parts of the Bible—probably a position also held by the Sadducees. They did not expand their canon by adding any Samaritan compositions. There is a Samaritan Book of Joshua; however, this is a popular chronicle written in Arabic and is not considered to be scripture. Other non-canonical Samaritan religious texts include the Memar Markah and the Defter —both from the 4th century or later.
The people of the remnants of the Samaritans in modern-day Israel/Palestine retain their version of the Torah as fully and authoritatively canonical. They regard themselves as the true "guardians of the Law." This assertion is only re-enforced by the claim of the Samaritan community in Nablus to possess the oldest existing copy of the Torah—one that they believe to have been penned by Abisha, a grandson of Aaron.
Earliest Christian communitiesThe Early Church used the Old Testament, namely the Septuagint among Greek speakers, with a canon perhaps as found in the Bryennios List or Melito's canon. The Apostles did not otherwise leave a defined set of new scriptures; instead, the New Testament developed over time.
Writings attributed to the apostles circulated among the earliest Christian communities. The Pauline epistles were circulating in collected forms by the end of the 1st century AD. Justin Martyr, in the early 2nd century, mentions the "memoirs of the Apostles", which Christians called "gospels", and which were considered to be authoritatively equal to the Old Testament.
Marcion's listwas the first Christian leader in recorded history to propose and delineate a uniquely Christian canon. This included 10 epistles from St. Paul, as well as a version of the Gospel of Luke, which today is known as the Gospel of Marcion. By doing this, he established a particular way of looking at religious texts that persists in Christian thought today.
After Marcion, Christians began to divide texts into those that aligned well with the "canon" of accepted theological thought and those that promoted heresy. This played a major role in finalizing the structure of the collection of works called the Bible. It has been proposed that the initial impetus for the proto-orthodox Christian project of canonization flowed from opposition to the list produced by Marcion.Irenaeus in the following quote: "It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four-quarters of the earth in which we live, and four universal winds, while the church is scattered throughout all the world, and the 'pillar and ground' of the church is the gospel and the spirit of life, it is fitting that she should have four pillars breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh ... Therefore the gospels are in accord with these things ... For the living creatures are quadriform and the gospel is quadriform ... These things being so, all who destroy the form of the gospel are vain, unlearned, and also audacious; those who represent the aspects of the gospel as being either more in number than as aforesaid, or, on the other hand, fewer."
By the early 3rd century, Christian theologians like Origen of Alexandria may have been using—or at least were familiar with—the same 27 books found in modern New Testament editions, though there were still disputes over the canonicity of some of the writings. Likewise by 200, the Muratorian fragment shows that there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the New Testament, which included four gospels and argued against objections to them. Thus, while there was a good measure of debate in the Early Church over the New Testament canon, the major writings were accepted by almost all Christians by the middle of the 3rd century.
Alexandrian Fathers, an early scholar involved in the codification of the Biblical canon, had a thorough education both in Christian theology and in pagan philosophy, but was posthumously condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 since some of his teachings were considered to be heresy. Origen's canon included all of the books in the current New Testament canon except for four books: James, 2nd Peter, and the 2nd and 3rd epistles of John.
He also included the Shepherd of Hermas which was later rejected. The religious scholar Bruce Metzger described Origen's efforts, saying "The process of canonization represented by Origen proceeded by way of selection, moving from many candidates for inclusion to fewer." This was one of the first major attempts at the compilation of certain books and letters as authoritative and inspired teaching for the Early Church at the time, although it is unclear whether Origen intended for his list to be authoritative itself.
In his Easter letter of 367, Patriarch Athanasius of Alexandria gave a list of exactly the same books that would become the New Testament–27 book–proto-canon, and used the phrase "being canonized" in regard to them. Athanasius also included the Book of Baruch, as well as the Letter of Jeremiah, in his Old Testament canon. However, from this canon, he omitted the Book of Esther.
Eastern canonsThe Eastern Churches had, in general, a weaker feeling than those in the West for the necessity of making sharp delineations with regard to the canon. They were more conscious of the gradation of spiritual quality among the books that they accepted and were less often disposed to assert that the books which they rejected possessed no spiritual quality at all. For example, the Trullan Synod of 691–692, which Pope Sergius I rejected, endorsed the following lists of canonical writings: the Apostolic Canons, the Synod of Laodicea, the Third Synod of Carthage, and the 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius. And yet, these lists do not agree. Similarly, the New Testament canons of the Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian Churches all have minor differences, yet five of these Churches are part of the same communion and hold the same theological beliefs. The Revelation of John is said to be one of the most uncertain books; it was not translated into Georgian until the 10th century, and it has never been included in the official lectionary of the Eastern Orthodox Church, whether in Byzantine or modern times.
Latin FathersThe first Council that accepted the present Catholic canon may have been the Synod of Hippo Regius, held in North Africa in 393. A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the Council of Carthage and also the Council of Carthage. These Councils took place under the authority of St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed. Pope Damasus I's Council of Rome in 382 issued a biblical canon identical to that mentioned above. If not, the list is at least a 6th-century compilation. Likewise, Damasus' commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible, 383, proved instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West.
In a letter to Exsuperius of Toulouse, a Gallic bishop, Pope Innocent I mentioned the sacred books that were already received in the canon. When these bishops and Councils spoke on the matter, however, they were not defining something new, but instead "were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church". Thus from the 4th century there existed unanimity in the West concerning the New Testament canon. In the 5th century the East too, with a few exceptions, came to accept the Book of Revelation and thus came into harmony on the matter of the New Testament canon.
As the canon crystallised, non-canonical texts fell into relative disfavour and neglect.
Luther's canonmoved seven Old Testament books into a section he called the Apocrypha. To refer to these books without calling them "apocrypha", the Catholic Church later referred to them as the Deuterocanonicals—while still accepting their full canonicity.
Luther removed the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon, while defenders of Luther cite previous scholarly precedent and support as the justification for his marginalization of certain books, including 2 Maccabees However, Luther's smaller canon was not fully accepted in Protestantism, though apocryphal books are ordered last in the German-language Luther Bible to this day.
Canons of various Christian traditionsFinal dogmatic articulations of the canons were made at the Council of Trent of 1546 for Roman Catholicism, the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1563 for the Church of England, the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1647 for Calvinism, and the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 for the Eastern Orthodox. Other traditions, while also having closed canons, may not be able to point to an exact year in which their canons were complete. The following tables reflect the current state of various Christian canons.
Old TestamentAll of the major Christian traditions accept the books of the Hebrew protocanon in its entirety as divinely inspired and authoritative, in various ways and degrees. Furthermore, all of these traditions, with the exception of the Protestants, add to this number various deuterocanonical books. However, in some Protestant Bibles—especially the English King James Bible and the Lutheran Bible—many of these deuterocanonical books are retained as part of the tradition in a section called the "Apocrypha".
Some books listed here, like the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs for the Armenian Apostolic Church, may have once been a vital part of a Biblical tradition, may even still hold a place of honor, but are no longer considered to be part of the Bible. Other books, like the Prayer of Manasseh for the Roman Catholic Church, may have been included in manuscripts, but never really attained a high level of importance within that particular tradition. The levels of traditional prominence for others, like Psalms 152–155 and the Psalms of Solomon of the Syriac churches, remain unclear.
In so far as the Oriental Orthodox Tewahedo canon is concerned, some points of clarity should be made. First, the books of Lamentations, Jeremiah, and Baruch, as well as the Letter of Jeremiah and 4 Baruch, are all considered canonical by the Orthodox Tewahedo Churches. However, it is not always clear as to how these writings are arranged or divided. In some lists, they may simply fall under the title "Jeremiah", while in others, they are divided in various ways into separate books. Moreover, the book of Proverbs is divided into two books—Messale and Tägsas.
Additionally, while the books of Jubilees and Enoch are fairly well-known among western scholars, 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan are not. The three books of Meqabyan are often called the "Ethiopian Maccabees", but are completely different in content from the books of Maccabees that are known or have been canonized in other traditions. Finally, the Book of Joseph ben Gurion, or Pseudo-Josephus, is a history of the Jewish people thought to be based upon the writings of Josephus. The Ethiopic version has eight parts and is included in the Orthodox Tewahedo broader canon.
New TestamentAmong the various Christian denominations, the New Testament canon is a generally agreed-upon list of 27 books. However, the way in which those books are arranged may vary from tradition to tradition. For instance, in the Slavonic, Orthodox Tewahedo, Syriac, and Armenian traditions, the New Testament is ordered differently from what is considered to be the standard arrangement. Protestant Bibles in Russia and Ethiopia usually follow the local Orthodox order for the New Testament. The Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East both adhere to the Peshitta liturgical tradition, which historically excludes five books of the New Testament Antilegomena: 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation. However, those books are included in certain Bibles of the modern Syriac traditions.
Other New Testament works that are generally considered apocryphal nonetheless appear in some Bibles and manuscripts. For instance, the Epistle to the Laodiceans was included in numerous Latin Vulgate manuscripts, in the eighteen German Bibles prior to Luther's translation, and also a number of early English Bibles, such as Gundulf's Bible and John Wycliffe's English translation—even as recently as 1728, William Whiston considered this epistle to be genuinely Pauline. Likewise, the Third Epistle to the Corinthians was once considered to be part of the Armenian Orthodox Bible, but is no longer printed in modern editions. Within the Syriac Orthodox tradition, the Third Epistle to the Corinthians also has a history of significance. Both Aphrahat and Ephraem of Syria held it in high regard and treated it as if it were canonical. However, it was left-out of the Peshitta and ultimately excluded from the canon altogether.
The Didache, The Shepherd of Hermas, and other writings attributed to the Apostolic Fathers, were once considered scriptural by various early Church fathers. They are still being honored in some traditions, though they are no longer considered to be canonical. However, certain canonical books within the Orthodox Tewahedo traditions find their origin in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers as well as the Ancient Church Orders. The Orthodox Tewahedo churches recognize these eight additional New Testament books in its broader canon. They are as follows: the four books of Sinodos, the two books of the Covenant, Ethiopic Clement, and the Ethiopic Didascalia.
Latter Day Saint canonsChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of several books that constitute its open scriptural canon, and include the following:
- The King James Version of the Bible – without the Apocrypha
- The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- The Pearl of Great Price
The manuscripts of the unfinished Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible state that "the Song of Solomon is not inspired scripture." However, it is still printed in every version of the King James Bible published by the church.
The Standard Works are printed and distributed by the LDS church in a single binding called a "Quadruple Combination" or a set of two books, with the Bible in one binding, and the other three books in a second binding called a "Triple Combination". Current editions of the Standard Works include a bible dictionary, photographs, maps and gazetteer, topical guide, index, footnotes, cross references, excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible and other study aids.
Other Latter Day Saint sectsCanons of various Latter Day Saint denominations diverge from the LDS Standard Works. Some accept only portions of the Standard Works. For instance, the Bickertonite sect does not consider the Pearl of Great Price or Doctrines and Covenants to be scriptural. Rather, they believe that the New Testament scriptures contain a true description of the church as established by Jesus Christ, and that both the King James Bible and Book of Mormon are the inspired word of God. Some denominations accept earlier versions of the Standard Works or work to develop corrected translations. Others have purportedly received additional revelation.
The Community of Christ points to Jesus Christ as the living Word of God, and it affirms the Bible, along with the Book of Mormon, as well as its own regularly appended version of Doctrines and Covenants as scripture for the church. While it publishes a version of the Joseph Smith Translation—which includes material from the Book of Moses—the Community of Christ also accepts the use of other translations of the Bible, such as the standard King James Version and the New Revised Standard Version.
Like the aforementioned Bickertonites, the Church of Christ rejects the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, as well as the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, preferring to use only the King James Bible and the Book of Mormon as doctrinal standards. The Book of Commandments is accepted as being superior to the Doctrine and Covenants as a compendium of Joseph Smith's early revelations, but is not accorded the same status as the Bible or Book of Mormon.
The Word of the Lord and The Word of the Lord Brought to Mankind by an Angel are two related books considered to be scriptural by certain factions that separated from the Temple Lot church. Both books contain revelations allegedly given to former Church of Christ Apostle Otto Fetting by an angelic being who claimed to be John the Baptist. The latter title contains the entirety of the former's material with additional revelations purportedly given to William A. Draves by this same being, after Fetting's death. Neither are accepted by the larger Temple Lot body of believers.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints considers the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and editions of the Doctrine and Covenants published prior to Joseph Smith's death to be inspired scripture. They also hold the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible to be inspired, but do not believe modern publications of the text are accurate. Other portions of The Pearl of Great Price, however, are not considered to be scriptural—though are not necessarily fully rejected either. The Book of Jasher was consistently used by both Joseph Smith and James Strang, but as with other Latter Day Saint denominations and sects, there is no official stance on its authenticity, and it is not considered canonical.
An additional work called The Book of the Law of the Lord is also accepted as inspired scripture by the Strangites. They likewise hold as scriptural several prophecies, visions, revelations, and translations printed by James Strang, and published in the Revelations of James J. Strang. Among other things, this text contains his purported "Letter of Appointment" from Joseph Smith and his translation of the Voree plates.
The Church of Jesus Christ accepts the following as scripture: the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, the revelation on tithing is emphatically rejected by members of this church, as it is not believed to be given by Joseph Smith. The Book of Abraham is rejected as scripture, as are the other portions of the Pearl of Great Price that do not appear in the Inspired Version of the Bible.
Many Latter Day Saint denominations have also either adopted the Articles of Faith or at least view them as a statement of basic theology. At times, the Articles have been adapted to fit the respective belief systems of various faith communities.
Islamic CanonWhile Islam does not use the bible, it does have a canon of scripture in the Quran and some collections of hadith.
Uthman ibn Affan and the canonization of the QuranThe Quran, the holy book of Islam Muslims believe the word of God revealed to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was cannonized after Muhammad's death in 632 CE. According to Islamic tradition the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan established the canonical Qur'an, reportedly starting the process in 644 CE, and completing the work around 650 CE. It is generally accepted that the Uthmanic text comprises all 114 surahs in the order known today.
The Qur'anic canon is the form of the Quran as recited and written in which it is religiously binding for the Muslim community. This canonical corpus is closed and fixed in the sense that nothing in the Quran can be changed or modified.
According to the traditional Islamic narrative, by the time of Uthman's caliphate, there was a perceived need for clarification of Qur'an reading. The holy book had often been spread to others orally by Muslims who had memorized the Quran in its entirety, but now "sharp divergence" had appeared in recitation of the book among Muslims. It is believed the general Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman reported this problem to the caliph and asked him to establish a unified text. According to the history of al-Tabari, during the expedition to conquer Armenia and Azerbaijan there were 10,000 Kufan Muslim warriors, 6,000 in Azerbaijan and 4,000 at Rayy, and a large number of these soldiers disagreed about the correct way of reciting the Quran.
What was more, many of the huffaz were dying. 70 had been killed in the Battle of Yamama.
The Islamic empire had also grown considerably, expanding into Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Iran, bringing into Islam's fold many new converts from various cultures with varying degrees of isolation. These converts spoke a variety of languages but were not well learned in Arabic, and so Uthman felt it was important to standardize the written text of the Quran on one specific Arabic dialect.
Uthman obtained written "sheets" or parts of the Quran from Ḥafṣa, one of the widows of Muhammad. Other parts collected from Companions had been "written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels". He appointed a commission consisting of a scribe of Muhammad, Zayd ibn Thabit and three prominent Meccans, and instructed them to copy the sheets into several volumes based on the dialect of the Quraysh — the tribe of Muhammad and the main tribe of Mecca.
Uthman's reaction in 653 is recorded in the following hadith from :
"So Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Quran so that we may compile the Quranic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, Abdullah bin Az Zubair, Said bin Al-As and Abdur Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Quran, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Quran was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, 'Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. 'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied and ordered that all the other Quranic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. Zayd bin Thabit added, "A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Quran and I used to hear Allah's Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. : 'Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah.'"
When the task was finished Uthman kept one copy in Medina and sent others to Kufa, Baṣra, Damascus, and, according to some accounts, Mecca, and ordered that all other variant copies of the Quran be destroyed. Some non-Uthmanic Qurans are thought to have survived in Kufa, where Abdullah ibn Masud and his followers reportedly refused.
This is one of the most contested issues and an area where many non-Muslim and Muslim scholars often clash.
Shia beliefSomething like 15% of Muslims are part of the Shī‘ah branch of Islam, which holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated his nephew and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam after him,.
While Shia use the same Qur'an as Sunni Muslims, they have a different story of its canonization, connected to the initial rift between the two groups, i.e. that the Companions of the Prophet unjustly denied Ali this leadership position. Most Shī‘ah believe the Qur'an was gathered and compiled not by Uthman ibn Affan but by Muhammad himself during his lifetime.
According to influential Shia Marja' Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei, Uthman's collection of the Quran was metaphorical, not physical,. Rather than collecting the verses and surahs in one volume, Uthman united Muslims on the reading of one authoritative recension — the one in circulation among most Muslims, having reached them through uninterrupted transmission from Muhammad.
According to the Shia website Al-Islam, a minority of Shia believe the Quran was compiled by Ali, "after the Prophet’s death but before people finally accepted him as a caliph".
While some Shia Muslims disputed the canonical validity of the Uthmanic codex, the majority do not and believe that the text is identical. the Shia Imams always rejected the idea of alteration of Qur'an's text. Only seven Shia scholars have believed in omissions in the Uthmanic codex.
However, the story of the canonization of the Quran is of importance in Islam for a number of reasons.
Since at least the 10th century anti-Shia Sunni Muslims have accused Shia of claiming that the contemporary Quran differs from what was revealed to Muhammad; of believing that the original Quran was edited to remove any references to the rights of Ali and the Imams. The idea that the Quran was distorted is regard by these Sunnis as an outrageous Shia "heresy".
Twelver Shia did at one time believe in the distortion of the Quran, according to western Islamic scholar Etan Kohlberg — and the belief was common among Shia during the early Islamic centuries, but waned during the era of the Buyid dynasty. Kohlberg claims that Ibn Babawayh was the first major Twelver author "to adopt a position identical to that of the Sunnis". This change in belief was primarily a result of the Shia "rise to power at the centre of the Sunni 'Abbasid caliphate," whence belief in the corruption of the Quran became untenable vis-a-vis the position of Sunni “orthodoxy”.
The Brill Encyclopedia of the Quran also states some Shia Muslims have disputed the canonical validity of the Uthmanic codex, And according to Hossein Modarressi, seven early Shia scholars believed there are omissions in the Uthmanic codex.
HadithSecond only to the Quran in authority as a source for religious law and moral guidance in Islam, are Hadith—the record of what Muslims believe to be the words, actions, and the silent approval of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. While the number of verses pertaining to law in the Quran is relatively few, hadith give direction on everything from details of religious obligations, to the correct forms of salutations and the importance of benevolence to slaves. Thus the "great bulk" of the rules of Sharia Scriptural authority for hadith comes from the Quran which enjoins Muslims to emulate Muhammad and obey his judgments.
Because there were a large number of false hadith, a great deal of effort was expended by scholars in a field known as hadith studies to sift through and grade hadith on a scale of authenticity. In Sunni Islam there are six major authentic hadith collections known as the Kutub al-Sittah or al-Sihah al-Sittah.
The two "most famous" 'Authentic' ḥadīth collections are those of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim — known as the sahihayn. These works came out over two centuries after the Uthmanic codex,.
Shia Islam does not use the same collections of hadith, because they do not trust many of the Sunni narrators and transmitters that passed down the hadith. The best-known Shia hadith collections are The Four Books, which were compiled by three authors who are known as the 'Three Muhammads'. The Four Books are: Kitab al-Kafi by Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi, Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih by Muhammad ibn Babuya and Al-Tahdhib and Al-Istibsar both by Shaykh Muhammad Tusi. Shi'a clerics also make use of extensive collections and commentaries by later authors.
Not only were the hadith collections compiled centuries after the Quran, but their canonization was also much later. Scholar Jonathan A. C. Brown has studied the process of canonization of the two "most famous" collections of hadith -- sahihayn of al-Bukhari and Muslim -- which went from "controversial to indispensable" over the centuries.
From their very creation, they were subject to withering criticism and rejection: Muslim was forced to argue that his book was merely meant as a 'private collection' and al-Bukhari was acused of plagiarism. The 4th/10th and 5th/11th centuries were no kinder, for while the Shafi'is championed the Sahihayn, Malikis were initially enamored of their own texts and 'tangential to the Sahihayn network", while the Hanbalis were openly critical. Not until the mid-5th/11th century did these schools come to a tacit agreement on the status of 'the Sahihayn canon as a measure of authenticity in polemics and exposition of their schools' doctrines' ; it would be three more centuries before the Hanafis would join them in this assessment.
Brown writes that the books achieved iconic status in the Sunni Muslim community such that public readings of them were made in Cairo in 790 AH/1388 CE to ward off plague and the Moroccan statesman Mawlay Isma'il "dubbed his special troops the 'slaves of al-Bukhari'".