Chapter B11, “The Witness of History for Scripture”
Homologoumena and Antilegomena
In the earliest part of Christian history we have considerable support for both Jewish and Christian recognition of the Old Testament books (without the Apocrypha) and in the Christian tradition for most of the New Testament. Very early, as reported by Eusebius, the Christian community was unanimous in recognizing the Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Epistles of Paul, 1 Peter and 1 John. These books were classed as homologoumena - agreed upon by all. The remaining books, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude, and Revelation all had some areas of doubt. These were classified as antilegomena. This distinction largely remained until the Tridentine council, declaring all the homologoumena and antilegomena, along with the Apocrypha on equal footing. Chemnitz and others denounced this action as papal overthrow of historical scholarship. Pieper quotes Walther’s observations on the situation quite extensively.
The typical historic manner of dealing with the various books was to found doctrines on texts in the homologoumena, viewing the antilegomena through the lens, especially, of the canonical Gospels. All the books are recognized as inspired and authoritative but the antilegomena are not used to overturn ideas explicated in the homologoumena.