Canon Law and the Canon of Scripture


  • George Heyman St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry



Catholic Church, Meerten B. ter Borg, canon, social control


Meerten B. ter Borg argued that canons function as a means of social control. The success of a canon follows not from the assent or agreement of the populace, but rather from the embedded quasi-personal relationship that produces a sense of belonging and identity. The objectified canon takes over this quasi-personal feature, which guarantees a canon’s sanctity. Calling scripture or law “canonical” thus transcendentalizes a text and allows it to retain a sacred quality that in turn effects social control through a shared sense of belonging. This thesis is confirmed and elaborated through a review of the conceptions of canon operative in the Catholic Church during the thirteenth, the sixteenth, and the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In all these periods, the Catholic Church modified its conception of the canonical nature of both its scriptures and its laws in order to strengthen corporate identity and to establish order and control within and without its perimeter.

Author Biography

George Heyman, St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry

Director of Community Education and Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies at St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry.


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How to Cite

Heyman, G. (2008). Canon Law and the Canon of Scripture. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 2(2-3), 209–225.