In an age when there is much talk of ‘canons’ in the sense of ‘authoritative lists of approved (rather than “genuine”) texts’, it is curious that even the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) does not recognize that meaning in English. But from classical scholarship that meaning has now spilled over into more general use.1 The important point has been made, though, that the Greek word canon was never used by the Greeks or Romans in this sense. In fact, only in the Christian era does something approaching this meaning occur, and naturally it is used of what is perceived as the genuine body of Holy Scripture. It is never used to refer to any body of secular literature.2