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Canon

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In religion

A canon in one sense is a rule adopted by a Council of the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. From Greek kanon, for rule or measure. See canon law.

It is also a rank[?] in the Christian church; canons are priests who are specifically attached to a cathedral and have responsibility for some aspect of its running.

In another sense, a canon is a list of books accepted by a religion as authoritative or divinely inspired. The term was originally Christian, referring to books declared divinely inspired by the canons of Church councils. The term has however come to be extended to other religions as well with compound scriptures, thus one can speak for instance of the Pali canon in Buddhism. See biblical canon for a discussion of the canon of Christianity.

In literature and art

In usually academic, non-religious contexts, the so-called Western canon is often spoken of. This is a body of literature and art recognized as definitive of Western civilization.

In non-academic, non-religious contexts, canon is used to describe works of fiction that represent "official" records of events in particular fictional settings. For example, in Star Trek, the various live-action television series and movies are considered to be canon whereas the Star Trek novels and cartoon series are not. Events which occur in non-canon works of fiction are not considered a part of the continuity of the rest of the series, and can be disregarded freely by authors and readers alike when considering the setting as a whole. The criteria for deciding whether a particular work of fiction is considered to be canonical for a particular setting or not varies, sometimes being dictated by a particular authority (often a copyright or trademark holder) and sometimes being decided by informal consensus among those who care.

In music

In music, a canon is a round in which 2 or more voices sing the same melody at different times, but in a canon, the voices also begin at different pitches. Types of canon include the crab canon, in which one voice is reversed in time and pitch, and the sloth canon[?], in which one voice sings faster than another.

In Artillery

A canon should not be confused with a cannon. However, cannons have sometimes been used to enforce canons; many European wars in the middle ages consisted of just this.


Canon is also the name of a Japanese company that specialises in imaging and optical products.



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