For the last 3-4 months I have been working through a blog series entitled “10 Misconceptions About the New Testament Canon.” This series exams some common beliefs out there in the academic (and lay-level) communities that prove to be problematic upon closer examination.
via The Complete Series: 10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon | Canon Fodder.
As we discussed in a prior blog post, some New Testament books, especially Paul’s major epistles and the four gospels, would have been recognized as authoritative from a very early time period. They were received not so much because they measured up to some standard of orthodoxy but primarily on the basis of their obvious apostolic origins—these were the books that were “handed down” from the apostles.
via 10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #7: “Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century.” | Canon Fodder (Michael Kruger).
An excerpt from Michael Kruger’s post:
When it comes to these sorts of questions, I like to remind my students of a very simple (but often overlooked) fact: of all the gospels in early Christianity, only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are dated to the first century. Sure, there are minority attempts to put books like the Gospel of Thomas in the first century–but such attempts have not been well received by biblical scholars. Thus, if we really want to know what Jesus was like, our best bet is to rely on books that were at least written during the time period when eyewitnesses were still alive. And there are only four gospels that meet that standard. [underlining added]
via Apocryphal Gospels and the Mainstream Media | Canon Fodder.
Michael J. Kruger has posted The Complete Series: 10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon | Canon Fodder, though, as of this date, he still has two more posts to complete.
This post from Bill Pratt confirms that canonicity is, practically speaking, just a proxy for apostolicity.
First, the criterion which ultimately came to prevail was apostolicity.
Therefore, don’t focus on canonicity (which is to focus on the institutional church) but rather focus on apostolicity (which is to focus on the Scriptures). Noted scholar F. F. Bruce said that church councils merely recognized what was largely understood among those who took the Scriptures seriously.
via How Did Canonization of the New Testament Happen? | Tough Questions Answered.
Bill Pratt writes:
There is a misconception, popularized by books like The DaVinci Code, that the way the books of the Bible were chosen consisted of politically infused church councils voting on the books they liked, and voting out the books they didn’t like. However, a careful reading of church history totally disproves this misconception.
Bill’s entire post can be seen at How Did the Early Church Recognize the Canonicity of a Book? | Tough Questions Answered.
One of the most important areas for study is that of canon. Why do we have the books in the New Testament that we do? Who picked them? Are they a late invention? Most of the radical attacks on historical Christianity touch on issues of canon in some way. Brian Auten at Apologetics315 provides links to some lectures on can by Michael Kruger. These are well worth listening to and will help you to understand the issues in a fresh way.
via Michael Kruger on Canon | Hope’s Reason.