10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #7: “Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century.” | Canon Fodder (Michael Kruger)

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).

James F. McGrath on F.F. Bruce on the New Testament Canon

F.F. Bruce wrote:

“One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect.”

– F. F. Bruce on page 2 of The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

James F. McGrath wrote:

F. F. Bruce can be relied on for a balanced perspective, as usual. But I think that while his language works well for most of the canon, at its edges there are texts which only gained acceptance through struggle by those who used them to persuade those who did not to accept them. The Book of Revelation scarcely had at long last gained decisive acceptance in the Eastern Orthodox churches, and then along came Martin Luther and called its status into question again. The canon consists of a core that most everyone in those churches that were in fellowship with one another agreed upon, and a periphery that was in flux for quite a long time. That is why we see lists that largely mirror the current canon but with a few omissions or additions here or there in the early centuries – a core of consensus and a periphery of disagreement.

– James McGrath on his blog Exploring Our Matrix

Michael Kruger on Apocryphal Gospels and the Mainstream Media | Canon Fodder

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.

How Did Canonization of the New Testament Happen? | Tough Questions Answered

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.

How Did the Early Church Recognize the Canonicity of a Book? | 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.

Michael Kruger on Canon | Hope’s Reason

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.