Monday, January 19, 2015

The New Testament canon

I sometimes link to Michael Kruger's blog, canon fodder, which is subtitled "Exploring the origins of the New Testament canon — and other biblical and theological issues." Although ill-equipped to judge his scholarship I do appreciate his inclination to argue for the validity of the New Testament documents on the basis of historical probability. That seems to me a much better approach to apologetic argument than simply asserting their inspiration. A recent Kruger book, The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate, is reviewed at Reformation21 by another scholar who finds it an attractive contribution:
Michael J. Kruger's The Question of Canon is an unqualified delight. It is clear-headed, attempts to be scrupulously fair to those with whom he disagrees, and is concerned to make no claims beyond what his arguments directly entail. It is a work of apologetics, responding to what Kruger takes to be the five most commonly held tenets of the liberal consensus on the history of the formation of the NT canon. This consensus view holds that the NT books were not written as canon but only became canon over time. Kruger calls this the 'extrinsic' model of the canon, as opposed to the evangelical 'intrinsic' model which sees canon as something inherent to the texts and in early Christianity themselves. ....

Kruger's overall conclusion is that canon is a seed evident in the church from the very beginning, which grew over time. He sees himself as having undermined the extrinsic model sufficiently to allow a fresh look to be given to the traditional intrinsic model.

Throughout, the author graciously finds as many positives as he can in the positions he critiques, while being clear about what he thinks is the solid ground for his own position. He thinks that his arguments hold water purely as history, quite apart from the views one holds on biblical inspiration. .... [more]