A Canon Theology and Misconceptions (Canon Fodder)

As readers here know, I have been exploring the NT canon as it is a topic of interest for me. Recently I found a great new blog called “Canon Fodder”. The blog is written by Dr. Michael J. Kruger, Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC) and the author of the recent book on canonicity called “Canon Revisited”.

Amazon: Canon Revisited

The Gospel Coalition has a review of the book here.

Over at Reformation 21, Derek Thomas interviewed Dr. Kruger discussing the topic – can the NT Canon be defended. One of the comments made by Kruger is that:

[MK] I think one of the critical weaknesses in modern canonical studies is that Christians often have no theology of canon.  We have a lot of historical facts–anyone who has read the fine works of Metzger and Bruce will have plenty of patristic data to work with.  But, a pile of historical facts is not sufficient to authenticate these books.  We need a framework for understanding what the canon is, how God gave it, and what means God gave for believers to identify these books.  And those issues are inevitably derived from our theological beliefs. Thus, the canon is ultimately a theological issue.

He goes on to encourage pastors to explain and explore canon issues to better equip their flocks. Having taught on canon issues a few times I have found that even a a grasp of the historical facts regarding the compilation of the NT is not something many are familiar with. I encourage you to read the full interview.

B.J. Stockman also had an interview with  Dr. Kruger tackling 10 common questions on the canon. Some of the questions covered include , what is the canon of Scripture, why is there a canon of Scripture, and who decided what books made up the canon of Scripture, though you’ll need to read the interview to see the answers.

Question #8 in that interview probes the misconceptions people have about the canon given the popularity of Bart Ehrman and The DaVinci Code. The answer pointed readers to a series Dr. Kruger has started on his blog called 10 common misconceptions about the canon. Here are the ten that will be covered during the series (with links to the first four which have been published).

  1. The Term “Canon” Can Only Refer to a Fixed, Closed List of Books
  2. Nothing in Early Christianity Dictated That There Would be a Canon
  3. The New Testament Authors Did Not Think They Were Writing Scripture
  4. New Testament Books Were Not Regarded as Scriptural Until Around 200 A.D.
  5. Early Christians Disagreed Widely over the Books Which Made It into the Canon
  6. In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books
  7. Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century
  8. Early Christianity was an Oral Religion and Therefore Would Have Resisted Writing Things Down
  9. The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles
  10. Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books

In misconceptions #2 and #3, Dr. Kruger has answered the challenge that the apostles did not know they were writing Scripture (authoritative documents). He ably demonstrates that the apostles were given the authority to speak for Jesus and therefore what they wrote would carry the same authority, especially when establishing in the document that they were writing as an apostle (2 Thess 2:25; 3:14; 1 Cor 14:37-38).

I look forward to the rest of the series and the book.

UPDATE: links to articles in the series will be added as they become available.

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