This article calls believers to recognize that the development of the canon was not a problem-free process, but rather at times its history is quite tumultuous. Yet it explains that there is no reason to mistrust the entire process just because some Christians disagreed.
This article demonstrates that the New Testament canon was not decided at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. From there it explains that no council decided the canon, but the early councils were simply part of the process of recognizing a canon that was already there.
The Muratorian fragment is a key point in any discussion of New Testament canon. This article explains that the fragment illustrates that from a very early time period there was a core canon. The author discusses two implications to be drawn from this: Christians did disagree over books from time to time, and there was widespread agreement over the core very early on.
Irenaeus not only confirmed the canonicity of the four Gospels but was keen to say that only these four are recognized by the church. Some have attempted to minimize his statement, and call him an innovator. This article offers several considerations that raise doubts about this charge.
The New Testament canon is intimately connected to the activities of the apostles, who themselves had the very authority of Christ. The church thus valued apostolic books over and above other types of books.
This article addresses the perception that early Christians resisted the written word and thus the date of the canon should be pushed back. It raises and evaluates three reasons scholars adduce in this regard.
Walter Bauer's book, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, is in many ways the basis for a common misperception about the New Testament canon, that there was very little agreement over the books that made it into the canon until the fourth or fifth century. This article evaluates that claim, showing that there is substantial evidence for widespread agreement over the core canonical books from an early time.
What are the "books" and the "parchments" to which Paul refers in 2 Timothy 4:13? This article considers the possibility that the books were the Old Testament writings, and the parchments some early Christian writings, possibly Luke's Gospel and copies of Paul's own letters. In canon discussions, this provides additional support to the idea that at a very early time, Christians thought of their religious writings in two parts.
How did the early church know which books were from God? They appealed to the internal qualities of the books. This article discusses how the books of the NT canon are self-authenticating, and how the early church emphasized this often. It also explains why so many nevertheless reject the voice of God in these books.
Were the canonical Gospels written by anonymous individuals outside of Palestine? This article considers this claim, and argues that there are good reasons to think that the titles of the Gospels were included at a very early point.
This article considers the charge that Christians believed the return of Christ would happen in their lifetime, and thus they would not have been interested in composing new scriptural books for the canon. The author explains that apocalyptic beliefs were not necessarily incompatible with the production of written, authoritative texts.
This article evaluates the claim that the early church fathers regarded their own writings as inspired. It explains that they repeatedly expressed that the apostles had a distinctive authority that was higher than their own, and that inspiration-like language can be used to describe ecclesiastical authority even though such authority is subordinate to the apostles'.
Is it really true that Christians prior to the fourth century had no standard by which they could distinguish heresy from orthodoxy? This article offers reasons to doubt this claim. Christians would have had at least three solid guides as they navigated the doctrinal complexities of their faith: the Old Testament, core New Testament books, and the rule of faith.
This article shows that even though the boundaries of the canon had not solidified by AD 200, it is clear that many of the books were viewed as Scripture long before then. It offers a brief sampling of how the earliest sources used the New Testament books as Scripture, and draws some conclusions relating to the acceptance of some of the later books.
This article challenges the thesis that only oral tradition can explain citations in the apostolic fathers, by considering a statement by Papias about the written gospels of Matthew and Mark.
Did the New Testament authors have any awareness that they were contributing to the canon of Scripture? This is a common misconception, which this article addresses by considering select passages that show the authors believed their writings were Scripture.
In response to the notion that the term "canon" can only refer to a fixed list of books (the so-called exclusive definition), this article shows the weaknesses in this definition. It makes the case that we should not be forced to use just one single definition to appreciate the depth and complexity of canon; we need other definitions to have a voice, like the functional definition, or Kruger's ontological definition.
This article discusses the contention of Roman Catholics and others that tradition is the only means by which we may know what books are in the canon of Scripture. It expresses two concerns with this, stating that while a helpful way to know which books are canonical, the consensus approach is not the only way. For the books of the Bible speak for themselves as authoritative.
This article is a response to John Goldingay's article in the same journal on the topic of canon and Old Testament theology. Seitz asks critical questions with regard to the form of the canon, the function of creeds and the rule of faith, and finally about referring to the danger of an appeal to narrativity, which can easily reduce the Old Testament to a past story.
How does the order of the New Testament books in the canon function hermeneutically, that is, influence the way the books are interpreted? This article assumes that the location of a biblical book influences a reader’s view of the book. Readers presume that documents that are grouped together are related in some way in meaning.
What is the "Pentateuchal principle" that functioned in the formation of the canon? This article seeks to apply insights of Isaac Kikawada, who argued for a "five-part" or Pentateuchal structure in the design of the book of Genesis. It wants to explain the basic structural principle of the canonical process both in ancient Israel and early Christianity.
This article responds to the question regarding the validity of the very existence of the New Testament canon. It shows three ways that first-century Christianity created a favourable environment for new written revelation.
Is the canon merely an anthology of the religious literature of the day, making it no longer possible to speak of its unity? This article indicates two main ways in which the issue of biblical unity is typically presented: unity may be based in the process of divine inspiration which is believed to have brought about these writings, or it may be based in a theory of providential ordering.
This article explores the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and whether there are structural connections between the two. Did the order of the the Old Testament books influence the ordering of the books of the New Testament canon? The article further considers what the possible implications are for the reading and interpretation of the Bible as one book.