The Canon of the Bible


canon-of-the-bible

Give a definition of “canon.”

      Klein proposes a very standard definition of the word Canon; “meaning list, ruler or standard of faith.”[1]

Where does the word come from and what does it mean with relationship to the study of the Bible?

      The word Canon comes from the Greek word Kanon and it refers to the collection of biblical books that Christians accept as uniquely authoritative.

Discuss the development of the New Testament and the criteria of canonicity used by the early church.

        The canon of the New Testament seems to be complicated. It seems to be even more complicated when we considered the many books that claimed canonicity. However, when looking deeply at the matter, it was not as complicated as it seems. As I have written consistently through these forums, I prefer to go back to the divine. I prefer to go back to the Holy Spirit and look at the men who were divinely inspired to write the scriptures. That is why the focus of the canon should be place on the original apostles, not in the church’s fathers and not in the arrogance of the Catholic or any other church or individual. To be able to identify the canon of the New Testament, we must look first at who did the writing. Ephesians 2:20 tell us, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,” (NKJV).

       Some argue that the Canon was not put together until about 400 years after Christ; against this loud argument Kruger adds, “Childs (as well as others inside and outside canonical criticism) has offered and alternative… Canon exists not when there is a final, close list, but when books function as authoritative Scripture for the community – and this happen well before the fourth century.”[2] Scripture itself support this alternative.

       Did the apostles know they were writing the heart of God? Kruger speaks of Apostolic Self-Awareness.[3] Scriptures such as, 2 Peter 3:15-16 leaves no doubt that the apostles indeed knew they were writing Scripture, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (NKJV)

     Notice that Peter was aware that Paul was writing Scripture. Also notice the uniformity of Scripture, “…in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things…” Furthermore, First Thessalonians 2:13 tells us, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” (NKJV)

      Klein also seems to agree with Kruger as he made a “Crucial Distinction: The process of canonization did not grant biblical books their authority. Rather, books that were recognized as authoritative were admitted to the canon.”[4] Klein gives the following criteria for the New Testament Canonicity: 1) Apostolic connection, 2) Orthodoxy in the theology and ethics of the New Testament and 3) books passed the test of times in their effectiveness in helping a large number of churches since the early generations of Christianity.”[5]

      Kruger echoes the same criteria for the canonicity of Scripture; in his case he writes, “1) Divine qualities… 2) Corporate reception and 3) Apostolic Origins.[6] Furthermore, Bruce also offers very similar explanations for the criteria for the canonicity of Scripture, 1) Apostolic Authority, 2) Antiquity: (Needed to be written during the apostolic age), 3) Orthodoxy (Again referring exclusively to the apostolic faith), 4) Catholicity (It needed to be recognized universally, even the Catholic Church agreed on the 66 books recognized by the rest of the orthodox Christendom.) 5) Traditionally use, 6) Inspiration (Books were indeed included in the canon because they were recognized as inspired.)[7]

Why did early Christians feel a need to establish an authoritative list of Scripture?

      Klein gives the basic reasons that I have also found in other books, 1) an increasing amount of heretics such as Marcion, 2) the rise of Gnostic writings and 3) the increase persecution against Christians; particularly, Christians wanted to know exactly what books to die for.[8]

What element in the criteria of canonicity is most important in your opinion? And Why?

      I find all of them very important; it is impossible for me to chose one, but I can settle for two, 1) apostolic origins and 2) apostolic theological orthodoxy. As I have been stating, I find peace in staying close to the men whom God supernaturally gave the Word to.

Which element is least important in your opinion? And Why?

       I can’t take away the importance of each one of these elements I have discussed through this forum.

How would you respond to a person who claimed that the canon of the Bible should still be open?

       I really don’t know; I feel that those 66 books I have been reading for over 20 years are divinely inspired. I have no doubts! Nevertheless, I am doing some studies on the book of Enoch. I actually took the time to read this fascinating book and it reads like the Bible. I have found that many brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, in fact consider this book Scripture. I am not sure I am ready to agree with that, but who does not want to read a book written by a man who walked with God? This may be a good a good question for our professor; maybe he has more insight on this matter.

Bibliography

Bruce, F. F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1988.

Klein, W.W., C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition. Zondervan, 2017.

Kruger, Michael J. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the           New Testament Books, Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.

 

 

 

 

[1] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017), 165

[2] Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited: Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012) 57

[3] Ibid. 184

 

[4] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 180

[5] Ibid. 179-180

[6] Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited: Canon Revisited, 97 – 113

[7] F. F. Bruce, The Canon of the Scripture, (Grove: IVP Academic), 256 – 263

[8] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 174

 

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