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Resources on the Canon of Scripture

By Matthew Barrett–

One of the most fascinating aspects of the doctrine of Scripture is the study of the Canon of Scripture. Today I simply want to point you to some resources by Michael Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), that will help you think through how we define and understand the Canon of Scripture.

First of all, be sure to get a copy of two new books by Kruger. The first is his Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway). In this book Kruger challenges some of the ways Christians and skeptics alike have defined the canon. The second book is an edited volume, co-edited with Charles E. Hill (also at RTS), called, The Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press). (More on this book later in my “Book Notes.”)

Also, you can find a host of resources by Kruger on the Canon of Scripture on his website, Canon Fodder, including this series titled, “10 Misconceptions About the New Testament Canon.”  As he says, “This series exams some common beliefs out there in the academic (and lay-level) communities that prove to be problematic upon closer examination.” Keep in mind that the series is still ongoing and you will need to check back in for further posts in the series.

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

Finally, you can also listen to Kruger’s series of lectures for RTS’s Kistemaker Lecture Series:

“The Definition of ‘Canon’: Exclusive or Multi-Dimensional?” for the Kistemaker Lecture Series, RTS-Orlando, March 2012

“The Origins of Canon: Was the Idea of a New Testament a Late Ecclesiastical Development?” for the Kistemaker Lecture Series

“The Artifacts of Canon:  Manuscripts as a Window into the Development of the New Testament” for the Kistemaker Lecture Series, RTS-Orlando, March 2012

“The Messiness of the Canon: Do Disagreements Amongst Early Christians Pose a Threat to Our Belief in the New Testament?” for the Kistemaker Lecture Series, RTS-Orlando, March 2012

Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS). Barrett has contributed book reviews and articles to various academic journals, and is the author of the forthcoming book with P&R, Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. He is the editor, along with Ardel Caneday, of the forthcoming book: Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan, 2013). He also edited Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy. He is the author of several other forthcoming books. He is married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters, Cassandra and Georgia.

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