Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Canon Of Scripture

I've written a series of posts that's mostly about the New Testament canon, but also briefly addresses the canon of the Old Testament. Steve Hays wrote a two-part series on the canon here and here.

He also wrote a post about the history of the Apocrypha's reception in Judaism and Christianity. And here he wrote about the alleged canon of ancient Alexandrian Judaism and the notion of arriving at a Septuagint canon from the extant Christian copies of the Septuagint. Here and here are two posts I wrote about acceptance of the Protestant Old Testament canon within Eastern Orthodoxy.

Steve wrote about some evidence for the Old Testament canon in Hebrews 11.

He addresses alleged New Testament and patristic support for the canonicity of the Apocryphal books here.

Some of the relevant evidence from Josephus is discussed here.

On the canon of the gospels, see here and the other threads linked within that post.

Steve has written many posts about internal evidence for the canon, such as here and here.

Here's a post Steve wrote about Jude's use of material from 1 Enoch.

Steve has argued that the early Christians wouldn't have needed as much time to recognize the New Testament documents as scripture as is commonly suggested.

I wrote a four-part series of posts in response to the idea that the development of the canon of scripture is comparable to the development of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrines that are rejected by Evangelicals: one, two, three, and four.

Here's a thread about the concept of the canon as a fallible collection of infallible books. Steve addresses the subject here.

An important line of evidence for the canon is the authorship of the books. We've written a lot about Biblical authorship over the years. Steve wrote a three-part series: one, two, and three. Here's a post in which I summarize some of the evidence for the traditional New Testament authorship attributions. This one summarizes much of the evidence for the gospels' authorship.

Here are more examples of posts we've written on Biblical authorship, among many others that can be found by searching the archives: Isaiah, Daniel, Matthew, Mark (here and here), Luke and Acts (here and here), John, the letters of Paul (see the comments section of the thread here), Hebrews (here and here), 2 Peter, and Revelation.

On the witness of early non-Christian sources to Biblical authorship, see here, here, here, and here.

One of the means by which critics often attempt to undermine the case for the traditional authorship attributions is by arguing against the reliability of the early external sources. If the external sources aren't ignored, as they often are, they're frequently dismissed as unreliable for some reason or another. Here's an article I wrote about the trustworthiness of the early Christians on canonical issues. On the supposed unreliability of human memory, see here. On the alleged gullibility of ancient people, see here. See here concerning whether the earliest Christians considered pseudonymity acceptable. And see here on the alleged anonymity of some of the New Testament documents.

Different arguments are used to undermine different sources. Papias' reliability on the origins of Mark's gospel will be rejected on the basis of his unreliability on other issues, like the death of Judas. Ignatius' letters are sometimes dismissed as forgeries. Doubts are raised about whether Polycarp was actually a disciple of any of the apostles. Etc. We've written a lot of material in response to such arguments. The following are several of many examples that could be cited. You can search the archives for more material of a similar nature. On the character of the early Christians in general, see this article. See here on Clement of Rome's relationship with the apostles and his authorship of First Clement. For a response to some of the objections to Ignatius' testimony, see here. Regarding Papias' relationship with the apostle John, see here, and see here concerning Papias' credibility. Here's an article that addresses Polycarp's relationship with the apostles and the credibility of Irenaeus. Here's one on Polycarp's role as a witness to New Testament authorship. This one is about the alleged anti-intellectuality of Tertullian. See here on the supposed dishonesty of Eusebius.

Steve wrote a post addressing the notion that some of the books of the New Testament shouldn't be written in such a high level of Greek if the traditional authorship attributions are correct.

Here's a post about why John is so different from the Synoptics.

On the unreasonable and inconsistent standards that critics often apply to the Bible, see here, here, and here.


  1. Jason, I'm a regular reader of T-blog and deeply appreciate these recent posts that consolidate the work you and others have done on specific topics. I just wanted to say thanks for the hard work in indexing these issues and giving us reader-types helpful one stop resources.

  2. I second Greg Schnee's comment. Thanks Jason :-)