Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Michael Kruger: ‘The Question of Canon’

Michael Kruger: ‘The Question of Canon’
Dr. Michael Kruger: 
‘The Question of Canon’
Larry Hurtado makes a wonderful recommendation of Michael Kruger’sThe Question of Canon”.

Given the nature of this work, it addresses questions presented by both the liberal/critical scholarship that deals with the canon issue, and also those issues brought up by Roman Catholic apologists to suggest that Rome somehow had the “authority” to fix the canon of the New Testament.

Hurtado says:

Kruger’s main thesis is that the dynamics that led to a NT canon involved phenomena from the earliest stages of the circulation of writings that came to form that canon. That is, the formation of a NT canon wasn’t a result solely of later and “external” forces, but instead there were factors at work from the earliest period.

These include the way that Paul invested his letters with his apostolic authority, such that they have been described as apostolic “surrogates”, conveying to his churches his teachings on matters when he was unable to make a personal visit (just note, e.g., the tone of 1 Cor. 14:37-38! or Gal 1:6-9!). Likewise, note the explicit purpose-statement of the author of the Gospel of John (20:30-31), which implies a strong desire that the writing may function in confirming the faith of readers.

Kruger also argues that, although a closed canon of NT writings took a few centuries, in the earlier period there was already indication of a concern to distinguish between writings that were to be taken as “scripture” and those that should not be so regarded. So, again, a quasi-canonical dynamic seems to have been at work early on.

Kruger offers what he calls an “intrinsic model” as a complement to the emphasis on the final stages of can formation in much current NT scholarship. I find his analysis to offer a nuanced and cogent picture that more adequately captures the historical complexity that led to “the New Testament.”

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