10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #6: “In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books”

This is the sixth installment of a blog series announced here.

One of the most common claims by some critics of the NT canon is that apocryphal writings, particularly gospels, were as common and as widely-used as the NT writings.  Helmut Koester is a good example of this trend.  He laments the fact that the terms “apocryphal” and “canonical” are even used by modern scholars because they reflect, according to him, “prejudices of long standing” against the authenticity of these apocryphal texts.[1]  Koester then argues, “If one considers the earliest period of the tradition, several apocryphal gospels are as well attested as those which later received canonical status.”…

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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #5: “Early Christians Disagreed Widely over the Books Which Made It into the Canon”

This is the fifth installment of a blog series announced here.

1934 was a big year for Germany.  It was the year that Adolf Hitler became the Führer and complete head of the German nation and the Nazi party.  And, as we all know, it wasn’t long after that time, that Germany invaded Poland and began World War II.

But 1934 was a significant year for another reason.  Very quietly, behind the scenes, a book was published that would change the landscape of early Christian studies for years to come.  Walter Bauer published his now famous monograph, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity.   Compared to Hitler’s rise, this …

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10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon: #4: “Books Were Not Regarded as Scripture Until Around 200 AD”

Note: This is the fourth installment of a blog series announced here.

The date of the NT canon is one of the most controversial questions in biblical studies today.  As a prior post indicated, part of the answer to the question of date is dependent upon one’s definition of “canon.”  But, even if we take the functional definition of canon—books are canonical when they are being used as Scripture—there is still debate about how early this took place.

In recent years, however, somewhat of a quasi-consensus has been building that the canon was first regarded as Scripture at the end of the second century (c.200).  McDonald is representative of …

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10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon: #3: “The NT Authors Did Not Think They Were Writing Scripture”

 

Note: This is the third installment of a new blog series announced here.

Sometimes, even in the academic world, things get said so many times that people assume they are true.   And when that happens, no one bothers to look at the historical evidence in a fresh way.  This has certainly been the case when it comes to this third misconception about the New Testament canon. It is routine these days to assert that the New Testament authors certainly did not think they were writing Scripture, nor had any awareness of their own authority. Mark Allan Powell, in his recent New Testament introduction, affirms this view plainly, “The …

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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #2: “Nothing in Early Christianity Dictated That There Would be a Canon”

Note: This is the second installment of a new blog series announced here.

Contemporary challenges to the New Testament canon have taken a number of different forms over the years.  For generations, scholars have mainly focused upon the problem of the boundaries of the New Testament. The perennial question has usually been “How do we know we have the right books?”  But, in recent years, a new challenge has begun to take center stage (though it is really not new at all).  While the validity of the canon’s boundaries is still an area of concern, the attention has shifted to the validity of the canon’s very existence.  The …

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