Over at Evangelical Textual Criticism, John Meade has posted an article reviewing chapter seven of my book, Canon Revisited. In particular, he challenges a number of the arguments I use to show how NT manuscripts may illumine our understanding of the development of the NT canon.
Meade focuses his comments on two issues, namely the number of manuscripts and the use of the codex. Before offering a response to those issues below, let me begin by making a simple observation about the purpose of this chapter. If one understands the flow of the argument in the book, and sets chapter seven in the larger context of the prior chapters, it will become clear that the exploration of these manuscripts is not intended to provide a definitive answer to which books are in the canon. Nowhere do I argue that we know which books are in the canon simply be looking at the features of early Christian manuscripts.
Indeed, the prior six chapters are making a very different argument about how we know which books are in and which books are out (an argument I will not rehearse here). The discussion of manuscripts, then, is provided simply as something that further illumines the history of the canon. It provides a general (but not absolute) confirmation of what we see from other kinds of evidence (patristic and otherwise). [Read more…]