OK, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there may not be two more unrelated topics than the 2020 presidential election and the formation of the NT canon. Of all the things that we can learn from the trials and tribulations of this election cycle (and there are many), surely how the New Testament was formed is not one of them!
So, how in the world do these two things connect?
In brief, I think the presidential election cycle is a remarkably helpful analogy for understanding the different definitions of canon, and how those definitions help us understand the date of the canon. Let me try to explain.
When Do We Have a Canon?
Let’s begin with one of the most hotly debated questions in the study of the New Testament canon: What is the date of the New Testament canon? Or, when do we first see it come into existence?
While that may seem like a fairly straightforward question, the massive disagreements among modern scholars shows that it is not. It all depends on the definition of canon that you are using. In order to clear this up, I have argued elsewhere (see here) that there are really three different definitions of canon: [Read more…]