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Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books Hardcover – April 30, 2012
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“This book fills a lacuna in evangelical scholarship. Rarely does academic specialization in canon studies converge with thorough commitment to biblical authority. In this work, close evaluation of the history of approaches to the canon is matched by a richly theological interpretation of what it means to call Scripture our ‘canon.’ Careful, accessible, and wise in his explorations, Michael Kruger has given us a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story
“The Christian canon of Scripture is under fire now more than ever. Sadly, even as so much of this fire has been issuing from academic quarters, we are left with more smoke than light. Stepping into the gap with a fresh synthesis is Michael Kruger’s Canon Revisited. Gracefully uniting theology and history, Kruger invokes the chief Reformed argument for canon and gives it fresh wings.”
—Nicholas Perrin, Dean, Wheaton College Graduate School
“Of all the recent books and articles on the canon of Scripture, this is the one I recommend most. It deals with the critical literature thoroughly and effectively while presenting a cogent alternative grounded in the teaching of Scripture itself. Michael Kruger develops the historic Reformed model of Scripture as self-authenticating and integrates it with a balanced appreciation for the history of the canon and the role of the community in recognizing it. This is the definitive work on the subject for our time.”
—John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
“Michael Kruger has written the book on the canon of Scripture that has been much needed for a long time. His focus is not on the process, but on the vitally important question of how Christians can know that they have the right books in their canon of Scripture. The question is an excellent one and needs to be addressed honestly and competently. Kruger does just that. This excellent book goes a long way toward clearing up confusion and misguided theories. I highly recommend it.”
—Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College and Acadia University
“Here, finally, is what so many pastors, seminary professors, and students have long been waiting for: a clear, well-informed, and scripturally faithful answer to the question of how Christians should account for the New Testament canon. Perhaps not since Ridderbos’s Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures has there appeared such a valuable single source on the New Testament canon that is both historically responsible and theologically satisfying (and this book improves on Ridderbos in many ways). Michael Kruger’s work will help readers get a handle on what may seem like a myriad of current approaches to canon, whether ecclesiastical or critical. This book will foster clearer thinking on the subject of the New Testament canon and will be a much referenced guide for a long time to come.”
—Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary
“Michael Kruger has written an important and comprehensive treatment of the New Testament canon. As an advocate of the self-authenticating view, he goes to great lengths to argue his case, but he also delves deeply into the variety of historical and community-based positions. He provides an insightful treatment of epistemological grounds for belief, and debates the positions in a rigorous way not often found in such discussions. I am sure friend and foe alike will learn from this valuable volume.”
—Stanley E. Porter, President, Dean, and Professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College; author, Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament
“Canon Revisited is a well-written, carefully documented, and helpful examination of the many historical approaches that have been written to explain when and how the books of the New Testament were canonized. The author’s interest, however, is to move beyond the historical to the theological, concluding that the concepts of a self-authenticating canon and its corporate reception by the church are ultimately how we know that these twenty-seven books belong in the New Testament.”
—Arthur G. Patzia, Senior Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary; author, The Making of the New Testament
About the Author
Michael J. Kruger (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kruger is ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America and also serves as the pastor of teaching at Uptown PCA in Charlotte. He blogs regularly at MichaelJKruger.com and tweets at @michaeljkruger.
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Top Customer Reviews
Quite simply put, this is an amazing book. I felt that after reading this book that I have a much stronger confidence in defending the idea of the formation of the canon of scripture. The author said himself in the introduction that: "The problem of the canon (at least as we are using the phrase here) refers to the fundamental question of how we, as Christians, can know that we have the right twenty-seven books in our New Testament".
Kruger says of this important book that he is addressing the de jure question and not the de facto question (see Alvin Plantinga's "Warranted Christian Belief"). He says of the de jure question: "The de jure objection argues not so much that Christian belief in the canon is false, but that Christians have no rational basis for thinking they could ever know such a thing in the first place....it would be irrational for Christians to claim that they know these twenty-seven are the right ones. By contrast, a de facto objection to the idea of the canon is that there are factual problems with the Bible, and therefore the Bible should be rejected. Kruger takes an interesting approach in his apologetic for the canon. While others defend the factual basis of scripture, Kruger tackles the more difficult epistemological issue; namely: whether or not it is rational to believe in the canon in the first place.
Kruger takes a two pronged approach in his defense.
In part one, "determining the canonical model", he examines different qualities of the canon. First, the canon was received by the community (corporate reception). The church was able to identify (with the help of the Holy Spirit) what was canonical and what was not. Second, the canon was historically determined. It was written by apostles or close associates of apostles (apostolic origins). The testimony of the apostles and the early church leaders solidified the place of the various canonical books. Third, the canon possessed divine qualities. Jesus had promised that the Spirit of Truth would lead the church into all truth and that he would bring to their remembrance the things that Jesus had said. Canonical books contained within themselves qualities that made them gain acceptance by the early church as being canonical. Therefore, Kruger argues, the canon is self-authenticating. It is supported by the three pillars of corporate reception, apostolic origin and divine qualities. This approach by Kruger is important because his defense does not place all the eggs in one basket.
In part two of the book, he treats the subject of how the canon was determined or identified by the early church. How did they decide whether or not a particular book was scripture or not? Kruger makes the important point that the core of the canon was formed early, while the periphery was solidified by the late third and early fourth centuries. There are some critics who argue that the canon was not settled and therefore could not really be called a canon. The critics cast doubt on the validity of the idea of a canon. They want to make it seem that the books were arbitrarily chosen by the faction of the church that had the most political power. Kruger deftly refutes this idea by showing that the gospels and Paul's letters for example were accepted by the early church as authoritative very early on.
I thought Kruger did a good job in answering the de jure objection to the idea of canon. Part one lays a strong foundation for part two. The qualities of the canon must be determined before the reception and definition of what the canon is, is answered. Kruger makes a strong case that is not easily dismissed by critics. It is a strong apologetic for the canon, and will be a welcome addition to the tools of the apologist's trade.
While this is an apologetics book, it really should be read by all Christians; by anyone who wants to understand more about the formation of the Bible. If you have ever been troubled by questions of why the Bible is the authority for the church, then you should read this book. It is well-argued, easy to follow, and gives excellent arguments for the defense of the canon. It really helps to fill the gap in our defense of the faith and our defense of the scripture where God has spoken.
He offers several paradigms given in Christian history and critiques them. It is very important to note that Dr. Kruger’s critique is always charitable and edifying. For instance, he extracts helpful and correct elements in all the positions, and then takes the best components to help form his new paradigm. His suggested paradigm is innovative and fresh, faithful to God and his nature and, most importantly, steeped in the Bible itself. Dr. Kruger gives rock-solid grounds for faith in the twenty-seven books of the New Testament canon by competently demonstrating the “self-authenticating” nature of every one of the twenty-seven.
This volume is a great resource for those who are interested in biblical studies, and it is absolutely essential reading for all pastors, teachers, and apologists. In my judgment, next to the inerrancy of Scripture, the legitimacy of the NT canon is the most important ground of controversy with the evangelical view of Scripture. Dr. Kruger arms the reader to be “steadfast and unmovable” in the storms of such controversy. I heartily recommend Canon Revisited.
It is well written. It can be a page-turner. It is thorough. It is Scriptural. It is inspiring. It is edifying. It is trans-denominational. It is indispensable to everyone from the lectern to the front lawn.
It is not boring. It is not scattered. It is not wordy. It is not simplistic. It is not ostentatious. It is not likely to be a bookshelf dust-catcher.