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The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate Paperback – November 3, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (November 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830840311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830840311
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The Christian “canon” refers to that set of scriptures, complete and bounded, that we accept as scripture. Modern Bible scholars often examine the development of the canon from an extrinsic model, noting that the canon was formed over the course of several centuries as the church fathers selected their favorites. Many argue that Irenaeus, in the late second century, was the first to feel the need for an authoritative canon. But what if the selection of accepted writings was more intrinsic … that is, guided from within, rather than from without? What if the New Testament writers themselves understood that they were writing Scripture, and their work was quickly recognized and adopted as such, perhaps with God’s guidance?

Kruger doesn’t deny the extrinsic claims, that the canon was fluid and argued over for centuries. He simply highlights the evidence that our New Testament writers were knowingly writing Scripture, and our earliest Scripture readers knew it. This Kruger does by critically examining five tenets of the extrinsic model to see if they really do hold water. The five tenets he questions, in five chapters, are:

1. We must make a sharp distinction between Scripture and canon.

2. There was nothing in earliest Christianity that might have led to a canon.

3. Early Christians were averse to written documents.

4. The New Testament authors were unaware of their own authority.

5. The New Testament books were first regarded as Scripture at the end of the second century.

Kruger hits his stride at about chapter three, and it gets stronger from there. So if you find the book winding up a little slowly, I promise it’ll be slinging fast balls by the end. Kruger’s research is convincing and well-argued, with generous footnotes.
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Format: Paperback
Recent days have seen a massive increase in discussion around the formation of the canon. Questions in this conversation center on "when" and "how" questions. For example: When did certain books become part of the canon and how were they selected? In his new book The Question of the Canon Dr. Michael J. Kruger takes up the "why" questions, namely, why did Christians have a canon at all? He asks this question because of another question which is, "Does the canon exist because of some later decision on the part of the second or third century church, or did it arise more naturally from the beginning of the Christian faith itself? In other words, "Is the development of the canon extrinsic or intrinsic to early Christianity?"

Chapter one explores the definition of the canon through asking the question, "Must we make a sharp distinction between the definitions of Canon and Scripture?" Chapter two explores the origins of the Canon and asks, "Was there really nothing in early Christianity that may have led to a Canon?" The fourth chapter looks at the authors of the Canon and asks, "Were the New Testament authors unaware of their own authority. Finally the book concludes looking at the question, "Were the New Testament books first regarded as Scripture at the end of the second century?"

The author notes that it is not his goal "to reject the extrinsic model in its entirety but to suggest that there were also intrinsic factors at work in the early Christian movement that may have made a new corpus of Scripture more natural, of not inevitable, development" (205). He states, "But the intrinsic model argues that the idea of canon was built into the DNA of the Christian religion and thus emerged quite naturally.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In our day and age, there is much debate about the topic of biblical canon. For those who don't know, that means how is it that we got the list of books that we have today in our NT? One of the latest volumes discussing this question is Michael Kruger's "The Question of Canon."

Now this is pretty much a book about formation to be sure. You won't find in here a list of the history of the debates as to what books should or should not be in the canon nor will you find information on when this canon was finally ratified. (Though let me give a quick hint. It was not at the Council of Nicea.)

Kruger's work in this book is largely critiquing the extrinsic model of the canon. This is the idea that there was no idea in the early church at the time of the writing of the NT canon to form a list of books that would be authoritative and it was largely the work of Marcion that led the church to think "Yeah. We need to establish a rule of faith."

Kruger does admit that the extrinsic model is the most popular one and admits that several aspects of it are in fact true. It is certainly not the case that, for instance, when the Gospel of John was written, it started glowing and the church knew "Ah! That's one of the books in the canon!" Of course there was dispute over a few books, but the extrinsic view of canon and Kruger's own intrinsic view must explain the same data and see which explanation has the greatest explanatory scope.

It's refreshing to hear on page 22 that Kruger writes that his model is historical in nature. In fact, one need not believe in inspiration in order to hold to Kruger's position.
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