The canon conversation continues

My conversation with Damian continues in his post Inspiration, Fallibility and Canon and in the comments of that post. If you are unaware of why we even feel a need to talk about the canon, I certainly encourage you to read his post to see some of the questions with which you may not have adequately dealt. The discussion has certainly helped hone my beliefs on the matter, and I think engaging in it honestly might do the same for others. I posted the following as a comment, although I’ve revised/expanded/cleaned up wording here and there for this post.

Within the post, Damian wrote,

The authority, for Steve, seems to be in the List and in the sufficiency of the list. It is not the texts (which are fallible), but rather the list (which is sufficient).

I buck a bit at the idea that I consider there to be authority in the canon itself. I do think that the list is sufficient, but not for any particular expectation of authority (this needs to be defined) as much as for exhaustiveness of a certain subject, namely the Heilsgeschichte, at least as defined by the Church. After all, it was the Church that wrote Scripture in the first place.  I’m not saying all redemptive history need have been complete by the time the books of Scripture were written (in fact, I don’t believe it was), but that the Church that created the canon recognized that the books in their list were sufficient in illustrating the trajectory and roadmap for the culminating events of salvation, as well as how we’re supposed to live until/after then. Early texts that expound upon the spiritual ideas of canonical books, such as Clement, are invaluable for recovering the faith as it was delivered to the saints, but then again, in many ways, so is Josephus, in documenting a/the fulfilment of Jesus’ eschatological expectations.

Some of my protective reflex for the canon is no doubt due to my lingering traditionalism, but it’s also important for me as a piece of literature; the canon is a work composed in a way not unlike Luke’s work in his Gospel, both being compilations of various authenticated sources. They may have been misled in their authentication on various points — 2 Peter, for instance, certainly bears few signs of apostolic authority — but overall, I think we can agree with the canonizers that pedigree stands for something. I think we as Christians should want a breed of the “best blood” possible (those works related most closely to the eyewitnesses), even if a few mutts or imposters sneaked into the canon here and there, and that we should also make careful but unreserved use of the literary works without as much apostolic pedigree that were not canonized.  So I’d be more open to refining and scrubbing down the canon, cutting things out as it were, than I am to adding things to it.

We encounter the risen Christ on a personal level. When we inevitably want to know more about God’s ways, we seek the guidance of others who have encountered Him; naturally, we will want to listen the most closely to those who encountered Him personally in history, and nearly as much to those who learned directly from them. As we back away from the source of illumination, things get a little dimmer, and shadows are cast that we look for any available light to dispel. I think the NT canon functions well as a more or less direct witness to Jesus’ work on earth (the best we’ve got, at any rate), and those whom he taught while here should be given special attention. For the very same reasons I believe in the truth of any Scripture at all, I believe we have in the canon something useful and unique, though not nearly as divine as some would like for it to be.

As I have said on numerous occasions, I think we overemphasize the usefulness of Scripture for reasons other than guiding our development as emulators of godly, Christ-like character (2 Tim 3.16-17). If we lay aside what I think is the specific usefulness of the Bible as a testimony to redemptive history, focusing on its character-building aspect does dull the divide between the canonical and extracanonical sacred literature quite a bit, but in a way that’s ultimately helpful because it shifts our focus to what really matters the most anyway. So in this, I certainly understand and appreciate where Damian’s coming from.

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  • I am not as opinionated in the new testament cannon. I do feel it is useful to read a good translation that acknowledges much of this. I read an ESV which often points out in the foot notes certain disputed areas. I do however have issues with the Old Testament Cannon.

    I have seen many reasons for omissions that have proven to be historically inaccurate. Most notably language. There were disputes over duteronical books which were recently removed because of claims that no Hebrew existed which time would reveal otherwise. There were omissions based on certain doctrines. It seems odd that we should wait until almost 2,000 years to omit a book based on a doctrine, Scripture should dictate doctrine not man editing scripture to fit doctrine. Even still people involved with these decisions now are seen as wrong in many of their misguided beliefs. This is seen with the perspective of women, and the belief that they are ‘evil’ and temptresses focusing on the man’s purity and blaming the lust on the woman who is lusted after. I believe it was those men who were unable to take responsibility for their own iniquity who decided to edit Susana out of the scriptures for the obvious reason. They did not want to confront a story that took this lust after a woman head on. They dismissed it and only acknowledged the footnote on Daniel at the end of the book. It is decisions like this we recently made that make me wonder.

    I feel that the scripture the early Church used which would have been the Septuagint is the inspired word of God in addition to the New testament.

    I believe man trimmed down scripture to suit themselves.

    I want to point out that when the Ethiopian men Paul he had Isaiah, not an entire Bible. I do not think the omission of books is damning to those of us who believe, but I believe it was a sin on the part of those who decided to reject the word of God.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • I am not as opinionated in the new testament cannon. I do feel it is useful to read a good translation that acknowledges much of this. I read an ESV which often points out in the foot notes certain disputed areas. I do however have issues with the Old Testament Cannon.

    I have seen many reasons for omissions that have proven to be historically inaccurate. Most notably language. There were disputes over duteronical books which were recently removed because of claims that no Hebrew existed which time would reveal otherwise. There were omissions based on certain doctrines. It seems odd that we should wait until almost 2,000 years to omit a book based on a doctrine, Scripture should dictate doctrine not man editing scripture to fit doctrine. Even still people involved with these decisions now are seen as wrong in many of their misguided beliefs. This is seen with the perspective of women, and the belief that they are ‘evil’ and temptresses focusing on the man’s purity and blaming the lust on the woman who is lusted after. I believe it was those men who were unable to take responsibility for their own iniquity who decided to edit Susana out of the scriptures for the obvious reason. They did not want to confront a story that took this lust after a woman head on. They dismissed it and only acknowledged the footnote on Daniel at the end of the book. It is decisions like this we recently made that make me wonder.

    I feel that the scripture the early Church used which would have been the Septuagint is the inspired word of God in addition to the New testament.

    I believe man trimmed down scripture to suit themselves.

    I want to point out that when the Ethiopian men Paul he had Isaiah, not an entire Bible. I do not think the omission of books is damning to those of us who believe, but I believe it was a sin on the part of those who decided to reject the word of God.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • Another point would be Luther and his questioning of cannon. His decisions in ordering and translation was a huge influence on what books were attacked and rejected. I would like to point out that he also questioned a majority of new testament books and their cannon. He at times stated that John was really the only gospel necessary.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • Another point would be Luther and his questioning of cannon. His decisions in ordering and translation was a huge influence on what books were attacked and rejected. I would like to point out that he also questioned a majority of new testament books and their cannon. He at times stated that John was really the only gospel necessary.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • I must admit ignorance as to how the Jews decided which Scriptures were valid and which weren’t; as I understand it, the Church more or less adopted the Jews’ own (looser) canon wholesale as the Old Testament.

    I believe man trimmed down scripture to suit themselves.

    I think what you’re getting at seems to be that we shouldn’t pick and choose among which Scriptures are valid based on how well what they teach lines up with what we already believe. To me, among the least useful rules for determining what was and was not to be canonized was the test of “orthodoxy”, which fell into this sort of problem. I tend to think we should draw what we can from as many of them as possible when trying to discover what the earliest believers actually believed; in some cases, we can detect a difference of opinion in the early believers, and I wish our canon showed us more of that conflict rather than pretending that there was one truth that everyone knew. As it is, the NT does show some conflict, or at best nonoverlapping, of opinions, but you’ll never hear fundamentalists or evangelicals admitting this.

    Luther also seemed to pick and choose by whether it agreed with his analysis or not. Wanting to throw out the Epistle of James, an unquestionable heir to Jesus’ own teachings, is indicative of his eisogetical tendencies. But also interesting is his preference for the Gospel of John: this Gospel is the latest and most divergent of the Gospels, showing many more examples of the Pauline emphasis on belief than do the other Gospels, which comport somewhat better with James’ emphasis.

    So much for determining which book is valid based on what it teaches. The only criteria by which I’d distinguish the value of a book would be not in what it says, but by who says it — its authenticity as a witness to the teaching of the Apostles ; this was another (and better) criterion that the church councils used for determining canonicity.

    I do not think the omission of books is damning to those of us who believe, but I believe it was a sin on the part of those who decided to reject the word of God.

    The question is, what is the word of God? Determining that certain books are less instructive for certain types of questions based on an honest evaluation of their authenticity is not, I think, a sinful rejection of the word of God, but dismissing a certain book based on whether it teaches what we want it to teach without looking seriously at whether it somehow presents the truths of God is certainly dangerous.

  • I must admit ignorance as to how the Jews decided which Scriptures were valid and which weren’t; as I understand it, the Church more or less adopted the Jews’ own (looser) canon wholesale as the Old Testament.

    I believe man trimmed down scripture to suit themselves.

    I think what you’re getting at seems to be that we shouldn’t pick and choose among which Scriptures are valid based on how well what they teach lines up with what we already believe. To me, among the least useful rules for determining what was and was not to be canonized was the test of “orthodoxy”, which fell into this sort of problem. I tend to think we should draw what we can from as many of them as possible when trying to discover what the earliest believers actually believed; in some cases, we can detect a difference of opinion in the early believers, and I wish our canon showed us more of that conflict rather than pretending that there was one truth that everyone knew. As it is, the NT does show some conflict, or at best nonoverlapping, of opinions, but you’ll never hear fundamentalists or evangelicals admitting this.

    Luther also seemed to pick and choose by whether it agreed with his analysis or not. Wanting to throw out the Epistle of James, an unquestionable heir to Jesus’ own teachings, is indicative of his eisogetical tendencies. But also interesting is his preference for the Gospel of John: this Gospel is the latest and most divergent of the Gospels, showing many more examples of the Pauline emphasis on belief than do the other Gospels, which comport somewhat better with James’ emphasis.

    So much for determining which book is valid based on what it teaches. The only criteria by which I’d distinguish the value of a book would be not in what it says, but by who says it — its authenticity as a witness to the teaching of the Apostles ; this was another (and better) criterion that the church councils used for determining canonicity.

    I do not think the omission of books is damning to those of us who believe, but I believe it was a sin on the part of those who decided to reject the word of God.

    The question is, what is the word of God? Determining that certain books are less instructive for certain types of questions based on an honest evaluation of their authenticity is not, I think, a sinful rejection of the word of God, but dismissing a certain book based on whether it teaches what we want it to teach without looking seriously at whether it somehow presents the truths of God is certainly dangerous.

  • It was based on Jewish cannon but later Jewish Cannon. At the time of Christ and the early Church there was less of a division. Rabbinical Judaism came about and their final cannon of which we chose to base our early Hebrew texts on were much more recent. Even the Leningrad codex is dated about one thousand years after Christ. This was a cannon they choose to move to after a division of Christianity and Judaism. This was not the same Priestly temple Judaism we see in scripture, but a modern version of that evolved after the destruction of the temple. I have issues with using that as a spring board because of the division that occurred. We can tell by the findings at Qumran that books such as the Maccabees, Susana, an Judith were once embraced as scripture earlier forms of Judaism. Not from a form that attempted to set itself apart from the teachings of Christ.

    I am not certain that even authorship can be looked at as much as we once did. It was believed that many characters in the bible actually wrote the majority of scripture. It is widely accepted that this is more than likely not so.

    I find that since we can easily assume the Septuagint was used at the time of Christ and with the early church that it is safe to assume that Jesus never spoke out against these books as scripture. So, in my mind the question becomes more vague when you do hit the new testament. Who wrote Hebrews, and under what authority? Is there even any evidence of a first hand account of the life of Christ? Much like the Pentateuch or the Torah we see books derived most likely from oral tradition.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • It was based on Jewish cannon but later Jewish Cannon. At the time of Christ and the early Church there was less of a division. Rabbinical Judaism came about and their final cannon of which we chose to base our early Hebrew texts on were much more recent. Even the Leningrad codex is dated about one thousand years after Christ. This was a cannon they choose to move to after a division of Christianity and Judaism. This was not the same Priestly temple Judaism we see in scripture, but a modern version of that evolved after the destruction of the temple. I have issues with using that as a spring board because of the division that occurred. We can tell by the findings at Qumran that books such as the Maccabees, Susana, an Judith were once embraced as scripture earlier forms of Judaism. Not from a form that attempted to set itself apart from the teachings of Christ.

    I am not certain that even authorship can be looked at as much as we once did. It was believed that many characters in the bible actually wrote the majority of scripture. It is widely accepted that this is more than likely not so.

    I find that since we can easily assume the Septuagint was used at the time of Christ and with the early church that it is safe to assume that Jesus never spoke out against these books as scripture. So, in my mind the question becomes more vague when you do hit the new testament. Who wrote Hebrews, and under what authority? Is there even any evidence of a first hand account of the life of Christ? Much like the Pentateuch or the Torah we see books derived most likely from oral tradition.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • Thanks for the info and interesting discussion.

    We can tell by the findings at Qumran that books such as the Maccabees, Susana, an Judith were once embraced as scripture earlier forms of Judaism.

    I’m somewhat out of my depth on this topic, but I’m reasonably confident that the independent, apocalypse-minded Qumran community was not particularly indicative of mainstream Judaism. I’m not sure how what the Dead Sea Scrolls contain is particularly suggestive of what role the deuterocanonical books played in Judaism outside Qumran. In fact, I can imagine that certain associations between the Qumran sect and Christianity and the actual apocalyptic events of the destruction of Jerusalem may have been contributing factors for why later Judaism distanced itself from the Essene sect.

    But a lot of this tends toward the problem I mentioned before of expanding the canon too far. I mean, we should consult all the relevant material possible, but it’s no good as a matter of historical record to say that this or that “should be” canon — it’s just not. I approach it from a descriptive rather than as a prescriptive issue: canon is what was canonized. I don’t give even the core, least disputable parts of the canon so much weight that I bar everything else from consideration.

    And yes, by my lights, very little if any of the NT was actually written by eyewitnesses to Jesus, so we posses neither our ideal (Jesus’ own writings) nor its runner up (witnesses’ writings) except perhaps in small part; at least Paul’s writings probably come from only a decade or so after the end of Jesus’ ministry. But it’s what we’ve got, and it’s best to try to analyze what we have.

  • Thanks for the info and interesting discussion.

    We can tell by the findings at Qumran that books such as the Maccabees, Susana, an Judith were once embraced as scripture earlier forms of Judaism.

    I’m somewhat out of my depth on this topic, but I’m reasonably confident that the independent, apocalypse-minded Qumran community was not particularly indicative of mainstream Judaism. I’m not sure how what the Dead Sea Scrolls contain is particularly suggestive of what role the deuterocanonical books played in Judaism outside Qumran. In fact, I can imagine that certain associations between the Qumran sect and Christianity and the actual apocalyptic events of the destruction of Jerusalem may have been contributing factors for why later Judaism distanced itself from the Essene sect.

    But a lot of this tends toward the problem I mentioned before of expanding the canon too far. I mean, we should consult all the relevant material possible, but it’s no good as a matter of historical record to say that this or that “should be” canon — it’s just not. I approach it from a descriptive rather than as a prescriptive issue: canon is what was canonized. I don’t give even the core, least disputable parts of the canon so much weight that I bar everything else from consideration.

    And yes, by my lights, very little if any of the NT was actually written by eyewitnesses to Jesus, so we posses neither our ideal (Jesus’ own writings) nor its runner up (witnesses’ writings) except perhaps in small part; at least Paul’s writings probably come from only a decade or so after the end of Jesus’ ministry. But it’s what we’ve got, and it’s best to try to analyze what we have.

  • I am not speaking of expanding to accept every bit of writing, but to accept the basic deuterocanonical books which were accepted as cannon until recently rejected by modern translations. The KJV was translated intact with them. Their presence were there at the Reformation with Luther and Calvin. Their removal is extremely current.

    I brought up Qumran because the absence of Hebrew text to support Greek translations of the Hebrew was used by some as one of the most common reasons for editing out deuterocanonical books. Many claimed no Hebrew existed and that the books were dated much earlier. The findings at Qumran shows us that this is not so, and that in fact the books were derived from Hebrew.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • I am not speaking of expanding to accept every bit of writing, but to accept the basic deuterocanonical books which were accepted as cannon until recently rejected by modern translations. The KJV was translated intact with them. Their presence were there at the Reformation with Luther and Calvin. Their removal is extremely current.

    I brought up Qumran because the absence of Hebrew text to support Greek translations of the Hebrew was used by some as one of the most common reasons for editing out deuterocanonical books. Many claimed no Hebrew existed and that the books were dated much earlier. The findings at Qumran shows us that this is not so, and that in fact the books were derived from Hebrew.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • Oh yeah, and good post, I loved it. I am fascinated by the topic, and I’m trying to get to the rest of the other ones you linked to. Great stuff. I subscribed to your e-mail list so I’ll be reading your posts in the future.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • Oh yeah, and good post, I loved it. I am fascinated by the topic, and I’m trying to get to the rest of the other ones you linked to. Great stuff. I subscribed to your e-mail list so I’ll be reading your posts in the future.
    .-= PunkJohnnyCash´s last blog ..Baucus Breaks The Economy with Health Care =-.

  • I am not speaking of expanding to accept every bit of writing, but to accept the basic deutoronical books which were accepted as cannon until recently rejected by modern translations.

    I think you’ve got a good point. These probably should be considered second-tier OT books at very least. Their relative lack of emphasis on theology and/or claims of direct revelation is a major reason to put them lower down on the scale of usefulness for doctrine, reproof, etc., but then again, the same could be said of Esther, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. The stickier question comes, as you noted, with determining what NT canon should be; for instances, Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John, and as such his Epistle to the Philippians would seem to have more apostolic authority than the anonymous Fourth Gospel (almost certainly not written by John), but it’s not even in the canon. Maybe an “orthodox” solution would be to have a deuterocanon for the NT…?

    Many claimed no Hebrew existed and that the books were dated much earlier. The findings at Qumran shows us that this is not so, and that in fact the books were derived from Hebrew.

    Ah! That explains it quite well. Thank you.

  • I am not speaking of expanding to accept every bit of writing, but to accept the basic deutoronical books which were accepted as cannon until recently rejected by modern translations.

    I think you’ve got a good point. These probably should be considered second-tier OT books at very least. Their relative lack of emphasis on theology and/or claims of direct revelation is a major reason to put them lower down on the scale of usefulness for doctrine, reproof, etc., but then again, the same could be said of Esther, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. The stickier question comes, as you noted, with determining what NT canon should be; for instances, Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John, and as such his Epistle to the Philippians would seem to have more apostolic authority than the anonymous Fourth Gospel (almost certainly not written by John), but it’s not even in the canon. Maybe an “orthodox” solution would be to have a deuterocanon for the NT…?

    Many claimed no Hebrew existed and that the books were dated much earlier. The findings at Qumran shows us that this is not so, and that in fact the books were derived from Hebrew.

    Ah! That explains it quite well. Thank you.

  • Dan

    Steve,
    Thought provoking posts. The issue of canon is not one I’ve looked much into at this point, so I’m pretty much a tabula rasa. However, my experience with the messiness and human features of scripture tells me that the adoption of the canon was also messy. (I don’t mean messy in an entirely negative or even mostly negative sense. Just that it wasn’t magically adopted outside of culture and typical human interaction and bias.)

    Perhaps you could at some point expand more on your thoughts regarding 2 Peter, esp. as having little apostolic authority. I’m aware that most scholars do not regard the book as having been written by Peter himself, but beyond that my knowledge of the subject is minimal.

  • Dan

    Steve,
    Thought provoking posts. The issue of canon is not one I’ve looked much into at this point, so I’m pretty much a tabula rasa. However, my experience with the messiness and human features of scripture tells me that the adoption of the canon was also messy. (I don’t mean messy in an entirely negative or even mostly negative sense. Just that it wasn’t magically adopted outside of culture and typical human interaction and bias.)

    Perhaps you could at some point expand more on your thoughts regarding 2 Peter, esp. as having little apostolic authority. I’m aware that most scholars do not regard the book as having been written by Peter himself, but beyond that my knowledge of the subject is minimal.

  • Steve, I answered most of this on my blog, but your last paragraph is key, I feel. As you observed, I think that what we beleive scripture is may be the key to our attitudes to canon; extracanonical texts may be of questionable value as testimonies to redemption, but of great value as examples of Christian thought. Very astute, as is the obeservation that the similarites between extracanonical and canonical literature does focus our attention on the most important points of both.

    Regarding your conversation with PunkJohnnyCash, my understanding is that the Christian OT was canonised based on a later Jewish canon; however prior to that it included a larger one. This is why the deuterocanon has always enjoyed so much confusion, and why many churches have wider canons than the Protestant one. Things are confused a little more, because much of the deutorcanonical inclusions in the earlier Jewish canon seems to have been rejected on the grounds that they were too Christian – books such as Baruch, for example. However, PJC is a little premature saying that they were included as canon until recently; they were long considered outside of canon, but rather books of special significance.

    I certainly enjoy the suggestion of a ‘deuterocanon’ for the NT, but honestly, I think we have one: The Apostolic Fathers is certainly just that, just not well-publicised. But truthfully, is the deuterocanon well-publicised among most Protestants? Thank you both for the conversation.
    .-= Damian´s last blog ..Inspiration, Fallibility and Canon =-.

  • Steve, I answered most of this on my blog, but your last paragraph is key, I feel. As you observed, I think that what we beleive scripture is may be the key to our attitudes to canon; extracanonical texts may be of questionable value as testimonies to redemption, but of great value as examples of Christian thought. Very astute, as is the obeservation that the similarites between extracanonical and canonical literature does focus our attention on the most important points of both.

    Regarding your conversation with PunkJohnnyCash, my understanding is that the Christian OT was canonised based on a later Jewish canon; however prior to that it included a larger one. This is why the deuterocanon has always enjoyed so much confusion, and why many churches have wider canons than the Protestant one. Things are confused a little more, because much of the deutorcanonical inclusions in the earlier Jewish canon seems to have been rejected on the grounds that they were too Christian – books such as Baruch, for example. However, PJC is a little premature saying that they were included as canon until recently; they were long considered outside of canon, but rather books of special significance.

    I certainly enjoy the suggestion of a ‘deuterocanon’ for the NT, but honestly, I think we have one: The Apostolic Fathers is certainly just that, just not well-publicised. But truthfully, is the deuterocanon well-publicised among most Protestants? Thank you both for the conversation.
    .-= Damian´s last blog ..Inspiration, Fallibility and Canon =-.

  • Dan and Damian,
    Thanks for your comments. This is just the beginning of my thinking on this. An interesting enough topic, eh?

    Dan,

    Just that it wasn’t magically adopted outside of culture and typical human interaction and bias

    Good point, and one I wish I had integrated into the post.

    I’m glad you called me on the 2 Peter thing. Looking back, my comment about it bearing “few signs of apostolic authority” may have been overstatement. It’s actually hard to identify the tradition from which 2 Peter was written. However, considering that it’s extremely unlikely that Peter wrote it himself (even Origin and Eusebius doubted this) and that it borrows from and adapts two other books of dubious origin (Enoch and Jude), it seems whatever tradition produced it was not likely to be particularly close to the bedrock (pun intentional) himself.

    I certainly enjoy the suggestion of a ‘deuterocanon’ for the NT, but honestly, I think we have one: The Apostolic Fathers is certainly just that, just not well-publicised.

    Yes, I was thinking vaguely of the Fathers when I said that. I would prefer to see the earlier Fathers — the Didache, for Pete’s sake, which Clement quoted as authoritative — but the line gets fuzzy how late it too late.

    But truthfully, is the deuterocanon well-publicised among most Protestants?

    It’s generally not, and if pointed out at all, it’s to say that it’s not authoritative. But indeed, I’d say that it’s a good deal less useful for Christian believers than the Apostolic Fathers; if I were to go to bat for either the existing deuterocanon or the Fathers as a NT deuterocanon, the latter would certainly take precedence for me.

    Thank you again for the fascinating discussion!

  • Dan and Damian,
    Thanks for your comments. This is just the beginning of my thinking on this. An interesting enough topic, eh?

    Dan,

    Just that it wasn’t magically adopted outside of culture and typical human interaction and bias

    Good point, and one I wish I had integrated into the post.

    I’m glad you called me on the 2 Peter thing. Looking back, my comment about it bearing “few signs of apostolic authority” may have been overstatement. It’s actually hard to identify the tradition from which 2 Peter was written. However, considering that it’s extremely unlikely that Peter wrote it himself (even Origin and Eusebius doubted this) and that it borrows from and adapts two other books of dubious origin (Enoch and Jude), it seems whatever tradition produced it was not likely to be particularly close to the bedrock (pun intentional) himself.

    I certainly enjoy the suggestion of a ‘deuterocanon’ for the NT, but honestly, I think we have one: The Apostolic Fathers is certainly just that, just not well-publicised.

    Yes, I was thinking vaguely of the Fathers when I said that. I would prefer to see the earlier Fathers — the Didache, for Pete’s sake, which Clement quoted as authoritative — but the line gets fuzzy how late it too late.

    But truthfully, is the deuterocanon well-publicised among most Protestants?

    It’s generally not, and if pointed out at all, it’s to say that it’s not authoritative. But indeed, I’d say that it’s a good deal less useful for Christian believers than the Apostolic Fathers; if I were to go to bat for either the existing deuterocanon or the Fathers as a NT deuterocanon, the latter would certainly take precedence for me.

    Thank you again for the fascinating discussion!