Did Early Christians Believe That Jesus Would Return in Their Own Lifetime? Implications for Canon

One of the most-oft repeated ideas about the earliest Christians is that they believed that the Kingdom of God would come (apocalyptically) within their own lifetime.  In fact Schweitzer famously argued that Jesus himself thought the world would end in his own lifetime; of course the world didn’t end and Jesus died disillusioned on the cross saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

In recent years, some have suggested that this belief in early Christianity would even have affected the development of the canon.   If Christians thought the world would end in their own lifetime, then, it is argued, they would not have …

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What’s the Very First Time We See a NT Book Used as Scripture? My Article in the Festschrift for Stanley Porter

Few issues in the study of the NT canon have generated more discussion (and disagreement) than that of the canon’s date.  When were Christian writings first regarded as “Scripture”?  When was the first time we can see that happening?

For many modern scholars, the key time is the end of the second century.  Only then, largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, were these books first regarded as Scripture.

But, I think there is evidence that NT books were regarded as Scripture much earlier.  And some of this evidence is routinely overlooked.  A good example is the widely neglected text tucked away in 1 Tim 5:18:

For the Scripture says,

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My @RTSCharlotte Class “The Origins and Authority of the NT Canon” Is Now Online @RTSGlobalEd

Over the last decade, I have taught an elective here at the RTS Charlotte campus entitled “The Origin and Authority of the NT Canon.” We cover a variety of subjects related to the origins of the NT, including definition of canon, theology of canon, epistemology of canon, the historical reception of the canon, and so on.

It was this class that gave birth to my book, Canon Revisited (Crossway, 2012). I was unable to find a book on canon that answered the questions my students were asking. So, I decided to write one that did!

On of my favorite parts of the class has been a section where we explore …

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The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Early Church

There is little doubt that most people are confused by the book of Revelation. Perhaps is not surprising, then, that people are equally confused by its journey into the New Testament canon.

Revelation is one of those “debated” books in the early church, along with books like 2 Peter, 2-3 John, and Jude.

If you are looking for more on the canonical history of Revelation, I point you to my recent article entitled, “The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Early Church” which has just come out in the new volume Book of Seven Seals: The Peculiarity of Revelation, its Manuscripts, Attestation and Transmission, eds. Thomas J. …

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Destroyer of the Gods: New Book on Early Christianity by Larry Hurtado

This coming September, Larry Hurtado, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at the University of Edinburgh (and my Doktorvater), releases his latest volume, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Baylor, 2016).

Larry allowed me to see a pre-published version of the book and I can tell you that it is (not surprisingly) an excellent piece of work and a fascinating look at the way early Christians fit (and didn’t fit) into their Greco-Roman context.

Although most modern Western individuals see Christianity as typical of all religions around the world (usually with the “all religions are the same” line added in for good measure), this volume …

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