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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Five Myths About the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism

In the world of biblical studies, at least among some critical scholars, Gnosticism has been the darling for sometime now.  Especially since the discovery of the so-called “Gnostic Gospels” at Nag Hammadi in 1945, scholars have sung the praises of this alternative version of Christianity.

Gnosticism  was a heretical version of Christianity that burst on the scene primarily in the second century and gave the orthodox Christians a run for their money.  And it seems that some scholars look back and wish that the Gnostics had prevailed.

After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving.  Given …

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Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory

When I was a kid, I always used to enjoy the “whack a mole” game at the local arcade (yes, we had to go to an “arcade” to play games).  You had be quick to win that game.  Each time you hit a mole, another would pop up, taking its place.

Of course, that is what made the game both fun and frustrating at the same time.  No matter how hard you worked, it always seemed that the moles just wouldn’t go away.

Sometimes it’s like that in the world of biblical scholarship.  Theories pop up, are quickly refuted by the academy, and then, just when you think they have …

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An Essential Key to Understanding the Development of the NT Canon

How and when the early church recognized the 27 books in our New Testament has always been a fascinating topic for people.  There is innate curiosity within us about why these books were regarded as Scripture and not others.

Unfortunately, the high level of interest in the New Testament canon is often combined with a high number of misconceptions about the canon.  For anyone willing to search for it, the internet is packed with myths, mistakes, and misunderstandings about how the whole process really worked.

While there is no quick cure for such misconceptions, there is one essential key that really helps clear away the cobwebs.  And that key is …

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Another Look at the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament

Last year I posted an article entitled “What Is The Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?”  In that post I argued, contrary to common opinion, that the earliest (nearly complete) list is not Athanasius’ Festal Letter in 367.  Instead, the earliest complete list occurs more than a century earlier in the writings of Origen (see picture).

My blog post was based off a fuller academic piece I wrote for the recent festschrift for Larry Hurtado, Mark Manuscripts and Monotheism (edited by Chris Keith and Dieter Roth; T&T Clark, 2015), entitled, “Origen’s List of New Testament Books in Homiliae on Josuam 7.1: A Fresh Look.”…

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