Did the Early Church Fathers Think That They Were Inspired Like the Apostles?

A number of years ago, Albert Sundberg wrote a well-known article arguing that the early church fathers did not see inspiration as something that was uniquely true of canonical books.[1]  Why?  Because, according to Sundberg, the early Church Fathers saw their own writings as inspired.   Ever since Sundberg, a number of scholars have repeated this claim, insisting that the early fathers saw nothing distinctive about the NT writings as compared to writings being produced in their own time period.

However, upon closer examination, this claim proves to be highly problematic.  Let us consider several factors.

First, the early church fathers repeatedly express that the apostles had a distinctive authority …

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Why is There a New Testament at All? My New Book with IVP-Academic

For most of us, the key question about the NT canon is “Why these books and no others?” But, I think there is another, more foundational question (that is asked much less frequently), and that is, “Why is there a New Testament at all?”

The answer, according to some scholars, is not to be found in the first-century—there was nothing about earliest Christianity (or the books themselves) that would naturally lead to the development of a canon. Instead, we are told, the answer is to be found in the later Christian church. The canon was an ecclesiastical product that was designed to meet ecclesiastical needs. Sure, the books themselves were …

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The Complete Series: 10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon

For the last 3-4 months I have been working through a blog series entitled “10 Misconceptions About the New Testament Canon.”  This series exams some common beliefs out there in the academic (and lay-level) communities that prove to be problematic upon closer examination.

Although the series is not quite finished (two more to go), I have received several requests to have it all one place.  So, here is the list.  I will update this list as we go along.  Also, there will be a link to this list under the “Blog Series” heading in the left margin of my website.

  1. The Term “Canon” Can Only Refer to a Fixed, Closed

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New Blog Series:10 Common Misconceptions About the NT Canon

Over the next month or so I plan to write a new blog series on 10 common misconceptions (or misunderstandings) about the origins and development of the NT Canon.   These are misconceptions that are not only held by the average layman, but are often shared by those in the academic community as well.

It is always difficult to know how such misunderstandings develop and are promulgated.   Sometimes they are just ideas that are repeated so often that no one bothers (anymore) to see if they have merit.  In other cases, these ideas have been promoted through popular presentations of the canon’s origins (e.g., The Da Vinci Code).  And in …

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Were the Earliest Christians Illiterate?

In the 1979 film Rocky II, the newly famous Rocky Balboa, fresh off his split-decision loss to Apollo Creed, is hired to do a TV commercial. During the filming of the commercial it quickly becomes clear that he can’t read the cue cards. The director, frustrated by how long the filming is taking, ruthlessly mocks Rocky: “You cost us thousands of dollars because you can’t read!”

Rocky is humiliated and embarrassed. Why? Because in our modern, western society most people can read. Reading is the norm. Illiteracy is the exception. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, or how talented you are. If you can’t read, you feel like an …

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