10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #10: “Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books”

Note: this is the tenth and final installment of a blog series announced here.  The full series can be found here.

When it comes to the study of the New Testament canon, few questions have received more attention than the canon’s date.  When did we have a New Testament canon?  Well, it depends on what one means by “New Testament canon.”   If one is simply asking when (some of) these books came to be regarded as Scripture, then we can say that happened at a very early time.  But, if one is asking when we see these books, and only these books, occur in some sort of …

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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #9: “The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles”

Note: this is the ninth installment of a blog series announced here.  The full series can be found here.

One of the most commonly made claims regarding the canonical gospels is that they were not written by the individuals named in their titles.  Instead, we are told that these gospels were written later in the first century by anonymous individuals outside of Palestine who were not eyewitnesses of any of the events that they record.  After all, the text of the gospels themselves offers no indication of their authorship.   And the gospel titles, it is argued, were added at a later point—probably the middle of the second century—in …

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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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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #8: “Early Christianity was an Oral Religion and Therefore Would Have Resisted Writing Things Down”

Note: this is the eighth installment of a blog series announced here.

Recent years have seen a flurry of scholarly activity focused on the oral transmission of Jesus material within early Christianity.   Scholars (ranging from Gerhardsson to Dunn to Bauckham) have explored different models for how this oral tradition would have been preserved and delivered to each new generation.

Out of this discussion, however, a new objection to the origins of the New Testament canon has arisen.  The earliest Christians are now portrayed as being so committed to oral modes of delivery that they would have had an aversion to the written text.  Indeed, this entrenched resistance to the …

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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #7: “Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century.”

This is the seventh installment of a blog series announced here.

Ever since Walter Bauer published his now famous Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity there has been a widespread obsession amongst modern scholars with the theme of early Christian diversity.  Study after study has explored how different, contradictory, and divergent early Christian beliefs were.  And it is on this basis that the terms “heresy” and “orthodoxy” are declared to be unintelligible prior to the fourth century.  After all, we are told, there was no Christianity (as we know it) prior to this time period, but only a variety of different Christianities (plural) all claiming they are the true …

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