Tag Team with Michael Horton on “A New New Testament”

Michael J. Kruger

Posted on

May 1, 2013

Over the last month, I have offered an extended review of Hal Taussig’s A New New Testament (see here for the final post with all the links). Taussig tries to add 10 apocryphal books to the existing NT canon.

Over at the White Horse Inn Blog, Mike Horton and I have offered a tag team review of this book. Mike offered his own review yesterday (April 30), and then he has posted my review today (May 1).   He tackles the book more from a theological perspective and I examine it more from a historical perspective.

Since my portion was already posted here on my own website, let me give a portion of Mike’s excellent review:

Only in America do scholars imagine that they can invent a new kind of Christianity by casting votes. Talk about a conspiracy of elites ignoring the voices of millions of believers from every continent and language! Contrast this with the reception of the biblical canon—early and geographically widespread—by the whole church.

It’s a simple point, but I think it goes to the heart of this whole genre of “Re-Imagining Christianity” as if early Christianity were an extended Oprah show. The point is this: certain canons give rise to certain communities. Representing the wider church (long before the rise of the Roman papacy), church councils met not to select texts for inclusion in the canon but to discern which texts were already canonical. As church historians like Eusebius recount, the church’s act was discernment and submission, not creativity and decision. There’s a reason you’ve heard of the 27 New Testament books we have.

If the church created rather than recognized the canonical Word as the voice of its Great Shepherd, then two problems arise. First, we must discount the way in which the earliest Christian writers appealed to Scripture, imposing the anachronism of a later (medieval) development. Second, we have little to say when writers like Hal Taussig, Elaine Pagels, Karen King, John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, and others claim that the only reason we have these 27 books is the arbitrary will of a circle of leaders claiming the mantle of the apostles.

Read the whole thing here.

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