How the 2020 Presidential Election Helps Us Understand the Formation of the New Testament Canon

OK, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there may not be two more unrelated topics than the 2020 presidential election and the formation of the NT canon. Of all the things that we can learn from the trials and tribulations of this election cycle (and there are many), surely how the New Testament was formed is not one of them!

So, how in the world do these two things connect?

In brief, I think the presidential election cycle is a remarkably helpful analogy for understanding the different definitions of canon, and how those definitions help us understand the date of the canon. Let me try to explain.


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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #1: “The Term ‘Canon’ Can Only Refer to a Fixed, Closed List of Books”

Note: This is the first installment of a new blog series announced here.

Graham Stanton has correctly observed, “In discussions of the emergence of the canon, whether of the Old or the New Testament writings, definitions are all important, and the devil is in the detail.”[1] Indeed, one’s definition of canon drives one’s historical conclusions about canon–particularly regarding its date.  And precisely for this reason, there has always been a vigorous debate amongst scholars over what we mean by the term “canon.”

However, in recent years, that debate has taken an interesting turn.  One particular definition of canon has begun to emerge as the dominant one.  In fact, …

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