Did Justin Martyr Know the Gospel of John?

There has been a long-standing scholarly discussion about how far back we can trace the roots of the fourfold gospel.  We certainly see it in Irenaeus, who is quite plain about his view, “It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer than the number they are.  For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live and four principle winds… [and] the cherubim, too, were four-faced” (Haer. 3.11.8).

But, can we trace the fourfold gospel back even further?  Justin Martyr, an early Christian apologist writing c.150-160, is a key player in this debate.  He clearly knows the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark …

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Did Matthew Think He Was Writing Scripture?

One of the most common misconceptions about the New Testament canon is that the authors of these writings had no idea that they were writing Scripture-like books.  I dealt with this misconception on a general level here, showing that there was a clear apostolic self-awareness amongst the New Testament authors.

While this apostolic self-awareness may be easy to show for authors like Paul, what about the gospels which, technically speaking, are formally anonymous?  Do their authors exhibit awareness that they were writing something like Scripture?  To explore this further, let us just consider just one of our gospels, namely the Gospel of Matthew.

The first step is to get …

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Why You Can Rely on the Canon

I want to thank Matt Smethurst over at The Gospel Coalition for posting my interview on the NT Canon with Mark Mellinger.   I gave this interview back in April when I was at the TGC national conference participating on a panel discussion on the authority of Scripture (for that discussion, see here).

Mark and I had a fun and lively discussion on why the NT canon is reliable. Here it is:

[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/65324716″ width=”400″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen]…

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Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize: #10: “Early Christians Believed that Canonical Books were Self-Authenticating.”

Note: for the complete series see here.

How do we know which books are from God, and which are not?  There are many answers to that question, some of which we have covered in prior posts. Certainly the apostolic origins of a book can help identify it as being from God (see post here). And, the church’s overall consensus on a book can be part of how we identity it as being from God (see post here).

But, it is interesting to note that the early church fathers, while agreeing that apostolicity and church-reception are fundamentally important, also appealed to another factor that is often overlooked in …

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Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize: #9: “Christians Did Disagree about the Canonicity of Some NT Books”

Note: for the full series, see here.

When it comes to basic facts that all Christians should know about the canon, it is important that we recognize that the development of the canon was not always neat and tidy.  It was not a pristine, problem-free process where everyone agreed on everything right from the outset.

On the contrary, the history of the canon is, at points, quite tumultuous.  Some Christians received books that were later rejected and regarded as apocryphal (this was discussed in an earlier post).  More than this, there was disagreement at times even over some canonical books.

For instance, Origen mentions that books like 2 …

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