What’s the Very First Time We See a NT Book Used as Scripture? My Article in the Festschrift for Stanley Porter

Michael J. Kruger

Posted on

December 20, 2016

Few issues in the study of the NT canon have generated more discussion (and disagreement) than that of the canon’s date.  When were Christian writings first regarded as “Scripture”?  When was the first time we can see that happening?

For many modern scholars, the key time is the end of the second century.  Only then, largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, were these books first regarded as Scripture.

But, I think there is evidence that NT books were regarded as Scripture much earlier.  And some of this evidence is routinely overlooked.  A good example is the widely neglected text tucked away in 1 Tim 5:18:

For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and “The laborer deserves his wages.”

The first part of this quote comes from Deut 25:4, but where does the second part come from?  There is one text, and one text only, that matches these words, namely the statement of Jesus in Luke 10:7.

Could 1 Timothy be citing Luke’s Gospel as Scripture?

I explore this issue extensively in my recent article, “First Timothy 5:18 and Early Canon Consciousness: Reconsidering a Problematic Text,” which appears in the new festschrift for my friend Stan Porter: The Language and Literature of the New Testament: Essays in Honor of Stanley E. Porter’s 60th Birthday, eds. Lois K. Fuller Dow, Craig A. Evans, Andrew W. Pitts (Leiden, E.J. Brill: 2017): 680-700.

What surprised me as I wrote this article is how few books on canon (or other books for that matter) address 1 Tim 5:18.  Of the standard canonical works by Metzger, Bruce, Gamble, McDonald, and Patzia, the only one who even mentions it is Bruce.  And he only offers a couple of sentences about it.

So hopefully this article will fill a lacuna in the study of the NT canon.

The cost of the volume is only $271, so if you are behind on your Christmas shopping here is a great stocking stuffer!

Well, if you do somehow get your hands on a copy (perhaps after winning the lottery), then you should also check out the other fine essays in the volume.  There are 32 chapters with contributions from scholar such as Darrell Bock, Eckhard Schnabel, James D.G. Dunn, Nicholas Perrin, Stephen Westerholm, Craig Keener, Craig Evans, Chuck Hill, and Craig Blomberg.

And this honor for Stan Porter is well deserved.  His scholarship (and, for me, also his friendship) has been an encouragement to all in the world of biblical studies.






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