The New Testament Canon and Manuscripts

Kruger-CanonRevisitedOver on the ETC blog, I wrote on some key ideas in chapter 7, “Manuscripts and Christian Book Production,” in Michael Kruger’s Canon Revisited. In this chapter, Kruger attempts to show what we can learn about New Testament canon formation from our earliest manuscripts. In the post, I interact with the following ideas: (1) What is the value of a relative large quantity of MSS for determining canon? (2) What is the significance of the codex for NT canon formation? Kruger believes both aspects are potentially significant, while I register a caution or two about these particular ideas.

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Peter Gentry on the Biblical Languages

PGentryThe following article is reproduced from The Gospel Witness 65.6 (1986): 22 (102) with permission. The Gospel Witness is a publication of Jarvis St. Baptist Church in Toronto, Ontario that would devote one issue per year to Toronto Baptist Seminary. Dr. Peter Gentry taught the biblical languages faithfully at Toronto Baptist Seminary from 1984–1999 and 2008–2017, and he still teaches at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Enjoy!

GREEK AND HEBREW—WHY BOTHER?

By Professor Peter Gentry

During the past fifteen to twenty years many Bible colleges and seminaries have reshaped their curricula and programmes, cutting content-oriented requirements like Biblical languages, church history, exegesis of the original text and systematic theology in favour of method-oriented requirements such as Christian education, counselling skills and psychology. Certainly a balance between content and method must be maintained, but the present trend tends toward highly skilled communicators and counsellors with nothing to say. Continue reading “Peter Gentry on the Biblical Languages”

Mark 1:13 and Allusions to the Old Testament

View_of_Judean_Desert_from_mount._Yair,_Israel
By Yuvalr

Mark 1:13 with its clause, “and he (i.e. Jesus) was with the wild beasts,” has intrigued me over the years. Here are some thoughts on it. In brief, the references “he was with the wild beasts” and “the angels were ministering to him” are allusions to Old Testament texts that show (1) that Jesus obeyed the Father and consequently he was blessed and (2) that he dealt a fatal blow to Satan in the wilderness. Here is the text of Mark 1:13: Continue reading “Mark 1:13 and Allusions to the Old Testament”

John Wesley on the Biblical Languages

John WesleyWith this post, I want to begin a series “X Christian from Church History on the Biblical Languages.” I often share these sorts of quotes with my seminary students, and I thought they might be helpful to others as well. These posts are intended to be short, mainly consisting of a quote, which can be rather long at times, with brief commentary from me to provide some context. Continue reading “John Wesley on the Biblical Languages”

Virtue in Mossflower

MossflowerReading Mossflower by Brian Jacques (the prequel to Redwall) to my children in the evenings before bed has been sheer delight. In addition to the adventure themes that stir the imaginations of my kids, I’m continually struck by the virtue and wisdom of the characters woven into Jacques’s writing. Of course, he also weaves the vices of avarice and power seeking into the antagonists.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I want to comment on a particular point in the book that highlights such virtue and charity. The Woodlanders of Mossflower are a free, peaceful folk, who have found themselves displaced and oppressed by the aggressive tyranny of Kotir. Throughout the story, there have been many skirmishes between the two sides, and casualties on both sides have been sustained. Late in the story, some of the Woodlanders were able to access the palace of Kotir and found the remnant of a former lake underneath it. This discovery caused them to wonder whether there indeed was a lake where the current palace of their enemies stood. They searched and indeed found the place where the river that once flowed into the lake had been redirected. Immediately, they began to search for how to cause the river to flow where it once did in order to flood the palace of Kotir. This tactic would result in a weapon of mass destruction that would bring a decisive end to the war. Continue reading “Virtue in Mossflower”

A Fourth-Century Closure of the Old Testament Canon? (Part 2)

Hahneman-book coverIn the last post, we looked at Geoffrey Hahneman’s reasons for a fourth-century date for the closing of the Old Testament canon. In this post, I supply some response to his interpretation of the evidence.

(1) Hahneman began with the evidence of the New Testament (74–5). Though NT usage of religious literature will continue to be debated, Oskar Skarsaune, in a significant essay in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation, vol. 1, concludes:

There has been much scholarly debate on the question of whether “circumstantial evidence” (i.e. the actual use of authoritative books) in the first century CE supports or contradicts the notion of a “closed” canon in that period. If quotation frequency is regarded as significant circumstantial evidence, the New Testament seems to indicate that its authors (with the one exception mentioned [1 Enoch in Jude]) quoted the Hebrew canon, and its books only, as Scripture (445).

According to formal quotation or citation, the NT only uses books from the Hebrew canon. Sundberg and Hahneman argue that NT authors reflect on books from a wider body of literature, but the question is whether that usage constitutes the same appeal to authority as direct quotation/citation. Skarsaune and most discern a difference. Continue reading “A Fourth-Century Closure of the Old Testament Canon? (Part 2)”

A Fourth-Century Closure of the Old Testament Canon? (Part 1)

Hahneman-book coverOne of the key elements of a modern definition of canon or a list is closure. The question of when was the canon or list of the Old Testament sacred scriptures closed has become the topic of much debate. Furthermore, some scholars have tied the closing of the New Testament canon to the question of the closing of the OT canon.

Geoffrey Mark Hahnman in The Muratorian Fragment and the Development of the Canon says:

The Muratorian Fragment as traditionally dated at the end of the second century contrasts greatly with the establishing of the Old Testament in the fourth century. The Fragment clearly represents a New Testament canon. To accept its traditional date would suggest that the Church was engaged in defining a New Testament canon more than 150 years before it began fixing an Old Testament canon. While this is not impossible, it is unlikely, and it must have been such a consideration that encouraged Sundberg to reconsider the date of the Fragment (83).

Hahneman is more concerned with the Muratorian Fragment and its significance for the NT canon than the OT canon. He relies heavily on the arguments of Albert Sundberg for the formation of the Christian Old Testament in this section. It is worth reviewing the lines of evidence he presents. Continue reading “A Fourth-Century Closure of the Old Testament Canon? (Part 1)”