Thursday, May 06, 2010

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON: Part 1

**PLEASE NOTE: This series originated as a term paper for a class at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary**


INTRODUCTION

             Temptation is a curious thing that expresses itself in many ways.  For the seminary student writing about the development of the New Testament canon, it is very tempting to focus on the inerrancy of Scripture and the fact that, as Christians, we believe these writings to be the inspired word of God.  Such a temptation would lead the current work down a noble path to be sure though the result would likely be found wanting for a history class.  Therefore, the role of historian must be assumed in this undertaking. 

            Here, a discussion of the historical development of what we know today as the New Testament shall follow with an emphasis on several key events and people who played a role in the canonization of the New Testament of the Bible.  A mention of the meaning of canon is in order.  The term canon comes from the Greek word κανών (kanōn) which refers to a measuring instrument.  The term later came to mean a rule of action that one is to live by (Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16)[1] or a standard of faith and practice.[2] 

            While the historical studies in the current class did not always follow history chronologically, pursuing the topic at hand seems to the author to be best suited to a chronological approach.  Though a detailed treatment of each century is not possible given the constraints of the current assignment, the first through fourth centuries will be discussed.  It is assumed, given the nature of the assignment that foregoing any discussion of what Christians refer to as the Old Testament is expected.  It is noted, however, that when early Christians spoke of Scriptures, they were referring to the Hebrew Scriptures, usually the Septuagint.[3] 


                [1] Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1986, 1999), 119.
                [2] Strong, James. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible. (Bellingham, WA: Logos research Systems, Inc., 2009), 2583.
                [3] González, Justo L. The Story of Christianity Vol 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1984), 62.  González goes on to reveal there was no question, except among the Gnostics and Marcionites, that Hebrew Scripture was part of the Christian canon.

2 comments:

NETBible said...

see also The History of the English Bible http://bible.org/series/history-english-bible

Chris, you might want to add a verse reference popup to your blog see http://labs.bible.org/NETBibleTagger/tutorials/add_to_blogger_blogspot

Chris Sanchez said...

Thanks for the tip. I have already installed such an application from Logos.