Given the popular-level conversations on phenomena like the Gospel of Thomas and Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, as well as the current gap in evangelical scholarship on the origins of the New Testament, Michael Kruger's Canon Revisited meets a significant need for an up-to-date work on canon by addressing recent developments in the field. He presents an academically rigorous yet accessible study of the New Testament canon that looks deeper than the traditional surveys of councils and creeds, mining the text itself for direction in understanding what the original authors and audiences believed the canon to be.
Canon Revisited provides an evangelical introduction to the New Testament canon that can be used in seminary and college classrooms, and read by pastors and educated lay leaders alike. In contrast to the prior volumes on canon, this volume distinguishes itself by placing a substantial focus on the theology of canon as the context within which the historical evidence is evaluated and assessed.
Rather than simply discussing the history of canon-rehashing the Patristic data yet again-Kruger develops a strong theological framework for affirming and authenticating the canon as authoritative. In effect, this work successfully unites both the theology and the historical development of the canon, ultimately serving as a practical defense for the authority of the New Testament books.
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Review 1 for Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
In the synopsis given by Christian Book it explains this is a book that is a "evangelical introduction to the New Testament canon...and is for use in seminary and college classrooms, and for pastors and educated lay leaders." I don't usually give a quote from Christian Book but it is an important quote that should be weighed before reading this book. I am neither of the before mentioned people; yet I feel I am well-read, and more than that I enjoy a challenge.
Michael J. Kruger's aim in Canon Revisited is brought forth in the preface: 1. "When and how these New Testament books were recognized as Canonical." 2. "How we know these books are Canonical." Kruger wanted he and his seminary students to know, "whether Christianity had adequate grounds to claim that these 27 books were the right ones." There have been several books written, including apocryphal type books that lead "some" to wonder if the 27 New Testament books are the correct books for our Bible. This propelled Kruger to want to write a book addressing the insecurities and arguments over whether the Canon is in its correct entirety. The first section---Determining The Canonical Model (first 3 chapters) address the foundations of what is the canon, its beginnings, and that Scripture is "self-authenticating." I believe that I had a more difficult time with this section than the rest of the book. Mainly because I wanted a clear definition of what the Canon is. I was given differing views, but then these were left open-ended without a precise 1 sentence definition. In summing up what is the Canon, my understanding is the Canon is "books as authoritative Scripture for the community." My belief, for what it's worth, is God has established the Canon, not people, not the Church. Of course I base this on faith, Kruger is wanting to give evidence that is concrete. In the second section---Exploring And Defending The Canonical Model (5 chapters). This is where I really felt I'd come to the "meat and potatoes" of the book. In this section several things should be mentioned and pointed out: 1. Kruger speaks on reformed theology, that Scripture is a "means of grace." 2. Scripture judges. 3. There is a core of NT books. 4. "In the OT and NT there is an over-arching story of salvation." 5. Very fascinating teaching of 7 being a complete number and there are 7 sections in NT. 6. The answer to question "where did idea of a NT come from?" 7. Early references to Canonical books by early church fathers. 8. My favorite chapter, "Early Manuscript Collections."
Do I feel the author completed his quest of is the Canon of books the right ones? What were their beginnings and how they came to be recognized? Yes, for 4 reasons. 1. Kruger was forthright in taking head on questions that some in the theology community might not would want to tackle. 2. He brought Scripture itself in to the answer in stating it "self-authenticated itself." I love that sentence. 3. I also loved it that the early Church fathers believed in the Canon before it was a Bible as we know it. 4. Early Christians read other works, namely apocryphal; but they did not put them in esteem or in the same bearing as God's Word the Canon of books.
I am glad to have had the opportunity to read and study this book on the Canon. I do not believe this book is for all readers as I mentioned in the first sentence quote from Christian Book. I do believe that for those that would enjoy this study of the Canon, they will be pleased with its message.
Thank you to Crossway for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review!