This is the first of a series of three articles on this subject. (Links for the other two will be found at the first one.)
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This is a multi-author volume whose genesis lay in one of the three debates held over the last few years between Bart D. Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace.
This book was recommended by Andrew Pitts (who was interviewed at length by Nick Peters).
Most of the works from antiquity are very limited in their number of manuscripts. For example, there is only 7 for Plato and 8 for Herodotus.
The number of New Testament manuscripts is quite vast. It is the best textually supported book from antiquity. There are more than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament. There are almost 5700 New Testament manuscripts in Greek alone. The only other writing that comes close to this is the Greek mythology The Iliad, by Homer, which boasts 643 manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts date as early as the second and third century.
Let us suppose we have five manuscript copies of an original document that no longer exists. Each of the manuscript copies are different. Our goal is to compare the manuscript copies and ascertain what the original must have said. Here are the five copies:
Manuscript #1: Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole worl.
Manuscript #2: Christ Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #3: Jesus Christ s the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #4: Jesus Christ is th Savior of the whle world.
Manuscript #5: Jesus Christ is the Savor of the whole wrld.
Could you, by comparing the manuscript copies, ascertain what the original document said with a high degree of certainty that you are correct? Of course you could.
The question of whether scripture has been preserved is no longer contested by non-Christian scholars, and for good reason, asserts Gregory Koukl. He goes on to say, “Simply put, if we reject the authenticity of the New Testament on textual grounds we’d have to reject every ancient work of antiquity and declare null and void every piece of historical information from written sources prior to the beginning of the second millennium A.D. Has the New Testament been altered? Critical, academic analysis says it has not.
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Walk Good » Apologetic Wednesday: Was the Bible Just A Big Game Of Telephone? [Editorial note of March 4, 2017: Sorry, but it appears that site originally publishing this material is no longer being supported.]
Materialists will tell you they don’t believe anything other than the material world exists, but seem oblivious to the fact that propositions – such as the proposition that only the material world exists – are not material. That means materialism is falsified the moment you think about it.
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Sean McDowell writes in this post:
[H]ow do we really know they died as martyrs? For the past couple years I have been researching this question as part of my doctoral dissertation.
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This is a chapter from Wayne A. Grudem’s Systematic Theology. An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
Grudem, editor of the ESV Study Bible, concludes that the New Testament canon is closed and correct. He does not give the criteria for canonicity in an enumerated list. However, he seems to include divine authorship, apostolic authorship, or apostolic desire for the writing to be preserved. On this basis he does not seem to require that the book of Hebrews be associated with an apostle because its divine authorship is apparent to a reader (and it likey had the endorsement of the apostles as well).
The development of the New Testament canon begins with the writings of the apostles.
[T]he New Testament consists of the writings of the apostles.
The apostles, then, have authority to write words that are God’s own words, equal in truth status and authority to the words of the Old Testament Scriptures. They do this to record, interpret, and apply to the lives of believers the great truths about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Because the apostles, by virtue of their apostolic office, had authority to write words of Scripture, the authentic written teachings of the apostles were accepted by the early church as part of the canon of Scripture.
This brings us to the heart of the question of canonicity. For a book to belong in the canon, it is absolutely necessary that the book have divine authorship. If the words of the book are God’s words (through human authors), and if the early church, under the direction of the apostles, preserved the book as part of Scripture, then the book belongs in the canon.
A few New Testament books (Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, and Jude) were not written by apostles but by others closely associated with them and apparently authorized by them…
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The Canon of Scripture (Wayne Grudem) | Free online Bible classes | BiblicalTraining.org. (registration required)
Matthew, John, and Peter were of course among Jesus’ twelve apostles. Paul rightly claimed apostolic authority because of the special resurrection appearance that Jesus granted him on the road to Damascus, and Mark and Luke derived their traditions predominantly, at least initially, from Peter and Paul respectively, so at least says strong early church tradition. We have already seen how people like James and Jude would have been half brothers of Jesus, not necessarily believers during his earthly life, but certainly eyewitnesses of portions of his life and recipients of resurrection appearances in ways that persuaded them subsequently of the legitimacy of his claims. That leaves only the author of Hebrews who remains disputed, but both in the ancient and modern worlds debates surrounded whether or not this was Paul or a close companion of Paul and no other candidates were ever seriously suggested.
This statement on authors is closely connected to Blomberg’s criteria for New Testament canonicity.
This is a transcript of a lecture Dr. Blomberg has given. (A recorded version is also available in the mobile app of www.biblicaltraining.org. Go to the app>Foundations, >Biblical Content>Understanding the New Testament>The Canon and the Text of the New Testament.)
Roughly the first 20 minutes of the recorded lecture are given to canon, with the remaining 28 minutes being given to text. (In addition to being able to access this recording through the mobile app, you can also access it through the www.biblicaltraining.org website. After registration, go the home page>Foundations>Understanding the New Testament>3 The Canon and the Text of the New Testament.)
Craig deals with the criteria for the canon beginning at about 7:40. He briefly reiterates the three criteria at about 15:48 and 17:05. I have summarized them, along with those of other scholars, in Criteria for the Canon of the New Testament.
Here are the exact statements he makes about criteria:
The specific criteria that seem to have been used to select these twenty-seven were that they were widely accepted, recognized, if you like, by the emerging church of Jesus Christ around that part of the world into which it had spread as uniquely true, inspired, valuable, relevant for Christian thought and life. Secondly, that they were linked to an apostle either because someone who had direct experience of the risen Lord had written a document or one who was a close follower of such a person… Finally, we have the criterion of non-contradiction with previous Scripture.
…the three major requirements for being accepted widely throughout the Christian world as uniquely relevant, as non-contradictory with previously acknowledged revelation, or as genuinely going back to an apostle or a close associate of an apostle.
…of first-century origin, that beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt could be linked with or to one of the apostles, and which appeared to have Orthodox Christian teaching and have a certain timelessly relevant nature to it.