Modern Doubts About Ancient Decisions on the New Testament Canon

“Throughout the Middle Ages questions were seldom raised as to the number and identity of the books comprising the canon of the New Testament.”  (Metzger, 1987, bibliography)

“Two factors have brought the canon back to the consciousness of Christian reflection. The first is the steady erosion of canonical claims by the advance of historical-critical scholarship on the Bible. The second is the collapse of the ancient mythical frame of reference for the Christian gospel and creeds. These factors combined have prompted scholars to reconsider the process by which the canon was developed in the first place, and the role it continues to play in theology and religion.”  (Funk, 2002, bibliography)

“The canon of Christian scripture has received much scrutiny since the rise of historical criticism in post-Enlightenment Europe.  Nineteenth-century discoveries of new apocryphal gospels and epistles also fueled academic debate over canonicity, which has reached an even higher pitch since 1945, with the discovery of a corpus of Gnostic Christian “scriptures” at Nag Hammadi, Egypt.  More recently, best-selling works by scholars like Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagels, as well as Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, have introduced to a wide nonspecialist audience the historical problems surrounding the formation of Christian scripture.”  (Griffin, 2009, bibliography)

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