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The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate

IVP Academic / 2013 / Paperback

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Product Description

Many scholars have asked 'how' or 'when' the set of early Christian writings known as the New Testament came into being. Yet, the question 'why' is rarely asked. Michael Kruger, an expert on the history of the New Testament text, believes that this may be the key question we need to ask. It may answer the other two questions while providing a rich historical detail to the ongoing debate.

In The Question of Canon Kruger examines such questions as:
  • Why did Christians have a canon at all?
  • Was it a creation of a much later council, or did it come into being in the earliest days of Christianity?
  • Was it intrinsic to the movement or extrinsic?
Each of these questions is broad based and reflects the attitudes of much modern scholarship; scholarship this book intends to challenge with a more compelling narrative that begins by asking: why is there a canon at all? Taking a subversive approach, the book affirms historical understanding of canon formation by questioning the dominant theories proposed by secular scholars. Accessible, well written, and compelling.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 252
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0830840311
ISBN-13: 9780830840311
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

2013 Preaching Survey of the Year's Best Books for Preachers Preaching's Preacher's Guide to the Best Bible Reference for 2014 (New Testament General) Did the New Testament canon arise naturally from within the early Christian faith? Were the books written as Scripture, or did they become Scripture by a decision of the second-century church? Why did early Christians have a canon at all? These are the types of questions that led Michael J. Kruger to pick apart modern scholarship’s dominant view that the New Testament is a late creation of the church imposed on books originally written for another purpose. Calling into question this commonly held "extrinsic" view, Kruger here tackles the five most prevalent objections to the classic understanding of a quickly emerging, self-authenticating collection of authoritative scriptures. Already a noted author on the subject of the New Testament canon, Kruger addresses foundational and paradigmatic assumptions of the extrinsic model as he provides powerful rebuttals and further support for the classic, "intrinsic" view. This framework recognizes the canon as the product of internal forces evolving out of the historical essence of Christianity, not a development retroactively imposed by the church upon books written hundreds of years before. Unlike many books written on the emergence of the New Testament canon that ask "when?" or "how?" Kruger focuses this work on the "why?"—exposing weaknesses in the five major tenets of the extrinsic model as he goes. While The Question of Canon scrutinizes today’s popular scholastic view, it also offers an alternative concept to lay a better empirical foundation for biblical canon studies.

Author Bio

Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D.,University of Edinburgh) is president and professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the author of several books, including (coauthored with Andreas J. Köstenberger), (coauthored with Thomas Kraus and Tobias Nicklas) and . Kruger and his wife live in Charlotte with their three children.

Endorsements

In this important book, Michael Kruger effectively challenges the common but unjustified conclusion that the canon was the late creation of the church, imposed on it by external forces. Kruger repeatedly points out the mistaken assumptions that underlie that conclusion, while on the positive side providing a more satisfactory understanding of the emergence of the canon within the church from virtually the beginning. The discussion is carried on in dialogue with the latest and best scholarship and reflects balanced and judicious wisdom throughout. If you are interested in the formation of the New Testament canon, you cannot afford to neglect this book.
-Donald A. Hagner,
George Eldon Ladd Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

With an impressive familiarity with primary data and scholarly studies, and in a patient and generous tone toward other positions, Kruger makes a solid (to my mind, persuasive) case that the formation of a New Testament canon was a historical process with roots at least as early as the circulation and use of certain texts as scripture in the early second century. Offering what he calls an 'intrinsic model' as complement to the emphasis on the final stages of canon formation in much current scholarship, he presents a nuanced and cogent picture that more adequately captures the historical complexity that led to the New Testament.
-Larry W. Hurtado,
emeritus professor, University of Edinburgh

For decades the debate surrounding the NT's canonical status has been waged on a stage set with all-too-familiar props and lights. An emerging expert on issues of canon, Michael Kruger brings fresh direction to a well-known script by questioning old assumptive props and setting the main actors under a new light. This is exactly the kind of fresh scholarship we need to go forward.
-Nicholas Perrin,
Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School

Already the author of one important book on the formation of the New Testament canon, Kruger here tackles the five most prevalent objections to the classic, Christian understanding of a quickly emerging, self-authenticating collection of authoritative counterparts to the Hebrew Scriptures. Not only does he directly address these objections, he provides powerful rebuttals and further support for the classic view. All who insist on maintaining the (more liberal) scholarly consensus will have to refute Kruger if they are to maintain any credibility on this topic!
-Craig L. Blomberg,
Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

The regnant view of NT canon formation in academic circles holds that the canon is a late ecclesiastical creation, and one that is far removed from the mindset of Jesus, his apostles and even the church for at least the first century and a half of its existence. Kruger takes five major planks on which this view is built, subjects them to historical scrutiny, and, where there are any solid splinters of truth left after inspection, shows how they may be incorporated into a better empirical foundation for canon studies. This important study argues that an 'intrinsic' model for canon, which recognizes the canon as the product of internal forces evolving out of the historical essence of Christianity, is superior to the 'extrinsic' model that has dominated canon studies for too long. May this book find many readers.
-Charles E. Hill,
professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando, and coauthor of The Early Text of the New Testament

Editorial Reviews

"[T]his volume represents the kind of work [Kruger's] faculty should aspire to emulate. He takes the serious questions related to the canon head-on and helps the reader to work through these issues in order to gain a greater appreciation for and confidence in the canon as the correct shape of God's written Word."
"Kruger has provided us with another useful and challenging contribution to this flourishing field of study. He rightly emphasizes giving greater weight to the historical reliability that the canon's development was early and natural, as well as not automatically adopting one model over and against all others. Students, pastors, and scholars alike will benefit greatly from this volume for years ahead."
"The book is a fascinating read which deals with a most important subject in a most helpful and scholarly way."
"Already the author of one important book on the formation of the New Testament canon, Kruger here tackles the five most prevalent objections to the classic, Christian understanding of a quickly emerging, self-authenticating collection of authoritative counterparts to the Hebrew Scriptures. Not only does he directly address these objections, he provides powerful rebuttals and further support for the classic view. All who insist on maintaining the (more liberal) scholarly consensus will have to refute Kruger if they are to maintain any credibility on this topic!"
"The regnant view of NT canon formation in academic circles holds that the canon is a late ecclesiastical creation, and one that is far removed from the mindset of Jesus, his apostles and even the church for at least the first century and a half of its existence. Kruger takes five major planks on which this view is built, subjects them to historical scrutiny, and, where there are any solid splinters of truth left after inspection, shows how they may be incorporated into a better empirical foundation for canon studies. This important study argues that an 'intrinsic' model for canon, which recognizes the canon as the product of internal forces evolving out of the historical essence of Christianity, is superior to the 'extrinsic' model that has dominated canon studies for too long. May this book find many readers."
"I found it a fascinating, well-balanced and worthwhile read."
"The issue of how and why the biblical canon was set in the early church continues to be a strong and important discussion in contemporary biblical and theological scholarship. This book is a very helpful voice in that debate. Kruger describes the sides of the debate as those who see the canon shaped by 'extrinsic' factors—that is, outside forces such as the decisions of church or imperial leaders or reactions to heretical views—or 'intrinsic' factors such as the model provided by Judaism, the circulation and reception of these sacred texts by the early Christian community, and the apostolic authority of the texts themselves."

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  1. Michigan
    Age: 25-34
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    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Single Most Important Book on Canon Since B. B. Warfield
    November 12, 2015
    John M Kight
    Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Michael J. Kruger is President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is one of the leading scholarly voices today in the study of the origins of the New Testament, particularly the development of the New Testament canon and the transmission of the New Testament text. Kruger received an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in California, and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, where he studied under the advisement of Larry W. Hurtado. Kruger is the author of numerous books, including, The Gospel of the Savior(Brill, 2005),The Heresy of Orthodoxy (Crossway, 2010, with Andreas Kstenberger),and Canon Revisited (Crossway, 2012). He is also the co-editor ofThe Early Text of the New Testament(Oxford, 2012), andGospel Fragments(Oxford, 2009).In his most recent publication, The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate (IVP, 2013), Kruger aims to address a crucial and foundational question: why is there a New Testament at all?

    According to most contemporary scholarship, the question of canon is not something understood to be intrinsic to the Christian faith, but rather something later imposed upon Christianity from an outside sourcethe result of an ecclesiastical response. Canon is then something that the biblical literature becomes, not something that the biblical literature already is. In other words, the question of canon is argued as an extrinsic development rather than intrinsic reality. According to Kruger, this extrinsic model may indeed retain value for the conversation, but it shouldnt be the starting point of the conversation, and it certainly doesnt explain the full story of why the New Testament canon exists. It is within this premise that The Question of Canon begins.

    In Chapter one, The Definition of Canon, Kruger confronts the presuppositions of the extrinsic model in its desire to distinguish between Scripture and canon. For Kruger, canon existed even before it was recognized as being such. It was authoritative upon composition and then received by the Christian community as Scripture. In chapter two, The Origins of Canon, Kruger addresses the issue of apostolic authority and its implications on the inevitability of the existence of a canon. In chapter three, The Writing of Canon, Kruger critiques the assumption that the early Christian communities favored oral tradition over written documents. Thus, he rightly places emphasis on the early recognition of the New Testament writings. In chapter four, The Authors of Canon, Kruger aims to build upon the previous chapter by connecting the New Testament documents to apostolic authority they conveyed. This is an important chapter the book and a crucial presumption of the intrinsic model. In chapter five, The Date of Canon, Kruger presents a well-positioned critique of the idea that the canon formulated at the end of the second century following the influence of Irenaeus of Lyons. Kruger carefully surveys a number of early Christian documents considered to be contemporary to Irenaeus and examines the existence of any deposit of a concept of authoritative books.

    The Question of Canon is an important book. By understanding and defining the concept of canon as an ontological, Kruger has rightfully positioned himself to discuss the issue on theological grounds. The attentive reader will recognize the importance of this presupposition, and appreciate the judicious care with which Kruger articulates his view. The goal of the book is not to discredit the extrinsic model as unbeneficial to the discussion, but rather to offer a well-intended corrective to the models narrow assessment and interpretation of the historical evidence. The book itself is well written and largely accessible to the average reader, and, for this reason, should be recommended to anyone questioning the existence of canon. If you are a pastor, teacher, student, or interested laymen who interacts with the world around you, The Question of Canon will better equip you to recognize the short sights of the current conversation and encourage your confidence in the inevitable existence of the New Testament text.

    I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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