But in the mean time, I am leaving my presentation resources and a list of resources below. Below that you will find my notes to the presentations that I did. The notes are far from complete, but you may find them helpful.
RESOURCES from my presentation....
"THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON: Human Invention or Divine Gift?":
(NOTE: These may be printed and distributed in their unaltered form for non-profit use.)
*The outline of my presentation used as handouts
*PowerPoint slides for my presentation
*A Chart on Early Canon Lists to 240 AD
*Flow Chart: "Who Are The Apostolic Fathers & What Did They Recognize as Scripture?"
*Confirmation of New Testament Books
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY:
*Kruger, Michael. "How Did the New Testament Canon Develop?" (3 minutes)
*Kruger, Michael. "Why You Can Rely on The Canon" (9 minutes)
*An excellent series of short videos on the New Testament Canon by top experts like Darrell Bock and Dan Wallace being interviewed on the John Ankerberg Show.
*Blomberg, Craig. "The Formation of the New Testament Canon" (38 minutes)
*Kruger, Michael. Series of 4 Audio Lectures: (1) “The Definition of Canon,” (2) “The Origins of Canon,” (3) “The Artifacts of Canon,” and (4) “The Messiness of the Canon.” These are available for FREE online in MP3 format.
*Kruger, Michael. “Canon Fodder”
*Davis, Glenn. “The Development of the Canon of the New Testament.”
Articles *Cooper, Brad. "Why 1 Timothy Was Written No Later Than 55 AD & Why That Matters"
*Pratte, David E. "The Authority of the Apostles' Teaching"
Booklets*"The canon of the New Testament: how and when formed" by B.B. Warfield (1892), 12 pages. FREE!
*Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2012)
*Hill, C.E. Who Chose The Gospels?
*Hill, C.E. Who Chose The Gospels?
*Tregelles, Samuel Prideux. TheHistoric Evidence of The Authorship and Transmission of the Books ofthe New Testament. (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1881). Available for FREE!
*Charteris, Archibald Hamilton. Canonicity: A Collection of Early Testimonies to the Canonical Books of the New Testament. (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1880). Available for FREE!
*Westcott, B.F. A General Survey ofthe Historicity of the Canon of the New Testament. (London: Macmillan and Company, 1875). Available for FREE!
*Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Scriptures. Older versions of this book can be picked up much cheaper.
*Gamble, Harry A. The New Testament Canon: The Making and Meaning. A concise and helpful overview of the scholarly issues. A somewhat different perspective than mine, but by a top notch scholar in this field.
*McDonald, Lee Martin and James A. Sanders, editors. The Canon Debate. A large volume filled with essays of top notch scholars--though almost all of them are liberals and not conservatives (and none of the more important evangelical scholars who have done so much work in this field), so they are leaning strongly towards showing that the Bible is a human invention rather than a divine gift. So the title is quite misleading, but it is a great resource for a more in depth scholarly look at this subject.
*Gallagher, Edmon L. and John D. Meade. The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity: Texts and Analysis. The authors' conclusions may be different than mine, but this is an excellent resource.
INTEGRITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON:
2ND ED. (2018)
1. HYPER-SKEPTICAL VIEW OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON
A. The DaVinci Code quote and its origins in The Lost Books of the Bible (SHOW BOOK)....The Forbidden Gospels and Epistles.... the Hancock's "The Suppressed Gospels and Epistles of the original New Testament of Jesus the Christ (1863)"
....Which is a reprint of William Hone's Apocryphal New Testament (1821) with an introduction by Edward Hancock. Hone utilized translations by William Wake (for the Apostolic Fathers) and Jeremiah Jones (for the New Testament Apocrypha).
....NAG HAMMADI (1945)
B. The Effect of the DaVinci Code....
C. The Other Danger of the DaVinci Code....Makes liberal/mainstream views seem moderate or even conservative by comparison.
D. How many Gospels? 80? How about four....plus 12 pretenders. (MEYER BOOK)
E. Three quick points:
i. The Council of Nicea did not discuss the NT canon
ii. During the "Great Persecution" under Diocletian's reign, the persecution began by razing churches and burning the Christian Scriptures in 303 (22 years before Nicea).
iii. There is much evidence for a general consensus about the canon long before this time....which we will begin to explore in our time tonight.
2. THE MAINSTREAM VIEW & ITS PROBLEM
A. The Mainstream View Is...
B. The Problems:
i. What the letter and councils actually say....confirm and do not decide
ii. Do bishops and church councils actually have the authority to decide what the canon should be?
iii. The Presence of earlier canon lists and other indicators of a New Testament canon: And what about the "disputed books"?
iv. How should the canon be determined? Who actually has the authority to determine the canon? What are we even looking for in a New Testament canon?
3. THE NEW TESTAMENT MODEL FOR CANON
A. Jesus is the mediator of the New Testament (Covenant)
B. Jesus gave his authority to the apostles:
-Qualifications of an apostle
C. Did the apostles know they were writing Scripture?
INTEGRITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON:
1ST EDITION (2014):
A. MODERN QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CANON
1. Is the New Testament we have now the books God wanted us to have?
*If these are the books that we depend on to know who God is and how we can be assured of forgiveness and eternal life, how do we know we have the right books?
*Are there books missing from our canon?....Are some of the books in our canon forgeries?
*Are the books we have now simply the result of early church politics? Or even Constantine's sanction?
In recent years, there have been a large number of skeptics who have been raising these kinds of questions and challenges to the Biblical canon. The leading sources of this skepticism would probably be Bart Ehrman and Dan Brown's book and movie, The Davinci Code.
2. Bart Ehrman: Lost Christianities, Forged, etc.:
3. The Davinci Code: "More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion....The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great....Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned....The modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda...."
4. The Council of Nicea (325 A.D.)....
a. NOT about the Biblical canon. Decided on 20 different matters of "canon law" (that is, church rules), but none of them had to do with what books would be considered Scripture. (Perhaps the term "canon law" is where the confusion about this comes from.)
b. The two major issues decided on at Nicea concerned Arianism and when to celebrate Easter. BTW, if the church prior to this time did not have the political power to solve a minor issue like when to celebrate Easter (which had been an issue for at least 150 years before Constantine's time), then how would they ever enforce something like the canon.
*NOTE: "Scholars disagree about the controversy's details. They do agree that its arguments revolved around whether the primary Christian spring festival should happen on Nisan 14 (the Passover day) or annually on a Sunday."
"The controversy involved three events: the controversy between Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, and Anicetus, the bishop of Rome, that occurred around a.d. 155; the more heated controversy between Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus, and Victor, the bishop of Rome, that broke out around 195; and the decree of Constantine following the Nicene Council in 325."
**FROM the online article "The Passover-Easter-Quartodeciman Controversy" by Ralph Orr at: http://www.gci.org/church/holidays/passover
c. So far as we know, NO ecumenical/universal council of the early church EVER ruled on what books belonged in the Bible. (There were rulings at local councils, but not universal councils. And none of these local councils were held during the time of Constantine.) Rather, the evidence shows that the early Church received and passed on those books that they knew were written by or under the authority of the apostles.
B. THE SPIRIT'S WITNESS, THE SCRIPTURE & GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY
Before getting into the historical evidence for the New Testament canon, let's take a quick look at the way most Christians come to know and trust that the Bible contains the books that God wanted us to have. Most Christians do not even question the New Testament canon:
*They trust the judgment of their church leaders.
*They sense the witness of the Spirit to their spirits when they read the Scripture that it is indeed the Word of God.
*They see within the pages of the Bible many things that confirm that it is given by God--among other things:
a. the fulfillment of so many detailed prophecies,
b. the amazing unity of 66 books that have been written by over 40 different human authors over the course of about 1400+ years,
c. its accurate prescriptions for life, and
d. what J.B. Phillips calls: "the ring of truth").
Things that set it apart from all other books.
And finally, they note within its pages the promises that it will endure as long as heaven and earth; and they trust God's power and sovereignty to fulfill those promises and preserve his Word for the sake of his people.
1. The Spirit's Witness: "The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice." (John 10:2-5; see also 10:1-16, 25-27)
2. The Declarations of Scripture:
"Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens....Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever." (Psalm 119:89, 152)
"For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Luke 21:33)
3. God's Sovereignty: Let me give you a brief outline for a cumulative argument by which we can come to trust the authenticity of the Biblical canon, even apart from the historical evidences. Theistic proofs prove God's existence. Creation--and especially the way we are made--give us good reason to expect that our Creator would desire to communicate with us. As already noted, the Bible is unique among the writings of the world in giving us good reason to believe that it is from our Creator. Messianic prophecies and Christ's death and resurrection (as the first among many other things) prove that Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be: God. Jesus' recognition of the OT and authorization of his apostles further ensures that the Bible is God's Word. And in light of the declarations of Scripture that it is eternal, God's sovereingnty guarantees the canon.
4. What I hope to do today is not so much to prove that our New Testament canon is the correct one. Rather it will be to show that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of this verdict and that such evidence is consistent with what we believe concerning God's sovereignty and the canon.
C. DID THE APOSTLES KNOW THEY WERE WRITING SCRIPTURE?
1. 2 Peter 3:15-16: Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
a. "as they do the other Scriptures": So the apostle Peter considers Paul's letters to be Scripture.
b. "in ALL his letters" (collection of Paul's letters)
c. in public circulation: Peter assumes his readers know about "ALL his letters" and even the ignorant and unstable have access to them
d. According to Paul's own words in 1 Cor. 15:9, Paul is "the least of the apostles", so if Peter calls Paul's letters Scripture, then the writings of the other apostles would certainly have no lesser status.
2. 1 Timothy 5:18:
a. "the Scripture says"....Q: Where does the Scripture say this? (Deut. 25:4; Lk. 10:7)
b. The Greek of this verse is nearly identical to the Greek in Luke 10:7 (vs. Mt. 10:10)
c. Paul's use of Luke: Compared to Matthew and Mark (John was not yet written), Paul only cites Luke. And he alludes to teaching distinctive to Luke more than to the others--including alluding to Luke 10: 7 in 1 Cor. 9:9, 14.
D. THE PRECEDENCE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT CANON
1. OT Canon established in First Century Judaism
*Jesus and the apostles were Jews. So the NT Church already had a canon of Scripture, right?...which was what?
*Q: And why do we call it the Old Testament?
*See chapter 16 of In Defense of The Bible by Paul Wegner, et al
2. 2 Corinthians 3:14 & "Ministers of the New Covenant" (3:6)
*2 Cor. 3:14: ".... to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read."
*2 Cor. 3:6: "God has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant...."
*Also see Hebrews (chapters 7-10)
E. THE APOSTLES & THE FOUNDING OF THE NEW COVENANT
*Eph 2:20: "....built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone" (see also: Galatians 2:9; Revelation 21:14)
*Who are the apostles? (The Twelve and others: 1 Cor. 15:3-9)
1. Eyewitnesses of Jesus' Ministry, Death and Resurrection
*When declaring the need to replace Judas Iscariot to restore the full number of the Twelve, Peter said: "Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22; see also Mark 3:13-14; Luke 24:46-48; John 15:27; Acts 1:9; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:1-8)
2. Sent Out with Jesus' Own Authority
*"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me." (Matthew 10:40; see also Mk. 3:13-15; Mt. 10:14, 20; John 13:20; 14:26; 15:20; 17:18; 20:21)
*"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:12-15)
*The apostles understood the authority that had been given to them: 1 Cor. 7:12; 14:37; 2 Cor. 10:8; 13:20; 1 Thess. 2:4, 6, 13; 4:2, 8; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:14; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2 Peter 3:2, 16; Heb. 2:2-3; Rev. 1:1-3; 22:18-19
3. Confirmed Through Miraculous Signs
*2 Cor. 12:12; Matt. 10:1,7-8; Mark 3:13-15; Mark 3:13-15; Heb. 2:3-4
*The apostles' words carry the weight of Jesus' own authority; therefore, their written words must be Scripture.
[Others who are apostles: 1 Cor. 15:1-9; Acts 14:14; Rom. 16:7?; 1 Cor. 9:5-6]
F. SCRIPTURE READINGS IN PUBLIC WORSHIP
*We can see that the New Testament called the Gospels and the writings of the apostles Scripture. But we can also see that they considered them to be Scripture by the way they used them. We have already seen that they cited (quoted authoritatively) them. But there is another very important evidence that they considered them to be Scripture: they read them in public worship.
*"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching." (1 Tim. 4:13)
*The Muratorian Fragment: “But Hermas wrote the Shepherd very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the [episcopal] chair of the church of the city of Rome. And therefore it ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church either among the Prophets, whose number is complete, or among the Apostles, for it is after [their] time.”
*Luke 4:17-20; Acts 13:15; 1 Tim. 4:13; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27; 2 Cor. 10:9; Rev. 1:3
G. PROVENANCE: THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS & APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION (handout)
*Okay....So the apostles' writings are Scripture, but how can we be sure that what we have are the apostles' writings? (Again: God's Providence and the witness of the Spirit....but there is more!).....>>>
*Q: How many of you like to watch Antiques Roadshow or American Pickers....? (Provenance)
*Q: Who are the apostolic fathers?
*Q: And what is apostolic succession?: Tertullian (c.200):
"But if there be any [heresies] which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning, in such a manner that that bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,—a man, moreover, who continued stedfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit, whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed." ("The Prescription Against Heresies, chapter 32; Coxe, Cleveland. Ante-Nicene Fathers, 3:258)
As Peter Holmes (the translator of this section of the Ante-Nicene Fathers) remarks in the footnote: "Our author had seen these registers, no doubt."
1. Clement of Rome: (handout)
2. Papias of Hierapolis, Polycarp of Smyrna & Ignatius of Antioch (handout)
3. Didache: Cites Matthew and says it is contained in a gospel....
"Do not abandon the commandments of the Lord but keep what you have received, neither adding to them or taking away."
Deut. 4:2: "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
6. Frequency of citation: The apostolic fathers cite the New Testament between 5 and 50 times more than the Old Testament....and they almost never cite apocryphal works. (Kruger, Canon Revisited, Kindle location 6198-6214)
H. ANCIENT CANON LISTS (handout)
*Tertullian (c.200) remarks that Marcion used a knife instead of a pen
*"Disputed" books, missionary strategy (Wycliffe Translators, Gideon NTs, the Gospel of John), & the snobbery of the underprivileged
*Ireneaus & Polycarp
I. MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE: 100-300 A.D.
*See Chapter 7 of Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger or Kruger's online lecture "The Artifact of Canon"
*Let me give you a couple of highlights to give you some idea what kind of MS evidence we have:
1. We have a MS that dates from c.250 (the Chester Beatty papyrus: P45) which contains Mt-Acts. Going back a little earlier (c. 175-225), we have P75 (Luke & John).... And a little earlier yet (c.175-200), we hae P64 & P67 (Mt) and P4 (Luke) which were probably originally bound together in the same codex (book). What we never have is one of the canonical gospels being bound together into a codex with an apocryphal gospel. (Kruger, Canon Revisited, Kindle location 7118-7158)
2. 2nd/3rd Cent. MSS of our NT books outnumber apocryphal books almost 4:1. We have more MSS of the Gospel of John than all apocryphal books put together. (Kruger, Canon Revisited, Kindle location 7088-7090)
*There is much much more, but most of it is very involved.
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE
The evidence from the New Testament, the apostolic fathers, the sub-apostolic fathers, ancient canon lists, and early manuscripts all agree in confirming that the New Testament we have is the one that God intended us to have and that the politics of Constantine (or anyone else) were not a force in determining which books are in the New Testament canon that we uphold as God's Word today.