Daily Archives: 12 Mar 2018

The Biblical Canon Lists From Early Christianity

Oxford U press have sent  some weeks back a review copy of Gallagher and Meade’s new book.

The Bible took shape over the course of centuries, and today Christian groups continue to disagree over details of its contents. The differences among these groups typically involve the Old Testament, as they mostly accept the same 27-book New Testament. An essential avenue for understanding the development of the Bible are the many early lists of canonical books drawn up by Christians and, occasionally, Jews. Despite the importance of these early lists of books, they have remained relatively inaccessible. This comprehensive volume redresses this unfortunate situation by presenting the early Christian canon lists all together in a single volume. The canon lists, in most cases, unambiguously report what the compilers of the lists considered to belong to the biblical canon. For this reason they bear an undeniable importance in the history of the Bible.

The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity provides an accessible presentation of these early canon lists. With a focus on the first four centuries, the volume supplies the full text of the canon lists in English translation alongside the original text, usually Greek or Latin, occasionally Hebrew or Syriac. Edmon L. Gallagher and John D. Meade orient readers to each list with brief introductions and helpful notes, and they point readers to the most significant scholarly discussions. The book begins with a substantial overview of the history of the biblical canon, and an entire chapter is devoted to the evidence of biblical manuscripts from the first millennium. This authoritative work is an indispensable guide for students and scholars of biblical studies and church history.

I appreciate the review copy but was a bit surprised when the cover letter which arrived with it was addressed to someone named Michael Kruger.  I’m not sure who Michael Kruger is but I am positive I am not him.

The volume is made up of six chapters, an introduction, an appendix, a bibliography, and a couple of indices.  In regard to the chapters these are

  1. The Development of the Christian Biblical Canon: A Survey of the Early Period
  2. Jewish Lists
  3. Greek Christian Lists
  4. Latin Christian Lists
  5. The Syriac Christian List
  6. Selected Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Hebrew Manuscripts

These ‘canon lists’ are relatively hard to find in one place and the present volume solves that problem.

What counts, and what counted as Scripture in various communities across Christian history is a very important question because when we talk cavalierly about ‘the Bible’ we have to specify, even now, what we mean by that.  Do we mean the Hebrew Bible?  Do we mean the Greek Bible?  The Protestant Bible?

The question becomes even more complicated the closer we get to the early Church.  Now we have canons by the dozens and we have to ask even more specific questions about whose canon we’re discussing.  Do we include the Shepherd of Hermas?  Revelation?  The Didache?  1-2 Maccabees? Judith?

How did Christianity manage to develop within its fold so many varieties of Scripture and how did they differentiate between them?  Those are the questions this very helpful study discuss.

The volume has a decent ‘feel’ about it in terms of typography and layout.  The only shortcoming, in my view, is the exceptionally small font used for the Greek and Syriac and Latin texts.  I realize that I’m advancing in age whilst no one else seems to be, but tiny font is uncomfortable to deal with.

Footnotes are copious and thorough.  In some instances there is more note than text, which is perfectly fine with me.

Will readers find the present work helpful?  I think so.  Will it be useful for undergrad and graduate students?  Certainly.  Will readers ‘read through it’ as though it were a monograph or a novel?  I think probably not.  This volume feels more like a reference resource than it does a ‘read right on through it’ book.  People interested in Greek canon lists will refer to that chapter whilst persons interested in Latin lists will find their home there.

I think the volume is completely worth the reader’s time.  Just not all at once.  The reading of lists can be a tiresome task and of the making of book lists there is no end.  Fortunately, here, readers find all the essential lists in one location and don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to track them down in various places and volumes.  For that alone our authors are to be thanked.

Archaeology is More Untrustworthy By the Day

From the blatantly self serving archaeological claims made in support of political goals as evidenced by Mazar and the City of David excavations to the ‘discoveries’ of Mellaart who faked his own finds…. archaeology is becoming less and less credible.

A famed archaeologist well-known for discovering the sprawling 9,000-year-old settlement in Turkey called Çatalhöyük seems to have faked several of his ancient findings and may have run a “forger’s workshop” of sorts, one researcher says.

James Mellaart, who died in 2012, created some of the “ancient” murals at Çatalhöyük that he supposedly discovered; he also forged documents recording inscriptions that were found at Beyköy, a village in Turkey, said geoarchaeologist Eberhard Zangger, president of the Luwian Studies Foundation. Zangger examined Mellaart’s apartment in London between Feb. 24 and 27, finding “prototypes,” as Zangger calls them, of murals and inscriptions that Mellaart had claimed were real.

“He used the same approach for over 50 years,” Zangger told Live Science. “He would first acquire a tremendously broad and deep knowledge [about the area he was interested in]. Then, he would try to use this knowledge to develop a coherent historic panorama,” Zangger said. This process in itself is not uncommon for an archaeologist or historian. The only difference is that legitimate researchers then look for evidence that either supports or refutes their ideas. Instead, “Mellaart would fabricate drawings of artifacts and translations of alleged documents to reinforce his theories,” Zangger said.

Archaeology needs to clean up its house before it becomes the National Enquirer of science.

Discussing the New Melanchthon Edition

The web may have its problems but the fact that people in the States can video conference with folk in China or Germany sure isn’t one of them.  Indeed, it’s a blessing.

There’s a lot of work to do for the Edition, but the discussion today was immensely helpful.

I Was Supposed to be In Bretten this Week…

But circumstances intervened.  Still, I want to mention once again this project, of which I am a part (and very happily so).

Even though I can’t be in Bretten, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I’ll be able to sit in on sessions via the internet, beginning at 9 this morning.  And I’m very excited about it.

Stay tuned- as I’ll have a few observations after the session today (which runs 2 hours).

Rollston’s Podcast on the So Called ‘Isaiah Seal’

Give it a listen here.

When Your Church Has Shows and Not Sermons…

And the aim is entertainment, not edification-

‘The Deacons Meeting’

‘Ways in Which Deacons Torture Pastors in their Closed Secret Meetings’

Quote of the Day

It daily happens that those who seemed to belong to Christ revolt from him and fall away: Nay, in the very passage where he declares that none of those whom the Father has given to him have perished, he excepts the son of perdition. This, indeed, is true; but it is equally true that such persons never adhered to Christ with that heartfelt confidence by which I say that the certainty of our election is established: “They went out from us,” says John, “but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us,” (1 John 2:19). I deny not that they have signs of calling similar to those given to the elect; but I do not at all admit that they have that sure confirmation of election which I desire believers to seek from the word of the gospel. — John Calvin

Today With Zwingli: Predigt wider die Pensionen

zwingli_1513Zwingli was unwilling to see Swiss boys and young men killed in the service of foreign overlords and he despised the mercenary services.  So on 12 March, 1525 he published his Predigt wider die Pensionen.

To make it comprehensible to moderns, it could be like a high profile Pastor/ Theologian preaching a withering sermon against the military/industrial complex of today.

The sermon’s auditor remarked

Zwingli stuond am sontag nach Fridolini imm mertzen an die kantze und prediget vom allten stand der Eydgnoschafft, wie einfallte und fromme lüth vor zyten gewesen, die grosse syg und träffliche gnad von gott gehept. Ietzund habe sich das volck verkert; darumb straffe uns gott so ernstlich. Und uns werde nitt mögen gehulffen werden, wir nämind dann widerumb an unser fordern frommkeit, unschuld und einfelltikeit. Sunst werdint wir für und für rysen, fallen und zuoletzt gar zerfallen, ja zerschmëtteren. Gott werde den übermuot nitt lyden.

Would that God would send us another Zwingli to stand publicly against the corruption of mercenary service.

As everyone knows, Zwingli would himself perish in battle- but not as a mercenary. Instead, he died as a Chaplain ministering to the troops of Zurich at Kappel-am-Albis on 11 October, 1531.