Canon and Text of the New Testament

Canon and Text of the New Testament

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Canon and Text of the New Testament

Canon and Text of the New Testament

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Excerpt

The first duty of a scholar is to secure a clear view of his aim in taking up a given subject. In the case of a large number of the writings which treat of the right that the New Testament books have to a place in that collection, this duty has so far as I can see been neglected. The discussions touching the proper contents of the New Testament have been dominated by the word canon. This word has, it may be imperceptibly, come to determine the course of the inquiry. The general supposition is that a canon exists. It is in approaching the subject taken for granted as a thing long ago proved, or so certainly and well known as to need no proof, that a certain canon was settled upon at a very early date in the history of the Christian Church. And the word canon in connection with this view means a sharply defined and unalterable collection made, put together, decided upon by general Church authority under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The long held theory of the inspiration of every word in the books of the Bible needed as an accompaniment an inspired selection of the inspired books. For the purposes, then, of the inquiring scholar the canon of the New Testament is the book or the collection of the books of the New Testament, and that of the New Testament precisely in the extent and within the limits of the one that we use to-day.

From this starting-point it has been the custom to enter upon the "history" of the canon. The canon is presupposed as something that of right exists and is beyond all doubt. All then that is to be done is to trace the various steps that led in the early age of the Church to its formation and determination or authorisation, that is to say, it is only necessary to write the . . .

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