THE FOUNDATION OF ORTHODOXY AND THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON
SUBMITTED TO DR. NICKENS
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE COURSE CHHI 301-B02 BY
AUDRA C. BALQUE
MANOR, TX 78653
FEBRUARY 6, 2014
The Foundation of Orthodoxy and the New Testament Canon
The foundation of orthodoxy and the New Testament Canon are connected to one another because they were used and based on scriptures and testimonies written by the Apostles. Christians believed the writings of the Apostles because in their minds there was no reason to question those authoritative writings since they had documented the time that they spent with Jesus and the instructions that he gave to each Apostle as well as giving them instructions on the church. Bruce Metzger, states that “The issues were whether the Rule of Faith determined the extent of the canon or was shaped by it and what constituted apostolicity and authority of Scripture.”(Metzger,1987:127). According to Metzger, “The New Testament book opens with a judicious and critical analysis of scholarly writings on the subject of the canon prior to and during the twentieth century.” (Metzger, 1987:127). The early church was dealing with many challenges internally and externally. There were movements that were within the church that questioned the orthodoxy and the New Testament canon. One of the movements included the Gnosticism, with its claim to esoteric knowledge that supplements and basically alters the outlook of the writers of the New Testament: the attempt by Marcion to sever the connection with Judaism by discarding the Old Testament and reducing the authoritative Christian writings to an expurgated edition of Luke and the letters of Paul; and Montanism, which claimed to supplement the New Testament by revelatory insights and discourses (Metzger, 1987:127). A major factor in the East was the canonical letter of Athanasius of Alexandria in 367, in which Athanasius listed the twenty-seven books of what is now regarded as the New Testament (Metzger, 1987:127). The New Testament Canon now serves as biblical roadmap for us as Christians to understand and believe the deity of Jesus Christ through the Word of God as well as God’s instructions for today’s church. Marcion
Marcion was known as a heretic and he totally rejected The Old Testament and other gospels because he felt and believed that they all had been tainted by the Jews (Baker, 2008:5). Baker stated that he decided to construct his own canon which included most of Paul’s letters in edited form, along with the Luke’s gospel (Baker, 2008:5). According to Baker, this list by Marcion is the first known listing of what is called a New Testament canon and it helped push the early church to develop an authoritative list of inspired writings (Baker, 2008:5). In Williams’s Reconsidering Marcion's Gospel Canon are the reasons as to why it caused problems. I have obtained twenty-three explicit correlated readings for Marcion's Gospel (Williams, 1989:481). 12 These readings are provided in the Appendix (Williams, 1989:481). William’s general findings are as follows:
First, our knowledge of the text of Marcion's Gospel is extremely limited. Of the total corpus of twenty-three readings, only readings 1-5 allow us to be reasonably sure of the wording of Marcion's Gospel, although at times the witnesses conflict about word order (Williams, 1989:481). In a few additional readings, the witnesses offer only minor variations. In the majority of cases, however, despite the fact that the witnesses agree about particular parts of a passage, they display major discrepancies in other parts of the reading (Williams, 1989:481). Second, Marcion's Gospel appears to have been based on a text that was similar to Luke, with three qualifying factors: it often reads with minority texts of Luke, especially "Western" witnesses; 13 it occasionally reads with Matthew and/or Mark against all Lucan manuscripts; 14 and it displays several unique elements, not all of which can be considered tendentious (Williams, 1989:482). 11 For instance, Tertullian refers to the scene of the crucifixion as it appeared in his copy of Marcion's Gospel, stating: "Evidently the statement that his [Jesus'] raiment was divided among the soldiers . . has been excised by Marcion, because he had in mind the prophecy of the psalm, 'They parted my garments among them' " (Adv. Marc. 4.24.4; cf. Luke 23:34). Epiphanius, however, quotes Marcion's Gospel as containing the phrase "and they parted his garments" (Schol. 71).
12 Williams, "Marcion's Gospel," 23-60.
Athanasius was a well renowned Bishop from Alexandria and he was considered to be one of the greatest eastern fathers in the church (Markos, 2005:240). Most Orthodox Christians during this time have long heralded the incarnation as the central event in the Christian story (Markos, 2005:240). During a critical moment in the history of the church, when a plethora of heretical teachings threatened to undermine core doctrines of the faith, Athanasius rose up to give a powerful defense of the full deity of Jesus the God-man, entitled On the Incarnation of the Word of God (De Incarnatione Verbi), written when he was in his 20s!(Markos, 2005:240). When modern Christians hear the words “incarnation” and “heresy” spoken in the same breath, they invariably think of that grand old “archhel- etic” Arius, who denied (as Mohammed would after him) that Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh. However, in the days of Athanasius, there was an equally strong threat to Christian orthodoxy that stood in almost direct opposition to the teachings of Arius: the Gnostics (or Docetists), who taught that, while Christ was divine, he was not human. Fueled by a negative view of the flesh (and of physical matter in general), Gnostics denied that God could (or would) take on a body. To their mind, Christ merely “wore” the flesh as one might wear a shirt or a cloak-human nature did not become an integral part of God in Christ. To Arians (as to Jews), the thought that a man could, at the same time, be God was scandalous at best, blasphemous at worst. To Gnostics (as to Gentiles), the idea that God could become a man (and die and be resurrected!) was arrant nonsense. Athanasius understood full well the dual nature of this resistance to the idea of incarnation, and he attacks it head on in the opening chapter of his defense: Inasmuch as [Christ] not only himself demonstrates as possible what men mistake, thinking impossible, but what men deride as unseemly, this by his own goodness he clothes with seemliness, and what men, in their conceit of wisdom, laugh at as merely human, he by his own power demonstrates to be divine, subduing the pretensions of idols by his supposed humiliation-by the cross-and those who mock and disbelieve invisibly winning over to recognize his divinity and power.’
Athanasius immediately shakes us out of our doctrinal stupor by allowing us to view the incarnation from God’s point of view (Markos, 2005:241). Overall Athanasius and his divine restorative work are brought into the completion by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Markos, 2005:242). He died on the cross for us and our sins so that we will live eternally with our heavenly Farther. Louis A. Markos (http://fc.hbu.edu/-lmarkos) is Professor of English at Houston (TX) Baptist University. He is the author of Lewis Agonistes: How C. S. Lewis Can Train Us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World (2003).
‘Athanasius, “On the Incarnation of the Word,” in Christology of the Later Fathers, ed. Edward R. Hardy (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1954), 55 [hereafter, references shall appear in the text by chapter number and page number].
Council of Laodicea
The synod of Laodicea, held in 367, though only a regional council. The Council played and had contributed a significant part for the history of the New Testament canon and for the development of church law generally." The council's stringent measures against Montanist and Quartodeciman Christians, and its rules for worship, exhibit the final triumph of orthodox uniformity over local Phrygian peculiarities. It is striking that the council's list of 26 canonical New Testament books omits the Book of Revelation, even though it had been written not far away and must have profoundly influenced Christian thought in Asia Minor. The council was evidently controlled, not by local sentiment, but by the consensus of opinion of the church in the eastern Mediterranean (Johnson, 1950:11).
The New Testament Apocrypha
The New Testament Apocrypha are considered to be the outcast books that did not make the cut of the New Testament Bible. MUSS-ARNOLT, gives us two books of the New Testament Apocrypha: 1. The "Acts of Andrew," the brother of Peter, of which are preserved only "Andrew in prison at Patra in Achaia and "the Crucifixion of Andrew; "but the legend concerning the so called St. Andrew's cross is a mediaeval fiction (Muss-Arnolt, 1906:57).
2. The "Acts of Judas Thomas," containing thirteen episodes in the apostle's life and activity as missionary to India, ending with the "Martyrdom of the holy and famous Apostle Thomas." It will be seen that of all these Acts only portions are extant; but it is significant hat in all of them is carefully preserved the account of the death of the apostle whose name they bear, especially in case his life ends in martyrdom (Muss-Arnolt, 1906:57).
In conclusion, The Foundation of the New Testament stands on the Word of God and it also recounts Jesus Christ's deity.
How the New Testament Canon was Formed
Ph.D., Ecclesiastical History
Laodicea and Its Neighbors
Sherman E. Johnson
The Biblical Archaeologist , Vol. 13, No. 1 (Feb., 1950) , pp. 1-18 Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3209323
The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance by Bruce M. Metzger Review by: Howard Clark Kee
The American Historical Review , Vol. 95, No. 1 (Feb., 1990) , p. 127 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2162960
An Evening with Athanasius: Meditations on the Incarnation
Louis A. Markos
Theology Today, July 2005; vol. 62, 2: pp. 240-244.
The New Testament Apocrypha with Special Reference to Recent German Contributions: I W. Muss-Arnolt
The Biblical World , Vol. 28, No. 1 (Jul., 1906) , pp. 50-58 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3140948
Factors in the Formation of the New Testament Canon
Donald W. Riddle
The Journal of Religion , Vol. 19, No. 4 (Oct., 1939) , pp. 330-345 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1198364
Reconsidering Marcion's Gospel
David Salter Williams
Journal of Biblical Literature , Vol. 108, No. 3 (Autumn, 1989) , pp. 477-496 Published by: The Society of Biblical Literature
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267115