Friday, October 02, 2009

Questions on Canon

Over at Google Books you can read an excellent introduction to "Canon" by Michael Holmes in the Oxford Handbook to Early Christian Studies. He notes the important difference between "Scripture" and "Canon" among other things. One good question raised (which would be a great essay topic for students in Church History, New Testament, or Doctrine of Scripture class) is "is canon a list of authoritative books or an authoritative list of books?". In the former the emphasis is on the intrinsic authority of the books, in the latter case the emphasis is on the authority of the prescribed list itself.


Charles said...

Is it possible that the recognition of the former is the foundation for the latter?

Daniel said...

What a good question! I would say right off the bat it's a mixture of both. For the canon to be in force the list must be regarded as authoritative, but the books in the list rest on their own authority. That's a question that deserves much more thought than that, though.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

So, how does one understand authority when it comes to Eastern/Western, Catolic/Protestant differences, as to what is "inspired" or authoritative?

I think the process was a political one (like everything else in the Church). One cannot get away from politics and the historical context that was "driving" the decisions that were being made. I don't think that there was any Ultimately" Pure motive for voting one way or another. People within these "power contexts" are prone to senstivity to their "group" (this is why they belong to the "group") and it is re-inforced by affirmation of the group, which is further affirmation of "God's approval".

In understanding how the Church has reacted when a person or a "discovery" questioned the previously heal authoritative view (Aristotle) or theological reform, one should brace themself for ostericism if one is "outside" the scope of "orthodoxy".