NT Canon: Jewish Background

This post is part of an ongoing series outlining the formation of the New Testament canon.
Model of the Second Jewish Temple

Model of the Second Jewish Temple

Vital to understanding the formation of the New Testament canon is the need to understand both the context of Second Temple Judaism as well as first century Christian use of the Jewish Scriptures (now also the Christian Old Testament). Do any Google search on “Jewish Bible” and you’re likely to find the common argument that the Jewish Bible was not closed until the Council of Jamnia (c. 90 CE). This has led some scholars, such as Lee M. McDonald, to advocate that Jesus may have considered some writings which are now not included in the Protestant Old Testament to have been scriptural and authoritative. McDonald argues that Jesus, and even the writers of the New Testament books, did not have to hold to a traditional Jewish canon, and even though most New Testament quotations are from the Torah (Books of Moses) and Nevi’im (Prophets), the writers of the New Testament felt free to quote from the open Ketuvim (Writings; see for example Jude 14’s possible quotation of Enoch).[1] Continue reading

Book Review: Evolution of the Word (Borg)

Evolution of the Word, BorgIn Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written (HarperOne, New York, 2012), scholar Marcus J. Borg presents the books of the New Testament in chronological order. In an attempt to demonstrate the development of the early Christian concept of Word, both the Word of God (Jesus Christ) and the Words of God (the writings of the New Testament), Borg re-orders the writings of the New Testament into the order he believes they were originally written. Beginning with thirty pages of introductory material on the chronology of the New Testament, the context of the early followers of Jesus, and the historical and literary context of Paul, Borg sets the stage for the writings of the New Testament.  The New Testament then follows in this order: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, Philemon, Philippians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Mark, James, Colossians, Matthew, Hebrews, John, Ephesians, Revelation, Jude, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Luke, Acts, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Peter. The text of each book is that of the New Revised Standard Version (1989), with standard chapters, versification, section headings, and NRSV textual notes. Preceding each book are some brief remarks by Borg, including some explanation for his dating of each respective work. In this way, The Evolution of the Word looks somewhat like a NRSV New Testament, simply re-arranged according to Borg’s chronology. Continue reading