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The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance [Paperback]

By Bruce Manning Metzger (Author)
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Item description for The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance by Bruce Manning Metzger...

Is the canon still open? Which form of a text is canonical? Is the canon a collection of authoritative books or an authoritative collection? Dr. Bruce Metzger, tackles these questions, discusses the pressures that led to the fixing of the canon, and gives detailed attention to both Western and Eastern texts including the Syrian, Armenian, Georgian, Coptic, and Ethiopian. This book completes his New Testament trilogy.

Publishers Description
Completing his New Testament trilogy, eminent theologian Bruce Metzger provides information from Church history concerning the recognition of the canonical status of the several books of the New Testament. Canonization was a long and gradual process of sifting through scores of gospels, epistles, and other books that enjoyed local and temporary authority--some of which have only recently come to light. Metzger discusses the external pressures that led to the fixing of the limits of the canon as well as Patristic evidence that bears on the development of the canon, not only in the West, but also among the Eastern churches. He also considers differences as to the sequence of the books in the New Testament.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   326
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.72"
Weight:   0.87 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 10, 1997
Publisher   Oxford University Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0198269544  
ISBN13  9780198269540  

Availability  0 units.

More About Bruce Manning Metzger

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bruce M. Metzger is the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. A past president of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, he has made valuable contributions to the areas of textual criticism, philology, paleography, and translation.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance?

An enjoyable, accessible scholarly work  Dec 22, 2007
The late Dr. Metzger left several subdisciplines related to New Testament interpretation far richer than he found them. But it seems that his singular talent was in making the best work on a series of topics accessible to a broad audience. This book is the best example of that gift which he left all of us.

The field of canon studies in New Testament has been plowed many times in the last half-century, but the tares often outnumber the wheat. Many scholars are either antagonistic to the church in favor of modernism/postmodernism (see Robert Funk) or more interested in presenting cute theories rather than soberly assessing the evidence. Metzger fell into neither of those traps. This book offers enough analysis to make the debate comprehensible without dragging on for 600-700 pages and a surprisingly thorough complete set of snippets from church history in English translation that are germae to the topic (the Muratorian canon, canons from various councils and one from Eusebius).

This is the place to start if you are interested in understanding the canon. Then you're ready for Lee McDonald's book or the collection of essays entitled "The Canon Debate." In my doctoral seminar on this topic we read the other two first, but Metzger's book is far superior to either of them as an introduction to the topic.
How did we get the New Testament?  Aug 12, 2007
Metzger's careful examination of the origins and formative influences upon the various texts and canons of what we call the New Testament serves as an invaluable resource for students of religious history, Christianity, the bible or theological authority. Browse the "search inside" option above to get a clear picture of the nearly exhaustive assembly of research that Metzger has put at your disposal.

Parts 1 and 2 concern themselves with the history of the canon itself, using textual evidence and the witness of the patristic sources. Part 3 ventures into the theological meaning and nature of the canon. Basically, is it a list of authoritative books or an authoritative list of books? There is a distinction there that gets to the heart of the nature of authority. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I personally would suggest that it is both, but it is something that Protestants and Roman Catholics have debated for centuries. What will stand out to the reader is the fact that however one answers the question of authority, it cannot be said that the NT bore witness to itself in any Quranic sense, which, alas, has had some similarity in popularity among most fundamentalists and evangelicals. Hopefully this book will help those Christians to have a more nuanced view of how, if one chooses to see it this way, God has used human agency to accomplish his revelatory will. An interesting, if not surprising, overview of the Reformers' views on Scripture is included, demonstrating the shift toward the personalization of the nature of the bible, as Calvin notes in the "warm fuzzies" that confirm it is God's word. Not sure that works, but whatever. Moreover, Luther's abhorrence at times to the epistle of St James led him to propose a canon within a canon, even though his fellow collaborators argued against him.

Finally, the author has a useful section on the non-canonical texts that were among the lists of some church fathers as inspired scripture, demonstrating that they had a more flexible definition of "inspired" and "canon," which I think is right on.

I heartily recommend this book. You won't go wrong. It isn't meant to be controversial in the same vein as Bart Ehrman (also worth reading if you keep it balanced by understanding his subtextual presuppositions) and its conclusions would make most Protestants and Roman Catholics (and Orthodox) feel both reflective and confirmed in their trust in the NT.

Please also see The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins, Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Churchs Future), Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Churchs Future) and, for an agressive but very thorough critique of the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, see the exhaustive Not by Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture is also a very useful book on this subject.

Excellent book on the subject  May 18, 2007
The name "Metzger" is well known in any New Testament scholar circles. His numerous decades of work on New Testament studies makes him more than qualified to write on a subject as complicated and diverse as the canon of the NT. This book, in its 300 page length, will do more than educate anyone on how the NT canon came about in the various geographic regions of the early Church. It is mainly broken down by the West Church and the East Church, where Metzger investitates the first 4 centuries until the final closing of the Canon. It is a great book not only for historical awareness of the compilation of the Scriptures, but quite edifying for believers as they see the working of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures completion.
first-rate scholar  May 15, 2007
This is an excellent study of a complex topic. The book is not intended for the general reader who will find that it deals with more esoteric issues than the typical Sunday-school teacher might want to know. On the other hand, the scholar will find this a definitive study of the subject.
Superb! Thorough, readable, interesting scholarship.  Jul 11, 2006
I was both impressed and relieved by the author's obvious efforts to be impartial and examine the evidence that is available. I also deeply appreciated his respect for the oblique nature of the little data that is actually available at this point, and how uncomfortable it is to not know what is not known.

The book paints a picture of the New Testament canon evolving organically over generations of discussants within a large and diverse network of Christian communities. First, there was a need to forge a concensus on whether there would be a canon or not, and then a process to forge a concensus regarding which popularly used documents were credible and adequately consistent.
This depiction seems reasonable and plausible, and as presented, does not preclude other influences shaping what ended up in the bible and what didn't -- in my mind, at least. It was certainly fascinating! ... and added welcome context to what I had been reading in other books.

I really enjoyed this book and was sad when I came to its end. I intend to read more books by this author.

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