Baptist Press publishes Jones’ article about New Testament canon
Baptist Press recently published Timothy Paul Jones' article "How were the books of the New Testament chosen?" In the article, Jones, associate professor of leadership and church ministry at Southern Seminary, considers how the church came to recognize some writings as authoritative and others as not.
"The question isn't whether God had any part in choosing the books; the question is, 'By what human means did these texts come to be viewed as authoritative?'," he writes.
Responding to the claim that no authoritative list containing 27 books existed prior to the fourth or fifth centuries, Jones states that hints of some sort of standard are evident in Christian writings as early as the first century. The primary criteria was whether or not the writings were connected to those who actually saw the Lord Jesus. He writes:
Long before Athanasius was even born, testimony that could be connected to eyewitnesses of the risen Lord was uniquely authoritative among early Christians.
Even while the New Testament books were being written in the first century A.D., the words of people who had actually seen Jesus – especially the words and writings of the apostles – carried special authority in the churches (see Acts 1:21-26; 15:6-16:5; 1 Corinthians 4-5; 9:1-12; Galatians 1:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26-27). After the apostles' deaths, Christians continued to value the testimony of eyewitnesses and their associates.
The entire article is available at the Baptist Press website.