Four Truths about the New Testament Every Christian Should Know
by Dewayne Bryant
People love diversity. When it comes to music, cuisine, clothing styles, or any other aspect of culture, variety can be a beautiful thing. When it comes to the background of the New Testament canon, however, the belief in diversity is very nearly an assault on the deity of Christ and questioning the teachings of the New Testament. Diversity allows people to create the Jesus of their choosing—and reject the Jesus of Scripture.
Beginning with German theologian Bruno Bauer, many New Testament scholars have become enamoured with the idea that the early church was a diverse place with many different versions of the Christian faith. Critics claim that the early church was roiling in theological turmoil, with a dizzying number of Christianities available at the time because the church had no set canon. However, if the canon was fixed very early, then we should presume that the early church was a place where diversity was held to a minimum. Let’s consider four truths about the New Testament canon that every Christian should know.
Canonical lists include all the books we find in the New Testament. Athanasius assembled the first complete canonical list of N.T. books in AD 367. This list contains all 27 books of the New Testament. Origen produced earlier lists, with one around AD 250 naming the NT authors and the number of compositions written by each. He also mentions all the authors of the New Testament in his Homilies on the Genesis. The Muratorian Fragment preserves a list of books, although the fragmentary nature of the document means that some books are not included (for instance, the fragment references four gospels, but only Luke and John are visible in the text)…