The Question of Canon by Michael J. Kruger

question of canon



Dr. Michael Kruger is an academic expert in the biblical canon. This book goes into the details of the canon of Scripture such as the definition, the origins, the writing, authors, and date of biblical canon. Kruger frames the debate of the biblical canon in a contrast between the extrinsic model and the intrinsic model. The extrinsic model is the idea that there was one or maybe a few defining moments in Church history that literally defined the canon, where books of the bible were “decided” by the church or certain Roman emperors what is scripture and what is not. The intrinsic model is the idea that the canon developed more organically over time, guided by God as to what is God breathed and what is not. “One might be inclined to think of the extrinsic model as a historical model and the intrinsic model as the theological model.”  (p.22)

This book is academic in its credibility yet still readable and easy to understand, although you may want to have a cup of coffee handy or whatever helps you pay attention. 

I first learned about Dr. Kruger by Dr. James White, a source I trust highly. Finding a trusted source in Christian history can be difficult. There are many Christian or biblical historians that approach the subject in a mere academic way and not from a faithful perspective. Kruger is a faithful scholar and I certainly want to read through his bibliography. 

I wanted to read this book because Christians don’t know jack about biblical or Christian history, myself included. We claim the bible is the source of all truth for life and yet we know very little about how we came to obtain the fully-formed bible. I believe this fact is just part of an overall biblical illiteracy in the church today. 

One section that really speaks to the point of Kruger’s book is when he comments on 2 Corinthians 3:6 “who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.,” 

Kruger writes, 

“are we to think that Paul’s contrast between the letter and the Spirit here is primarily concerned with the medium of revelation? A closer examination of the passage suggests Paul is making a very different point. Paul’s contrast between these two mediums is really a contrast between to covenants–that is he is contrasting the Mosaic covenant focused on law…with the new covenant focused on the heart…” 

This is in rebuttal of the claim that Scripture was never meant to be written down, that the early christians favored an oral tradition over written text. 

The only thing I didn’t like about reading this is the overwhelming feeling that I need to read all of Kruger’s other works. This the second book of his I’ve read, but he has several others I need to dig into. 

Kruger explains his position clearly and faithfully as a true believing Christian scholar with an eye to the audience of Christian laymen. He seems to understand the need for Christian historical and biblical literacy in the Church. 

I learned that there are different views of the historical compilation of the biblical canon and some are more faithful to the truth of Scripture than others. A “Christian History” section of a bookstore can be a dangerous place for a Christian. There are many academic minded scholars who have a bias against any faithful interpretation of these ancient histories and manuscripts we’ve found. Much of theological scholarship comes tainted with presuppositions against a faithful view of Scripture. That matters to a Christian wanting to know more about the history of the biblical canon. Michael Kruger has proven to be a legit source of information on this subject. 

Non-Christians will rightly claim bias because it doesn’t fit their equally bias view of Christian Church history. I’d recommend this book to all Christians wanting to learn more about how we got this bible we hold in our hands today. That should be all Christians as Scriptural and biblical historical illiteracy is an alarming shortcoming in the Church today, a shortcoming the humanist, godless world of academia is happy to exploit to the detriment of the Body. 

Christian, read this book! Learn a faithful view of biblical canon and Christian history.

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