With this post I conclude my thread on how we got the canon of the New Testament. In the last post I began to talk about how having a canon affected the way people read the books of the New Testament. Even though there are important *differences* among the various books, when they are all put between the same two covers, people read them as if they were all saying the same thing. Here I pick up right before I left off….
There are, for example, four Gospels, each presenting a different understanding of Jesus’ words and deeds. The thirteen letters assigned to Paul contain inconsistencies and incoherencies (especially between the ones he actually wrote and those produced in his name later by others). The alleged writings of James, Peter, John, and Jude also present distinctive messages, sometimes at odds with the others.
But when all twenty-seven books were canonized into a single book, the statements of one writing came to be read in light of another, forcing readers (almost always unsuspectingly) to think they are saying the same thing. When Matthew, for example, insists that followers of Jesus need to keep the Jewish law, his views are now read in light of Paul’s insistence that gentiles not follow the law. That is, the two authors’ views are conflated in such a way that they appear to affirm each other, even though, when simply read individually for what they have to say, the appear to be at odds.
So too Mark’s view of Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice is
If you’d like to keep reading, join the blog! It’s inexpensive, you get tons for your money, and every thin dime goes to help those in need. Click here for membership options