Monday, August 13, 2012
"Canon Revisted" Review
Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger is one of my frontrunners for the best book I have read in 2012. Let me give you a few reasons why:
1) Kruger's book is uncompromisingly conservative and unique. It is in vogue to argue that the New Testament cannot be authoritative and inerrant because the canon itself was established until later in church history. However, Kruger argues persuasively that the canon, rather than be authoritative because of the community (the Church and the history of the acceptance of the letter) or history (if the letters are authentic or not), is authoritative because it is self-authenticating.
The argument is odd, but devastatingly effective. He states that, "God has created the proper epistemic environment wherein belief in the New Testament canon can be reliably formed."  There are three components to this epistemic environment which are providential exposure, attributes of canonicity, and internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.
What this means is that God providentially exposed the church to the books which make up the canon. The attributes of canonicity means that the books possess divine qualities, are corporately received and are of apostolic origin. Finally, the Holy Spirit testifies to these books within the believer's life.
Kruger essentially argues that Christians have warranted belief for accepting the Bible as canon. Obviously, the question is why should anyone accept these premises and Kruger spends the second half of the book arguing why. I found his overall argument persuasive. But it was also refreshing to find someone argue some forcefully in favor of the canon.
2) Kruger's book is modest in what it attempts to prove and, as a result, is effective. In other words, he doesn't try to say "the canon is 100% divinely inspired." Rather, he argues that "we can have rational confidence that the canon is 100% divinely inspired." This, to me, was the smart move to make. In a day and age when our epistemological confidence is constantly being eroded, Kruger starts by humbly building our foundation of what we can know. Further, he rightly reminds the reader the importance of faith in constructing our confidence.
3) Canon Revisited flows extremely well and yet is scholarly. In my opinion, Kruger's writing style is enjoyable. Don't get me wrong: Canon Revisited doesn't read like Harry Potter. But as far as scholarly works go, this is a very interesting and enjoyable work. It is heavily footnoted and exhaustive in its bibliography. This makes Canon Revisited a virtual wall that every person dealing with canon in the future must scale.
So much more could be said in favor of Kruger's book. However, I will leave it at this: this is perhaps the best recent apologetics offering released. Any student of scripture needs to read this. I would also suggest that any student in college who is struggling with some of the common charges against Scripture at a secular university read this book. This is an excellent book, through and through.
*Thanks to Crossway for providing a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to offer a favorable review.*