Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology: From the Fathers by William J. Abraham

By William J. Abraham

The e-book presents an unique and demanding narrative at the value of canon within the Christian culture. typical debts of canon decrease canon to scripture and deal with scripture as a criterion of fact. Scripture is then comparable in confident or detrimental how one can culture, cause, and adventure. Such initiatives contain a misreading of the which means and content material of canon--they find the canonical history of the church inside of epistemology--and Abraham charts the deadly results of this circulation, from the Fathers to trendy feminist theology. within the method he indicates that the valuable epistemological issues of the Enlightenment have Christian origins and echoes. He additionally exhibits that the an important advancements of theology from the Reformation onwards contain outstanding efforts to mend the principles of religion. This trajectory is now exhausted theologically and spiritually. consequently, the door is opened for a restoration of the entire canonical historical past of the early church and for clean paintings at the epistemology of theology.

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48 Consider the following famous passage from Basil: ‘Concerning the teachings of the Church, whether publicly proclaimed (kerygma ) or reserved to members of the household of faith (dogmata ), we have received some from written sources, while others have been given to us secretly, through apostolic tradition. Both sources have equal force in religion. No one would deny either source—no one, at any rate, who is even slightly familiar with the ordinances of the Church. If we attacked unwritten customs, claiming them to be of little importance, we would fatally mutilate the Gospel, no matter what our intentions—or rather, we would reduce the Gospel teaching to bare words.

What he does grasp is that there is a clear distinction between divine revelation itself and someone's claim to be in possession of a divine revelation. The authority of the former does not transfer automatically to the latter. ORIENTATION 17 material claims to divine revelation, rather than solving deep questions about epistemology, are liable to precipitate an acute epistemological crisis. Given rival claims to divine revelation, one is immediately tempted to look around for a criterion to sort out genuine from spurious cases of divine revelation.

Such appeals, in turn, rested almost invariably on theories of divine inspiration and revelation which were often assumed at the outset. With or without the backing of a doctrine of inspiration, the canon of 14 See Harry Y. Gamble, The New Testament Canon: Its Meaning and Making (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 17–18. ; emphasis added. Gamble's reasoning is especially interesting because he goes on to show how difficult it is to sustain the full-blooded epistemic conception of canon he deploys when he discusses the canon as a ‘norm’.

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