Letter from a visitor

Interesting remarks on the canon


Glenn:

I have been poking around in your stuff for a couple of weeks and took some time to print some of it off give it a better read this evening. Well, I just want to say that I admire, first and formost, your honesty and forthrightness - and your scholarship - and your sensitivity - as I see you respond to the Jewish fellow at the verge of returning to Judahism.

I have struggled with many of these same issues that you discuss - the process of establising the NT canon as troubled me quite a bit - was intrigued with your interpretation of the facts.

I was thinking about what you wrote regarding the dispersion of the NT writings in to various communities and how apparently independently they converged on the same set of writings which they regarded as authoritative. And that system in contrast to the more centralized, even bureaucratic system which preserved the OT writings. I thought of a couple of reasons why God might have adopted a different strategy for preservation of the written record at this stage:

1. the objective now was to extend the Yahweh/Yeshua worship in to multiple cultures - it would hardly do to establish a centralized system like the scribes to enforce such a system across cultural boundaries, would take a kind of cultural imperialism - a violation of your volitional violence

2. A corrollary is that by having the authorative list adopted independently by the diverse communities they (a) "owned" their decision and (b) the fact that they corresponded across the commmunities generated a kind of "grass roots" consensus and unity within the emerging church

3. Given the persecution that followed, a single source for the authoritative writings would have presented an easy target to snuff out all the writings - a dispersed set of writings rooted in local tradition and culture may in large measure explain how so many documents survived their attempted destruction. (I am speculating here since I don't have the historical grasp of these events that you have)

Anyway it was a good ride - I will keep dropping in to see what you are up to.


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