Friday, September 25, 2009

Origen and the Canon of Scripture

Gard, Daniel L.  "Origen and the Canon of Scripture."  All Theology Is Christology: Essays in Honor of David P. Scaer. Fort Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press.  2000.  313-327.

Often when Christians look for the earliest evidence of canonicity they look to Origen, as he made many statements about what was reliable and unreliable in the literature of the earliest Christians.  The difficulty, says Gard, is that Origen did not, in fact, provide us with a comprehensive list of what books were reliable.  He did compare Christian versions of the Old Testament with the Hebrew canon and generally assert that in discussions of faith, Christians should restrict themselves to those books which were accepted by the Jews.  However, especially in writings which came from the Christian period, Origen was indecisive at best.  At different times in his writing career he alternatively accepted and rejected 1 Clement, the Shepherd fo Hermas, and various other texts.

Origen did articulate a principle which has become important to us.  He and many others recognized Hebrews as part of Scripture though he recognized it was not written by Paul  He therefore managed to define apostolicity in writing of the New Testament as being consistent with the doctrine and teachings of the apostles.  Recognizing that Hebrews has a distinctive Pauline flavor, though we do not know who wrote it, it is nonetheless acceptable.  This view also relieves the burden that the author must be one of the Twelve or Paul.  Yet it defends the necessity of Scripture having one message, that message of Christ as delivered to and through the apostles.

This article has an interesting mixture of citations in Greek and in Latin, some translated, some not.


Anonymous said...

Those non-translated Latin and Greek translations are not a problemm for you, are they, O Learned One? ;-)


Cap'n Salty said...

Ita, non necesse est transferre Latine in Anglicum. Sed hoc opportet multis legendis.