Book Review: God’s Canon

God’s Canon, by Steve Hays

As someone who has read with some disapproval about the rule of faith [1] and has some decided views on the way in which the Bible was instantly canonized by the Apostles [2], I liked this book a lot.  This is a short book, and it could have stood to be longer, but it was at least something that I could wholeheartedly appreciate.  Given the Protestant belief in sola scriptura, having a firm understanding of the canon of scripture and its apostolic origin and even the internal evidence for coherence as a unified work are of the utmost importance, especially given the Protestant refusal to accept the Catholic view of an infallible magisterium.  If you understood the previous sentence, you probably would enjoy this book, whether or not you agree with the author’s point of view or not, but if you did not understand the previous sentence, this short work is likely going to present some problems of language and terminology, since the writer assumes that the reader is going to be aware of the language of arguing about the status of biblical texts.  Otherwise, this book is going to be a bit difficult.

In terms of its contents, the book is organized pretty thematically in nature.  After a brief preface, the author begins with a few chapters that look at how to retrofit the canon of scripture (1), give some approaches to canon (2), and look at some criteria for canonical books (3).  After that, the author talks about how we got the New Testament (4), views the Bible as autobiographical about its authors (5), and looks at the OT witness to the OT canon in general (6).  Following this there are some hypothetical arguments and counterarguments to the Catholic canon (7) and a debunking of a view of the magisterium in the NT (8).  Following this the author discusses various special cases relating to the Bible after having dealt with the general cases by looking at Hebrews (9), Enoch & Jude (10), the Pseudepigrapha (11), James & Jude (12), the legendary Alexandrian canon (13), as well as an appendix on Daniel (14), before closing with a suggestion for further reading (15).  As someone who has read a great deal about textual criticism and has some strong views about the canon, I found the author to be well-read and thoughtful in his discussion of the issues he dealt with, even if I do not think that all readers will come with the context of having read much about the subject.

Overall, then, my impression of this work is highly positive.  Although there are some typos to be found here, which is not uncommon given the fact that the book appears to be self-published, at least by my understanding, the author certainly has done a good job at presenting the view of an interlocking OT and NT that show internal coherence as a single, albeit complex, work.  The author’s thoughts about Daniel and Jude and Hebrews are thoughtful as well, and when the author makes speculations rather than arguing from the scriptures directly his speculations are at least of the plausible kind that are certainly reasonable guesses to be made.  Moreover, the author’s knowledge of the deeper structure of the Bible, in the “in-house” nature of much of the NT as well as the OT, and the way that multiple layers of application and implication backwards and forwards routinely exist is very sound as well.  Overall, this book was a pleasure to read and it is certainly one I would highly recommend for thinking and reflecting for those who have an academic or intellectual interest in the question of the canon of scripture.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/05/23/book-review-the-bible-and-the-rule-of-faith/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/05/23/the-apostolic-fathers-and-the-rule-of-faith/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/02/01/audiobook-rreview-great-courses-the-history-of-the-bible-the-making-of-the-new-testament-canon/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/06/10/audiobook-review-great-courses-the-apostle-paul/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Book Review: God’s Canon

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.

  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    You may like this website: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/

    It has Steve’s blog posts over the years. There are also other books that he has written on the side of the blog. I read the one on Apostasy and Perseverance, and I am currently going through the Infidel Delusion. After I am done with that, I plan to go through This Joyful Eastertide. He is worth reading. He is well-read, and he almost always presents a way of looking at issues that had not occurred to me before. For example, in the Infidel Delusion, he has an interesting appendix on whether Daniel accurately talks about the death of Antiochus Epiphanes.

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