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Impact of the Formation of the New Testament Canon on the Creed of Sola Scriptura

Ervin Budiselić ; Biblijski institut, Zagreb

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 147 Kb

str. 39-61

preuzimanja: 3.348



The purpose of this article is to evaluate and test the creed of sola scriptura against the historical and theological implications of the several-centurieslong process of the formation of the NT canon. As a result of all this, the author thinks that sola scriptura can be affirmed in some aspects, but in others it must be revised and changed. Historically speaking, sola scriptura accepts only twenty-seven NT canonical books (along with the OT) as the ultimate authority for the church’s life and faith. However, since the term canon was not used for a closed list of the books from which nothing can be taken and nothing added until Athanasius in 367 AD, and since in the first four
centuries, the term Scripture was applied more broadly than just to today’s twenty-seven NT canonical books, it cannot be claimed that sola scriptura is the original teaching of the early church. Accordingly, if Protestantism continues to claim sola scriptura as the historical and original teaching of the church, then for the sake of historical correctness, it must either include more books as ultimately authoritative Scriptures than just today’s twenty-seven NT books, or not claim sola scriptura until the time of Athanasius. Theologically
speaking, the author argues that the NT canon was not the ultimate authority for the life and faith of the early church. Instead, the author suggests that the ultimate authority for the early church was the gospel message that was proclaimed by Jesus and which continued to be proclaimed by the church in oral and eventually in written form. Accordingly, the NT documents were recognized as authoritative primarily because they testified about the Jesus event and contained a written record of the gospel that was proclaimed by Jesus and the apostles, and not because they were inspired by God. Instead of
focusing on the precise meaning and definitions of terms like Scripture and canon, the author suggests that focus should be placed on how much and in what measure these writings/books were used, that is, to make distinction between three categories/classes of writings (based on how often they were cited) and three stages through which these writings were cited (in the first, second, third, and fourth centuries).

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