Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm continuing my work on a PhD project that I have to present in a few weeks at school titled: "what every NT PhD student should know about the nature and value of Patristic [=Church Fathers] materials for NT Textual Criticism [the science & art of finding the original text].

In my reading, I've come across some great quotes. Here is one by Edgar Goodspeed:

“We have been too much inclined to pass by all this literature and go directly to the NT, as though it existed apart from the contemporary and later Christian literature. And it is true that it was in the books of the NT and in the earliest collections of them-- of the letters of Paul and of the Four Gospels--that the letter and gospel types were first set powerfully before the early Church, while the Revelation & the Acts offered patterns for the apocalypses and acts that were to come. But the development of Christian thought did not stop with the writing of the NT, and though none of these later writers achieved the insight of Paul, the first of its authors, they have something of value to contribute to our understanding of historical Christianity, the development of Christian doctrine, and the extraordinary movement, so largely literary, that in a century and a half after its formation made the NT the religious authority of that ancient world" (A History of Early Christian Literature, 8-9).

This is not to imply that we should read the Apostolic Fathers on equal footing with the NT documents. By no means! Rather, Goodspeed simply notes that we should recognize that the NT is not an isolated corpus of literature in the first century AD! Many letters, gospels, Acts of the apostles, and apocalypses were written. Obviously, our 29 NT books are the only inspired, canonical books but it does prove helpful to know that there are many other documents that existed at the same time that can help us understand the text & wording of the NT documents, the theology of the early Church (most were premillennial!), and the preaching (=kerygma) of the early Church.

It would have been neat to live then! But then again, I'm thankful to live now with the wealth of extant literature available for us to read & study.


Anonymous said...


I love how you can take such scholarly material and make it so easy to understand. I didn't catch the meaning of most of the quote, but your commentary on it really helped to shed light on it!!! :)

Thanks so much for letting us catch a glimpse of the material with which you are reading these days!

-Your wifey

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