Re: Can we expand the NT canon?

I don't want to defend Harrison's agenda for increasing the canon--if
anything, it should be decreased, in my opinion.  But neither is Alvin
Kimel quite on the mark.  He writes:

> The New Testament canon _cannot_ be expanded because the canon has already
> been established by ecumenical consent.  While the churches might disagree
> yet on the precise limits of the Old Testament canon (do we include the
> deutero-canonical books or not?), all the churches are in agreement now on
> the contents of the New Testament.  

I'm fairly sure that the Syrian Orthodox church follows the canon of the
Peshitto, which does not include Rev., 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, and Jude. 
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

> I think we may rightly invoke the
> guidance of the Holy Spirit to justify this decision, for if the Church is
> in error here, its witness and life are disastrously flawed from the
> ground up.  In other words, the canon now functions as an infallible dogma
> within the Church catholic.

Isn't it a bit naive to think that it's impossible for human ingenuity
to thwart the Holy Spirit?  Outside of the 4 gospels and the Pauline
corpus, about which there seems to have been relatively early consensus,
the formation of the NT canon was a pretty tenuous thing, and there was
a certain degree of politics involved.

As for the Church being flawed from the ground up, I think that feminist
critics have a good point when they say that this is so.  I am convinced
by the growing amount of evidence that shows that women's voices were
silenced as Christianity evolved in the early centuries.

> The New Testament canon should not be expanded because the canon arose
> precisely to exclude the gnostic teachings that Mr. Harrison would like to
> include in the Church's discourse.  The canon is an anti-gnostic decision.

I'm no fan of gnosticism, but I think the idea has been overturned that
the canon arose to combat heresy.  See Harry Gamble's article under
"Canon" in the Anchor Bible Dictionary for a summary of that position.

This is not in any way intended to defend Harrison's call to introduce
some pretty weird stuff into the canon.

Sterling G. Bjorndahl, bjorndahl@Augustana.AB.CA or bjorndahl@camrose.uucp
Augustana University College, Camrose, Alberta, Canada      (403) 679-1516
  When dealing with computers, a little paranoia is usually appropriate.