NT canonical expansion

Dr. Harrison asks for a defense of the four gospels.  A canon is by
definition an act of the community in establishing the content and limits
of its sacred literature.  This communal decision will be considered
authoritative, perhaps even inspired, if the community is acknowledged as
enjoying the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, if the community is
acknowledged as able to act with the authority of God.  Irenaeus didn't
decide that only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would be Scripture; the
Church of Jesus Christ made that decision.  

The formation and closing of the canon enjoys a constitutive status in the
life of the Church.  It is this canon we confess to be the inspired Word
of God, sufficient in matters of faith and practice.  If this is a true
confession, then one may rightly question whether it is possible to revise
it.  Even if a new "apostolic" Gospel was discovered--even if the Gospel
of Thomas is determined to be as "historically reliable" as the canonical
gospels--one might decide against its inclusion in the canon, precisely
because of the sufficiency of the present canon.  As Raymond Brown has
written, "The church that formed the canon is responsible to the canon: 
change the canon and one is well on the way toward a different church and
even a different Christianity and/or Judaism" (*New Jerome Biblical
Commentary*, 1054). 

Al Kimel

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