RE:NT cannonical expansion

     Donald Harrison, Jr.,  recently noted that "I have never read any 
literature that even tried to address the possibility [that orthodoxy 
excluded material that should have been admitted to the canon]."  Such 
literature _does_ exist.  See, for example, the concluding chapter in, 
Elaine Pagels's THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS, 1979.
     As for Mr. Harrison's critique of Iranaeus's justification for 
choosing only four gospels, I find it interesting that he thinks Iranaeus 
practiced "feable" numerology.  How can numerology be "feable" as long as 
it is grounded in reasonable analogical symbolism?  We may not agree with a 
particular conclusion, but the methodology is sound nevertheless.
     I hardly think it "satanic" for us to entertain the notion of 
expanding the canon.  However, everything I've read concerning its original 
formation indicates that one of the pivotal justifications for 
including certain texts and excluding others was popular useage, i.e., 
including those texts viewed as authoritative by the broader Christian 
community.  Granted, the decision-makers were probably the power-brokers 
(so I agree with Pagels), but the voice of the community should also be 
heard.  Especially in the Deutero-Pauline corpus, we see how the NT church 
respected the traditions of "the saints."  Certainly some of the 
later Christian saints included persons like Iranaeus and Origen, et al.  
I believe that much for life and faith can be learned from the non-
canonical corpus, but contemporary Christianity would need very strong 
justification (other than recognition of the 2nd-century C.E.'s power 
politics) for changing that which has been handed down to us.  The same 
theology which recognizes that God's revelation did not cease with 
Revelation, also allows that said revelation may have been through the 
Iranaeuses and Origens of history.
!arry R. Sang
Associate Professor of Religion
Catawba College  Salisbury,NC  28144