Commenting on Canon

“Do you mean why should we accept Hebrews rather than the Gospel of Thomas as canonical?

Well, the primary reason is because Hebrews *is* canonical, whereas the Gospel of Thomas is not.

But then I guess you’re asking how we know that.

I would say that it is self-attesting.

See, self-attesting is always objective.

This is strange to me – people usually take that to be subjective.

I’m not talking about a subjective mark, but an objective one.

But it presumes itself authoritative in the same way as other Scripture.

And is qualitatively the same.

I’m not talking about the sheep hearing His voice either.

You’re still thinking subjective.

I’m talking about the objective merits of the book.

Ultimately, Hebrews attests to itself as divinely inspired in that it presumes itself to be on par with the Word of God, and it is qualitatively the same as other books that are explicitly self-attesting.

That’s the objective case.

Additionally, we can confirm this through less ultimate objective matters – like, as you mention, its acceptance in the church as canonical.

It was obviously written by someone close to the events the Gospels describe, and close to those who wrote other Scripture, etc.

This is where the evidentialist case comes to bear upon recognizing it as God’s Word. This case is not, however, our ultimate reason for accepting it.

Rather, it provides confirmation.

I mean that it takes itself to be authoritative.

It does not deny that it is authoritative, and it implicitly presents itself as such, if not explicitly.

Finally, there is the subjective case, which I feel (!) like you already know.

Oh, and I think Apollos wrote it. ;D

And yeah, that’d be another objective confirmatory evidence that Hebrews is the Word of God. It does not contradict, but rather affirms, the testimony of other Scripture.

There is subjectivism involved, but the ultimate case is objective. We accept Scripture upon the authority of God.

We accept the Word of God as such on God’s say-so.

Well, there’s faith involved.

We accept Hebrews on it’s say-so.

Because it is the Word of God.

There should be a charge of circularity here.

God’s self-attestation to His Word is synonymously self-authentication because God is the final authority.

Just never forget that the canon *is* God’s Word.

It’s not some list of books.

What God speaks *is* canonical.

We then come along and recognize, or refuse to recognize, that canon.

Right, and there I say that you recognize it because it is objectively authoritative. It is also confirmed as such by the Holy Spirit.

Then you may bring in arguments as to authorship, acceptance in the church, Providence, etc.

Always start at that presupposition of God as authority.

That way you view the evidence without being presuppositionally naive.

It tends to line the evidences up properly.

Our natural inclination is to try and go the opposite direction, viewing the evidence as neutral and working back up to that presupposition of God as authority, but that is impossible.”


One Comment

M Burke

Self-attestation is of course our first and final argument, but the external arguments should hold weight in such discussions as well.

Perhaps the fact that Clement of Rome quoted it in 95 AD, and the earliest collections of Paul’s writings also included it might assist. It is true that the internal evidence within the book itself points to its canonicity, but I don’t think we as Christians should ever claim fideism.

The Gospel of Thomas on the other hand presents a ‘gospel’ far, far different from anything found in the New Testament. For example:

Simon Peter said to them, “Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of life.” Jesus said, “Look, I shall guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter heaven’s kingdom.” – Gospel of Thomas, 114.


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