The Authors of the Canon

In his work The Question of Canon, Michael Kruger has been demonstrating how the five basic tenets of the extrinsic model of canon are problematic. The extrinsic model being that the canon of Scripture was determined at a later date by the church to meet their needs. In chapter four he engages with the claim from the extrinsic camp concerning authorial intent. Did the New Testament writers intend to write with divine authority or was this authority imposed at a later timer? Kruger affirms the former and denies the latter.

New Testament authors confirm intent and awareness in their writings. This is demonstrated with a few examples shown below. It is understood that the Apostles spoke with the authority of Jesus, and therefore their words were to be considered as God’s word. In Galatians Paul makes clear that he is writing as an Apostle of Jesus. As an exhortation from an Apostle, Galatians bears the highest authority a letter can. This same citing of apostolic authority is shown in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (arguably the first letter of Paul). Expressions of apostolic authority, are to be regarded as the will of God thus he warns his readers in 1 Thess. 4:8 that rejecting his word is rejecting God’s word.

When considering the book of Hebrews, apostolic authority is shown in a similar way as other books. The writer of presents himself as a recipient of the apostolic tradition. When he states

Heb 2:4 “It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard” 

The writer is saying that the apostles received the message from Jesus and confirmed it to him among others. In this regard he is placing himself in a position like that of Luke or Mark as a co-laborer with the Apostles. The significance is that he doesn’t separate himself from the apostolic work like other writers did. As a co-laborer of the Apostles his letter was intended to be equally apostolic in authority.

Thus the critical argument against authorial intent is weakened and the fact that the writers didn’t explicitly state their writings were “Scripture” in each letter is irrelevant. It is unnecessary because of the nature of their authority. When the Apostle writes, “I am writing to you a command of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37) it is equated to Scripture.

While this response still leaves questions unanswered, it does weaken the fourth tenet of the extrinsic model significantly. As a reminder, the previous three tenets being “canon is determined after the church creates it”, “the idea of a canon was nowhere in the mind of the earliest Christians” and, “Early Christians were averse to written documents”. Thus with the extrinsic model weakened, Krugers intrinsic model of the canon finds more support. As the intrinsic model argues for the idea of a New Testament that was “driven by forces already inherent to the first-century church” instead of one later developed for ecclesiastical needs. (154)