Jun 18

The Heresy of Orthodoxy, by Andreas Köstenberger and Michael Kruger ????

This book was written as a defense of Scripture, and contra the Bauer-Ehrman thesis. In short, the Bauer-Ehrman thesis supposes that early Christendom consisted of many “orthodoxies”, and that the rise of Constantine and state church forced a given “orthodoxy” on the rest of us. Concurrent with this thinking, the numerous pseudographia and gnostic texts discovered in the last several hundred years have brought some theologians, Ehrman especially, to consider these texts as on par and equal in consideration as the Scriptures that we have. Also argued is that because of textual corruption, it is impossible to know exactly what the Scriptures are or should be. To this, Köstenberger and Kruger capably argue in opposition. The flow of the book is as follows. In the first section, the authors argue that there indeed was diversity within the early church, but that there was a prevailing orthodoxy, and clear conception even in the first century of heresy. The diversity among orthodox thinking was minor and not related to major issues of gnosticism, or the doctrines of God and Christ. The second section develops the idea that a canon of Scripture was apparent early in the second century, and even in the mid to late first century of Christianity, contra Ehrman who claims a very late concept of the canon of Scripture. It was clear early on which texts did not fit into the canon and which texts did. The last section discusses the preservation of the texts, arguing that an intelligent Christian population existed early on who could copy and read the text, and that although tampering could be seen in the text, it never significantly altered the overall meaning of the text. The book is a worthy read for those interested in one of the many battles occurring over the Scriptures today.

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One Response to “The Heresy of Orthodoxy”

  1. Uncle Dennis says:

    What is often missed in the discussion of the early church is what NT scripture warns about and it happened: pseudochristianity in the rise of the gnostic “Christian” churches in Rome and Alexandria, as opposed by the Syrian or Antiochan and the British churches. The NT gives more coverage to arch-villain Simon Magus than any other for good reason: he went to Rome – to Soothsayer’s Hill – and started a gnostic “Christianity” which in time became the papal religion and the location became the Vatican.

    By bringing in the neglected church history of the Celtic Culdee church at Avalon (Glastonbury) in Britain and the church of the East, beginning with Antioch, it is not hard to show a vast unity very early on, beginning in 36 AD with the founding of the first church outside Jerusalem, in Britain by Joseph of Arimithea, with subsequent involvement by apostles Paul, Simon Zealotes, and Philip. The Constantinian church is part of the other thread of history belonging to the false church of Magus, run from Rome, who accused true believers of heresy, with labels such as semi-Arianism, when the real heretics functioned under an “orthodox” label. Some study is required to sort it all out!

    As for which books belong in the Bible, this is more of a modern than a historic church issue. The OT apochrypha, for instance, are in the RCC Bible, and should be in the Protestant Bible. They were thrown out because the extant manuscripts for them were only in Greek and none were in Hebrew. After archaeologists began digging, Hebrew manuscripts of them were found, eliminating the objection. Yet where do you find them in Protestant Bibles? II Esdras, for instance, tells us what happened to the Israelites, not leaving it to such wild speculation as that they dissolved into the surrounding peoples of Iran and Media. They did not. II Esdras tells us where they went.

    There is no clear line for some works such as Shepherd of Hermas. It was treated by early churches of apostolic times like scripture. And the preponderance of Paul’s writings in the NT can be accounted for only because they became popular in the rise of the Marcionite heresy. Again, there is no easy path to conclusions about the canon of scripture. The book of Jasher, for instance, is cited with authority twice in the Bible yet it is not in the Bible! I have a copy in English. Few know it even exists.

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