In a previous post I introduced you to The New New Testament. Now Dan Wallace has provided a review of this new project and while he ends on a positive note he has some strong words to say about it. Here are some sections from his review:
The council of 19—including two rabbis—examined several ancient writings which the jacket blurb euphemistically calls ‘scriptures’ and determined which of these worthies deserved a place at the table with original New Testament books. Ten books were selected for this honor, along with two prayers and one song. The song (if that’s the right term) is called “The Thunder: Perfect Mind” and is one of the Nag Hammadi codices. There are no references to it in the ancient world; it never mentions Jesus and may, in fact, have been written three centuries before he was born. Some of the council members wanted it to be listed first in the New New Testament, in spite of (or because of?) its apparent non-Christian perspective. How it is possible for the jacket blurb to say this book was ancient ‘scripture’ when our only knowledge of it comes from Nag Hammadi staggers the mind.
What strikes one immediately is that most of these additions seem to be of two types: Gnostic or proto-Gnostic essays and writings that exalt women. Further, what is also striking are books that did not make the cut. Among them are the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, First Clement, and other books in the collection known as the Apostolic Fathers. In other words, the books selected by the council were selected with an agenda in mind; they were not chosen because they ever made a serious claim to canonicity. Indeed, as was mentioned above, at least one of them is not even mentioned in any extant ancient writing.
In short, the New New Testament is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The council that put these books forth is a farce. It has nothing to do with the councils of old, yet implicitly seeks to claim authority on the basis of concocted semblance. The books were selected by those who, though certainly having a right to scholarly examination of the Christian faith, are not at all qualified to make any pronouncements on canon. That belongs to the church, the true church. Outsiders may address, critique, and comment on the New Testament. They have that right—a right given them by the very nature of the Bible: this book is the only sacred document of any major religion which consistently subjects itself to historical inquiry. Unlike the Bhagavad Gita, the Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, the Qur’an, or the Gospel of Thomas, the Bible is not just talking heads, devoid of historical facts, places, and people. It is a book that presents itself as historical, and speaks about God’s great acts in history, intersecting with humanity in verifiable ways. This is where orthodoxy and heterodoxy should meet, dialoging and debating over whether the Bible is in any sense true. But to suspend the discussion by a sleight of hand is both cowardly and bombastic.
You can read the entire review here.