In a previous post I introduced you to The New New Testament. Since then we’ve seen reviews from Dan Wallace, Michael Horton and now Michael Kruger has chimed in. Kruger highlights historical, methodological and theological problems It really is a great read. Here are the historical problems he noted:
1. On p.484, Taussig claims that we have fragments of the Gospel of Thomas “from the first hundred years after Jesus died.” In other words, prior to c.130. Curiously, he never mentions which fragment he has in mind. The only options are P.Oxy. 1, 654, and 655, but these are all third century. To suggest there is a Thomas fragment from the early second century is shockingly inaccurate.
2. On p.501, Taussig claims that Clement of Alexandria rejected the gospels of Mark and Luke and “accepted only Matthew and John.” But, this simply isn’t true. Clement affirmed four and only four gospels as authentic. At one point he dismisses a passage in the Gospel of the Egyptians on the grounds that “We do not have this saying in the four gospels that have been handed down to us” (Strom. 3.13). Eusebius agrees and says that Clement affirmed all four gospels (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.14.5-7).
3. On p.506, Taussig argues that there was no New Testament in “the first five hundred years of ‘Christianity’” because “the technology of book production was such that combining all twenty-seven texts into one was more or less impossible.” I find this statement to be incredible. The technology for large codices was in place long before the year 530 (five hundred years after Christ). Not only do we have full NT and OT codices in the 300′s (e.g., codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), but we have multi-quire codices all the way back in the second century (e.g., P66), suggesting that the technology for larger books was in place quite early.
You can read the post here. In his review Michael Horton said this which I think is accurate. The bold is mine for emphasis.
My immediate reaction is that it displays the dearth of imagination. Various liberals, it’s the usual cast of characters from the ruins of the “Jesus Seminar.”Given their bios, Buddhist spirituality seems to be the tie that binds. Which makes sense of why they prefer Gnostic gospels to the real ones. And why the Christian church didn’t take long to recognize that they weren’t an authentic part of the New Testament. And remember the reports of the Jesus Seminar participants casting votes for the verses they thought belonged to the proper New Testament? Same methodology with this one.
There was a time when liberals were on the cutting edge of scholarship. Though often weaving entire systems out of thin air, they at least had creativity in their favor. Frankly, it’s astonishing that scholars of any standing in the guild would offer these texts to the public as if they had been freshly discovered in a Vatican vault. Surely they’re familiar with Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian and other ancient Christian writers who refuted these Gnostic writings. It’s also astonishing that those who are so dogmatically committed to late dates for the canonical texts (despite the scholarly trend in recent years) offer dates for the pseudo-gospels that most specialists would consider not implausibly but impossibly early. Evidently, the projected audience for this book is the reader waiting eagerly for a sequel to The DaVinci Code. If evangelical scholars tried this sort of methodology they’d be drummed out of the Society of Biblical Literature.