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By Craig D. Allert / Baker Academic / 2007
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For most evangelicals, a key tenet of belief is a “high view of Scripture,” often defined as adherence to a verbal plenary inspiration view, along with the subsequent doctrine of inerrancy this view assumes. In this thought-provoking book, Craig Allert questions whether this view is in fact high enough. In particular, he averts that our view of the Bible has not been sufficiently informed by how the New Testament canon was formed in the early centuries of the church. While maintaining that Scripture is authoritative and inspired, he also believes that the tension between Scripture’s nature as both a divine document and a human document has often been skewed too far toward the divine.
Seeking to remedy this imbalance, Allert examines various theories of the historical development of the New Testament canon. In addition, he explores how the early church fathers viewed Scripture, canon, inspiration, and authority, coming to the conclusion that while promoting a high view of Scripture, the patristic view does not necessarily line up with the modern conservative evangelical view. Finally, from these conclusions he proposes twenty-first-century implications for how we view Scripture.
This volume from the Evangelical Ressourcement series is perfect if you’re a student, scholar, pastor, or layperson interested in the most pressing contemporary topics relating to early church history, theology, and spirituality. Scripture passages link directly to your English translations and original language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the impact of the early church’s writings, culture, and thought.
There are two ways to regard this book: either as a foolhardy attempt to undermine the high evangelical regard for the inspired Scriptures or as a constructive plea for a more faithful evangelicalism that takes seriously the historical background of New Testament canon formation. Allert’s passionate insistence on historical integrity and his disarming honesty and candor will render it necessary for us to engage in serious soul searching about our approach to Scripture. This book’s convincing argument is also an opportunity for evangelicals to reassert the centrality of both church and tradition and to take both much more seriously than has often been the case. The vigor and erudition with which Allert locates the New Testament in the ecclesial context of the tradition puts evangelicalism firmly in his debt. The way we read this book will be a clear indication of the future of evangelicalism.
—Hans Boersma, J.I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College
Craig Allert asks how it is possible to have a ‘high view’ of Scripture if it is detached from the realities of the origin and formation of the Bible. He draws attention to the problems that evangelicals face when they lose the historical context of their theological affirmations, and he offers an important summary of the development of the Bible in early Christianity. Allert questions several cherished views widely held in the North American evangelical context. His volume has the potential of opening up a useful dialogue among evangelicals on the origin and nature of Scripture and its relation to contemporary theological issues. I commend this book to pastors, students, and biblical scholars who want a challenging discussion of these important issues.
—Lee Martin McDonald, professor of New Testament studies, Biola University
Craig Allert has written an informed and coherent account of the issues involved in the formation of the canon. A High View of Scripture? is a timely and nuanced critique of the anachronistic approach to canon studies adopted by too many evangelical scholars. Allert’s book is a valuable addition to the Evangelical Ressourcement series and will surely be a valuable aid in helping evangelicals understand and value ever more deeply the wonder and authority of the Holy Spirit, the Scripture, and the church itself.
—Christopher A. Hall, chancellor, Eastern University
I have now read through Craig Allert, A High View of Scripture? and wish to commend it to you. . . . The major thrust—in fact, it dominates the book—of Allert’s intelligent and important book is that one is hard-pressed to believe in the Bible without believing in the process the Church used to discern those books. In other words, the notion that we can believe in the Bible alone wrecks against the reality that Bible was never alone and is never alone. There is always a church with it. To believe in the Bible is a tacit belief in the church that discerned which books were in the ‘canon.’
Evangelical theologians have spilled much ink describing and defending the authority of the Bible. Fewer Evangelicals, however, have given careful thought to how the various documents that make up the Bible finally came to be included. Craig Allert helps rectify this omission. . . . A High View of Scripture? is an excellent introduction to the formation of the New Testament canon. And Allert presents a worthy critique of those theologies that tend to cut the Bible off from the same church that wrote, canonized and interpreted it.
[Allert’s] historical survey, which covers the majority of the book, is extremely clear and readable. It is a superb introduction to the issues of canonicity, accessible to a layperson yet deep enough to interest a theologian, and is well worth having in any library.
—Calvin Theological Journal
Craig D. Allert is associate professor and chair of religious studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He has published journal articles in the area of New Testament canon studies and bibliology and is the author of Revelation, Truth, Canon, and Interpretation.