One of the most common attacks on the Christian faith is the attempt to undermine the New Testament canon. Critics make a number of claims to challenge the NT canon, such as: (1) the canon was decided only in the 4th century as a power play; (2) how can we know we have the right books in the canon; (3) there was widespread disagreement over which books were canonical; (4) what about all those “lost” books; (5) the authors of the various books had no idea they were writing Scripture. These and other claims are thought to cast serious doubt on the New Testament canon.
In response to these and other critical claims, Michael J. Kruger has entered the fray with his excellent book Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament. In responding to critical arguments against the NT canon, Kruger argues for what he calls a “self-authenticating model of the canon.” This self-authenticating model argues that the canonical books have three attributes: (1) divine qualities; (2) corporate reception; and (3) apostolic origins. The Holy Spirit uses these three attributes to authenticate the books of the NT canon.
In my estimation this is now the go-to book on the New Testament canon. Kruger’s self-authenticating model is the most holistic approach to dealing with the question of the canon. While it is an academic book with plenty of footnotes, on the whole I find it quite readable. Pastors, teachers, and even Bible study leaders can read this book and benefit greatly.
There is much more to Kruger’s book than can be briefly summarized here. Some of the material in nutshell form can be found on Kruger’s blog, which I highly recommend.