#10: “Early Christians Believed that Canonical Books were Self-Authenticating.”
Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every
Christian Should Memorize
作者: 邁克爾?J?克魯格 博士（Michael Kruger）
怎样才知道哪些书卷书来自上帝，哪些书卷书不是？ 这问题有多种答案，其中一些在先前的文章中已经讨论过了。 当然，书卷的使徒来源帮助我们识别书卷是否来自神（见第三篇）。另外教会对书卷的普遍共识是识别书卷是否来自神的部分原因（见第八篇）。
他提安（Tatian）非常清楚这些书卷的内在特质所起的作用：「我对这些 [圣经书卷]有信心， 因為它们的语言质朴，作者不矫揉造作，对未来事件的预见，以及优美的措辞。」
在引用马太福音四章17节和腓立比书四章5节之前，亚歷山太的革利免（Clement of Alexandria）说，你可以区分圣经的话语和人的说话，因為「没有人会对圣徒劝勉的话留下如此深刻的印象，好像是主自己说话。」
当然，就这一点而言，可能有人会反对：「如果这些书卷真的存在著这些内在特质，那麼我们怎麼解释為什麼它们会遭到那麼多人的拒绝呢？為什麼没有更多的人看到这些内在特质呢？」答案就在於圣灵帮助人们看到是哪些是客观存在的事物所扮演的角色。由於罪对理性的影响（罗3:10-18），如果没有「圣灵的内证」(testimonium spiritus sancti internum)，人就无法识别这些特徵。
或者，就像哈佛大学教授亚瑟美诺克(Arthur Darby Nock）谈正典的形成时所说的：「在欧洲，往来最频繁的道路就是最好的道路；这就是為什麼最好的道路往来会如此频繁的原因。」
 Princ. 4.1.6.
 Comm. Matt. 10.17.
 Cels. 3.21.
 Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.25.12; translation mine.
 Address to the Greeks, 29.
 Prologue to Comm. Phlm.
 Hom. Jo. 1.2.
 Protr. 9.
 Metzger, Canon of the New Testament, 286.?
#10: “Early Christians
Believed that Canonical Books were Self-Authenticating.”
Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize
Note: for the complete series see here.
How do we know which books are from God, and which are not? There are many answers to that question, some of which we have covered in prior posts. Certainly the apostolic origins of a book can help identify it as being from God (see post here). And, the church’s overall consensus on a book can be part of how we identity it as being from God (see post here).
But, it is interesting to note that the
early church fathers, while agreeing that apostolicity and church-reception are
In other words, they argued that these books bore certain attributes that distinguished them as being from God. They argued that they could hear the voice of their Lord in these particular books. In modern theological language, they believed that canonical books are self-authenticating. As Jesus said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
Origen is quite clear that the divine qualities of books play a role in their authentication: “If anyone ponders over the prophetic sayings…it is certain that in the very act of reading and diligently studying them his mind and feelings will be touched by a divine breath and he will recognize the words he is reading are not utterances of man but the language of God.”
Elsewhere Origen says similar things. He defends the canonicity of the book of Jude because “it is filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace” and defends the canonical gospels because of their “truly venerable and divine contents.” He even defends the canonicity of the book of Hebrews on the ground that “the ideas of the epistle are magnificent.”
Tatian is very clear about the role of the internal qualities of these books: “I was led to put faith in these [Scriptures] by the unpretending cast of the language, the inartificial character of the writers, the foreknowledge displayed of future events, the excellent quality of the precepts.”
Jerome defended the epistle of Philemon on the grounds that it is “a document which has in it so much of the beauty of the Gospel” which is the “mark of its inspiration.” Chrysostom declares that in the gospel of John there is “nothing counterfeit” because the gospel is “uttering a voice which is sweeter and more profitable than that of any harp or any music…something great and sublime.”
Right before citing Matt 4:17 and Phil
4:5, Clement of Alexandria says that you can distinguish the words of men from
the words of Scripture because “No on
These examples (and more could be added) are sufficient to show that the early church fathers believed that evidence for the canonicity of books can be found in the books themselves. In other words, canonical books are self-authenticating.
Of course, at this point on
The answer lies in the role of the Holy
Spirit in helping people see what is objectively there. Due to the noetic
effects of sin (Rom 3:10-18), on
Needless to say, the non-Christian will
find this explanation to be largely unpersuasive. “Isn’t a little suspicious,” he might object,
“that Christians claim they are the on
This objection is understandable. But, if Christian doctrines concerning the fall, original sin, and the corruption of the human heart are true, then it naturally follows that a person without the Spirit cannot discern the presence of the Spirit (such as whether He is speaking in a book).
Moreover, it is not all that different than the reality that some people are tone-deaf and therefore unable to discern whether a musical note is “on key.” You can imagine a tone-deaf person objecting, “This whole ‘on key’ thing is a sham run by musical insiders who claim to have a special ability to hear such things.” But, despite all the protests, the truth of the matter would remain: there is such a thing as being on key whether the tone-deaf person hears it or not.
In the end, the church fathers teach us
a very imp
Or, as Harvard Professor Arthur Darby Nock used to say about the formation of the canon: “The most travelled roads in Europe are the best roads; that is why they are so heavily travelled.”