The Catholic Epistles As A Canonical Janus: A New Testament Glimpse Into Old And New Testament Canon Formation -- By: Peter H. Davids

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 19:3 (NA 2009)
Article: The Catholic Epistles As A Canonical Janus: A New Testament Glimpse Into Old And New Testament Canon Formation
Author: Peter H. Davids


The Catholic Epistles As A Canonical Janus: A New Testament Glimpse Into Old And New Testament Canon Formation

Peter H. Davids

St. Stephen’s University

The Catholic Epistles look back at the forming “Old Testament” canon, showing not only the use of all segments of the Tanakh but also a preference for the Septuagint, the reading of all Tanakh passages through Second Temple literature, and a wider body of authoritative literature than the Tanakh. They look forward as part of the process of New Testament canon formation in their own use of the Jesus tradition and references to Paul (although references to Pauline literature outside 2 Peter are disputed) and in their own history of canonization in that only one had a smooth acceptance while the others were all ignored or disputed. They were finally accepted as part of a group of seven books, which is the basis of David Nienhuis’s novel theory about the creation of James, which may have been viewed as a collection of the three “pillars.”

Key Words: canon, canonization, Catholic Epistles, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude

Author’s note: This article was originally an NT paper read at the annual meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research in San Diego, California, on November 17, 2007.

When one uses the term canon, especially in the context of the Institute for Biblical Research one usually means the collections of books originating among the Israelites, especially in the First and Second Temple periods, commonly referred to as the Old Testament, and the collections of books originating within the Jesus movement in the first century,1 commonly referred to as the New Testament, collections that in one form or another have been used by the Christian church for the past 1900 years, more or less. In trying from an NT perspective to gain a handle on the formation of this list or canon, it is clear to this writer at least that the Catholic Epistles are uniquely situated. That is, they give interesting perspectives on the state of the “Old Testament” “canon” in the first century of this era, and they also contribute significantly to our knowledge of the formation of the

NT canon both through their own reflection on and through their getting caught up in the process. Thus, they look both forward and backward and in this sense are like the two-faced Roman god Janus. It is this double aspect that this article seeks to start to unpack.

1. Looking Back

It is clear that the Catholic Epistles look back in that they use those writings commonly used by the various Jewish groups, that is, Script...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()