Fortress Press

On the Origin of Christian Scripture: The Evolution of the New Testament Canon in the Second Century

On the Origin of Christian Scripture

The Evolution of the New Testament Canon in the Second Century

David Trobisch (Author)


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The New Testament claims to be a collection of writings from eight authors. The manuscript tradition and the first provenance narratives place its publication in the middle of the second century, when many other books on Jesus and his first followers were circulating.

Competing publications on Jesus communicate knowledge secretly passed on from generation to generation, transcending time and geographical boundaries. Like the Canonical Edition of the New Testament, they use first-century voices to address second-century concerns, such as whether the Creator of the world was the Father of Jesus, the role of women in congregations, the culture of producing and distributing books, and the authority of Jewish Scripture for Christians. The shared meta-narrative is the story of a divine messenger sent to earth to deliver the promise of eternal life to those who believe his message.

The editorial narrative of the Canonical Edition names a certain Theophilus as the implied publisher who assembles the collection, organizes it in four volumes, and presents it to the public when Paul is in Rome and faces his day in court. Historically, the New Testament was published a century after Paul's death as an interpolated and enlarged revision of the Marcionite Edition, which combined one gospel book with several letters of Paul. It presented itself as a publication of autographs for an international Greek-speaking readership in Central Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, and Greece. This perspective provides new answers to old exegetical questions like the genre of the Johannine corpus, the function of synoptic parallels, and the authorship of the letters of Paul.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506486147
  • eBook ISBN 9781506486154
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 205
  • Publication Date September 19, 2023