Re-imagining Canon in the Twenty-first Century: SRCA Talk February 10

I have been invited to speak at the University of Toronto at their Seminar for Culture and Religion in Antiquity. My current research interest is the formation of the New Testament and the resulting categorization of Christian writings as either canonical or non-canonical. I will use the opportunity of the presentation to solidify some of my thoughts on the topic. For more information, visit the SRCA web site. Here is the abstract for the presentation:

Monday, February 10, 4–6pm
Tony Burke, York University
"What Do We Mean by “The Bible”? Re-imagining Canon for the Twenty-first Century"

Recent discussion of the formation of the New Testament canon ranges from the liberal leanings of historical-critical scholarship—typified by the view that political and pragmatic  motivations contributed to the selection of texts—and the conservative standpoints of theologians—who see the hand of the Holy Spirit at work, guiding the processes of both composition and canonization. Neither of these opposing poles fully take into account the fluidity of the NT canon. Over the centuries Christians have ignored the boundary line between canonical and non-canonical texts. And the contents of the NT varies both temporally and geographically. So, the very terms “canonical” and “non-canonical” are inadequate for categorizing Christian literature. This talk will outline the complexities involved in the study of the NT canon and considers new approaches for understanding interactions among different forms of Christian literature, throughout history and into the future. 

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4 Responses to Re-imagining Canon in the Twenty-first Century: SRCA Talk February 10

  1. Good Morning Tony,
    Do you have any idea when the Bible was earliest referred to in print media as “the word of God”?

  2. Tony says:

    Hi Charlie, No I do not. Try asking the SBL group via the new Facebook group.

  3. Claire Clivaz says:

    «So, the very terms “canonical” and “non-canonical” are inadequate for categorizing Christian literature».

    Dear Tony, I totally agree with this sentence. So, why did you baptizes your blog «apocryphicity», a concept that implies degrees, steps, as if to be «apocryphal» was a mark or an essence that one could recognize?
    Best greetings,

  4. Tony says:

    Why cal it “Apocryphicity”? Well, I needed a name, and the focus is apocryphal texts. Around the time I created the blog there was some discussion of how one recognizes an apocryphal text–there was a conference planned (though it did not get through funding), and I had just read S. C. Mimouni’s collection for Pierre Geoltrain, Apocryphité.

    As much as terms like canonical/non-canonical and apocryphal are problematic, to some extent we are stuck with the labels that have been passed down to us. And though “apocrypha/apocryphal” does have negative connotations when used by orthodox writers, it is not in itself pejorative (indeed some writers use it in the titles of their texts–e.g., Apocryphon of John, Apocryphon of James).

    Anyway, these are some things I need to think more about before next week’s event!

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