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Toward a Canon-Conscious Reading of the Bible
Exploring the History and Hermeneutics of the Canon
Two distinct questions about the canon of the Bible can be raised: (1) How did the biblical canon come to be?, and (2) What effect does that canon have on its readers? The former is a historical question about the formation of the biblical canon; the latter is a hermeneutical question about the function of the biblical canon. Though these questions have often been pursued in virtual isolation from one another, Spellman argues that there are considerable gains from observing the interconnections between the two lines of inquiry.
On the historical question of the origin of the canon, Spellman asks, Is the shape of this collection an accident of history or a result of intelligent design? He concludes that canon-consciousness played an important role in the formation of the canon, even impinging on the work of the biblical authors themselves. On the hermeneutical question, the communities of readers of the Bible may also be shown to have been directed by their own canon-consciousness, using it as a guide in their interpretative task.
In this interdisciplinary work, Spellman marshals historical, theological and hermeneutical resources in order to paint a picture of how the concept of canon can enrich reading communities of today.
Ched Spellman teaches in the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Cedarville University, in Cedarville, Ohio.
Theme and Development of This Book
1. DEFINING THE CANON (DEBATE)
The Terms of the Debate and the Role of Presuppositions
Broad and Narrow Understandings of Canon
The Distinction between Canon and Scripture
The Process of Canon Formation
Re-Shaping the Boundaries of the Canon Discussion
Answering the Charge of Anachronism
The Recognition of a “Core Canon” Consensus
The Relevance of Manuscript Evidence
The Relevance of Internal Evidence
The Value of Canon-Consciousness
2. THE NATURE OF CANON-CONSCIOUSNESS
The Importance of Canon as a Mental Construct
Canon-Consciousness in the Secondary Literature
Internal Evidence Implies a Canon-Consciousness among the
External Evidence Implies a Canon-Consciousness among the
3. THE CANONICAL FEATURE OF CONTEXTUALITY
The Canon Guides Readers through the Biblical Material
Canon as a Mental Construct
The Effect of the Canonical Framework
The Canonically Generated Metanarrative
The Canon Generates Textual Connections (Contextuality)
4. INTERTEXTUALITY WITHIN THE CANONICAL CONTEXT
The Study of Intertextuality
The Study of Biblical Intertextuality
The Contextual and Intertextual Function of the Book of Revelation
Revelation Fittingly Concludes the New Testament Canon
Revelation Fittingly Concludes the Christian Canon (OT + NT)
5. IDENTIFYING AND BECOMING THE IDEAL READER OF THE BIBLICAL
Identifying the Implied Reader of a Literary Text
Identifying with the Implied Readers of the Biblical Text
Becoming the Ideal Readers of the Biblical Canon
CONCLUSION: Embracing a Canon-Conscious Reading of Scripture
[T]his is a magisterial discussion of how [the ‘canonical approach’] works and a persuasive account of why one might believe in it. It carries forward the torch lit by Brevard Childs with great learning and skill, and it must definitely be read by all who are concerned with either the historical or the hermeneutical question of the canon. John Barton, Review of Biblical Literature.