Politics and the Making of the New Testament
MINNEAPOLIS (October 16, 2006)— Most college and seminary courses on the New Testament include discussions of the process that gave shape to the New Testament. Now in his latest book, Constantine’s Bible, David Dungan re-examines the primary source for this history, the Ecclesiastical History of the fourth-century Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, in the light of Hellenistic political thought.
Dungan reaches startling new conclusions: that we usually use the term "canon" incorrectly; that the legal imposition of a "canon" or "rule" upon scripture was a fourth- and fifth-century phenomenon enforced with the power of the Roman imperial government; that the forces shaping the New Testament canon are much earlier than the second-century crisis occasioned by Marcion, and that they are political forces.
Dungan discusses how the scripture selection process worked, book-by-book, as he examines the criteria used—and not used—to make these decisions. Finally he describes the consequences of the emperor Constantine's tremendous achievement in transforming orthodox, Catholic Christianity into imperial Christianity.
"Dungan's study of what Constantine and Eusebius did toward establishing that unity will be the touchstone in future discussions of the New Testament canon."
— James A. Sanders, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and Intertestamental Literature, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California
"I commend the book to those who want to learn more about the complexity of canon formation and who also want to be stretched in their thinking."
— Lee Martin McDonald, Acadia Divinity College
David L. Dungan is Professor of Religion at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and author, with David R. Cartlidge, of Documents for the Study of the Gospels, rev. and enlarged edition (1994).
By David L. Dungan
Format: 5.5” x 8.5”, paperback, 176 pages
Item Number: 0-8006-3790-9
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