One of the most common misconceptions about the New Testament canon is that the authors of these writings had no idea that they were writing Scripture-like books. To explore this further, let us just consider just one of our gospels, namely the Gospel of Matthew.
In God’s sovereign providence we’ve been given multiple Gospels “according to” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in order to provide us with a diversity of perspectives that can legitimately be viewed as complementary rather than contradictory.
One of the more famous and most discussed differences on chronology in the gospels deals with the timing of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. Here is a difference often trumpeted forth as a clear error between the Synoptics and John.
Since the Jewish tradition about a travelling rock is clearly a legend—a legend that Paul apparently took to be fact—then we have a real problem, says Enns, for the evangelical view of biblical authority. He puts it bluntly, “no rock moved in the Old Testament, but Paul said one did.”
We might be tempted to despair and think that the church is entering into dark days. But a little historical perspective might be useful here. Truth be told, this is not the first time Christians have received such labels.
Early Christians drew a sharp line between their worship of Jesus and all the other pagan gods of the Greco-Roman world. Jesus was not simply a new addition to a pantheon of gods they already believed in, but was considered to be the only God rightly deserving of worship.
When ancient authors put quill to papyrus (or parchment), we need to remember that they had a limited amount of space, a limited amount of time, a limited number of goals, and often a very specific purpose for which they wrote.
Some students decide (very early on) that the biblical languages are just something to be endured. But behind this “take your medicine” approach to the biblical languages are a couple of assumptions that need to be challenged.