Allert, Craig D. A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academy, 2007.
This book is about the formation of the New Testament canon. The author does a great job describing the Evangelical movement to set the context of the debates about the authority, inspiration, canonicity and inerrancy of the bible. He basically talks about how the bible came to be formed and looks at the merits of three different theories: 1) the NT was a spontaneous occurrence, 2) the NT was formed in the second century and 3) the NT was formed in the fourth century (p. 41). The differences in these theories can be attributed to the way historical evidence is interpreted (p. 87). The rest of the book analyzes these three theories and concludes that, while we can talk about Scriptures being recognized as authoritative in the first and second centuries, it is anachronistic to talk about a canon in this period. Even in the fourth century, despite the list of Athanasius in the West and Carthage in the East, there was still a lot of fluidity.
One thing that I really liked about this book was the way the author kept interacting with the evidence about the history of the formation of the canon and the implications for today. It is here that I think that a lot of people will have issues with the book, especially chapter 6 entitled “Inspiration and Inerrancy.” There he talks about the problem in defining inerrancy and its relationship with hermeneutics. Since inerrancy is believed to come from the inspiration of bible, and that inspiration refers to the canon, then the question of the canonicity of the bible is an important one. I recommend that you read Peter Enns’ review of this book.
` People should interact with this book, for I think it helps us think about our presuppositions regarding the formation of the canon and what the bible is. This is a short book, nicely written and I recommend it.