Bible Review 5:2, April 1989

Bible Books

The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance

Bruce M. Metzger (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987) 336 pp., $55.00

Metzger’s book on the New Testament canon, with his earlier works on the text and early versions,a completes a trilogy of studies on the formation of the New Testament.

The strength of the book lies in the great amount of historical data it collects into a modest amount of space. The book appears to cover virtually every aspect of the subject one could expect. It also gives the impression that the historica1 data have been looked at afresh. Nothing seems to have been taken from secondary sources. Metzger’s vast knowledge of the manuscript tradition of the New Testament and the ancient versions enriches the material substantially. The book is well written and arranged in such a way as to offer the maximum benefit to the reader.

The Canon of the New Testament is divided into three parts. Part one, an overview of literature published on the subject of canon from the 17th through the 20th centuries, presents a broad, very thorough survey that sometimes resembles a lengthy annotated bibliography. Arranged chronologically and according to the country of each author, the material comes from such major sources as England, Europe and the United States, and from minor sources as well, such as South Africa and Japan.

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