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Without citing any books of the New Testament besides the Gospels as evidence (since that would be self-referential), is there a scriptural basis (either in the Gospels or in the Old Testament) for treating any book of the New Testament besides the Gospels as scripture rather than as supplemental history/commentary/scholarship in the tradition of the Jewish Talmud?

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    Without citing any books of the New Testament besides the epistles of Peter and James as evidence (since that would be self-referential), is there a scriptural basis for treating any books of the New Testament besides the epistles of Peter and James as scripture? (My point is that you've separated the gospels from the other books, without giving a reason for that separation; any other separation would seem equally (un)justified.) – Andreas Blass Apr 20 '15 at 17:42
  • The epistles were written before the gospels, so it makes more sense to me that the gospels may reference them in a roundabout way. As far as I know, however, they do not. – fredsbend Apr 20 '15 at 19:30
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    I drew that distinction on the theory that at least one account of Jesus's life and teachings has to be treated as scripture in order for Christianity to function as a religion (otherwise, what's the point?) - but you could have a Christian faith (albeit a different one) if the rest of the NT were not scriptural. This looks to me to be a similar relationship to that between the Jewish Torah and Talmud - the Torah can still produce a coherent religion without treating the Talmud as an authoritative text (as proven by the Reform Judaism folks), the Talmud without the Torah arguably could not. – Quoi Apr 20 '15 at 21:38
  • @Jeff Actually, all you need to go on is the account of the resurrection, which is referenced (for example) in Acts, or Romans, and perhaps (especially for Catholics) the account of the institution of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians. Acts and 1 Corinthians together could definitely give you a Christian faith. – Matt Gutting Apr 21 '15 at 16:37
  • @MattGutting - So you would argue that all of Jesus' personal teachings prior to the last supper are not foundational to a meaningfully Christian faith? – Quoi Apr 21 '15 at 19:57
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Is there a scriptural basis for treating the non-Gospel books of the New Testament as scripture?

Short answer: yes.

Jesus commissioned 12 of his disciples as 'apostles' and gave them authority to teach. If you accept Jesus' words as scripture (as recorded in the gospels), you should accept the words of his apostles as scripture as well, as He said to them:

18 ...“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20 NIV (emphasis added)

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” - John 20:21 NIV

Jesus specifically authorized His apostles to teach, and to do that in the authority that He Himself had received from His Heavenly Father. For this reason, the early church placed particular importance on what were judged to be authentic writings of the apostles (as well as their companions who were believed to have acted as scribes for them - e.g. Mark and Luke). The gospels themselves actually fit in this category - the early church trusted that the (canonical) gospels were accurate because of their author's apostolic credentials. For this reason, there is no legitimate basis for separating the gospels into a different category of 'scripture' that does not equally apply to the rest of the New Testament1.


1. In broad terms at least. There were some arguments about the authenticity of individual books that later came to be accepted (or excluded) from the New Testament canon. However these arguments centred around whether they were authentic in regards to their apostolic credentials. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antilegomena for further information on these disputes.

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    I think this is an interesting argument, and certainly supports the legitimate role of the apostles as agents in spreading the early Christian faith - but I don't see anything in it to suggest that their personal ideas should be given the same implied weight as what they describe (through the gospels) as Jesus' direct teachings. To draw a different parallel than the Talmud, most of what we have of Socrates we get through Plato - but that does not imply that Socrates would lay claim to all of Plato's own ideas. – Quoi Apr 21 '15 at 19:54
  • Giving the Apostles equal standing with Jesus as teachers also seems a bit awkward in light of Matthew 23:8-12. Any thoughts on that? – Quoi Apr 21 '15 at 20:07
  • That passage is speaking about titles and attitudes - to interpret it as downgrading apostolic authority to teach conflicts with passages of scripture like Matthew 10:40 as well as the ones previously cited. To interpet the epistles as containing the apostles "personal ideas" is incorrect as well - they were men full of the Holy Spirit (that had been promised to them by Jesus) and wrote accordingly. In contrast to the Old Testament period, the Spirit was given to the apostles "without measure", so their authority should certainly not be seen as lower than that of the Old Testament writers. – bruised reed Apr 22 '15 at 6:53

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