"then wilt thou not be loath to leave this Paradise, but shalt possess a paradise within thee, happier far. Let us descend now therefore from this top of speculation; for the hour precise exacts our parting hence" Paradise Lost, Book XII, lines585-590

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Canon Addendum – Does the Bible deserve a second volume?

I was talking to a priest friend today and he brought up the use of non-biblical readings during the Eucharist. Generally, this isn't something I've seen done much in Episcopal Churches. This is because, no doubt, the Book of Common Prayer doesn't give that as one of the options. It just says that the one or two lessons as appointed are to be read. That the lessons are from the Bible is only implied in the rubrics. No doubt there is likely a rule, rubric or canon somewhere that makes this explicit, but I don't know where it would be off the top of my head. Anyway, as this friend said, he had done it in the past but that one time he had received a very negative reaction from a parishioner and so he had been reluctant to do it again and now is out of the habit.

But anyway, this got us talking about what we might include in a Bible Volume 2. I said I thought Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail should definitely be added to scripture. (Here, a confession; at the Baptist/UCC church I once worked at we did read from King on the Sunday closest to MLK day. As I recall I even preached on it.) So this got us wondering about what criteria we would use to create a Canon Addendum. I think this would be a fun project, and definitely one I'll add to my post-seminary interesting-to-do-list. But I am interested in the input from anyone who might read this as to what readings you would want to put in an expanded canon. Feel free to reply here with your thoughts – I promise I'll give you credit when I write the bookJ

Besides the above mentioned MLK item I would also suggest:
St Patrick's Letter to Coroticus.
In it Patrick speaks passionately of the cost of discipleship and tries to address how we are to live as Christians in a wicked world

Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus. I re-read this regularly and have never come across anything that speaks so powerfully about the nature of faithful, servant leadership

T.S.Eliot's poem The Waste Land. Eliot's great poem is an extended elegy highlighting the futility of human striving


  1. How is it that everything you write about seems to be something being discussed in some forum at my internship site? We were just talking about how the canon was formed and whether or not the canon is truly closed. We've been studying the Bible as "Story", and what it would mean if we truly considered that we were continuing the story.

    What would I add to the Bible? I'm not really sure. Maybe Lewis' "The Last Battle" or "The Great Divorce". Or Shane Claiborne's "The Irresistable Revolution".

  2. Great minds Ken, great minds :)