You were responding to a specific post of mine, which referenced a specific essay. Now the essay is certianly part of a larger progam, and there may well have been other contributors, but there were not part of the referenced essay.<quoted text>
Dominic Crossan was another contributer to the PBS special YOU listed, did you not even look at what you referenced? What was your point in listing the contributors, are we supposed to be impressed by their titles?
Please read your own references: look at your reference quotation from Irenaeus and then look at Pagel's supposed quote from Irenaeus in your original post - she misquotes him and states he said "There actually are only four authentic gospels. And this is obviously true because there are four corners of the universe....". It gives a completely different almost "cart before the horse" rationale. But regardless of Irenaeus statements, the point is that the four gospels were the accepted gospels long before Irenaeus made his statement, he is just reflecting that acceptance as he was supporting his arguments against the so called Gnostic gospels that some people were attempting to declare as valid, despite their obvious late writing and deceptive authorship. And again, Pagels is simply showing her bias as she herself is an adherent to the Gnostic ideas.
Well let's see, Elaine Pagel also offers this:
Some of the leaders were concerned to say, "Well, which of these writings can be read in church? Which are the right ones? Which are the best ones?"
Should this be considered a direct quote from unamed sources?
I suspect that Elaine was paraphrasing Irenaeus, and frankly I see little difference in the paraphrase and the actual substance of the true quote.
The stories about Jesus were originally part of an oral tradition that were eventually fashioned into a written narrative as the movement grew. As the movement grew there had to be an authoritative decision for what was official and what was not. It always helps to bolster an argument by declaring the opposing view as heretical (whether in religion or politics).
I fail to see how examining the source and origin of the New Testament books is a threat, but apparently it is to some.