In conversation with Yves Congar’s Tradition and Traditions, John Webster makes the observation that one can describe the Nouvelle Théologie movement as a sort of theological mood or style that is premised on the claim that the distinction between the apostolic and the post-apostolic ought not to be pressed.
In other words, according this theological style, we should not assume much, if any disjunction between the patristic reception of the apostolic witness and the apostolic witness itself.
Now there may be merit to such a view, but of course it implies a very specific sort of theological historiography that is, in principle quite open to question, especially in light of the radical conflict over interpretation of the gospel that is present in the New Testament itself.
However, the question for all of us interested in theological history and the search for a responsible theological method for studying doctrine and the church historically is intimately connected with this issue. What is the nature of the apostolic witness and what is its connection to its ongoing ecclesial reception? How one answers that question will likely be determinative of how one approaches a whole host of ecclesiological and ecumenical issues.