The History of the Bible
Authored By:
Sean W. Begle
Forward
The purpose of authoring this book, is to give you the History of the Bible, and to help you to
understand the his...
Introduction
When it comes to the bible, people view the bible in many different ways. They have views on
what it says, an...
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
The purpose of the Bible? page __
Chapter 2
How was the bible put together? page __
Chapter 3
...
Chapter 13
What conflicts does the bible have compared to other religions that people do not accept it
fully? page ___
Cha...
Chapter 1
The purpose of the bible
The purpose of the bible, is to help us to know, and to help us to understand, how to w...
Chapter 2
How was the bible put together?
http://www.nomatterwhatonline.com/origin.htm
The origin of the Bible
Where the b...
His complete and connected thought toward humanity was received/recorded
without error or contradiction -- each word being...
If we examine the word history of our English word "canon" we can understand why this
particular word came to be used to d...
 The Law (also called the Pentateuch or the Torah) consists of the first five books
of the Old Testament (Genesis to Deut...
examples as well.) While there are exceptions, the majority of historical records indicate
remarkable agreement as to the ...
 Origen (185? - 254? A.D.), the foremost Greek Biblical scholar
 Jerome (347 - 420 A.D.), the foremost Latin Biblical sc...
 Origen (185? - 254? A.D.), the foremost Greek Biblical scholar
 Jerome (347 - 420 A.D.), the foremost Latin Biblical sc...
Throughout history, the list of the books of the Hebrew Bible has been recorded by
various figures. These include:
 Philo...
what eventually came to be regarded as the New Testament canon, they were not yet
formally grouped together and designated...
The New Testament
While by its very nature the canonicity of the New Testament cannot carry with it the
endorsement of Jes...
considered authoritative; rather, they simply documented and formalized the list of
books which the early Christian church...
Chapter 3
Who is the bible about?
http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=ab85
The Old Testam...
In the book of Genesis Abraham he is a Patriarch of a tribe that is nomadic. The story it
has him moving through Mesopatam...
God also reveals to Moses the ten commandments. If the Hebrews obey these laws, God
will favour them as his chosen people ...
which completes the Torah each year, is the heart of the liturgy.
After the five books of the Torah, the Old Testament con...
The peak of the Israelite achievement is described in the two books of Samuel. These tell
how the tribes of Israel finally...
The original version shows only the consonants. To help in the study of the Torah,
schools add vowels and accents to give ...
of scribal rewrites, much according to the beliefs of select groups in the early days of
Christianity. It is only by attem...
apostolic tradition, thus forming what we know today as the canonical New Testament.
Although factions of the Church conti...
enjoyed the services of a scribe. When written accounts of Jesus's teachings began to
circulate (i.e., the theoretical "sa...
Sinaiticus, dating back to the middle of the fourth century. The oldest fragments, the
Bodmer and Beatty Papyri and Papyru...
throughout it all, the collection of scripture called the New Testament has remained
unchanged and largely unquestioned, e...
apocalypses, according to what a particular congregation judged as relevant to their
understanding of Jesus Christ and his...
 Gospel of the Hebrews (1, 2, 6, 7)
 Gospel of the Ebionites (1, 2, 6, 7)
 Gospel of the Nazoreans (1, 6, 7)
 Gospel o...
SAYINGS GOSPELS
The format of the sayings gospel is derived from Jewish Wisdom literature, and seeks to
preserve not an hi...
 Letter to the Hebrews (canon)
 Letter of James (canon)
 First Letter of Peter (canon)
 Second Letter of Peter (canon)...
 Apocalypse of Peter (Gnostic) (3)
 Apocalypse of Paul (Visio Pauli) (2, 6)
 Apocalypse of Paul (Gnostic) (3)
 Book of...
Chapter 4
Why sometimes is the bible taken out of context?
The reason why sometimes the bible, is taken out of context, is...
the passage is in. Forth is the teaching of the rest of the Bible. "Do not accept anything
heard nor written until you hav...
Those who are pleading with God for a baptism with fire might reconsider if they connect
this verse with the one following...
Sometimes a doctrine is just partially covered in one book of the Bible and must be
compared with another to get a full un...
If all of these aspects of context are carefully kept in mind when interpreting the Bible, a
much more accurate knowledge ...
Chapter 5
Can we live by every word of the bible?
When it comes to the word of God, the question is Can we live by every w...
Where, then, do you find the laws of morality? How do you determine what is right and
what is wrong? Has our Creator revea...
concepts. For example, Isaiah 40:26 says it is God who creates the universe. He holds the
stars together by His power and ...
The oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job, pre-dates Christ by about two thousand
years. Yet Job 26:7 says, "He hangs ...
The Bible includes supportive information to establish the credibility of the miracles it
records. For example, Scripture ...
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The history of the bible

  1. 1. The History of the Bible Authored By: Sean W. Begle
  2. 2. Forward The purpose of authoring this book, is to give you the History of the Bible, and to help you to understand the history, of how and also on how the bible came to be. I believe in the bible, and that yes it is the true and living word of God. Being that it is the true and the living word of God, there is nothing that can be added to the bible, and there is nothing that can be taken away from the bible. It is my hope that as you read this book, titled as The History of the Bible you will come to know the truth of what it is, how it is, and why it came to be. This book is going to be a very lengthy book, but I know you will get something out from it. Do not try to read this book, all at one time, but read what you can, and learn from the history of the bible, as much as you can, and take from it whatever you learn from it, as much as you can learn, and get an understanding of the information, I have provided to you, and provided for you. I hope you will find this book of interest, and that you will enjoy learning what you learn.I hope this book will help you to see the truth of Gods word, and why Gods word is so important. Not only important to you, but also important for you as well. May God bless you as you seek to know about his great big book, and may you see and understand the importance of how great and powerful the word of God really is. I hope this book will be a blessing to you as you come to know the word of God, which is the truth of God. The Author Sean W. Begle 6/6/2013
  3. 3. Introduction When it comes to the bible, people view the bible in many different ways. They have views on what it says, and why it says what it says. Some people they look at the bible as just being a book. Some people they look at the bible as being a book, that is full of fairy-tales, a book that is meaningless, a book that was without purpose, when it was written, they look it the bible as just being a book that has no purpose at all. But the bible it is the word of God, and it will always be the word of God. The bible, it is not a book that is full of fairy-tales, the bible it is not a book that is meaningless, the bible is not a book without purpose. The bible it is the true, the living, and the holy word of God. The bible is the best book, the greatest book that, was ever written. We can depend in the bible, we can depend on the bible, we can trust in the bible, and we can trust on the bible. The word of God will never fail, and it cannot ever be changed. What is in the bible is in there, to teach us how to talk, to teach us how to walk and to teach us how to live.
  4. 4. Table of Contents Chapter 1 The purpose of the Bible? page __ Chapter 2 How was the bible put together? page __ Chapter 3 Who is the bible about? Chapter 4 Why sometimes is the bible taken out of context? page _ Chapter 5 Can we live by every word page ___ Chapter 6 The Bible from Genesis- Revelation page __ Chapter 7 Do other parts in the bible apply to us today? page ? Chapter 8 Why do people misuse the text of the bible? page ___ Chapter 9 Why are there some things in the bible we understand and some things that we do not? page ___ Chapter 10 Can the things in the bible we do not understand be understood? page ___ Chapter 11 Which bibles are of better quality that are more easy to understand? page ___ Chapter 12 Why do some people not accept the bible? page ____
  5. 5. Chapter 13 What conflicts does the bible have compared to other religions that people do not accept it fully? page ___ Chapter 14 Why is the bible such a big book? page ___ Chapter 15 How can we live according to the bible? page __ Chapter 16 Is Everything in the bible true? page __ Conclusion Sources of info About Me- The Author
  6. 6. Chapter 1 The purpose of the bible The purpose of the bible, is to help us to know, and to help us to understand, how to walk, how to talk, and how to live. The purpose of the bible it was written to instruct us, and to teach us what is right, and what is wrong. To help us to know and understand what is right, and to know, and to understand what is wrong. The purpose of the bible it was written, for us to know, and to understand, what God expects of us, and why God expects of us, and from us what he expects. It was written to show us the way of God, and the way of Jesus Christ. To show us, what to do, to teach us what to do, to show us, what not to do, and to teach us whatt not to do. To teach us in the ways that are good, and to teach us in the ways that arte bad. The things we should do, and the things, that we should not do.
  7. 7. Chapter 2 How was the bible put together? http://www.nomatterwhatonline.com/origin.htm The origin of the Bible Where the bible came from? In answering the question How the bible was put together? As you have noted,and if you are paying attention in the starting chapter of chapter two of this book I have used the website address http://www.nomatterwhatonline.com/origin.htm as you see above. So what it is that I am going to do here in this chapter, is I am not going to copy straight, what this says but I am going to try to put this, in my own words, and I am going to try, and break this down for you the best way, that I can. In this chapter which is Chapter 2, we are dealing with How the bible was put together. We do however have a different title that is on this, even though this chapter here, even though it has not been renamed, and even though it is titled differntly from the question, that is being asked in this chapter. But we will still be addressing the same thing as we go along with this, and what is being presented. So as we deal with How the bible was put together we first have the origin of the bible which in this is titled Where the bible came from? Many people they are unaware of just how we came to have the bible as we have it today. An understanding of the bible, and understanding of how the bible, how it came to be it can add a new dimension, to the perspective of a believer of who it is that God is, and how he has chosen to work upon his creation. The writings which were eventually gathered together, and came to be known as the Holy Bible, they were written over a period of 1,500 years. Written by more then 40 differerent authors that were living on three continents Asia, Africa and Europe. While the text of the bible, while the text iself was penned by the hands, of the various human authors, the ultimately divine origin of scripture, is testified to numerous times within the text itself and has repeatedly confirmed througout history, by its steadfast integrity, and reliability. Based upon the textual evidence, to key doctrines may be discerned. (Note 1) 1. Doctrine of Revelation The Doctrine of Revelation this addresses the means by which God, the means by which he reveals truth unto his people. Revelation it may be defined as "A supernatural work of God in which He communicated divine truth to human beings that they otherwise would not or could not know. 2. The Doctrine of inspiration The Doctrine of inspiration this doctrine addresses This addresses the means by which the writers of Scripture received and recorded God's truths accurately. Inspiration may be defined as "The supernatural act of God whereby He so directed human authors of Scripture that, without destroying their individuality, literary style, or personality,
  8. 8. His complete and connected thought toward humanity was received/recorded without error or contradiction -- each word being supernaturally written and preserved so as to result in an infallible document in the original writings". But how did the original writings penned by so many different people over such a long period of time come to be grouped together as the Bible we know today? And how certain are we that the documents we have today are accurate copies of what was originally written? The sections which follow attempt to answer these questions by tracing the development of the group of writings now known as the Bible. When reffering to the books, that are of the Christian Bible the word 'canon' is often used (as in "the Canon of Scripture"). According to the American Heritage Dictionary [Note 3], canon may be defined as "the books of the Bible officially accepted as holy scripture". If we examine the word history of our English word "canon" we can understand why this particular word came to be used to denote the list of Biblical writings. Our English word evolved (via Latin) from the Greek word "kanon" which itself evolved from the Hebrew word "qaneh". This Hebrew word referred to a "reed". Reeds were used in ancient times as measuring devices (like we use a ruler today); hence, the Hebrew word suggested something to measure with or a standard by which to compare other things. The Greek word "'kanon" then took on the meaning of a "rule" or "standard". Origen (the Greek church father) used this word to refer to "the standard by which we measure and evaluate everything that may be offered to us as an article of belief". Thus, the "Canon of Scripture" came to mean the list of Biblical writings used by Christians as the standard by which we evaluate our beliefs. Since the canon of Scripture as we know it today has not always existed, where did it come from? And how do we know that the copies we have today accurately represent what was originally recorded by the authors of scripture? Fair questions for anyone considering the Christian faith - and questions Christians would do well to answer for themselves in order solidify the foundation of their own personal beliefs. The canonicity of a book (that is, its right to be part of the canon) is dependent upon its recognized authority. This is important to understanding the canon of Scripture:  Many people think the books are considered authoritative because they are included in the Bible; the historical truth is the opposite; they are included in the Bible because they are considered authoritative. The canon of Scripture is the result of the collecting together of the various writings which Christians of previous times recognized as authoritative. Who was it that collected the writings together, and what basis did they have for considering them authoritative? To answer these questions, it is best to consider the two testaments separately. the word 'canon' is often used (as in "the Canon of Scripture"). According to the American Heritage Dictionary [Note 3], canon may be defined as "the books of the Bible officially accepted as holy scripture".
  9. 9. If we examine the word history of our English word "canon" we can understand why this particular word came to be used to denote the list of Biblical writings. Our English word evolved (via Latin) from the Greek word "kanon" which itself evolved from the Hebrew word "qaneh". This Hebrew word referred to a "reed". Reeds were used in ancient times as measuring devices (like we use a ruler today); hence, the Hebrew word suggested something to measure with or a standard by which to compare other things. The Greek word "'kanon" then took on the meaning of a "rule" or "standard". Origen (the Greek church father) used this word to refer to "the standard by which we measure and evaluate everything that may be offered to us as an article of belief". Thus, the "Canon of Scripture" came to mean the list of Biblical writings used by Christians as the standard by which we evaluate our beliefs. Since the canon of Scripture as we know it today has not always existed, where did it come from? And how do we know that the copies we have today accurately represent what was originally recorded by the authors of scripture? Fair questions for anyone considering the Christian faith - and questions Christians would do well to answer for themselves in order solidify the foundation of their own personal beliefs. The canonicity of a book (that is, its right to be part of the canon) is dependent upon its recognized authority. This is important to understanding the canon of Scripture:  Many people think the books are considered authoritative because they are included in the Bible; the historical truth is the opposite; they are included in the Bible because they are considered authoritative. The canon of Scripture is the result of the collecting together of the various writings which Christians of previous times recognized as authoritative. Who was it that collected the writings together, and what basis did they have for considering them authoritative? To answer these questions, it is best to consider the two testaments separately. The Old Testament The section which follows attempts to summarize the development of the Old Testament canon and its basis of validity. At the beginning, however, it is worth noting that for Christians the canonicity of the Old Testament carries with it the highest stamp of approval possible - the acceptance of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament of today is what made up the entire Bible of those living at the time of Jesus (since the New Testament had not yet been written). While Jesus often criticized many of the traditions of the Jews of that time, he never criticized the validity of their scriptures; in fact, his greatest criticisms pointed out that the Jewish traditions often conflicted with the truths espoused in their scriptures. For a Christian today, the simple fact that Jesus himself accepted the validity of the Old Testament canon is sufficient reason for accepting it ourselves. The Hebrew Bible (used during the time of Jesus and still used by Orthodox Jews today) is commonly referred to as having three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. This division is based on the organization of the Hebrew Bible which is somewhat different from the Christian Bible we have today.
  10. 10.  The Law (also called the Pentateuch or the Torah) consists of the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis to Deuteronomy). This section is referred to as the Law because it contains the laws for the nation of Israel as laid down by God through the prophet Moses.  The Prophets consists of the books of Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and the prophet books Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve Prophets.  The Writings consists of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, I & II Chronicles. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible consists of the same writings as those listed above - they are simply included in a different order than that of the Hebrew Bible. The English Christian Bible took its arrangement from the Latin Bible (called the Vulgate) which, in turn, took its arrangement from the Greek Bible (referred to as the Septuagint). Few debate that during the time of Jesus the books contained in the first two sections (the Law and the Prophets) contained the same books as contained in the Hebrew Bible today. More conjecture has been associated with the third section - the Writings. It is most likely, however, that this section, too, contained the same books as contained in today's Hebrew Bible. When Jesus was summarizing the martyrs of the Old Testament he used the expression "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah". It is clear why Abel would be considered the first martyr in the Bible (Genesis), but why would Jesus refer to Zechariah as the last? Because in the Hebrew Bible (both of Jesus' time and of today) the last book is 2 Chronicles and there Zechariah is the last martyr to be named (2 Chronicles 24:21). Hence, Jesus was summarizing the whole of the Old Testament scriptures when he summarized Abel to Zechariah. Throughout history, the list of the books of the Hebrew Bible has been recorded by various figures. These include:  Philo (20? B.C. - 50 A.D.), the learned Jew of Alexandria and a contemporary of Jesus  Josephus (37 or 38 - 101? A.D.), the non-Christian Jewish historian  Melito (about 170 A.D.), the bishop of Sartis  Origen (185? - 254? A.D.), the foremost Greek Biblical scholar  Jerome (347 - 420 A.D.), the foremost Latin Biblical scholar While the lists generated throughout history have sometimes differed in the total number of books they contained, most scholars attribute the difference to various ways in which the lists' authors grouped the books together. (For example, Ezra and Nehemiah were sometimes considered as a single book rather than two separate books. Likewise, Lamentations has sometimes been considered an appendix to Jeremiah. There are other
  11. 11. examples as well.) While there are exceptions, the majority of historical records indicate remarkable agreement as to the content of the Hebrew canon (the Christian Old Testament). The Hebrew Bible (used during the time of Jesus and still used by Orthodox Jews today) is commonly referred to as having three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. This division is based on the organization of the Hebrew Bible which is somewhat different from the Christian Bible we have today.  The Law (also called the Pentateuch or the Torah) consists of the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis to Deuteronomy). This section is referred to as the Law because it contains the laws for the nation of Israel as laid down by God through the prophet Moses.  The Prophets consists of the books of Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and the prophet books Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve Prophets.  The Writings consists of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, I & II Chronicles. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible consists of the same writings as those listed above - they are simply included in a different order than that of the Hebrew Bible. The English Christian Bible took its arrangement from the Latin Bible (called the Vulgate) which, in turn, took its arrangement from the Greek Bible (referred to as the Septuagint). Few debate that during the time of Jesus the books contained in the first two sections (the Law and the Prophets) contained the same books as contained in the Hebrew Bible today. More conjecture has been associated with the third section - the Writings. It is most likely, however, that this section, too, contained the same books as contained in today's Hebrew Bible. When Jesus was summarizing the martyrs of the Old Testament he used the expression "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah". It is clear why Abel would be considered the first martyr in the Bible (Genesis), but why would Jesus refer to Zechariah as the last? Because in the Hebrew Bible (both of Jesus' time and of today) the last book is 2 Chronicles and there Zechariah is the last martyr to be named (2 Chronicles 24:21). Hence, Jesus was summarizing the whole of the Old Testament scriptures when he summarized Abel to Zechariah. Throughout history, the list of the books of the Hebrew Bible has been recorded by various figures. These include:  Philo (20? B.C. - 50 A.D.), the learned Jew of Alexandria and a contemporary of Jesus  Josephus (37 or 38 - 101? A.D.), the non-Christian Jewish historian  Melito (about 170 A.D.), the bishop of Sartis
  12. 12.  Origen (185? - 254? A.D.), the foremost Greek Biblical scholar  Jerome (347 - 420 A.D.), the foremost Latin Biblical scholar The Hebrew Bible (used during the time of Jesus and still used by Orthodox Jews today) is commonly referred to as having three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. This division is based on the organization of the Hebrew Bible which is somewhat different from the Christian Bible we have today.  The Law (also called the Pentateuch or the Torah) consists of the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis to Deuteronomy). This section is referred to as the Law because it contains the laws for the nation of Israel as laid down by God through the prophet Moses.  The Prophets consists of the books of Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and the prophet books Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve Prophets.  The Writings consists of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, I & II Chronicles. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible consists of the same writings as those listed above - they are simply included in a different order than that of the Hebrew Bible. The English Christian Bible took its arrangement from the Latin Bible (called the Vulgate) which, in turn, took its arrangement from the Greek Bible (referred to as the Septuagint). Few debate that during the time of Jesus the books contained in the first two sections (the Law and the Prophets) contained the same books as contained in the Hebrew Bible today. More conjecture has been associated with the third section - the Writings. It is most likely, however, that this section, too, contained the same books as contained in today's Hebrew Bible. When Jesus was summarizing the martyrs of the Old Testament he used the expression "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah". It is clear why Abel would be considered the first martyr in the Bible (Genesis), but why would Jesus refer to Zechariah as the last? Because in the Hebrew Bible (both of Jesus' time and of today) the last book is 2 Chronicles and there Zechariah is the last martyr to be named (2 Chronicles 24:21). Hence, Jesus was summarizing the whole of the Old Testament scriptures when he summarized Abel to Zechariah. Throughout history, the list of the books of the Hebrew Bible has been recorded by various figures. These include:  Philo (20? B.C. - 50 A.D.), the learned Jew of Alexandria and a contemporary of Jesus  Josephus (37 or 38 - 101? A.D.), the non-Christian Jewish historian  Melito (about 170 A.D.), the bishop of Sartis
  13. 13.  Origen (185? - 254? A.D.), the foremost Greek Biblical scholar  Jerome (347 - 420 A.D.), the foremost Latin Biblical scholar While the lists generated throughout history have sometimes differed in the total number of books they contained, most scholars attribute the difference to various ways in which the lists' authors grouped the books together. (For example, Ezra and Nehemiah were sometimes considered as a single book rather than two separate books. Likewise, Lamentations has sometimes been considered an appendix to Jeremiah. There are other examples as well.) While there are exceptions, the majority of historical records indicate remarkable agreement as to the content of the Hebrew canon (the Christian Old Testament). The Hebrew Bible (used during the time of Jesus and still used by Orthodox Jews today) is commonly referred to as having three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. This division is based on the organization of the Hebrew Bible which is somewhat different from the Christian Bible we have today.  The Law (also called the Pentateuch or the Torah) consists of the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis to Deuteronomy). This section is referred to as the Law because it contains the laws for the nation of Israel as laid down by God through the prophet Moses.  The Prophets consists of the books of Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and the prophet books Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve Prophets.  The Writings consists of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, I & II Chronicles. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible consists of the same writings as those listed above - they are simply included in a different order than that of the Hebrew Bible. The English Christian Bible took its arrangement from the Latin Bible (called the Vulgate) which, in turn, took its arrangement from the Greek Bible (referred to as the Septuagint). Few debate that during the time of Jesus the books contained in the first two sections (the Law and the Prophets) contained the same books as contained in the Hebrew Bible today. More conjecture has been associated with the third section - the Writings. It is most likely, however, that this section, too, contained the same books as contained in today's Hebrew Bible. When Jesus was summarizing the martyrs of the Old Testament he used the expression "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah". It is clear why Abel would be considered the first martyr in the Bible (Genesis), but why would Jesus refer to Zechariah as the last? Because in the Hebrew Bible (both of Jesus' time and of today) the last book is 2 Chronicles and there Zechariah is the last martyr to be named (2 Chronicles 24:21). Hence, Jesus was summarizing the whole of the Old Testament scriptures when he summarized Abel to Zechariah.
  14. 14. Throughout history, the list of the books of the Hebrew Bible has been recorded by various figures. These include:  Philo (20? B.C. - 50 A.D.), the learned Jew of Alexandria and a contemporary of Jesus  Josephus (37 or 38 - 101? A.D.), the non-Christian Jewish historian  Melito (about 170 A.D.), the bishop of Sartis  Origen (185? - 254? A.D.), the foremost Greek Biblical scholar  Jerome (347 - 420 A.D.), the foremost Latin Biblical scholar While the lists generated throughout history have sometimes differed in the total number of books they contained, most scholars attribute the difference to various ways in which the lists' authors grouped the books together. (For example, Ezra and Nehemiah were sometimes considered as a single book rather than two separate books. Likewise, Lamentations has sometimes been considered an appendix to Jeremiah. There are other examples as well.) While there are exceptions, the majority of historical records indicate remarkable agreement as to the content of the Hebrew canon (the Christian Old Testament). The New Testament While by its very nature the canonicity of the New Testament cannot carry with it the endorsement of Jesus Christ as does the Old (since it was not written until after his death and resurrection), there is nonetheless ample substantiation of the recognized authority of the New Testament books. The New Testament consists of 27 books (or letters) which, for the most part, were written prior to the start of the second century (100 A.D.). The first four (the Gospels) contain written accounts of the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. The books which follow interpret Jesus' teaching and explain how to apply it to daily life. It would appear that until about 50-60 A.D. there was no need for a written account of the Gospel. This is because the eyewitnesses were still living who could pass on the information first-hand. However, since the apostles were to grow old and pass away like everybody else, it later became necessary to have written accounts of the life of Jesus so that the facts would not get distorted with the passage of time. As a result, certain of the apostles and their associates penned the accounts we now have included as the four gospels. Towards the end of the first century, it appears the four gospel accounts were gathered together into a single collection called "The Gospel". (The various accounts were distinguished by adding According to Matthew, According to Mark, etc.) At roughly the same time the letters written by the apostle Paul were also gathered together into a collection referred to as "The Apostle". While these collections represent the beginning of
  15. 15. what eventually came to be regarded as the New Testament canon, they were not yet formally grouped together and designated as such. In about 140 A.D., a man named Marcion arrived in Rome and began preaching a distorted version of the teachings included in The Gospel and The Apostle. This movement grew to such an extent that the Christian church leaders saw the necessity to more clearly formalize the distinction between what was and was not authoritative scripture. This led to the formalization of the list of writings considered authoritative by the Christian church (the New Testament canon). Factors which the early church used in deciding whether a book was to be regarded as canonical included:  Apostolic Authorship - Was the letter written by one of Jesus' apostles or one of their close associates?  Authoritative Recognition - Was the book generally regarded by the various congregations of the early church as authoritative?  Doctrinal Soundness - Were the teachings of the book in keeping with the apostolic faith? It is important to note that when putting together the list of authoritative books, the church leaders did not arbitrarily generate a list of books that henceforth would be considered authoritative; rather, they simply documented and formalized the list of books which the early Christian church already considered authoritative. As with the Old Testament, the list of canonical New Testament books has been recorded and re-recorded throughout the course of history by several notable figures, including:  Origen (see above)  Eusebius, Pope from 309-310 A.D. The first known list which includes the 27 books which Christians recognize today appeared in the Festal Letter written by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, to the churches when announcing the date of Easter in 367 A.D. Later, Jerome and Augustine produced canonical lists containing the same 27 books. In summary, the New Testament canon was not produced by the simple decree of any church governing body. Rather, like the Old Testament, the New Testament took shape over a period of time as the oral teachings of the original apostles were written down and distributed among the early Christian churches. The early church then documented and formalized the already recognized list of authoritative writings in order to prevent the distortion of the truth over the passage of time.
  16. 16. The New Testament While by its very nature the canonicity of the New Testament cannot carry with it the endorsement of Jesus Christ as does the Old (since it was not written until after his death and resurrection), there is nonetheless ample substantiation of the recognized authority of the New Testament books. The New Testament consists of 27 books (or letters) which, for the most part, were written prior to the start of the second century (100 A.D.). The first four (the Gospels) contain written accounts of the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. The books which follow interpret Jesus' teaching and explain how to apply it to daily life. It would appear that until about 50-60 A.D. there was no need for a written account of the Gospel. This is because the eyewitnesses were still living who could pass on the information first-hand. However, since the apostles were to grow old and pass away like everybody else, it later became necessary to have written accounts of the life of Jesus so that the facts would not get distorted with the passage of time. As a result, certain of the apostles and their associates penned the accounts we now have included as the four gospels. Towards the end of the first century, it appears the four gospel accounts were gathered together into a single collection called "The Gospel". (The various accounts were distinguished by adding According to Matthew, According to Mark, etc.) At roughly the same time the letters written by the apostle Paul were also gathered together into a collection referred to as "The Apostle". While these collections represent the beginning of what eventually came to be regarded as the New Testament canon, they were not yet formally grouped together and designated as such. In about 140 A.D., a man named Marcion arrived in Rome and began preaching a distorted version of the teachings included in The Gospel and The Apostle. This movement grew to such an extent that the Christian church leaders saw the necessity to more clearly formalize the distinction between what was and was not authoritative scripture. This led to the formalization of the list of writings considered authoritative by the Christian church (the New Testament canon). Factors which the early church used in deciding whether a book was to be regarded as canonical included:  Apostolic Authorship - Was the letter written by one of Jesus' apostles or one of their close associates?  Authoritative Recognition - Was the book generally regarded by the various congregations of the early church as authoritative?  Doctrinal Soundness - Were the teachings of the book in keeping with the apostolic faith? It is important to note that when putting together the list of authoritative books, the church leaders did not arbitrarily generate a list of books that henceforth would be
  17. 17. considered authoritative; rather, they simply documented and formalized the list of books which the early Christian church already considered authoritative. As with the Old Testament, the list of canonical New Testament books has been recorded and re-recorded throughout the course of history by several notable figures, including:  Origen (see above)  Eusebius, Pope from 309-310 A.D. The first known list which includes the 27 books which Christians recognize today appeared in the Festal Letter written by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, to the churches when announcing the date of Easter in 367 A.D. Later, Jerome and Augustine produced canonical lists containing the same 27 books. In summary, the New Testament canon was not produced by the simple decree of any church governing body. Rather, like the Old Testament, the New Testament took shape over a period of time as the oral teachings of the original apostles were written down and distributed among the early Christian churches. The early church then documented and formalized the already recognized list of authoritative writings in order to prevent the distortion of the truth over the passage of time. Notes From the chapter titled "Three Gates That Open the Scriptures” in the study guide A Look at the Book: A Bible Survey, co-authored by Lee Hough and Bryce Klabunde, from the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll (Fullerton, California: Insight for Living, 1994), pp. 1-10. F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments: How We Got Our English Bible, pp. 86- 104. Used by permission of Baker Book House Company, Copyright © 1950, 1963, 1984 by Fleming H. Revell. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company. (See Site Links Page) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company, see "canon."
  18. 18. Chapter 3 Who is the bible about? http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=ab85 The Old Testament In answering the question for this chapter, which is Chapter 3, as you have noticed I have used the web address above to help with this chapter. As we look at the question for this chapter here, the first thing that we are going to focus upon is the Old Testament. And after focusing on the Old Testament, we are going to use another source for the New Testament. So what it is that I am going to do here is help you to understand the Old Testament, so that you can understand the New Testament. So in addressing both the Old and New Testament there are two sources I am going to use. And when I get to that second source that I am going to use I will give that to you also, as I given it to you for the Old Testament. The bible is from biblos the word biblos it means in the Greek Language for the word book. The bible from Biblos (The Greek word for book) it is the basis, of two great religions, and those religions they are Judaism in the Old Testament, and Christianity in the New Testament. In each case it brings together, a book of documents, to tell the story of the founders, and of the early followers, of the religion. And so in doing it also, explains their beliefs. The conventional sources of evidence that is historical, evidence (archaeological remains, written documents) provide few traces of the Old Testament story and none at all of the events described in the New Testament. Yet in the Bible the early Jews and Christians provide an account of themselves which is unparalleled, among religious groups of those times, in its wealth of detail. The books that are off the Jewish bible they are believed, to have been written over several centuries, beginning in the 10th century BC - by which time the Hebrews are settled in Canaan, or Palestine. But in many parts the scribes are writing down a much older oral tradition. It is thought that some of the events described may go back as far as the 18th century BC. The holiest part of the bible, that is for the Jews it is the first five books, known as the torah ('instruction' or 'law' in Hebrew). In non-Jewish sources these books are sometimes called the Pentateuch ('five scrolls' in Greek, from a translation done in Alexandria). Genesis it is the first book of the Torah and it begins, with a resolutely monotheistic story of the creation and goes on to provide a series of myths which can be echoed in other religions - the fall of man into a state of sin through disobedience (Adam and Eve eating the apple), a great flood which sweeps away the whole of sinful mankind except for one small group of survivors (Noah and his family), and the emergence of different languages (God's punishment for man's presumption in building the mighty tower of Babel, which almost reaches to heaven). With the entry of Abraham, Genesis reaches the story of the Bible's own people, the Hebrews. Abrahams People: 18-13th Century BC
  19. 19. In the book of Genesis Abraham he is a Patriarch of a tribe that is nomadic. The story it has him moving through Mesopatamia (from Ur to Harran) and then down into Canaan - a land which, God promises, his descendants will inherit. Many tribes they move with their flock, they move among the settled cities of Mesopotamia and Phoenicia. No doubt several, from time to time, have charismatic leaders long remembered by their descendants. There is no reason to doubt that a figure such as Abraham exists, and scholars put his likely date at about 1800 BC. What makes him significant is the idea of his pact with God, by which God will help Abraham's people in return for their fulfilling God's law. This is the covenant at the heart of the story of the Hebrews. Abraham his grandson, who was Jacob, whose story provides the origin of the tribal division of the Hebrews. When God renews the covenant with Jacob he gives him a new name, Israel. Jacob eventually has twelve sons, from each of whom a tribe descends - the twelve tribes of Israel. In Genesis the sons that are of Jacob causes his family to move to Egypt - first by selling one of their number (Joseph) into slavery there, and then by moving south themselves in a time of famine. People called habiru feature in Egyptian records. They have been identified by some scholars with the Hebrews, but there is no firm evidence to prove the link. Moses and the Exodus In Exodus, which is the second book of the Torah, the religious identity of the Hebrew tribes, is firmly established through the leadership, and through the the leadership and inspiration of Moses - as he brings them north towards Canaan, escaping from a state of slavery in Egypt. It is to Moses that God he reveals his name from the burning bush. In God speaking to Moses from the burning bush this is what God said to Moses. Here God says to Moses (putting this in my own words) that I am who I am. Going back to the page I am going to put it the way it is on the page and this is now how the page reads, this is what it says. so let me restate it according to the web page I am coming from I am just going to give you the rest of the information off of this page, since I mainly have already started with putting it together in my own words, so now I am going to give you the rest of this page text. So to continue when God speaks to Moses out of the Burning Bush here is how it went down and then as we get off of Moses we will continue with this It is to Moses that God reveals his name (from the burning bush), saying 'I Am Who I Am'. This gives him a name written with four Hebrew letters, YHWH, meaning 'He Who Is'. God's name is later considered too holy to be spoken, but with its vowels added it is Yahweh. In Christian versions of the Old Testament it becomes written as Jehovah.
  20. 20. God also reveals to Moses the ten commandments. If the Hebrews obey these laws, God will favour them as his chosen people and will bring them into the promised land of Canaan. This pact is a renewal and development of the long-standing covenant between God and the Hebrews. It now becomes literally the centrepiece of the Hebrew religion. God, in Exodus, tells Moses to engrave the laws upon two tablets of stone and to place them in a wooden chest covered in pure gold. This chest is the ark of the covenant. As the most sacred object of the Hebrew cult, it will eventually be housed in the inner sanctuary of the temple at Jerusalem. In Exodus and the three remaining books of the Torah, the Hebrews are wandering in the Sinai desert under the leadership of Moses and of his elder brother Aaron, later seen as the prototype of the Hebrew priesthood. The third book, Leviticus, is priestly material - largely given over to listing the proper details of ritual and sacrifice. The fourth, Numbers, describes something of the social and political structure of the tribes on the slow journey north towards the promised land. Deuteronomy is an amplification of God's law for his people. At the end of Deuteronomy Moses glimpses the land promised by God to Abraham, but dies before he can enter it. The Torah: 1000-400 BC The five books of the Torah, made up of passages composed at various times from the reign of David onwards, are amalgamated and amplified by the priests in about 400 BC. They attribute all five books to Moses, inspired by God. The underlying purpose of the priests is to reinforce the identity of the Jewish community after the return to Jerusalem. In this they succeed beyond all possible expectation. The Torah becomes, and remains today, the centre of Judaism. The most sacred part of a synagogue is the ark containing the Scrolls of the Law. Reading from them, in a cycle
  21. 21. which completes the Torah each year, is the heart of the liturgy. After the five books of the Torah, the Old Testament consists of material which can be classed in three categories. There are historical books, continuing the story of the children of Israel; prophetic books, in which the prophets (in effect preachers) castigate the Israelites for their sins and warn them of the wrath of God to come; and poetic works, ranging from the devotional (Psalms) to the more literary (Song of Solomon). In Jewish Bibles the warnings of the prophets are interspersed with the history, of which they are indeed an important part. In the Christian arrangement the prophets are kept to the end, after the poetic books. Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings: 11th - 8th century BC The historical books of the Bible begin with two, Joshua and Judges, which describe the attempts of the Hebrews to enter the promised land. In spite of the resounding story about the walls of Jericho falling down when Joshua (the chosen successor of Moses) marches round them, the texts make it plain that the move into Canaan is a long and fiercely contested process - with the various tribes achieving their own small victories and glorying in their own local heroes. The most famous of these heroes is Samson, a great slayer of the people who are the Hebrews' main rivals for this land of milk and honey. They are The Philistines.
  22. 22. The peak of the Israelite achievement is described in the two books of Samuel. These tell how the tribes of Israel finally unite against the Philistines. Samuel, a combination of priest, prophet, soldier and politician, anoints Saul as king and thus creates the Israelite monarchy. Saul's success is limited, and it is not until the throne has been usurped by David that the monarchy in Israel is secure. It then seems to go into a steady decline, from Solomon onwards (as described in Kings). Even so, David's dynasty will rule for 400 years. And moral decline has certain attractions, as a theme, for the stern prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel: 8th - 6th century BC The message of the prophets is a constant one. The threats facing Israel are the direct result of the failure of the people and of their rulers to live according to God's commandments. The disasters, when they come, will be God's punishment. But by the same token there is hope. The Israelites are, after all, his chosen people. If they repent and mend their ways, he will again protect them. Among the three major prophets, Isaiah preaches in the 8th century when the threat is from Assyria; Jeremiah pronounces doom in the early 6th century, when the enemy is Babylon; and Ezekiel, in exile, comments a few years later on the same disasters, after Jerusalem has fallen to the Babylonians. A variable text: from the 5th century BC After the return from Babylon the priests in Jerusalem are determined to establish a definitive text of the Bible. Scrolls are exhibited in the Temple forecourt, against which other manuscripts can be checked and corrected. Yet over the centuries the text becomes increasingly subject to change for a purely practical reason.
  23. 23. The original version shows only the consonants. To help in the study of the Torah, schools add vowels and accents to give assistance when reading aloud. This allows ample opportunity for variations to creep in. Masoretic text: 9th century AD The problem is not finally resolved until a major effort in the 9th century AD by Jewish scholars in Jerusalem and in Baghdad (the successor city to Babylon) results at last in consensus. Their agreed Hebrew Bible becomes the standard for all subsequent manuscript copies, and thereafter for printed versions. As guardians of the biblical text these scholars are called Masoretes. The authorized version is known as the Masoretic text. Meanwhile the Hebrew Bible becomes the first body of sacred scripture to be translated - in the form of the Septuagint, for the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria. And it acquires a new and influential identity as the Old Testament, prefacing the New Testament of the Christians. What is the bible about? The New Testament http://www.maplenet.net/~trowbridge/NT_Hist.htm Introduction A Brief History of the New Testament In the two thousand years since the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the world of Christendom has seen incredible changes, including a split with the Eastern Orthodox Church and a Protestant Reformation, accompanied by a rejection of much core ideology. Yet throughout it all, the collection of scripture called the New Testament has remained unchanged and largely unquestioned, even though it was assembled by the same church leaders whose beliefs many now refute. To challenge the veracity of the canonical New Testament is, at best, an uncomfortable position; such questions strike at the very heart of most Christians' faith. Nevertheless, these sacred writings have come to us only after decades of oral traditions and centuries
  24. 24. of scribal rewrites, much according to the beliefs of select groups in the early days of Christianity. It is only by attempting to study the origins and evolution of the New Testament scriptures that one can hope to discover the true historical Jesus—a worthy goal of any Christian believer. The source texts: Sifting through the scores of different English versions of the New Testament, one is poignantly reminded of how translation, particularly of archaic language, is subject to personal interpretation. It is therefore vitally important that we get as close to the original source as possible. The oldest surviving complete text of the New Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus, dating back to the middle of the fourth century. The oldest fragments, the Bodmer and Beatty Papyri and Papyrus 52, date back to the second century but only contain bits of the Gospel of John. All of these texts are Greek. This presents a few disturbing problems. First, Jesus's native tongue was Aramaic, and even if he knew Greek, he certainly did not speak it to his apostles, many of whom were uneducated fishermen. Without any surviving Aramaic texts, the actual words of Christ are lost forever, mired in a sea of subjective translation by ancient scribes. Second, we are faced with a gap of as much as three hundred years between the composition of a text and our surviving copies. In a world without a printing press, texts would often undergo drastic evolution through centuries of handwritten duplication. Origins of the canon: Our four canonical gospels did not begin their lives as the gospels of "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke" and "John." Different groups of early Christians maintained their own oral traditions of Jesus's wisdom, as writing was a specialized skill and not every fellowship enjoyed the services of a scribe. When written accounts of Jesus's teachings began to circulate (i.e., the theoretical "sayings" gospel Q and the Semeia or Signs source), the independent groups would supplement them with their own traditions about the savior, each believing their own versions to be "the Gospel." Eventually, as these expanded writings spread through other communities, some versions were viewed as having more authority than others. It was not until the pronouncement of Bishop Irenus (185 C.E.) that Christians began to accept only the four familiar gospels as authoritative, and to refer to them by their modern titles. The rest of the canon was much slower to develop. For the next two centuries, the four gospels would be coupled with a myriad of different letters, epistles, stories and apocalypses, according to what a particular congregation judged as relevant to their understanding of Jesus Christ and his message. Catholicism was only one of the dozens of "denominations" within the early church—Gnosticism was prevalent throughout Egypt, Montanism in Asia Minor, Marcionism in Syria. Eventually, the Catholic church was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and all other systems of belief were branded as heresies. Following the Epistle of Athanasius in 367 C.E., the Church finally reached agreement upon which writings were truly authentic and representative of
  25. 25. apostolic tradition, thus forming what we know today as the canonical New Testament. Although factions of the Church continued to debate the merits of various books for centuries, and many even used other writings in their liturgy, most uncanonical writings were ordered to be destroyed. In many cases, possession of heretical literature was punishable by death. We are extremely fortunate that many of these texts have survived the millennia, giving us insights into the development of various early Christian traditions. In the two thousand years since the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the world of Christendom has seen incredible changes, including a split with the Eastern Orthodox Church and a Protestant Reformation, accompanied by a rejection of much core ideology. Yet throughout it all, the collection of scripture called the New Testament has remained unchanged and largely unquestioned, even though it was assembled by the same church leaders whose beliefs many now refute. To challenge the veracity of the canonical New Testament is, at best, an uncomfortable position; such questions strike at the very heart of most Christians' faith. Nevertheless, these sacred writings have come to us only after decades of oral traditions and centuries of scribal rewrites, much according to the beliefs of select groups in the early days of Christianity. It is only by attempting to study the origins and evolution of the New Testament scriptures that one can hope to discover the true historical Jesus—a worthy goal of any Christian believer. The source texts: Sifting through the scores of different English versions of the New Testament, one is poignantly reminded of how translation, particularly of archaic language, is subject to personal interpretation. It is therefore vitally important that we get as close to the original source as possible. The oldest surviving complete text of the New Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus, dating back to the middle of the fourth century. The oldest fragments, the Bodmer and Beatty Papyri and Papyrus 52, date back to the second century but only contain bits of the Gospel of John. All of these texts are Greek. This presents a few disturbing problems. First, Jesus's native tongue was Aramaic, and even if he knew Greek, he certainly did not speak it to his apostles, many of whom were uneducated fishermen. Without any surviving Aramaic texts, the actual words of Christ are lost forever, mired in a sea of subjective translation by ancient scribes. Second, we are faced with a gap of as much as three hundred years between the composition of a text and our surviving copies. In a world without a printing press, texts would often undergo drastic evolution through centuries of handwritten duplication. Origins of the canon: Our four canonical gospels did not begin their lives as the gospels of "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke" and "John." Different groups of early Christians maintained their own oral traditions of Jesus's wisdom, as writing was a specialized skill and not every fellowship
  26. 26. enjoyed the services of a scribe. When written accounts of Jesus's teachings began to circulate (i.e., the theoretical "sayings" gospel Q and the Semeia or Signs source), the independent groups would supplement them with their own traditions about the savior, each believing their own versions to be "the Gospel." Eventually, as these expanded writings spread through other communities, some versions were viewed as having more authority than others. It was not until the pronouncement of Bishop Irenus (185 C.E.) that Christians began to accept only the four familiar gospels as authoritative, and to refer to them by their modern titles. The rest of the canon was much slower to develop. For the next two centuries, the four gospels would be coupled with a myriad of different letters, epistles, stories and apocalypses, according to what a particular congregation judged as relevant to their understanding of Jesus Christ and his message. Catholicism was only one of the dozens of "denominations" within the early church—Gnosticism was prevalent throughout Egypt, Montanism in Asia Minor, Marcionism in Syria. Eventually, the Catholic church was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and all other systems of belief were branded as heresies. Following the Epistle of Athanasius in 367 C.E., the Church finally reached agreement upon which writings were truly authentic and representative of apostolic tradition, thus forming what we know today as the canonical New Testament. Although factions of the Church continued to debate the merits of various books for centuries, and many even used other writings in their liturgy, most uncanonical writings were ordered to be destroyed. In many cases, possession of heretical literature was punishable by death. We are extremely fortunate that many of these texts have survived the millennia, giving us insights into the development of various early Christian traditions. In the two thousand years since the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the world of Christendom has seen incredible changes, including a split with the Eastern Orthodox Church and a Protestant Reformation, accompanied by a rejection of much core ideology. Yet throughout it all, the collection of scripture called the New Testament has remained unchanged and largely unquestioned, even though it was assembled by the same church leaders whose beliefs many now refute. To challenge the veracity of the canonical New Testament is, at best, an uncomfortable position; such questions strike at the very heart of most Christians' faith. Nevertheless, these sacred writings have come to us only after decades of oral traditions and centuries of scribal rewrites, much according to the beliefs of select groups in the early days of Christianity. It is only by attempting to study the origins and evolution of the New Testament scriptures that one can hope to discover the true historical Jesus—a worthy goal of any Christian believer. The source texts: Sifting through the scores of different English versions of the New Testament, one is poignantly reminded of how translation, particularly of archaic language, is subject to personal interpretation. It is therefore vitally important that we get as close to the original source as possible. The oldest surviving complete text of the New Testament is the Codex
  27. 27. Sinaiticus, dating back to the middle of the fourth century. The oldest fragments, the Bodmer and Beatty Papyri and Papyrus 52, date back to the second century but only contain bits of the Gospel of John. All of these texts are Greek. This presents a few disturbing problems. First, Jesus's native tongue was Aramaic, and even if he knew Greek, he certainly did not speak it to his apostles, many of whom were uneducated fishermen. Without any surviving Aramaic texts, the actual words of Christ are lost forever, mired in a sea of subjective translation by ancient scribes. Second, we are faced with a gap of as much as three hundred years between the composition of a text and our surviving copies. In a world without a printing press, texts would often undergo drastic evolution through centuries of handwritten duplication. Origins of the canon: Our four canonical gospels did not begin their lives as the gospels of "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke" and "John." Different groups of early Christians maintained their own oral traditions of Jesus's wisdom, as writing was a specialized skill and not every fellowship enjoyed the services of a scribe. When written accounts of Jesus's teachings began to circulate (i.e., the theoretical "sayings" gospel Q and the Semeia or Signs source), the independent groups would supplement them with their own traditions about the savior, each believing their own versions to be "the Gospel." Eventually, as these expanded writings spread through other communities, some versions were viewed as having more authority than others. It was not until the pronouncement of Bishop Irenus (185 C.E.) that Christians began to accept only the four familiar gospels as authoritative, and to refer to them by their modern titles. The rest of the canon was much slower to develop. For the next two centuries, the four gospels would be coupled with a myriad of different letters, epistles, stories and apocalypses, according to what a particular congregation judged as relevant to their understanding of Jesus Christ and his message. Catholicism was only one of the dozens of "denominations" within the early church—Gnosticism was prevalent throughout Egypt, Montanism in Asia Minor, Marcionism in Syria. Eventually, the Catholic church was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and all other systems of belief were branded as heresies. Following the Epistle of Athanasius in 367 C.E., the Church finally reached agreement upon which writings were truly authentic and representative of apostolic tradition, thus forming what we know today as the canonical New Testament. Although factions of the Church continued to debate the merits of various books for centuries, and many even used other writings in their liturgy, most uncanonical writings were ordered to be destroyed. In many cases, possession of heretical literature was punishable by death. We are extremely fortunate that many of these texts have survived the millennia, giving us insights into the development of various early Christian traditions. In the two thousand years since the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the world of Christendom has seen incredible changes, including a split with the Eastern Orthodox Church and a Protestant Reformation, accompanied by a rejection of much core ideology. Yet
  28. 28. throughout it all, the collection of scripture called the New Testament has remained unchanged and largely unquestioned, even though it was assembled by the same church leaders whose beliefs many now refute. To challenge the veracity of the canonical New Testament is, at best, an uncomfortable position; such questions strike at the very heart of most Christians' faith. Nevertheless, these sacred writings have come to us only after decades of oral traditions and centuries of scribal rewrites, much according to the beliefs of select groups in the early days of Christianity. It is only by attempting to study the origins and evolution of the New Testament scriptures that one can hope to discover the true historical Jesus—a worthy goal of any Christian believer. The source texts: Sifting through the scores of different English versions of the New Testament, one is poignantly reminded of how translation, particularly of archaic language, is subject to personal interpretation. It is therefore vitally important that we get as close to the original source as possible. The oldest surviving complete text of the New Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus, dating back to the middle of the fourth century. The oldest fragments, the Bodmer and Beatty Papyri and Papyrus 52, date back to the second century but only contain bits of the Gospel of John. All of these texts are Greek. This presents a few disturbing problems. First, Jesus's native tongue was Aramaic, and even if he knew Greek, he certainly did not speak it to his apostles, many of whom were uneducated fishermen. Without any surviving Aramaic texts, the actual words of Christ are lost forever, mired in a sea of subjective translation by ancient scribes. Second, we are faced with a gap of as much as three hundred years between the composition of a text and our surviving copies. In a world without a printing press, texts would often undergo drastic evolution through centuries of handwritten duplication. Origins of the canon: Our four canonical gospels did not begin their lives as the gospels of "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke" and "John." Different groups of early Christians maintained their own oral traditions of Jesus's wisdom, as writing was a specialized skill and not every fellowship enjoyed the services of a scribe. When written accounts of Jesus's teachings began to circulate (i.e., the theoretical "sayings" gospel Q and the Semeia or Signs source), the independent groups would supplement them with their own traditions about the savior, each believing their own versions to be "the Gospel." Eventually, as these expanded writings spread through other communities, some versions were viewed as having more authority than others. It was not until the pronouncement of Bishop Irenus (185 C.E.) that Christians began to accept only the four familiar gospels as authoritative, and to refer to them by their modern titles. The rest of the canon was much slower to develop. For the next two centuries, the four gospels would be coupled with a myriad of different letters, epistles, stories and
  29. 29. apocalypses, according to what a particular congregation judged as relevant to their understanding of Jesus Christ and his message. Catholicism was only one of the dozens of "denominations" within the early church—Gnosticism was prevalent throughout Egypt, Montanism in Asia Minor, Marcionism in Syria. Eventually, the Catholic church was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and all other systems of belief were branded as heresies. Following the Epistle of Athanasius in 367 C.E., the Church finally reached agreement upon which writings were truly authentic and representative of apostolic tradition, thus forming what we know today as the canonical New Testament. Although factions of the Church continued to debate the merits of various books for centuries, and many even used other writings in their liturgy, most uncanonical writings were ordered to be destroyed. In many cases, possession of heretical literature was punishable by death. We are extremely fortunate that many of these texts have survived the millennia, giving us insights into the development of various early Christian traditions. NARRATIVE GOSPELS The word gospel is the English translation of the Greek evangelion, which literally means "the good news." The first known use of the word in Christian writings was by Paul, who referred to the message about salvation through Christ. It was not until the writings of Justin Martyr in the mid-second century that the term began to be used specifically in reference to scriptures about the deeds and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The four gospels in the canonical New Testament are of the narrative variety— specifically, they tell the story of Jesus's life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection as handed down through decades of oral tradition. However, these four by no means represent all of the traditions of the day, but only the select few that were precisely in accord with the orthodox (Catholic) beliefs of the late fourth century. Three of the four (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are derived from at least one common source, and are referred to as the "synoptic" gospels due to their similarities. Even those who unwaveringly accept only the canonical accounts can still benefit from a study of the apocryphal narratives and why they were rejected by the Catholic church.  Gospel of Matthew (canon)  Gospel of Mark (canon)  Gospel of Luke (canon)  Gospel of John (canon)  Gospel of Peter (1, 4, 6, 7)  Secret Gospel of Mark (1, 2, 6, 7)  Egerton Gospel (1, 6, 7)  Oxyrhynchus 840 Gospel (1, 6, 7)
  30. 30.  Gospel of the Hebrews (1, 2, 6, 7)  Gospel of the Ebionites (1, 2, 6, 7)  Gospel of the Nazoreans (1, 6, 7)  Gospel of Nicodemus (see Acts of Pilate) INFANCY GOSPELS The earliest Christian writings (i.e., the letters of Paul) focus on Jesus's death and resurrection. By the time the gospels of Matthew and Luke were penned, the focus was also upon the circumstances of His birth. Eventually, the infancy gospel developed as a separate format to supplement the traditions in the narrative gospels.  Infancy Gospel of James (1, 2, 4, 6, 7)  Infancy Gospel of Thomas (1, 2, 4 [late redactions], 6, 7)  Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (2, 6)  Birth of Mary (4) ACTS The apocryphal Acts were intended to supplement the gospels and canonical Acts with narrative details about the missionary work of the individual apostles. The five primary Acts in particular (those of Peter, Paul, John, Andrew and Thomas) were widely popular in the early church and the traditions contained therein are still accepted by many Christians today. Because of their relatively late dates of composition, however, the historic validity of these Acts is questionable.  Acts of the Apostles (canon)  Acts of Peter (2, 6, 3 [Coptic only])  Acts of John (2, 6, 7 [chs. 87-105 only])  Acts of Paul (2, 6 [inc. 3 Corinthians], 4 [Paul and Thecla only])  Acts of Andrew (2, 6)  Acts of Thomas (2, 6)  Acts of Pilate (2, 4, 6, 7)
  31. 31. SAYINGS GOSPELS The format of the sayings gospel is derived from Jewish Wisdom literature, and seeks to preserve not an historical or biographical history of Jesus, but rather a collection of his teachings in the form of isolated sayings or hypothetical dialogue. While no sayings gospels were canonized into the New Testament, most scholars theorize that such a gospel ("Q") was used as a source by Matthew and Luke.  Gospel of Thomas (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8)  Gospel of Mary (1, 3)  Secret Book of James (1, 2, 3, 7, 8)  Secret Book of John (2, 3, 8)  Dialogue of the Savior (1, 3, 7)  Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel (1, 6)  Epistula Apostolorum (6, 7) EPISTLES  Letter of Paul to the Galatians (canon)  First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (canon)  Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (canon)  Letter of Paul to the Romans (canon)  First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (canon)  Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (canon)  Letter of Paul to the Philippians (canon)  Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (canon)  Letter of Paul to the Colossians (canon)  First Letter of Paul to Timothy (canon)  Second Letter of Paul to Timothy (canon)  Letter of Paul to Titus (canon)  Letter of Paul to Philemon (canon)
  32. 32.  Letter to the Hebrews (canon)  Letter of James (canon)  First Letter of Peter (canon)  Second Letter of Peter (canon)  First Letter of John (canon)  Second Letter of John (canon)  Third Letter of John (canon)  Letter of Jude (canon)  Letter of Paul to the Laodiceans (4, 6)  Third Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (see Acts of Paul)  Letters of Paul to Seneca (4, 6)  Didache (5)  Letters of Clement to the Corinthians (4)  Epistle of Barnabas (4, 5)  Letters of Ignatius (4)  Epistle of Polycarp (4, 5)  Letters of Pilate and Herod (4, 6)  Letters of Christ and Abgarus (4, 6)  Letter to Diognetus (5)  Shepherd of Hermas (4)  Gospel of Truth (2, 3)  Gospel of Philip (2, 3) APOCALYPSES  Apocalypse of John (canon)  Apocalypse of Peter (Akhmm) (2, 6)
  33. 33.  Apocalypse of Peter (Gnostic) (3)  Apocalypse of Paul (Visio Pauli) (2, 6)  Apocalypse of Paul (Gnostic) (3)  Book of Thomas (the Contender) (2, 3, 8)  Apocalypse of Thomas (2, 6)  I, II Apocalypse of James (3)  Questions of Bartholomew (2, 6) Written and maintained by Geoff Trowbridge, 6/97 "The canon is neither a total nor a random collection of early Christian texts. It is both deliberate and selective and it excludes just as surely as it includes. I would even say that you cannot understand what is included in the canon unless you understand what was excluded from it. When the [extracanonical] gospels are played over against the four canonical gospels, both the products and the processes of those latter texts appear in a radically different light." — John Dominic Crossan, Prof. Religious Studies, DePaul Univ. Return to the Introduction Return to Geoff and Heidi's homepage
  34. 34. Chapter 4 Why sometimes is the bible taken out of context? The reason why sometimes the bible, is taken out of context, is because people they try to put it to fit themselves. And also not only that but some people do not fully understand the bible so they try and draw there own conclusion, stand on their own understanding of the bible which is the true and living word of God. For my reasearch for this chapter I have used the website http://contextbible.com/context.html and I am going to give to you what it says. This is what the article reads concerning what we are addressing within this chapter. I am going to go straight from it, and I am going to leave it the way it is. THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT IN BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION by Jack Seay, copyright 1988, jackseay@sbcglobal.net Home Page Of the reasons Christians disagree, an inadequate knowledge of what the Bible teaches tops the list. If many more Christians learned to interpret the Bible in context, quite a few denominational differences could disappear. When interpreters from various groups have worked together to unfold the meaning of a passage, agreement on many significant conclusions have been reached. Thus hermeneutics [biblical interpretation] is a potent unifying force in the Christian church. * * A. Berkeley Mickelsen, Interpreting The Bible, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), p. vii. Unfortunately, many people would like to have churches unite by compromising the truth. A much better unity will result by going to the Bible and studying it in all it's contexts, allowing it to teach us. The test of what is true should not be denominational creeds or doctrinal statements. What we believe should not be based on tradition, church history, personal opinion, wishful thinking, prejudice, bias, or unquestioning acceptance of what we have been taught. The final test of truth is the accurate interpretation of the Bible in any area it touches upon. God has shared with man a part of His infinite knowledge. We must find out what He meant by what He said. Simply stated, the task of interpreters of the Bible is to find out the meaning of a statement (command, question) for the author and for the first hearers or readers, and thereupon to transmit that meaning to modern readers. The interpreter will observe whether a given statement tends to be understood by a modern reader identically, similarly, or differently from the sense intended by the writer, and will adjust his explanation accordingly. * * Mickelsen, Interpreting The Bible, p. 5 I will give examples of four contexts to keep in mind when studying the Bible. First there are the surrounding verses. Second is the cultural setting. Third is the book of the Bible
  35. 35. the passage is in. Forth is the teaching of the rest of the Bible. "Do not accept anything heard nor written until you have checked the scriptures in the light of contexts." * * William S. Dillon, Commentary On The Book Of Matthew. (River Grove, Ill.: Voice Of Melody, 1976) p.5 Many verses of the Bible are routinely taken out of their immediate contexts and misinterpreted. 1Jo 4:4 is a good example of this. You, dear children, are from God and overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. * * All verses (unless otherwise noted) are quoted from the New International Version, (New York International Bible Society, 1978) This verse is commonly taught as meaning that God is greater than Satan. However in verse 1 of this chapter, the one in the world is defined as being a false prophet. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. The words "spirit" and "spirits" in this context refer to intelligent beings - men, not demons or Satan. ("spirit" in 1Jo 4:6 refers to their teachings) This can be verified by comparing 1Jo 4:2,3 with Luk 4:3 and Mat 8:29 . 1 Joh 4:2,3 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. Luk 4:3 The devil said to him, "If [in view of the fact that * ] you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." * "If" is more accurately translated here from the New Testament: An Expanded Translation, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961) Mat 8:29 "What do you want from us, Son of God?" they [demons] shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" In the passage in I John, it states that if a spirit agrees with the divine incarnation of Christ, that spirit is from God. The other passages in Luke and Matthew are examples of both Satan and demons acknowledging that very fact. Obviously, in both the immediate context of I John 4 and when contrasted with other passages, the reference is to human "spirits" or intellects, not Satan or demons. Another example of a verse clarified by the immediate context is Mat 3:11 . "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
  36. 36. Those who are pleading with God for a baptism with fire might reconsider if they connect this verse with the one following it. Mat 3:12 "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Baptism with fire is hell. An example of the importance of cultural setting can be found in 1Co 11:3,4 . Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. In the Corinthian Greek culture if a man wore a head covering in public worship, he dishonored his head, that is, Christ. This was different from the Jewish and Roman cultures, where a man wore a head covering as a symbol of his humility before God. Therefore, the application of these particular verses depends on the customs of a society. * * William S. Dillon, God's Work In God's Way, (Sanford, FL: Brown Gold Publications, 1972), p. 150. The purpose for a book being written has an important influence on the meaning of particular verses in that book. Contrasting and comparing other books of the Bible is important also. One cannot properly handle context until he has a good grasp of biblical content. The interpreter must know the content of the book from which the particular passage he is interpreting comes. He needs to know the content of books in which there are passages devoted to the same theme which he is interpreting...Biblical content is essential far the much-needed grasp of context. * * Mickelsen, Interpreting The Bible, p.100 The book of James, for instance, was written for the purpose of showing that we are justified in the eyes of other people by our actions. Other people cannot know of our faith unless they see it in action. The book of Galatians, on the other hand, sets forth the doctrine that we are justified before God by our faith, not our actions. Gal 2:16 "know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." Contrast this with Jam 2:24 . "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." Galatians teaches justification before God. James teaches justification before men.
  37. 37. Sometimes a doctrine is just partially covered in one book of the Bible and must be compared with another to get a full understanding. Such is the case with Gal 5:19-21 . The acts of the sinful (human) nature (not society, sickness, Satan, or one's upbringing) are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Taken in isolation, this passage would seem to indicate that anyone who has hated or been jealous couldn't make it to heaven. But when the parallel passage of 1Co 6:9-10 is completed by verse 11, it is made clear that there is hope. 1Co 6:11 . Some of you were like that. But you have been cleansed from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (GNB) The most common misinterpretations occur when parts of the Bible written about the Jews are interpreted to be written to the Church. It must be remembered that the Church did not begin until the day of Pentecost. Therefore every event in the gospels occurred during the age of law, before the Church age began. All of the parables are about Israel, not the Church. * This is important to remember in order to avoid a great number of contradictions. All of the Bible is of value to the Church, but not all can be directly interpreted or applied to the Church. The Church is made up of only those who are saved. Israel was made up of some who were saved and some who were lost. This makes clear verses like Joh 15:6 . * Dillon, Commentary On The Book Of Matthew, p.6 "If anyone does not remain in me he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." This verse doesn't teach that some Christians will lose their salvation, but rather that some Jews are lost, not ever having been saved. The Church age began in the book of Acts, a book of transition from the age of law to the age of grace (the Church age). Some things that were begun in this transitional period were not carried over into the epistles (Romans through Jude). Most people, who have wrong ideas about the ministries of the Holy Spirit, base their beliefs only on the book of Acts. No one can learn the complete working of the Spirit until they have also studied and incorporated the Epistles into their thinking. The book of Acts does not even mention such important ministries of the Spirit as, The Fruit of the Spirit, The nine gifts of the spirit, etc. Acts is a book of transition, but more of method than message. Some events recorded in Acts will never occur again. * * William S. Dillon, The Seven-Question Series Of Bible Doctrines, (Sanford, FL: Brown Gold Publ., 1972) p.42
  38. 38. If all of these aspects of context are carefully kept in mind when interpreting the Bible, a much more accurate knowledge of it's truth will be known. I believe this approach to be much better than the common practice of ignoring or belittling doctrine, (the teachings of the Word of God) usually hiding behind the excuse of avoiding controversy. Only by finding out what God meant by what He said can we begin to do His will and have real unity with Him and fellow Christians. We must begin with a teachable, humble attitude, willing to change, realizing how much we don't know and God does. Then once we have correctly ascertained the will of God from the Word of God, don't ask "should we obey it", just obey it. As the missionary leader, C. T. Studd, said: "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then nothing is too great for me to do for Him". BIBLIOGRAPHY Dillon, William S. Commentary On The Book Of Matthew. River Grove, Ill.: Voice Of Melody, 1976. Dillon, William S. God's Work In God's Way. Sanford, FL: Brown Gold Publications, 1972. Dillon, William S. The Seven-Question Series Of Bible Doctrines. Sanford, FL: Brown Gold Publ., 1972. Good News Bible. American Bible Society, 1971. Mickelsen, A. Berkeley. Interpreting The Bible. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963. New International Version. New York International Bible Society, 1978. New Testament: An Expanded Translation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961.
  39. 39. Chapter 5 Can we live by every word of the bible? When it comes to the word of God, the question is Can we live by every word of the bible? Is it really possible for us to be able to do this. in the article I am getting ready to share with you, this is from http://www.gty.org/resources/positions/P10/you-can-trust-the-bible You can trust the Bible We live in a world that, for the most part, has no absolute standard for life and behavior. We are under a system of morality by majority vote--in other words, whatever feels right sets the standard for behavior. That philosophy, however, runs contrary to everything we know about our world. For example, in science there are absolutes. Our entire universe is built on fixed laws. We can send satellites and other spacecraft into space and accurately predict their behavior. Science--whether biology, botany, physiology, astronomy, mathematics, or engineering-- is controlled by unalterable and inviolable laws. Yet in the moral world many people want to live without laws or absolutes. They try to determine their points of reference from their own minds. However, that is impossible. When we move from the physical to the spiritual realm, fixed laws still exist. We cannot exist without laws in the moral and spiritual dimensions of life any more than we can do so in the physical dimension. Our Creator built morality into life. Just as there are physical laws, so there are spiritual laws. Let me give you an example. People have asked me whether I believe that AIDS is the judgment of God. My response is that AIDS is the judgment of God in the same sense that cirrhosis of the liver is the judgment of God or that emphysema is the judgment of God. If you drink alcohol, you're liable to get cirrhosis of the liver. If you smoke, you're liable to get emphysema or heart disease. And if you choose to violate God's standards for morality, you're likely to contract venereal disease--even AIDS. It is a law that the Bible describes in terms of sowing and reaping. We can explain this principle in another illustration. Gravity is a fixed law. You may choose not to believe in gravity, but regardless of what you choose to believe, if you jump off a building you'll fall to the ground. You don't have an option. It's not a question of what you believe; it's a question of law. The law will go into effect when you put it to the test. That is true in any other area of physical law. The same thing is true in the moral and spiritual dimension. To segment life into a physical dimension in which fixed laws cannot be violated and a moral or spiritual dimension in which laws can be violated is an impossible dichotomization. The same God who controls the physical world by fixed laws controls the moral and spiritual world.
  40. 40. Where, then, do you find the laws of morality? How do you determine what is right and what is wrong? Has our Creator revealed such standards to mankind in a way we can understand? The Bible claims to be the revelation of God to man. Although I have spent many years of my life studying the Bible, I wasn't always committed to it. That commitment developed after my freshman year in col lege, when I came to grips with my life and future and wanted to know the source of truth. I discovered several compelling reasons for believing that the Bible is God's Word. Five basic areas, which go from the lesser to the greater, help prove its authenticity. The Authenticity of the Bible Experience First, the Bible is true because it gives us the experience it claims it will. For example, the Bible says God will forgive our sin (1 John 1:9). I believe that, and I can truly say that I have a sense of freedom from guilt. The Bible also says that "if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17 ). That's what happened to me when I came to Jesus Christ. The Bible changes lives. Someone has said that a Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't. That's true because the Bible can put lives together. Millions of people all over the world are living proof that that is true. Maybe you know one or two of them. They've experienced the Bible's power. That's an acceptable argument in one sense, but it's weak in another. If you base everything you believe on experience, you're going to run into trouble. Followers of Muhammad, Buddha, and Hare Krishna can point to various experiences as the basis for their beliefs, but that doesn't necessarily mean that their beliefs are correct. So although experience can help validate the power and authority of the Bible, we will need more evidence. Science The Bible also presents a most plausible, objective understanding of the universe and the existence of life. It presents a God who creates. That makes more sense than believing that everything came out of nothing, which is essentially what the theory of evolution says. I have an easier time assuming that someone produced everything. And the Bible tells me who that someone is: God. The study of creation helps explain how the earth's geology became the way it is. The Bible tells of a supernatural creation that took place in six days and of a catastrophic worldwide flood. These two events help explain many geological and other scientific questions, some of which we will soon explore. You will find that the Bible is accurate when it intersects with modern scientific
  41. 41. concepts. For example, Isaiah 40:26 says it is God who creates the universe. He holds the stars together by His power and not one of them is ever missing. In this way the Bible suggests the first law of thermodynamics--that ultimately nothing is ever destroyed. We read in Ecclesiastes 1:10: "Is there anything of which one might say, 'See this, it is new'?" The answer immediately follows: "Already it has existed for ages which were before us." Ancient writers of the Bible, thousands of years before the laws of thermodynamics had been categorically stated, were affirming the conservation of mass and energy. The second law of thermodynamics states that although mass and energy are always conserved, they nevertheless are breaking down and going from order to disorder, from cosmos to chaos, from system to non-system. The Bible, contrary to the theory of evolution, affirms that. As matter breaks down and energy dissipates, ultimately the world and universe as we know it will become dead. It will be unable to reproduce itself. Romans 8 says that all creation groans because of its curse, which is described at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis 3). That curse--and God's plan to reverse the curse--is reflected throughout biblical teaching. The science of hydrology studies the cycle of water, which consists of three major phases: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Clouds move over the land and drop water through precipitation. The rain runs into creeks, the creeks run into streams, the streams run into the sea, and the evaporation process takes place all the way along the path. That same process is described in Scripture. Ecclesiastes 1 and Isaiah 55 present the entire water cycle: "All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again" (Ecclesiastes 1:7). "For . . . the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth" (Isaiah 55:10). Also, Job 36:27-28 speaks of evaporation and condensation--centuries prior to any scientific discovery of the process: "He [God] draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly." In the 1500s, when Copernicus first presented the idea that the earth was in motion, people were astounded. They previously believed that the earth was a flat disc and that if you went through the Pillars of Hercules at the Rock of Gibraltar you'd fall off the edge. In the seventeenth century, men like Kepler and Galileo gave birth to modern astronomy. Prior to that, the universe was generally thought to contain only about one thousand stars, which was the number that had been counted. However, in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the number of the stars of heaven is equated with the number of grains of sand on the seashore. God told Abraham, "I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore" ( 22:17 ). Jeremiah 33:22 says that the stars can't be counted. Again God is speaking: "As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David." Today several million stars have been cataloged, though hundreds of millions remain unlisted.
  42. 42. The oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job, pre-dates Christ by about two thousand years. Yet Job 26:7 says, "He hangs the earth on nothing." In the sacred books of other religions you may read that the earth is on the backs of elephants that produce earthquakes when they shake. The cosmogony of Greek mythology is at about the same level of sophistication. But the Bible is in a completely different class. It says, "He . . . hangs the earth on nothing" (emphasis added). Job also says that the earth is "turned like the clay to the seal" (38:14, KJV*). In those days, soft clay was used for writing and a seal was used for applying one's signature. One kind of seal was a hollow cylinder of hardened clay with a signature raised on it. A stick went through it so that it could be rolled like a rolling pin. The writer could, therefore, roll his signature across the soft clay and in that way sign his name. In saying the earth is turned like the clay to the seal, Job may have implied that it rotates on its axis. The Hebrew word translated "earth" (hug) refers to a sphere. It's also interesting to note that the earth maintains a perfect balance. If you've ever seen a basketball that's out of balance, you know that it rotates unevenly. You can imagine what would happen if the earth were like that. The earth is a perfect sphere, and it is perfectly balanced. The depths of the sea have to be balanced with the height of the mountains. The branch of science that studies that balance is called isostasy. In Isaiah 40:12, centuries before science even conceived of this phenomenon, Isaiah said that God "has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales." English philosopher Herbert Spencer, who died in 1903, was famous for applying scientific discoveries to philosophy. He listed five knowable categories in the natural sciences: time, force, motion, space, and matter. However, Genesis 1:1, the first verse in the Bible, says, "In the beginning [time] God [force] created [motion] the heavens [space] and the earth [matter]." God laid it all out in the very first verse of Scripture. The Bible truly is the revelation of God to mankind. He wants us to know about Him and the world He created. Although the Bible does not contain scientific terminology, it is amazingly accurate whenever it happens to refer to scientific truth. But someone might say, "Wait a minute. The Old Testament says that the sun once stood still, and if that happened, the sun didn't really stand still; the earth stopped revolving." Yes, but that statement is based on the perception of someone on earth. When you got up this morning, you didn't look east and say, "What a lovely earth rotation!" From your perspective, you saw a sunrise. And because you permit yourself to do that, you must permit Scripture to do that as well. Miracles A third evidence for the authenticity of the Bible is its miracles. We would expect to read of those in a revelation from God Himself, who by definition is supernatural. Miracles are a supernatural alteration of the natural world--a great way to get man's attention.
  43. 43. The Bible includes supportive information to establish the credibility of the miracles it records. For example, Scripture says that after Jesus had risen from the dead more than five hundred people saw Him alive (1 Corinthians 15:6). That would be enough witnesses to convince any jury. The miraculous nature of the Bible demonstrates the involvement of God. But to believe the miracles, we must take the Bible at its word. So to further validate its authenticity we must take another step and consider its incredible ability to predict the future. Prophecy There is no way to explain the Bible's ability to predict the future unless we see God as its Author. For example, the Old Testament contains more than three hundred references to the Messiah of Israel that were preciselyfulfilled by JesusChrist (Christ isthe Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah). Peter Stoner, a scientist in the area of mathematical probabilities, said in his book Science Speaks that if we take just eight of the Old Testament prophecies Christ fulfilled, we find that the probability of their coming to pass is one in 1017. He illustrates that staggering amount this way: We take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas . They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly. . . . Blindfold a man and tell him he must pick up one silver dollar. . . . What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them come true in any one man. ([ Chicago : Moody, 1963], 100-107) And Jesus fulfilled hundreds more than just eight prophecies! The Bible includes many other prophecies as well. For example, the Bible predicted that a man named Cyrus would be born, would rise to power in the Middle East, and would release the Jewish people from captivity (Isaiah 44:28--45:7). Approximately 150 years later, Cyrus the Great became king of Persia and released the Jews. No man could have known that would happen; only God could. In Ezekiel 26 God says through the prophet that the Phoenician city of Tyre would be destroyed, specifying that a conqueror would come in and wipe out the city. He said that the city would be scraped clean and that the rubble left on the city's surface would be thrown into the ocean. The prophecy ended by saying that men would dry their fishnets there and that the city would never be rebuilt. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Tyre three years after the prophecy was given. When he broke down the gates, he found the city almost empty. The Phoenicians were navigators and colonizers of the ancient world; they had taken their boats and sailed to an island a half mile offshore. They had reestablished their city on the island during the years of siege. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city on the mainland, but since he didn't

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