03 The Integrity of the Word
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03 The Integrity of the Word

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The gathering of the New Testament Canon

The gathering of the New Testament Canon

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  • Dan Brown is hardly a noted Biblical scholar, but he did a good job of bringing to popular culture what the academic world had been doing for a long time, epitomized in the Jesus Seminar. <br />
  • We’ll assume for the purposes of this study that there isn’t concern about the canonicity of the Old Testament, though it will come up later... <br /> The New Testament Canon is ratified at the Council of Carthage in AD 397. <br />
  • We will discuss each of these in turn <br />
  • The Jesus Seminar asserts that The Gospel of Thomas is much more accurate than, for example, the Gospel of John. <br />
  • These are the people that the major news magazines, television channels (eg, History, Discovery), etc all go to as experts on the Bible... <br />

03 The Integrity of the Word 03 The Integrity of the Word Presentation Transcript

  • The Integrity of The Word God’s Word Stands Against All Attacks
  • Questions Where does the Bible come from? How did we get the books that make up the Bible? Have there been challenges to the make-up of the Bible? 2
  • The Origin of The Bible? “The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven… The Bible is the product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book…” --Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code 3
  • The New Testament Canon 4
  • The New Testament is mostly a bunch of letters written to churches around the world 5
  • While there was general consensus on what was Scripture, a recognized ‘canon’ of Scripture was required to correct heresy 6
  • canon /kanən/ 1.noun - a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged. synonyms: principle, rule, law, tenet, precept 7
  • ‘Canon’ refers to the collection of books that passed a test of authenticity and authority 8
  • The Canon and The Church 9
  • When the decision was made as to what books were canonical, the Church explicitly said “we receive” the Canon 10
  • What the Church said is that we receive these particular books as being canonical – as being the Word of God – and therefore we submit to their authority 11
  • It’s one thing to make something authoritative, and it’s another thing to recognize something that already is authoritative 12
  • False Church True Church Determines Canon Discovers Canon Mother of Canon Child of Canon Magistrate of Canon Minister of Canon Regulates Canon Recognizes Canon Judge of Canon Witness of Canon Master of Canon Servant of Canon 13
  • Categories of Books 14
  • Under Consideration The books that were tested for canonicity fall into four categories: accepted by all (homologoumena) rejected by all (pseudepigrapha) disputed by some (antilegomena) and those accepted by some (apocrypha) 15
  • 20 of the 27 we have now were undisputed 16
  • So, what about the “disputed” books? The ones that are Canon? And the ones that are not? 17
  • Many Gospels? “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relatively few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them… The early church needed to convince the world that the mortal prophet Jesus was a divine being. Therefore, any gospels that described earthly aspects of Jesus’ life had to be omitted from the Bible.” --Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code 18
  • Examples: Clearly Rejected  the Gospel of Thomas (a Gnostic writing with Jesus doing childhood miracles)  Arabic Gospel of Childhood (more childhood miracles of Jesus while in Egypt)  the Gospel of Joseph the Carpenter (written by a cult that glorified Joseph)  the Passing of Mary (relates the bodily assumption of Mary and other things involving Mary worship)  the Gospel of Mary (promotes Mary worship and served as the basis for popular medieval stories)  the Acts of Peter (contains the legend that Peter was crucified upside down)  the Acts of Andrew (a Gnostic story of the imprisonment and death of Andrew)  the Acts of Thomas (presents the mission work and martyrdom of Thomas in India) 19
  • Since some of them may contain some truth (and certainly present a clear view of various teachings of the time), they are of value for historians, but are fanciful and contain many errors & heresies 20
  • Modern Interest In Gnostic Gospels The Gospel of Thomas has gained a tremendous amount of attention lately From the Amazon.com synopsis on one of the major translations: The gospel according to Thomas is an ancient collection of sayings The gospel according to Thomas is an ancient collection of sayings attributed to Jesus and thought to be recorded by his brother Judas, attributed to Jesus and thought to be recorded by his brother Judas, the Twin (Thomas means ‘twin’ in Aramaic). Some scholars suggest the Twin (Thomas means ‘twin’ in Aramaic). Some scholars suggest that this gospel was collected from New Testament sayings, while that this gospel was collected from New Testament sayings, while others believe it springs from aacompletely independent author others believe it springs from completely independent author because many of the quotations are not in the New Testament at all… because many of the quotations are not in the New Testament at all… It is considered by many to be perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to It is considered by many to be perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to reading what was actually said by the historical Jesus. In The Gospel of reading what was actually said by the historical Jesus. In The Gospel of Thomas, you’ll discover aadifferent kind of Christ ––aawandering spiritual Thomas, you’ll discover different kind of Christ wandering spiritual teacher from Galilee who performs no miracles, reveals little prophecy, teacher from Galilee who performs no miracles, reveals little prophecy, announces no apocalypse, and dies for no one's sins. announces no apocalypse, and dies for no one's sins. 21
  • The Tests for Canonicity 22
  • Regards itself as Scripture (e.g., does not explicitly say it is not Scripture) Written by an Apostle (defined as person seeing Jesus Christ after His resurrection) or companion of Apostle Testified to by other Scripture (self recognition) No contradiction in core teachings of the faith (analogy of faith) Accepted early and by majority of churches (catholicity) 23
  • 7 of the 27 The books that were included in the Canon but were questioned were:  Hebrews (unknown author)  James (because of apparent conflicts with the Gospel as presented in the clearly accepted books)  2 Peter (because of significant style differences between this and 1 Peter)  2 & 3 John (because of the anonymity of the author [“the elder”] and they had a very limited distribution)  Jude (because it referenced clearly non-Biblical books)  Revelation (because of the “millennium” of Revelation 20) 24
  • Despite the questions, once all of the facts were known, no one questioned their place in the Canon The only serious questioning since the Forth Century was in regards to James... 25
  • Self Recognition: If well-established Scripture regards another writing as being Scripture, then it’s Scripture. 26
  • “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul,, according to the wisdom also our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters,, given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters speaking in them of these things, in which are some speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures,, to their own destruction.” –2 Peter 3:15-16 Scriptures to their own destruction.” –2 Peter 3:15-16 “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”” –1 Timothy 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7 wages.”” –1 Timothy 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7 27
  • What about Paul/Saul? He was not “one of the Twelve” that studied at Jesus’ feet Jesus did come to and teach Paul after Accession (Acts 9) 28
  • What about the book of Hebrews? Though the ideas and form are similar to Paul, the Greek is much more “educated” than Paul. It also specifically denies that it was written by one who “heard” the Lord (i.e., an Apostle) in 2:3. Virtually everyone agrees from many clues in the book that it was written by someone commissioned/trained by Paul 29
  • James: Contradictions In The Core Faith? “You see that a person is justified by what “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” he does and not by faith alone.” –James 2:4 –James 2:4 “For it is by grace you have been saved, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8,9 –Ephesians 2:8,9 30
  • James: No Contradictions In The Core Faith It was because of things like this that James was one of the “debated” books, and Martin Luther famously called it “an epistle of straw” Luther didn’t have the all the writings of the Fathers that we have now, so he didn’t know that battle had already been fought Once it was understood that James confirms and reinforces the “by faith alone, but not a faith that is alone” position of the rest of the Bible, James’ position as part of the Canon became stronger than ever 31
  • “Changes” to The Canon 32
  • The Canon is something we recognize/receive from God, but there are religious groups that have taken it upon themselves to sit in judgment upon what makes up Scripture 33
  • Reasons vary, but the examples we’ll look at all have the defining feature of people wanting Scripture to support their views/beliefs It’s very inconvenient when you want God to agree with you, but the Bible expressly contradicts your teachings... 34
  • The Apocryphal Books 35
  • In Roman Catholic and Eastern/Oriental Orthodox Bibles, there are several books (and amendments to Esther and Daniel) that are not in “catholic” Bibles  They were part of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), but not the Hebrew Bible  Three are not considered canonical, but the others are termed “Deuterocanonical” (“second canon”; delayed acceptance) 36
  • While they fail the tests that the the other books had to go through and therefore clearly not the same status as Scripture, they are generally good for study and reflection They were included in many Bibles over the centuries as “supplemental” reading 37
  • Why the Apocrypha Isn't in the Bible: 1.Not one of the apocryphal books is written in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament. All Apocryphal books are in Greek, except one which is exists only in Latin. 2.None of the apocryphal writers laid claim to inspiration. 3.The apocryphal books were never acknowledged as sacred scriptures by the Jews, custodians of the Hebrew scriptures (the apocrypha was written prior to the New Testament). In fact, the Jewish people rejected and destroyed the apocrypha after the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 4.The apocryphal books were not permitted among the sacred books during the first four centuries of the Christian church 5. The Apocrypha contains fabulous statements which not only contradict the “canonical” scriptures but themselves. For example, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in three different places. 6.The Apocrypha includes doctrines in variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead and sinless perfection. 7.It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation. 8.No apocryphal book is referred to in the New Testament whereas the Old Testament is referred to hundreds of times. 9.Not even Jerome, who did the Vulgate translation that Rome uses as the “official” version of the Bible, considered them Scripture. 38
  • Rome Elevates Some Books 39
  • Before the Council of Trent, Rome had held the Apocrypha as holy, but not Scripture (per prior Popes and Councils that had made express declarations to that point) 40
  • However, Rome considers itself to be the Mother of Scripture, and therefore has the authority to elevate books 41
  • Why would Rome contradict Nicaea and more than a millennia of her own teachings on those books? (And why then?) 42
  • Trent is where Rome condemns the Protestants as heretics, and the “deuterocanonical” books are the only scriptural support Rome has for some of the major points of contention with the Protestants 43
  • Examples Basis for the doctrine of purgatory:  2 Maccabees 12:43-45, 2,000 pieces of silver were sent to Jerusalem for a sin- offering...Whereupon he made reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin. Salvation by works:  Ecclesiasticus 3:30, Water will quench a flaming fire, and alms maketh atonement for sin.  Tobit 12:8-9,17, It is better to give alms than to lay up gold; for alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin. Magic:  Tobit 6:5-8, If the Devil, or an evil spirit troubles anyone, they can be driven away by making a smoke of the heart, liver, and gall of a fish...and the Devil will smell it, and flee away, and never come again anymore. Mary was born sinless (immaculate conception):  Wisdom 8:19-20, And I was a witty child and had received a good soul. And whereas I was more good, I came to a body undefiled. 44
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 45
  • Joseph Smith was “divinely inspired” to declare the King James Bible to be the closest to actual Scripture He then made thousands of changes to it, including adding a passage to Genesis 50 saying “That seer will I bless... And his name shall be called Joseph.” 46
  • The Book of Mormon (which would be “deuterocanonical”) is an exact recitation into English of the Reformed Egyptian tablets Smith found Sadly, it would appear that Smith was not a very good conveyor of what the angel told him, because it has been edited/revised over four thousand times It includes a number of “lifts” from the the original KJV along with the KJV translators’ comments and errors... 47
  • The Jesus Seminar 48
  •  Founded in 1985, this is a group of about 150 scholars with advanced degrees in biblical studies, religious studies or related fields  One of the most active groups in biblical criticism, the seminar uses votes with colored beads to decide their collective view of the historicity of Jesus, specifically what he may or may not have said and done as a historical figure  In addition, the seminar popularizes the quest for the “historical Jesus”  They produced new translations of the New Testament and apocrypha to use as textual sources 49
  • “The seminar's reconstruction of the historical Jesus portrayed him as an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage and faith healer who preached a gospel of liberation from injustice in startling parables and aphorisms. An iconoclast, Jesus broke with established Jewish theological dogmas and social conventions both in his teachings and behaviors, often by turning commonsense ideas upside down, confounding the expectations of his audience: He preached of "Heaven's imperial rule" (traditionally translated as "Kingdom of God") as being already present but unseen; he depicts God as a loving father; he fraternizes with outsiders and criticizes insiders. According to the seminar, Jesus was a mortal man born of two human parents, who did not perform nature miracles nor die as a substitute for sinners nor rise bodily from the dead. Sightings of a risen Jesus were nothing more than the visionary experiences of some of his disciples rather than physical encounters.” – Wikipedia (emphasis mine) 50
  • 51
  • The Final Words But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.–John 14:26 everything I have said to you.–John 14:26 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.–Eph 2:19-20 chief cornerstone.–Eph 2:19-20 "Behold, II am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in "Behold, am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." ... II warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: this book." ... warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.–Rev 22:7,18-19 described in this book.–Rev 22:7,18-19 52