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The canonization of the Bible

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  • “Lord God, let us keep your Scriptures in mind and meditate on them day and night, persevering inprayer, always on the watch. We beg you, Lord, give us real knowledge of what we read, and show usnot only how to understand it but how to put it into practice that we might obtain spiritual grace,enlightened by the law of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, whose power and glory willendure throughout all ages. Amen.” Origen
  • Latin took the Greek word kanon meaning “rule” or standard and used it to mean “a catalogue of sacred writings.”
  • -We are a people of the book The Bible is our standard for faith and practice; we need to be able to confidently appeal to the canon of Scripture as a collection of authoritative writings.Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.-The Canon is closed. Many groups have tried to promote “newly discovered” gospels as authoritative, and nearly all Christian cults have presented their own version of revelation. Our confidence that the canon is closed helps refute the two most common cults in America: Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.-Apologetic concerns. One of the most crucial aspects of defending our faith is being able to defend the authority of the Scripture. Interestingly, most Christians and nearly all non-Christians have no clue whatsoever about how we got the Bible. I’ve heard things like “Constantine invented it. A meeting was called and the church leaders decided what to include. The pope made it up. Johann Gutenburg wrote it down on his printing press. God gave it to Adam and Eve.” NOTE: Establishing the authority of the canon is much more complex for the New Testament than the Old. Jesus Himself affirmed the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. He frequently referenced the Law, the prophets, and the Psalms, which are the three categories of Old Testament writings. There is much more controversy over the New Testament than the Old.
  • Jesus used it - But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mt 4:4 Early Church used it - “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” Acts 1:16-17It is about Jesus – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” Luke 24:27Books in Jewish canon“Our Lord and his apostles might differ from the religious leaders of Israel about the meaning of the scriptures; there is no suggestion that they differed about the limits of the scriptures. 'The scriptures' on whose meaning they differed were not an amorphous collection: when they spoke of 'the scriptures' they knew which writings they had in mind and could distinguish them from other writings which were not included in 'the scriptures'.” F.F. Bruce3 fold division - Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” LK 24:44“…five are the books of Moses…the prophets after Moses wrote the events of their own times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life.” Josephus24 books – “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books.” - Josephus
  • Apocrypha – originally used by Jerome means “hidden away.” These are books that the protestant church does not believe are to be included in the scriptures
  • Luther's German Bible"The Apocrypha: Books which are not to be held equal to Holy Scripture, but as useful and good to read."
  • Septuagint inclusion – is an Ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The earliest manuscripts of the Septuagint includes many additions to the OT including various apocrypha writings. It is argued that this demonstrates that the OT canon was not limited to the 24 standard books. However, the earliest manuscripts are Christian versions of the Septuagint. Josephus, a Jew from Alexandria, where the Septuagint originated, never makes mention of any of Apocryphal books. Council of Jamnia – This Jewish council debated the canonicity of several of the OT books. It is argued that this shows the canon was not fixed in the Jewish mind. However, the council was not debating whether previously non-canonical books should be included, but rather if Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs were divinely inspired.“So far as the scriptures are concerned, the rabbis at Jamnia introduced no innovations; they reviewed the tradition they had received and left it more or less as it was. It is probably unwise to talk as if there was a Council or Synod of Jamnia which laid down the limits of the Old Testament canon.” F.F. BruceEarly Church fathers – Augustine is among the most prominent.Arguments againstErrors - In 1 Maccabees 4:26-35, Lysias--the king's regent and cousin, who was also in charge of the government--went to battle against the Jews. This battle took place before the death of Timothy, the captain of the Ammonite army. In 2 Maccabees 10:37-11:12, however, Lysias's defeat came after the death of Timothy.Theological mistakes - Sirach 3:3 says, "Whoever honors his father atones for sins" (RSV). Later in this book, we are told, "For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you; in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favor; as frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away" (Sir. 3:14-15, RSV 1957 edition).Origen and Jerome – Both were probably the most studied in this area in their time and they rejected the books
  • Dropped down from heaven-it came about through a slow, gradual process. Why so gradual? Because in this society, the spoken word was received with the same authority as the written word. The spoken word allowed the gospel to travel quickly, but it became less trustworthy the more generations people were removed from Christ and the apostles (think of the game of telephone). One of a plethora of possible options-sometimes people claim that there are hundreds or thousands of possible combinations of NT books, and the canon that won in the end was not necessarily better or worse than a different combination. The body of literature under consideration for the NT from the earliest times was relatively small.
  • None of us has compiled an exhaustive list of healthy and unhealthy foods. It’s likely that no one has. But upon a brief, cursory examination of a random selection of foods, we can quickly reach a consensus about what is and what isn’t healthy. Yes, there is some debate about a few things. But by establishing a few criteria (calories, fat, sodium) and then applying those criteria to the food, we can easily categorize the foods. Today we have discovered evidence that a general consensus exists among us about what does or does not constitute healthy food, and there is no list for us to reference. Now imagine if someone came along and said, “spinach is not healthy and the mega mac is.” We might need to establish lists and say, “no your assertion contradicts the general consensus that is established upon solid criteria.”
  • Awareness within the NT itself-at times, the NT writers seem to be completely aware that they are writing the inspired Word of God—2 Pet. 3:16 refers to Paul’s letters and the rest of the Scriptures.3 Key terms-the NT establishes its own authority through use of the terms apostle (this is someone chosen by Jesus in person; although Jesus didn’t point us to specific books, he did point us to specific people whom He chose to carry the good news); witness (this should be understood in a forensic way; the authors of the NT were eyewitnesses to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and therefore their testimony is reliable); tradition (in the NT this means “what has been handed down with authority”—the tradition of the NT is the authoritative proclamation entrusted to the apostles).Circulation of letters-by the middle of the second century, the gospels and the Pauline epistles were circulating around the churches. Acts was the hinge that joined the two and created a canon in its embryonic form. GospelsPauline epistlesActsThe church was making slow, steady progress in the formation of the canon. No one was dictating what should or should not be included, but a general consensus was developing. However, near the end of the second century, something happened to speed up the process and give it more formality and precision than it had previously.
  • Marcionism-Who was Marcion? Marcion was the first to develop a formal, concrete canon. It consisted of 10 Pauline epistles and an edited gospel of Luke. This provided both a challenge and an incentive to the church. They all agreed that Marcion’s canon was incomplete. But what then did a complete canon look like?Gnosticism-for the Gnostics, true gnosis (or knowledge) was to be found outside of Scripture, through the spirit. This presented a direct challenge to the authority and tradition of the NT. The Gnostics came up with their own gospel, the gospel of Thomas: Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]." Montanism-Montanists stressed that the Holy Spirit was manifesting Himself through spiritually entranced prophets and prophetesses. This caused the church to address the issue of criteria for inclusion in the canon.Canon in 220: 4 gospels, Acts, all 13 Pauline epistles, Hebrews (more in the East), some Catholic epistles (depending on location), other writings, Revelation. Remember; the Imperial age of the church has not yet begun! We are still in the “heroic age” of the church, persecution is ongoing, and there is no government putting pressure on the church to include or exclude certain books from the canon. God ensured that the canon was secure JUST before the government got involved.
  • -Recognition by church fathers-In 367, church father Athansius wrote down the almost universally accepted NT canon: the same 27 books that comprise our NT today.-Recognition by councils-The Synod at Rome in 382 recognized the 27 books and them alone as canonical.
  • Public lection-books used in the worship of the early churchRole in redemptive history-in the NT, we see the concept of redemption in Christ authoritatively recorded (gospels) and interpreted (Epistles). The next event in redemptive history is the return of Christ as described in Revelation. It makes sense, when one looks at Scripture from the redemptive-historical perspective, that the New Testament is complete as it stands.
  • It is important to emphasize that the church did not create or give authority to the Bible.-Its inspiration is divine, not ecclesiastical. It stands or falls because of its relationship to God, not to the Church. Moreover, any official action of the Church is late. We do not find it before the last part of the fourth century. But by then the canon had to all its intents and purposes been decided.RECOGNITION of authority.-The church did not GIVE authority to the Bible, but RECOGNIZED the authority it already possessed through God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the apostles.
  • 3 cannon

    1. 1. A brief examination of church history
    2. 2. How did we get our Bible?
    3. 3.  We are a people of the book The canon is closed Apologetic concerns
    4. 4.  Importance of the Old Testament to the Church  Jesus and the Apostles used it  It was the scripture of the early church  It is about Jesus Books included in Jewish canon  Threefold division (Law, Prophets, Writings)  24 books
    5. 5. Prophets Psalms/HymnsLaw • Genesis • Joshua • Job • Exodus • Judges • Psalms • Leviticus • Ruth • Proverbs • Numbers • I & II Samuel • Ecclesiastes • Deuteronomy • I & II Kings • Song of • Isaiah Solomon • Jeremiah • Daniel • Lamentations • Chronicles • Ezekiel • Ezra-Nehemiah • 12 minor • Esther prophets
    6. 6.  Apocrypha - Definition Apocryphal books of Roman Catholic Bible  Tobit  Judith  1 & 2 Maccabees  Wisdom  Ecclesiasticus  Baruch
    7. 7. Included in Included in Reformers Council of some Not 4th and 5th say Trent (1546) reformationincluded in WCF rejects century “Apocrypha makes bibles (i.e. Jerome’s apocrypha Christian helpful, but Apocrypha 1550 Geneva Vulgate Septuagint not inspired” official Bible, 1611 KJV)
    8. 8.  Roman Catholic arguments for their inclusion  The Septuagint included it  The Jewish Council of Jamnia (after 75 AD) debated the contents of Jewish canon  Some early church fathers included them Protestant arguments against their inclusion  Not included in Jewish canon known and used by Jesus  Inaccuracies and contradictions  Theological mistakes  Rejected by Origen and Jerome
    9. 9.  Assembled by a single person, group of people, council, or denomination. Immediately dropped down from heaven One of a plethora of possible options
    10. 10. Healthy Unhealthy41 771150 617100 850
    11. 11.  Awareness within the NT itself  3 key terms: apostle, witness, tradition Circulation of letters  Gospels  Pauline epistles  Acts
    12. 12.  Marcionism-pop quiz! Gnosticism  “Gnosticisms effect on the Church was to intensify its concern for faithful adherence to the teaching of the apostles.” –David Dunbar Montanism The reaction to heretics demonstrates an IMPLICIT awareness of the canon already in existence. Canon in 220: 4 gospels, Acts, all 13 Pauline epistles, Hebrews (more in the East), some Catholic epistles (depending on location), other writings, Revelation.
    13. 13.  From this time forward, two mutually related processes were in place:  1) fixing with ever greater exclusiveness and hardening of the limits of the canon  2) ever more widespread recognition of the canon increasing to the point of universal acceptance Recognition by church fathers Recognition by councils
    14. 14.  Apostolic authority Public lection Christological concentration Role in redemptive history
    15. 15.  It is important to emphasize that the church did not create or give authority to the Bible. RECOGNITION of authority. Process, not event. The church does not control the Bible; the Bible controls the church.