Monday, April 10, 2006

New Scripture?


OK, so I am watching National Geographic and they are talking about this “new revelation” called the “Gospel of Judas.” Then there is also the hub about the Da Vinci Code…and all this got me thinking about the scripture and what is it!!!? So, here we go…

What are the Scriptures?
The New Testament speaks of the Old Testament as Scripture, for which the Greek word is 'graphe,' meaning writing. The word bible comes from the Greek word for book. The Holy Bible means the “Holy Book”. It contains 66 separate books (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament), written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and a bit in Aramaic), over a period of more than a thousand years, by over 40 authors (of varying ages and backgrounds), on three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe).

Authors include kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, etc. Books cover history, sermons, letters, a hymnbook, and a love song. There are geographical surveys, architectural specifications, travel diaries, population statistics, family trees, inventories, and numerous legal documents. It covers hundreds of controversial subjects with amazing unity.

The Old Testament was written on papyrus--a form of paper made out of reeds; the New Testament was written on parchments (prepared animal skins). Because both forms of documents easily degraded under the hot and dry conditions, it was difficult to obtain these ancient manuscripts.

How were the 66 books chosen?
Canon is a word meaning “a measuring rod.” The canon is a standard that all scriptural books must meet. The books of the Bible were authoritative and shared particular traits which distinguished them from other mere books. The criteria by which a book was accepted as inspired resulted from the commonalities among those sacred books the Holy Spirit had inspired and chosen for the canon of sacred scripture.
The five criteria are:
1. Was it written by a prophet of God (Dt. 18:18-22; I Pt. 1:20-21)?
2. Was the prophet confirmed by an act of God (Heb. 2:3-4)?
3. Does it tell the truth about God (Gal. 1:8; Dt. 13:1-5; Dt. 18:22)?
4. Does it have the power of God (Heb. 4:12)?
5. Was it accepted by the people of God (I Thess. 2:13; Dt. 31:24-26; Josh. 24:26; I Sam. 10:25; Dan. 9:2; 2 Pt. 3:16; I Tim. 5:18; Col. 4:16; I Thess. 5:27)?

The Hebrew canon was closed and settled with the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi, around 400 B.C. Malachi concluded with the promise that the next event in redemptive history would be the coming of John the Baptist who would prepare the way for Jesus (Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6 cf. Matthew 3:1-17, 17:9-13). During the 400 years of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the coming of Jesus, many works were written and include such things as books of history, fiction, practical living, and end times speculation. While these books were read by some of God’s people, they were treated like Christian books in our own day and never accepted as Scripture, they are called apocryphal. While the Old Testament is quoted roughly 300 times in the New Testament, none of the apocryphal (hidden books) or pseudepigraphal (pen name authored books) are ever quoted in the New Testament or recognized as Scripture by Christians until the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546. Under pressure from Protestant reformers, the Catholic Church voted to include some apocryphal books to justify their doctrines such as purgatory. These books contradict each other, have some clearly aberrant doctrine at odds with the rest of God’s Word, and do not claim to be inspired.

Jesus summarized the Bible as existing in three parts: the Law, Prophets, and Psalms (Luke 24:4). He accepted the Old Testament canon as it exists today without any modifications and came to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). Jesus also spoke of the Old Testament as existing from Abel (Genesis) to Zechariah (Malachi) in Luke 11:51 and Matthew 23:25.

Second, the gospels were accepted as sacred scripture because they contained the words of Jesus that God’s people treasured (Matt 7:28-29; Luke 2:19, 51; John 6:63). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to inspire the writing of the gospels and epistles (John 14:25-26, 16:13). Jesus also promised that His people would recognize His teaching (John 10:27). This is possible because the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of Scripture also teaches their meaning to God’s people in whom He dwells (I Corinthians 2:13-14). For example, in I Timothy 5:28 Paul quotes Jesus’ words in Luke 10:7 and calls them “Scripture.”

Third, all but a few New Testament writers claim to be eyewitnesses (2 Pt. 1:16; I Jn. 1:1-3; Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1-3; I Cor. 15:6-8; John 20:30-31; Acts 10:39-42; I Pt. 5:1; Acts 1:9). Some authors who were not eyewitnesses received first-hand information from other reliable witnesses. Luke received his information from Paul (2 Tim. 4:11) and numerous eyewitnesses (Lk. 1:1-4), Mark received his information from Peter (I Pt. 5:13), and James and Jude were closely associated with the apostles in Jerusalem and were probably Jesus’ brothers. Paul claimed Jesus Christ was speaking through him (I Cor. 14:37; 2 Cor. 13:3). Paul quotes Luke as Scripture (I Tim. 5:18 cf. Dt. 25:4, Lk. 10:7). New Testament writers claim that their writings are holy (2 Tim. 3:15). The New Testament writers said that their writings were the very words of God (1 Thess. 2:13, I Cor. 14:37, 2 Peter 3:2). Peter called Paul’s writings Scripture (2 Pt. 3:15-16). Paul declared that the letters he wrote were to be read in the churches and obeyed (Col. 4:16; 2 Thess. 3:14). The early church treated the apostles teaching as authoritative (Eph. 2:20; Acts 2:42; Acts 15; Eph. 2:20; I John 4:6). Almost all books of the New Testament canon were accepted by the second century. The New Testament canon was finalized after some questions were raised and resolved around the fourth century. There were never any widespread debates on any of the books until the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546.

Can Scripture be written today?
Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God has spoken to us through Jesus and that we have no need of any more revelation beyond what was recorded of His life and work and the subsequent apostolic explanation. The Book of Revelation deals with the end of all things and tells us to expect no more Scripture than what we already have (Revelation 22:18-19). Any new book of the Bible would require eyewitness verification, a new working of God after 2000 years of silence, absolute consistency with the rest of Scripture, and perfect prophecy without any error. We would also have to assume that God had some pertinent revelation that He has withheld from His people for the past 2000 years that He has for some reason now decided to make known. Lastly, the Scriptures warn us of adding to them (Dt. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6).

24 comments:

Michael said...

Wow! Lots of info here - thanks!

Not to hijack this discussion, but I'm curious as to your thoughts on the recent frenzy of bible-based conspiracies (Da Vinci code, the Jesus Papers, etc.)

Do you see their popularity as a sign of society's growing interest in matters of faith (possibly a good thing), or is this a movement to be feared? Is it in fact, blasphemy, that we as Christians should condemn?

Your thoughts?

filletofsoul said...

"It is more blessed to give than to receive" 1 Clement 2:1 (the epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians) is quoted in Acts 20:35, but we do not include the rest of his letter in our Bible. FYI

The Old Testament seems to have been approved of by Jesus himself, so how can we argue with that! The New Testament may be more questionable as to its selection. The real stumbling block for me are not what books the Bible contains but its TRANSLATION. I have noticed word changes in our Bible to that of the Torah (translated to English). Since the Bible was about the Jews, in their language you would assume that they would have the more accurate translation.
The more sermons I hear, the more digging I do into my Bible, the more critical I have become. If you know your scripture and have done some research it isn't that hard to realize when a pastor only gives enough background, information or ideas to nicely fit into what he wants to present. It seems like everything makes sense and must be true until you check it out for yourself. Its not that the pastor is lying he just picks and chooses and interprets scriptures to bring his point across. When I compare scripture to the translated Torah and read notes in my own bible I get the feeling like the Bible translators did the same thing; they interpreted words to fit with what they wanted it to say.
ie. "Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all." Romans 9:5

My footnotes say-This verse is one of the clearest statements of the deity of Jesus Christ found in the entire NT, ASSUMING THE ACCURACY OF THE TRANSLATION

Ask any Jehovah's witness and they will tell you the translation is wrong! I have found many differences that make it increasing difficult for me to believe that our Bible is as it should be. Overall I believe it is true, but I can't help but feel it has been somewhat shaped to fit "Christianity".

Adriano10 said...

Ok Im Back

This topic is very intriguing to me and i have read alot about this [the gospel of Judas] as well as the dead sea scrolls and the Nag Hammadi discoveries.

The thing i find is that we will never accept anything we find, because we as chrsitians dont want to revamp the whole bible. Just think if Judas really did help Jesus in a good way and that the betrayal was "staged" in a way, what would that mean for Christianity as we know it. What if Jesus did marry Mary Magdaline, like the Da Vinci Code talks about, where are those teachings? where is that scripture?

When the people that put together the Bible, they left many "scriptures" out, why? Assuming these people were catholic (yes the very people that we make fun of all the time) what makes them free of error? The Catholic church wasnt free of error, they had some weird ways of conducting themselves, but how are we supposed to know if what they left out was "supposed" to be left out. and why was it left out? The catholic church was Dominant, they had much power over what they believed, and they could have destroyed anything that they didnt agree with, even if it was truth.

Ive read the excerpts of the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Phillip, and the Gospel of Judas. These scriptures are believable.

So why are these scriptures so hard to entertain as truth? Ive read in many places the the Writers of the Gospel's are annoymous, if this is true then why do we take those as truth?

Not many Christians i have talked too (generalization maybe, but truthful in my own experience) have even heard about this, or the dead sea scrolls, in fact when i mentioned it at my place of work, it was brushed aside for the latest American Idol GARBAGE. Christians couldnt give a hoot really, this is another reason why i think that none of this gets a serious look at.

Anywyas I find this stuff very interesting, because we know that documents were burned and documents were left out of the bible, and it seems over the past 70 years that we are finding more and more of these documents that were hidden. Maybe they are written by Paul, who knows, maybe John.

I struggle with these new texts, Martin luther talk about the Sola Scripture, he idea that the Bible is the be all and end all. I find this concept niave, especially becuase it was the "sinning man" that wrote the Bible. Scrap the rule the followed, scrap there organization. The question that burns in me is why was some of it left out, and some of it burned secretly, and why were these texts hidden, and hidden well? Theres got to be more to these findings.

filletofsoul said...

Why are people not responding to this particular blog? It's about the first really interesting one Soulpastor has written in months! By the lack of response either people must be busy or they are not interested. I hope it is not the latter. The Gospel of Judas will blow over and so will the Da Vinci Code, but the question of how we got the traditional Bible in our hands is something a Christian should know about. This was interesting. Look at this Live Vote from MSN NBC


What's your view on the accuracy of the Bible? * 326409 responses

Every detail is literally true.35%

Some details may be inaccurate or exaggerated, but the fundamentals are true.34%

The Bible is fundamentally fiction, incorporating some historical facts.26%

None of the above.5.1%

(Not a scientific survey. Click to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.)

Maybe the majority of people who responded are not Christians but it makes you think.

Soulpastor
"The Book of Revelation deals with the end of all things and tells us to expect no more Scripture than what we already have (Revelation 22:18-19)"
The words of warning by the author not to add or subtract any words of prophecy were written in reference only to the book of Revelation; not the whole Bible.

"Lastly, the Scriptures warn us of adding to them (Dt. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6)"
The Deuteronomy passage warns the Isrealites of adding to the "commands of the Lord" as given thru Moses. This passage does not say anything about the rest of "scripture" (the traditional Bible)in general.

SoulPastor said...

Hey Fishy!

I am glad that you finally found one of these to be interesting! Have a caramel macchiato and relax for a bit. There are many who read weekly, and although they do not comment they are there and a number contact me personally. As for a response to all the questions…my van blew up and I am in a bit of a pickle. I will soon respond to each response, just give me some time!

kenny said...

For me...I have to say that I do not believe everything the "Teacher" or "Pastor" at church tells me or anyone else who gives a life lesson. Now, hold on...I will explain this.

First, I think that people will and can argue about Translation and does the scripture really mean what it says today or is it so badly translated that we are missing the mark? For me this is just banter. What does that mean for the millions of people who have believed what is written for the last...how many years...and have since passed on to glory? I hold to the fact that biblical and historical scholars have spent years translating. They have done this to the best of their ability and with standards set pretty high.

Second...I do not blindly accept what is told to me. We have within us the Holy Spirit who guides us. I meditate on what has been said and ask the Holy Spirit to speak the truth to my soul. That I may walk as Christ walked.
Does this sound too simple to be truth? Hmmmm, maybe. But what I do know is that none of us will fully understand the fullness of the Bible until we stand in glory.

So I think that we can question and argue about the Bible, how it is translated and is it applicable today? Where does that leave us? Will it give us answers to our questions? Nope. I think that we continue to pray and study and love others. Care for the people around us. Reach out and tell of the restoration and repair that is available for anyone.

My brother told me that the old testament is just full of killing and that done by God. I told him I do not see it that way. The old testament is all about the restoration of Israel (the people of God). It shows that man is unfaithful...and deserves crap. Really! God thinks otherwise...he forgives and brings back the unfaithful to restoration, even though they do not deserve it, God does it anyway to show his faithfulness.
That is WAY KEWL!!!

Just my thoughts. Hope it wasn't too messy with the van parts flying all over the place...sorry to hear about it really. Do you need anything?
Take your time.

And Fillet...just have to say, I missed seeing comments from you from the last numerous posts. The posts are interesting to many people. Thought provoking and drawing the people of God into greater transparency in their walk together. It is the heart man! Shalom to you.

Adriano10 said...

Kenny,

Lets suppose these new scriptures held more truth too them and more understanding, would you consider them then. I think you are missing the point, its not about translation, but addition, to whats already in the Bible. I mean if you want to "reach out" and tell people about Jesus, could you possibly telling these people the wrong thing because you didnt really sit down and dig into these new texts?

It seems, like Fillet said, people might just be ignoring this, or have no interest. They want to shove it to the side and hope it blows away so they dont have to think about it anymore. People dont want change, even if it is for the betterment of Christianity.

If you heard the voice of God tell you this was truth then you might accept it, you might push harder for relevance to be shown in these texts. I dont want to question your blind faith statement, but from your post it seems you "blindly" believe that the Bible is complete, and that there is no possible way anything could be added or taken away. If the holy spirit in me told me that these texts were true, i would get criticized by many anyways. The holy spirit guides many in many ways.

Maybe the Bible is complete, but why were texts such as this hidden from the Fire so to speak. Many underground christians and non corrupt church members could have saved these because they did have first person accounts, they just didnt have the means of getting them out at the time.

I think more Chritians need to think more critically about these types of things and not give such sunday school answers, no offense Kenny, thats what you believe, thats ok. But this is why no one wants to think about this, because it is deeper than Sunday school. If we only lived in a world were more and more Christians critical thought about things, the things we could achieve!

SoulPastor said...

Michael asked about my thoughts on "bible-based conspiracies (Da Vinci code, the Jesus Papers, etc.)"

With the Da Vinci Code one must remember that it is a work of fiction. There are elements of history there, but it is still a work of fiction. I am not a big conspiracy theory guy. I don't have time for it. There are people out there (who I trust their opinion) who study this stuff (for me) and I gladly let them do the work for me, and trust that their assessment is correct.

Michael also asked: “Do you see their popularity as a sign of society's growing interest in matters of faith (possibly a good thing), or is this a movement to be feared? Is it in fact, blasphemy, that we as Christians should condemn?”

People always talk. People are always trying to disprove Christ. If find it intriguing that we do not see the same about of time and effort in people trying to disprove Buddha or Mohammed etc. I think that is because of the claim of Jesus that he is that way, the truth and the life. I believe our society is spiritual, it is interested in faith, and is asking the questions of truth and GOD and that is always a good thing. I do not think that one needs to be afraid of a “movement.” Our faith needs to be an open book. Frankly, secrecy scares me! As for the blasphemy…Christians are already condemning some things far too much and are lacking in the area of love and tolerance…….

Adriano10 said...

Soulpastor,

People talk becuase there is a huge element of unknown in Christianity. Jesus being the Son of Man and him being the only way to heaven proves this over and over. Know one really knows, it is by faith that people agree or disagree with this statement.

The reason why Buddha and Mohammed are not questioned is because they didnt claim to be the be all and end all of their Religion, just a firestarter, if you will. The same came be said for the Sikhs, Nanak did the same. It's actually intresting learning about the Sikhs becuase they seem to be a super religion, a blend of Islam and Hinduism. (just a side note)

" I believe our society is spiritual, it is interested in faith, and is asking the questions of truth and GOD and that is always a good thing."

We can only hope i guess, but I mean in everyday life the only people that i find interested are the people that have professions that gear towards such work. Again the Christians ive talked to rather talk about American Idol.

"I do not think that one needs to be afraid of a “movement.” Our faith needs to be an open book."

But we are, becuase movement = change and change = fear. Imagine all the stuff that would have to be changed to incorporate any of the works found in the past 70 years.

Soulpastor what do you think of findings like the Naj Hammadi, and the Dead sea scrolls, and even the Gospel of Judas?

SoulPastor said...

Fishy asks 2 question (sort of) Why Are There Different Bible Translations and what about accuracy? So, here is Fishy 1.1….

In translating the Bible into English, three general categories of translation are most common. Word for word translations, thought for thought translations, and paraphrases. The same three options are also used in the translation of other ancient books into English.

Word for word translations make a special effort to carefully interpret each word from their original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic into English. Word for word translations tend to be the best for studying because of their accuracy, though they sometimes lose the poetic nuances of the original languages. Probably the best word for word translations are the New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV), and the New King James Version (NKJV). The King James Version (KJV) is also a word for word translation but because of its’ use of old English it is very difficult for some people to read.

Thought for thought translations attempt to convey the full nuances of a passage by interpreting the scriptures entire meaning and not just the individual words. Thought for thought translations may include words that were not included in the originals in an effort to give the same meaning that the reader of the original languages would have had. The best and most widely read thought for thought English translation is the New International Version (NIV).

Paraphrased translations pay even less attention to specific word meanings than thought for thought translations in an attempt to give the poetic or narrative essence of a passage. For this reason, many paraphrased translations do not even have verses in them. Examples of paraphrased translations include The Message, The New Living Bible, and The Amplified Bible.

Some translations are very poor and I would not recommend that they be used as credible translations for study. These include the Jehovah’s Witness translation called the New World Translation, which was written by editors with no working knowledge of the original languages. I would also not recommend current politically correct attempts to remove the masculine names for God in Bibles like the New Revised Standard Version.

Since each style of translation has different strengths and weaknesses it is best for students of the Bible to use multiple translations that include word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase versions to gain a fuller insight into the Scriptures. I suggest, that generally, it is best to use the NIV as your primary study Bible as it is the most common modern day translation.

SoulPastor said...

Fishy 1.2
How did we get our English Bible?
The existence of the Bible is actually a fascinating and miraculous process that many volumes have been written to explain. To help you understand the process in a brief and simple way I will explain a five-fold sequence that has occurred for you to read the Bible.

GOD TO Revelation/Inspiration TO Transmission TO Translation TO Interpretation TO Application TO your life

Step #1 – Revelation is the miraculous event whereby God reveals Himself and His Truth to someone and inspires them through the power of the Holy Spirit to write down what He has to say perfectly in the original copy which is called the autographa

Step #2 – Transmission is when the autographa was carefully copied by trained scribes so that other copies could be made available for people to read. While these hand written copies have the occasional minor error (i.e. spelling or punctuation) they were accepted as accurate and authoritative by God’s people (e.g. Deuteronomy 17:18 cf. I Kings 2:3; Ezra 7:14; Nehemiah 8:8). Likewise, Jesus taught from copies of the books and not the original and treated them as authoritative (e.g. Matthew 12:3-5; Matthew 21:16, 42; Luke 4:16-21, 10:26). Lastly, the Apostles
who were the senior leaders in the early church taught from copies of the books of the Bible (Acts 17:2, 18:8), and the early church tested all teachings against the existing scrolls (Acts 17:11). In conclusion, since God’s people have always relied on manuscripts they have proven to be accurate and trustworthy.

Step #3 – Translation occurs when people want to read the books of the Bible but are not familiar with the original language in which it was written (Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic). So, teams of scholars in language theory carefully undertake the painstaking process of translating the original languages into the languages of other people’s. Today, the Bible has been carefully translated into nearly 3000 languages. While the thought of a translation may concern some people, the fact remains that most of the canon of western literature has also been translated because we do
not use their original languages either. The first translation of the English Bible was initiated by John Wycliffe and completed by John Purvey in A.D. 1388.

Step #4 – Interpretation occurs when someone reads the Bible in a language they can understand and determines what the meaning of the verses they read is. Each text of the Bible has only one true interpretation and so we must be careful to read the truth out of the Bible rather than reading our beliefs and desires into it.

Step #5 – Application is the result of taking what we learn from the principles in the Bible and making changes in our thoughts and actions so that our life is congruent with the Bible. There are a seemingly infinite number of applications to a text of the Bible. For example, when the Bible says that we should love people the applications for that principle are seemingly endless.

In this five-step process we see how God speaks to us and cares deeply about our lives. We also see how the chasm between God and us is graciously filled by God’s revelation which is more accurate and true than our human speculation such as religion and philosophy. Lastly, while step #1 is the only one that is guaranteed to be perfect, the other steps are indeed accurate though we must be increasingly careful as we move through them because the opportunity for error increases at each step.

So why should I trust that the Bible is accurate?

In regards to the five-step process I have explained above, some people struggle in trusting that the early copies of the original copy of each book of the Bible is trustworthy. To help bolster your confidence in the early copies I would like to simply compare the New Testament books with various other books that are widely read and accepted in Western literature. In so doing I want to show how trustworthy the earliest copies of the Bible are because we have so many manuscripts, and those manuscripts are so close to the original writings of the New Testament. To help explain this more fully we will examine three forms of evidence for the trustworthiness of the copies of the New Testament books.

Three general tests exist for determining the historicity of any ancient text: the bibliographical test (number and quality of manuscripts), the internal test (the consistency of the text to not contradict itself), and the external test (the accuracy of the text in relation to other works of history from that period).

Test #1 – The Bibliographical Test
The bibliographical test seeks to determine the quantity and quality of documents, as well as how far removed they are from the time of the originals. The quantity of NT manuscripts is unparalleled in ancient literature. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, about 8,000 Latin manuscripts, and another 1,000 manuscripts in other languages (Syriac, Coptic, etc.). Upon request I can send you a chart that makes this clear, just email me. OR purchase Ken Boa’s “I’m Glad You Asked” and go to page 78.

The age of the manuscripts is also excellent. Possibly the oldest manuscript is a scrap of papyrus
containing John 18:31-33, 37-38, dating from AD 125-130, no more than 40 years after John’s gospel was likely written. A non-Christian scholar, Carsten Peter Thiede even claims that he has dated a fragment of Matthew to about 60 AD. By comparing the ancient manuscripts we find that the vast majority of variations are minor elements of spelling, grammar, and style, or accidental omissions or duplications of words or phrases. Only about 400 (less than one page of an English translation) have any significant bearing on the meaning of a passage, and most are footnoted in Modern English translations. Overall, 97-99% of the NT can be reconstructed beyond any reasonable doubt, and no Christian doctrine is founded solely or even primarily on textually disputed passages.

The Scripture quoted in the works of the early Christian writers (most 95-150 AD) are so extensive that virtually the entire New Testament can be reconstructed except for 11 verses, mostly from 2 and 3 John. Critics of the accuracy of the Bible routinely claimed that it was in fact a series of fables and legends that had developed over hundreds of years because there were not enough copies of ancient manuscripts to alleviate their skepticism. Curiously, a simple shepherd boy dealt a death blow to their criticisms in 1947. He wandered into a cave in the Middle East and discovered large pottery jars filled with leather scrolls that had been wrapped in linen cloth. Amazingly, the ancient copies of the books of the Bible were in good condition despite their age and harsh climate because they had been well sealed for nearly 1900 years. What is now known as The Dead Sea Scrolls are made up of some 40,000 inscribed ancient fragments. From these fragments more than 500 books have been reconstructed, including some Old Testament books such as a complete copy of Isaiah. Which I personally have had the opportunity to see.

Simply, if someone seeks to eliminate the trustworthiness of the New Testament then to be consistent they would also have to dismiss virtually the entire canon of western literature and pull everything from Homer to Plato and Aristotle off of bookstore shelves and out of classroom discussions.

Test #2 – The Internal Test
This test of the Bible’s accuracy is indeed important because each book is a witness to a body of truth and much like a legal case in our day if a witness were to contradict themselves then their testimony should not be deemed trustworthy. While there is not sufficient time in a blog to thoroughly defend the internal consistency of the Bible, I will provide a few simple examples that illustrate the amazing internal unity of the Bible.

Neither Islam, nor any other world religion or cult can present any specific prophecies concerning the coming of their prophets. However in the Bible we see hundreds of fulfilled prophecies extending hundreds, and sometimes over a thousand years into the future. Consider the few following prophecies and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ:
1. Born of a woman (Gen. 3:15 cf. Mt. 1:20; Gal. 4:4)
2. Descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18 cf. Mt. 1:1; Gal. 3:16)
3. Born of a virgin (Is. 7:14 cf. Mt. 1:18)
4. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 cf. Luke 2:1-7)
5. Prophesied by the forerunner John the Baptist (Is. 40; Mal. 3:1 cf. Jn. 1:19-52)
6. Rejected by his own people (Is. 53 cf. Jn. 1)
7. Presented as a king riding a donkey (Zech. 9:9 cf. Lk. 19:35-37)
8. Betrayed by a friend (Ps. 41:9 cf. Mt. 26:50)
9. Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12 cf. 26:15)
10. Blood money thrown on temple floor & used to buy a potters field (Zech. 11:13 cf. Mt. 27:5-7)
Note: the temple was destroyed in 70 AD so the Messiah must have come prior to then.
11. Crucified (Ps. 22:16 cf. Lk 23:33)
Note: crucifixion didn’t exist until hundreds of years after Psalms was written
12. Crucified with thieves (Isa. 53:12 cf. Mt. 27:38)
13. Forsaken by God (Ps. 22:1 cf. Mt. 27:46)
14. Lots cast for His clothing (Ps. 22:18 cf. Jn. 19:23)
15. Buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isa. 53:9 cf. Mt. 27:57)
16. Resurrected & exalted (Ps. 16:10, Isa. 52:13, 53:10-12 cf. Acts 2:25-32)
17. Ascended into heaven (Ps. 68:18 cf. Acts 1:8, Eph. 4:8).

The Bible is clearly a book of history and not just philosophy because it continually promises concrete historical events that in time come to pass exactly as promised. These promises show the divine inspiration of the Bible and their fulfillment proves that there is a God who rules over human history and brings events to pass just as He ordains them. Because of these facts, we can trust the internal consistency of the Bible to be a chorus of faithful witnesses who sing together in harmony.

Test #3 – The Historical Test
The historicity of Jesus and events surrounding the time of his life has been well established by early Roman, Greek, and Jewish sources. Such ancient historians include Flavius Josephus, Mara BarSerapion, Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Lucian, and the Jewish Talmud. Simply, when the New Testament mentions such historical facts as rulers, nations, people groups, political events, and the existence of Jesus non-Christian historical sources confirm the accuracy of the New Testament accounts. I have another chart if one wants that I can email, that is a summarized historical timeline of scripture.

SoulPastor said...

A-10
Read everything I have already posted.....REALLLLLLLLY CAREFULLY!

SoulPastor said...

Kenny

Thank you for that great post...there is an important aspect that people need to realize of "testing" what is being said.

Rock on buddy!

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

This comment is a response to Adriano10 (from earlier in this thread when he (she?) was responding to Kenny).

Adriano10 says: "Lets suppose these new scriptures held more truth too them and more understanding, would you consider them then. I think you are missing the point, its not about translation, but addition, to what’s already in the Bible. I mean if you want to "reach out" and tell people about Jesus, could you possibly telling these people the wrong thing because you didn’t really sit down and dig into these new texts?

It seems, like Fillet said, people might just be ignoring this, or have no interest. They want to shove it to the side and hope it blows away so they don’t have to think about it anymore. People don’t want change, even if it is for the betterment of Christianity. "

As always, there are things that I don't understand in this comment. For example: "let's suppose that these new scriptures contained more truth in them and more understanding." First, saying that something is a scripture is to imply that it is taken as sacred. It is not at all clear that these texts are of this sort. Second, truth is not something that comes in degrees. So, to say that something is 'more true' is to misuse the concept.

Adriano10, you accuse Kenny of missing the point. This objection, seems to me, to not be well founded. Kenny wasn't talking about the gospel of Judas--at least he didn't say anything about it in his post. Given this, I think that you aren't really responding to Kenny (as the beginning of your post suggests).

So, I think it is better to respond to the rest of the quoted passage pretending that you are objecting to someone who is talking about the gospel of Judas.

I'm really unclear what all the fuss is about. I know that there are people who are claiming that it ought to be part of the canon and that it shows that there are problems with the scriptures as we have them now. Quite frankly, I've not seen a good argument for why this is the case. Presumably, if there was a good argument for the Gospel of Judas, then there also would have been a good argument for the addition of the other Gnostic Gospels. But, very very few people have accepted those arguments (and that is not just because they blindly believed that the canon was complete, or anything of that sort; those texts were not taken to be authoritative on historical grounds.

You make a claim about ‘reaching out’ to tell people about Jesus and you ask: isn’t it possible that you are telling them the wrong thing? Well, of course it is possible that you are telling them the wrong thing. It is possible that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it is possible that I’m dreaming right now, and it is possible that I’ll be in Winnipeg tomorrow, but that’s not the point. What we care about is how probable it is that we are wrong. We ought to think hard about these things (on this, we agree), but I will argue until my eyes fall out that it is rational to continue telling people what you believe, even if you aren’t able to sit down and adequately study all of the available literature. If that was a pre-requisite for reasonable evangelicalism (or, action involving academic type beliefs, in general) then we’d not ever be able to do anything rationally.

Finally, your comments (which echo Fillet’s) about people’s interest are simply false. For example, check here for commentary (and commentary that is not just “I don’t believe it”) and for links to the debate about the Gospel of Judas that is going on around the blogosphere.

That’s mainly what I take issue with in your post. I agree with some of the sentiments that you express later on; namely, the ones about Christians thinking more critically about what it is that they believe, but I thought I should register my thoughts against what you posted.

[I deleted the post before this, because I messed up the hyperlink at the bottom.]

filletofsoul said...

Mark B....
I wasn't commenting on people's interests in the "Gospel of Judas". I was commenting on the topic of how we got the traditional bible in our hands. I was giving people the benefit of the doubt by voicing that they may be busy with other things BUT I was really hoping to generate some discussion. Oh, and I won't take offense that you mentioned me in the same line as Adriano10, this time. :)

filletofsoul said...

Soupastor...
Ten Stages of NT Formation and Transmission (with considerable chronological overlap, continuing down to today)
1. The Historical Jesus – words are spoken and deeds are performed by Jesus himself during his lifetime on earth.
2. Oral Tradition – traditions and beliefs about Jesus are developed and passed on by early Christian communities.
3. Written Sources – some of the miracles and/or sayings of Jesus are compiled and recorded in early written documents.
4. Written Texts – individual letters, full Gospels, etc., are written with particular messages for particular situations.
5. Distribution – some writings are copied and shared with other Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean.
6. Collection – certain Christians begin collecting the letters of Paul and gathering together several different Gospels.
7. Canonization – four Gospels, several collections of letters, and a few other texts are accepted as authoritative scriptures.
8. Translation – biblical texts are translated into other ancient and modern languages: Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, etc.
9. Interpretation – the meaning of the scriptures is investigated on various levels: literal, spiritual, historical, social, etc.
10. Application – communities and individuals use the NT for practical purposes: liturgical, moral, sacramental, theological, etc.

I see where the road diverges a bit at translation but is seems that the road can totally separate when it gets to interpretation. (I should have included that in my original post) I think all our denominations to a certain degree are products of different intrepretation of various parts of scripture.

As I have been reading thru the commentaries in the Cumash, I do wonder why there is so much information and views that cannot be found in our Christian commentaries. Many of these insights can help us to understand OT scripture and even put it in a new light. It is not necessarily that we would have more knowlegde of God but we would probably understand some events better. (I personally find their timelines amazing.)

kenny said...

Just a note....
I tend not to be too much of a conspiracy theory type guy either.

For me personally, I would say I am not a sunday school theologan, rather a guy who likes to talk about my faith, what God has done in my life.

I am reminded of a comment I said to my brother. He said that to him the old testament is just about God's judgement...ie killing and such. So I shared my view on the old testament that to me it speaks of God's ultimate love for humanity. How we as humans (Israelites) are so unfaithful, how we fail and struggle with issues and crap. That we forget how amazing God is. That instead of killing us all off, God reveals his heart, loves us, accepts us, draws us. How he is the God of reconciliation and love and redemption. Hosea is a fine example of that.

I have been out of the loop in terms of "church stuff...theological debates" for about a decade and so I am just getting back into the swing of things. I have not read anything in terms of the Book of Judas. So I cannot comment. I am not scared to read stuff, but what I am more concerned with is how people talk, debate, argue, discuss and then really lose the point.
Why are we here?
Who blesses us with breath in the morning?
Who provides ultimately our daily bread?
I will not discount theological discussions, but when we are consumed by that...we are missing it. If I speak falsehood, I will be accountable for that. What I do know is that I am here for a purpose. To show love to others. To bind up the broken hearted, to help set captives free. I am to help look after widows and orphans and feed the poor. I am to love my neighbour and my enemy and forgive those who trespass against me. So ya, we can debate, because there is an element of the unknown, but what is faith? Faith to believe even if we never see! Some people call that a simple faith...but we are called to be wise, and yet still have faith like a child. Watch a child play, talk and interact and you will see the faith I mean. God is it...simple as that.
It is building community, it is standing up when we see people being taken advantage of. It is changing the area where we live.
I have enjoyed reading the information that you posted SoulPastor. I would like more information on historical facts...
So ya, just a few thoughts...
really looking forward to this easter. This is the first year back in the peg, first time celebrating it in 9 years, so ya...this is all fresh for me, tender and real. The very image of the cross...words cannot do justice to the love and gratitude I feel and experience day to day.

Mark said...

filletofsoul,

Fair enough, then you're not culpable for what you didn't say.

You won't take offence this time? What about next time? This is giving me a lot of power over you; all that I need to do is this:

filletofsoul ------ Adriano10

and you'll be offended. Awesome!

Well, don't let it bother you too much, otherwise I might start to like mantioning the two of you in the same line.

Ciao

SoulPastor said...

Here is an interesting article from Michael Coren of the Toronto Sun regarding the Da Vinci Code.

Enjoy

"No Defense for Da Vinci

It is somewhat ironic to see Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, sitting in a British court and defending himself against charges of plagiarism by the writers of a previous book about the Holy Grail. Ironic because both books are utter nonsense.

Brown's defence against plagiarism is that his work is original. His defence against writing rubbish is that his book is fiction and he doesn't claim to be a historian. Problem is, that's not entirely true.

Brown includes a "fact" section and slips in references to various non-fiction works throughout his book. As flawed as these volumes may be, they are genuine books and are used to convey a sense of authenticity to Brown's text. They also serve to convince the gullible that his thesis has some credibility.

The Holy Grail, he argues, was not an object but a person - Mary Magdalene. Who carried the child of Jesus. Brown writes that this is ancient wisdom. Not quite. It is in fact an anti-Christian libel that was first stated not before but 100-300 years after the Gospels were written.

There is no evidence at all that it is true, but acres of proof that it is sheer fabrication.

Then come the mistakes. The heroes of the book are chased by a crazed and murderous "Opus Dei monk." There is, however, no such thing as an Opus Dei monk. Opus Dei is an organization of orthodox Roman Catholics, composed mostly of lay people. There are some priests within the organization but no monks. Nor is Opus Dei sinister or violent. It educates, works with the marginalized and performs charitable works.

After this, Brown says that during the Middle Ages the Church burned five million women as witches. Really? If so, there would have been almost no adult women left anywhere in Europe. In fact around 40,000 were killed, for various reasons.

Brown bases much of his story on precise details of the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci. Yet he mistakes the size of a central piece, The Virgin of the Rocks, by 18 inches. He writes extensively about the Priory of Sion and says that is was founded in 1099. It was actually founded in the 1950s.

He also writes that until the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD nobody believed that Jesus was divine. Laughable. Christians always believed that Christ was divine, from the earliest martyrs in the years after the Resurrection. The Gospels, claiming that Jesus was God, were written in the first century and we have actual copies from the second.

Christian writings outside of Scripture, such as those of Ignatius, Justin Martyr and Clement, also date from the second and early third century and they too, of course, claim divinity for Jesus. One doesn't have to agree with the claim, but only a fool or a liar would pretend that the claim was not made.

All the Nicaea Council did was to codify these beliefs. There was no time when followers of Christ thought of him as anything other than the son of God. If so, they would not have died for him.

Leading medieval historian Sandra Miesel goes so far as to say that the book is so full of errors that, "I'm actually surprised when The Da Vinci Code is correct about anything at all."

The anti-Christian and in particular anti-Catholic bigotry in the book is astounding. If someone had written such horrors about, for example Muslims, he would not be published, let alone become a bestseller.

Hypocrisy, just like dishonesty, wins the day yet again."

Mark said...

Soulpastor,

I’m really glad that you said, of Michael Coren’s article, that it was ‘interesting’ and not ‘good.’ Quite frankly, it seems to be a really silly article. Coren says that it is ironic to see Brown defending himself against plagiarism charges because both Brown’s book and the one he purportedly plagiarized, are utter nonsense. Maybe Coren is trying to employ some journalistic flare here—I think he’s failed miserably--, but to say that the books are nonsense is simply false. It may be true that neither of the books contains even a single true sentence, but that is very different from them being nonsense. Secondly, Coren seems to not understand what irony is. He says that this situation is ironic because the books are nonsense. Even if the books were nonsense, that doesn’t make it the case that the charge of plagiarism is any less serious. One can plagiarize nonsense just as well as someone can plagiarize something true. (I should know, I’ve had students do both and both students received an F on their respective papers.)

The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction; so says Brown. I also think that it is. Coren disagrees. Coren’s reason for saying that the work is non-fiction is that it has a ‘facts’ section. This by itself, isn’t enough to show that the work is non-fiction. There are lots of fiction writers who play with various conventions within the genre and this could easily be one such example. Even if it’s not, that’s still not enough to say that The Di Vinci Code is a work of non-fiction. We are all familiar with this ever-growing genre of historical fiction. This genre frequently takes historical events or details or places or people and weaves them into a fictional story. This is what Brown did. So what if lots of his so called ‘facts’ were wrong; if they are all wrong, that’s all the more reason to think that the work is fiction.

Coren notes that Brown often cites so-called ‘academic works.’ Coren has serious doubts about the veracity of the claims contained within these volumes—and perhaps justifiably so. To this he says: “As flawed as these volumes may be, they are genuine books and are used to convey a sense of authenticity to Brown's text. They also serve to convince the gullible that his thesis has some credibility.” (Note: he says they are ‘genuine books,’ as though we might have thought that they were insincere books. I think he meant to say ‘real books’ or ‘not fictional-books’; he’s the journalist, he should know better.) From this quote, it seems that Coren’s criticism is not that The Di Vinci Code is non-fiction, but rather that some [sic] gullible people won’t realize that it is fiction. Maybe that’s the case, but that’s a different criticism; one that seems relevant to our assessment of the books value (I'm even doubtful about this) and not to it’s fiction/non-fiction status, as Coren seems to be discussing.

Finally, Coren says: “If someone had written such horrors about, for example Muslims, he would not be published, let alone become a bestseller.”

All that I have to say to this is: Silly Coren, this book has already been written by Salman Rushdie, it’s called The Satanic Verses.

A Not So Desperate Housewife said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adriano10 said...

Soulpastor,

I would like to comment on on your above post, just some of it though i dont have much time with exams right now,

Brown wrote
"He also writes that until the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD nobody believed that Jesus was divine."

You Wrote: "Laughable. Christians always believed that Christ was divine, from the earliest martyrs in the years after the Resurrection. The Gospels, claiming that Jesus was God, were written in the first century and we have actual copies from the second. "

This is infact partly true, but not all of it. Im sure you know about the Council of Nicea, but it seems you dont know too much about it. Jesus was in fact questioned at this council as being not divine, and therefore not equal to God the Father. Arius and his followers, which were many at this time, agreed on these matters, this was a just one of the many reasons leading up to the Great Schism. Arianism didnt survive, but the fact is that yes Jesus was questions and not all thought he was divine.

You said: "All the Nicaea Council did was to codify these beliefs. There was no time when followers of Christ thought of him as anything other than the son of God. If so, they would not have died for him."

Not True, the council of Nicea was a time when Patriarchs of the church were questioning if the son of God was really the Son of God. It did Codify that he was of the same essence, homoosious, but there was many that didnt believe this. They questioned if God was just the son of Man, not the Son of God. This resulted in a mini schism of the church.

Check this site out for more Council of Nicea Decisions http: //www.newadvent.org/cathen/11044a.htm and if you really want to read more into it http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/basis/nicea1.txt

Thats all i have time for right now.

SoulPastor said...

A 10

This is a blog which is limited to space and time. VOLUMES have been written on each of the topics. I pick and choose what I am going to talk about and I attempt to keep it short, unlike my life lessons! As for the Council Of Nicea, I am very well aware of what was taking place. Thanks for the affirmation of being ‘partly true.’

Around the table of the council you had two different views being presented and yes there was a divide. Now, before we go further…the original post is regarding the scriptures. At the council no books or verse were edited or omitted out of the cannon. On the contrary, the Arian debate was over whether or not to add A SINGLE WORD to the Creed, not the Bible. And that one word was disputed precisely because it was NOT found in the New Testament's vocabulary anywhere. [For the details on the Council of Nicea, by a Jewish historian with no pro-Vatican bias, see: "WHEN JESUS BECAME GOD" by Richard E. Rubenstein, Harcourt, Brace & Company(NY, 1999).] In other words, EVERYONE AGREED ON THE WORDING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (and Greek version of the Old Testament), right down to the intimate details of every single word used in its vocabulary. All the bishops of the church were using the same Bible in 325 AD. No one suggested "adding" a book or "changing" the wording as a way to help resolve the dispute over this one word. Moreover, earlier canon lists and manuscripts show that the Bible in use before the Council was really the same one in use after it. [See especially "THE NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS" in many volumes (in progress) by Reuben Swanson, William Carey International Press(Pasadena, 1995-present). Allows a comparison of all variations in the earliest manuscripts.]

A major problem that came out of the council
Alexander of Alexandria had called a meeting of the presbyters [priests]. According to the historian Socrates, the aging "pope" with perhaps too “philosophical minuteness" began to lecture on the theological mystery of the Holy Trinity. Alexander had been discussing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost for some time when he was interrupted by one of the presbyters called Arius, a native of Libya. There is no evidence that Alexander was a profound theologian. He may have bumbled, and it is possible that Arius was justified in accusing Alexander of Sabellianism, a heresy that involved a belief in the unity of God at the expense of the reality of the Trinity. But in combating Alexander, Arius fell into a new heresy, for he announced, "If the Father begat the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows there was a time when the Son was not".

Athanasius (Alexander's chief deacon assistant) saw the danger clearly, and he seems to have taken over from Alexander the task of refuting Arius. To the credit of Athanasius, he saw clearly that the most dangerous of existing heresies was precisely the heresy announced by Arius. It was a very simple heresy. All Arius said was that if the “Father begat the Son, then the Son must have had a birth, and therefore there was a time when the Son of God did not exist. He had come into existence according to the will of the Heavenly Father, and therefore he was less than the heavenly Father, though greater than man. Christ was no more than a mediator between man and God.” No, answered Alexander and Athanasius; “Christ is absolute God.” In our own heretical age, the dispute between Athanasius and Arius may appear to be a splitting of hairs, but it was not so at the time.

Here, at some time in 319, the cry of the Arians--"There was a time when the Son was not"--was first heard. The words were to have an extraordinary influence on the shaping of the church. They were dynamite and split the church in two, and these words, which read in Greek like a line of a song, still echo down the centuries.

Now, we can deal with the text!