Monday, April 10, 2006
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).
Posted by SoulPastor at 8:29 AM