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#1 User is offline   mead777 

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 05:16 PM

BIBLE INERRANCY AND BIBLE QUESTION RESOURCES

This webpage is devoted to supporting the doctrine of Bible inerrancy. First, I provide some resources for answering Bible questions and then I give evidence which supports the doctrine of Bible inerrancy.

ANSWERS TO BIBLE QUESTIONS. USER FRIENDLY RESOURCES.

http://www.inerrancy.org/ (look up by verse)

http://www.tektonics.org/index2.html (extremely well organized )

http://www.christian-thinktank.com (allows lookup by topic or keywords )

http://www.christiananswers.net (general questions)

http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/rtb/ (general questions)

http://www.blueletterbible.org (excellent free commentaries)

http://www.apologeticspress.org (general Christian/Bible answer site)


ADVANCED GOOGLE TIPS SO YOU CAN FIND BIBLE ANSWERS NOW!

http://www.google.com (search engine)

http://www.google.co...ed_search?hl=en (advanced searches)

http://www.google.co...finesearch.html (advanced www.google.com help)


AWESOME BIBLE SITES I FOUND THROUGH WWW.GOOGLE.COM


NOAH'S ARK:


Noah's ark seen through the eyes of a nautical engineer:

http://www.asknoah.org/arkdesign.html

Other sites regarding the ark's seaworthiness:

http://www.users.big...an/arksize.html

http://christian-thi...com/bigark.html


Historical accounts of Noah's ark sitings:

http://www.home.eart.../Sightings.html


Bible account of Noah compared to Flood legends around the world

http://www.icr.org/p...-b/btg-153b.htm

http://www.users.big...an/arksize.html

http://www.custance....troduction.html

http://www.biblicalc...ies/bcs044.html



Noah's ark, objections answered

http://www.answersin...ea/faq/noah.asp

http://www.christian...atastrophe.html


More answers regarding Noah's ark:

http://www.ldolphin.org/cisflood.html


Noah's ark, insects not welcome:

http://www.adam.com....ndInsects49.htm



DEFENSE OF CHRISTIANITY SITES


http://www.home.eart.../historical.htm (historical apologetics)

http://www.apologetics.com/articles (comprehensive site, excellent essays)

http://www.apologeticspress.org (comprehensive site, excellent essays)

http://www.christian...p?showtopic=184 (Bible prophecy)

http://www.christian...p?showtopic=185 (Bible archaeology)

http://www.myfortress.org (fairly comprehensive site)

http://www.christian...p?showtopic=180 (creationism sites)

http://www.home.eart...ilosophical.htm (philosophical apologetics [philosophy compatible with Christianity])

http://www.christian...hp?showforum=15 (articles created by the author of this webpage)

http://www.home.eart.../liberalism.htm (contra theological liberalism)


(I generally agree with most of the essays written at the above 2 Christian apologetic sites for the most part although two of the essays neglect to mention that the new city of Tyre is not built upon the old one although it is extremely close to it. Some of Pascal's writings are brilliant but I disagree with some points Pascal made. Also, the creator of the www.myfortress.org site made what I think could be a very small error. He gave a report of Voltaire's death which I know has conflicting testimony. On of the sites has pro Big bang theory proponents and I do not agree with the Big Bang theory. Other than these matters, I wholeheartedly endorse these sites).



WHERE THE CRITICS OF THE BIBLE OFTEN GO WRONG

http://www.tektonics.org/calcon.html



WHAT IS BIBLE INERRANCY (FREE OF ERROR)? SHORT ESSAYS.

http://www.answersin...a/faq/bible.asp



A COMMON OBJECTION OF BIBLE INERRANCY

http://tektonics.org/JPH_IHI.html


RECOMMENDED AUTHORS AND BOOKS

MacArthur Study Bible answers a lot of Bible inerrancy issues in its notes (I do not always agree with MacArthur's theology but he is a top notch scholar)

Dr. Gleason Archer has been called the "apostle of Bible inerrancy". Dr. Geisler has also written some excellent works on this subject. Here is a link to some books by these gentleman:

http://www.helpmewit...ifficulties.htm


Also, although it is out of print and you would need to do a search through used book dealers I think the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia is a superb reference source that answers Bible questions.


IMPORTANT REQUEST TO READERS

1. Please do not ask me to argue about Bible inerrrancy. If you have a Bible inerrancy question please use the Bible questions answered sites I gave above. I hate arguing. It raises my blood pressure and gives me knots in my stomach. I won't do it! LOL

2. Please do not ask me any Bible questions. I would love to answer all your Bible questions, however, I am self-employed right now my plate is currently full. I think the resources I gave you will enable you to find your own answers. In short, I did not give you a fish but taught you how to fish! God bless your efforts. You can get your Bible questions answered. I am speaking from experience.
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#2 User is offline   mead777 

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Posted 06 February 2004 - 02:31 PM

WHAT THE BIBLE CLAIMS CONCERNING ITSELF

A website declares the following:

"BIBLICAL CLAIMS

It is important to know that through the words of the human authors of scripture, the Bible itself either directly or indirectly, claims to be the word of God. Therefore, the claims for the inspiration of the Bible are not superimposed by others, having been forced upon the text from the outside, but are in harmony with the internal evidence found within the pages of scripture. This fact is the first argument complementing the testimony and teaching of Jesus.

CLASSIC PROOF TEXTS

There are two key scriptures which highlight the biblical claim for the inspiration of the Bible. Together they explain the means and extent of inspiration.

(2 Timothy 3:15-17) ............ from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. {16} All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; {17} that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

(2 Peter 1:20-21) But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, {21} for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Based on these two verses we may make the following statement, " all the sacred writings or scriptures are inspired by God, the authors having been moved by God's Spirit to write what is necessary to give the knowledge of salvation and adequately equip the Christian in all things pertaining to his spiritual life".

OLD TESTAMENT

In the Old Testament we see many cases where the authors of scripture are directed by God to write what has been committed to them. The following representative examples will illustrate this point. The first three examples are taken from three of the first five books of the Old Testament.

In Exodus chapter 20 Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible, records all the words which God spoke to the people on that day as the ten commandments were given, "Then God spoke all these words, saying, {2} "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. {3} "You shall have no other gods before Me....... (Exodus 20:1-3)".

In a similar way at the end of the book of Numbers the written record indicates that all that preceded was what God had commanded through His prophet Moses, "These are the commandments and the ordinances which the LORD commanded to the sons of Israel through Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. (Numbers 36:13)".

Again in the book of Deuteronomy we find Moses warning the people to take heed to what he has written because he had given them God's commandments, "And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, in order that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. {2} "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."
(Deuteronomy 4:1-2)

In the books of the prophets the references to God as the source of the information recorded is abundant. Phrases such as "Thus says the lord" are found hundreds if not thousands of times throughout the biblical text. Three example from the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel will be cited.

"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. {2} Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks......." (Isaiah 1:1-2)

"The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, {2} to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah .........{4} Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, {5} "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:1-5)

Then He said to me, "Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. {4} "And I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children; and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' (Ezekiel 2:3-4)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

We have previously learned of the promise of Jesus to use His Apostles as His messengers to bring God's truth to the world. By way of review the following verses again illustrate the fact that the authors of the New Testament regarded what they wrote to be the words and commands of God.

"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, {2} that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles." (2 Peter 3:1-2)

"And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe."
(1 Thessalonians 2:13)"

taken from: http://godisforus.co...ence/claims.htm


THE FOLLOWING SOURCE PROVIDES INFORMATION REGARDING THE HISTORICITY AND RELIABILTY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

http://www.home.eart.../historical.htm


A FEW NOTABLE QUOTES REGARDING THE BIBLE


Bernard Ramm, archeologist

“Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. With their massora they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity–scribes, lawyers, massorettes.”

“In regard to the New Testament, there are about 13,000 manuscripts, complete and incomplete, in Greek and other languages, that have survived from antiquity.”

“A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.”

“No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet?”

“ The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions.”


Daniel Webster, American politician and noted orator, 1782-1852

“I believe that the Bible is to be understood and received in the plain and obvious meaning of its passages; for I cannot persuade myself that a book intended for the instruction and conversion of the whole world should cover its true meaning in any such mystery and doubt that none but critics and philosophers can discover it.”

“Education is useless without the Bible.”


Horace Greeley, Editor and Politician

“It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.”
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#3 User is offline   mead777 

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Posted 06 February 2004 - 02:34 PM

OLD TESTAMENT DOCUMENT PREPARATION: HEBREW COPIES


The Massorites were absolutely devoted about keeping the Old Testament free of variants in the text (they had rigorous methodologies for keeping the text as free as variants as humanly possible). Here is a brief overview of the Massorites and the text they produced from another website:

"The MASORETES (Hebrew Masorah, meaning "to deliver something
in to the hands of another") safeguarded the text from about A.D.
500 to A.D. 916. These dedicated scholars based in Tiberias
produced the Masoretic texts used today; they are the basis for
our English OT of 1611. "The Masorah is called 'a fence to the
scriptures' because it locked all words and letters in their
places. It records the number of times the several letters occur
in the Bible; the number of words and the middle word; the number
of verses and the middle verse, etc., for the set purpose of
preventing the loss or misplacement of a single letter or word"
(Bullinger, Companion Bible, Appendix 30).

Designating the middle letter of the Pentateuch and the
middle letter and verse of each book as well as the entire OT was
not enough for these technicians. Phrases were counted,
enumerated, distinguished. "House of Israel" was computed
separately from "sons of Israel" and the number of times each
occurred was well noted. The expression "sins of Jeroboam" is
noted separately from "the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat."
thus the Jewish zeal for God was turned to good use (Romans
10:2)."

(taken from: http://www.keithhunt.com/Bible6.html )


OLD TESTAMENT HEBREW TEXT RELIABILITY

Please read this very important link regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls (If you do not read this link you will lnot understand the following material:

http://www.apologeti...ofthebible.html


ALSO CONSIDER THIS INFORMATION:

Another website provides the following information:

"Let JOSEPHUS, a Jewish historian of the first century, answer:

' From Artaxerxes (Malachi's time) until our time everything
has been recorded but has not been deemed worthy of like credit
with what has preceded, because the exact succession of prophets
ceased. But what faith we have placed in our own writings is
evident by our conduct; FOR though so long a time has now passed,
NO ONE HAS DARED TO ADD ANYTHING TO THEM, OR ALTER ANYTHING IN
THEM' (Contra Apion, Whiston's Josephus, p.609).

Often overlooked is that the law, prophets, and writings,
which were accepted by Jesus (Luke 24:44), formed the BASIS FOR
THE LEGAL PRACTICES of the Jewish nation. These religious
writings had NATIONAL IMPACT equal to Britain's Magna Carta...or
America's Plymouth Rock Covenant and Declaration of
Independence....Animosity was, paradoxically, a powerful force in
PRESERVING the unimpeachability of Scripture. The appeal to the
text was the common arbiter in theological debate (Matt.19:7).
The Scriptures were known at the grass-roots level as well (Luke
4:16-20). UNOFFICIAL DELETIONS, INSERTIONS OR CORRUPTIONS would
have triggered an OUTCRY among the faithful in a nation ZEALOUS
FOR THE LAW (Acts 22:3).

TAMPER with the OFFICIAL Hebrew text? One may as well
consider EDITING the Declaration of Independence, DELETING a
sentence in a NEW copy of the Gettysburg Address......VITAL
literary production of NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE are too WELL KNOWN
to be PRIVATELY tampered with among the faithful. There were, of
course, enemies who tried to do so - and still do!

Today thousands of people have committed the TEN
COMMANDMENTS TO MEMORY. Imagine the PROTEST if a NEW Bible
translation INSERTED AN EXTRA commandment!.......

The Thread of Conveyance

Scripture itself speaks of a systematic, ORGANIZED
PRESERVATION of the law, prophets and writings.

Moses entrusted the law to the Levites guarding the ark,
center-piece of Israel's religion (Deut.31:24-26). Joshua 1:8
comments upon "this book of the law" that Moses' successor read
to the entire nation (Josh.8:32-35).

Literate, proficient scholars functioned even through the
chaotic Judges period (Judg.5:14, 1 Sam.1:3,9). Under Samuel
and David and Solomon, during Israel's Golden Age, inspired
writers laid the basis for the historical narratives in Samuel,
Kings and Chronicles. David revered the sacred writings
(Ps.119:97), and he and Solomon contributed and collected many
psalms and proverbs."

(see this page for details: http://www.keithhunt.com/Bible6.html )


VARIANTS IN OLD TESTAMENT COPIES AND OTHER BIBLE TEXTUAL ISSUES



ALSO HERE IS SOME MORE USEFUL INFORMATION:

Another webiste declares the following:

"The Old Testament faced an entirely different situation than the New Testament. They had one chief worship center.

The scribes would specialize in copying the scriptures when they were worn. The scribes were extraordinarily careful in copying these texts. They would count the letters going each way. If they found one mistake, they would destroy that page. They did make occasional mistakes like the reversing of letters, but they did not dare tamper with God's Word. They preserved the integrity of the holy texts by burning the old ones with defects.

What happened as a result was that our latest copies (manuscripts) of the Old Testament scriptures were more than one or two thousand years from the time that they were written in some cases. People started wondering whether they were true.

Until recently, our most ancient copies (manuscripts) of the Old Testament were from the 10th century. They could of course check its message with the Septuagint which was written several hundred years before Christ. This was the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was in use in Jesus' day.

More recent archaeological findings, however, have swept this suspicion into the Mediterranean. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s have shown that the Hebrew (Masoretic) text was accurately preserved. These scrolls were written 100 to 200 years before Jesus' time. So passages that clearly describe Jesus such as Isaiah 53 could no longer be said to be inserted after Jesus' time."

see this link for details: http://www.foundatio...eliability.html


HERE IS A VERY KEY POINT:

Another website states the following:

"Of the passages in which textual variants occur, the vast majority involve minor differences in spelling or grammar which leave the meaning of the texts unaffected. Those passages in which potentially significant variations do occur are usually listed in footnotes in the better English translations and editions of the Bible, so any reader can know exactly where they appear. And it is fair to conclude that no point of Christian doctrine relies solely on disputed textual variants."

see this webpage for details: http://www.dtl.org/b...cle/trusted.htm


KEY ISSUE REGARDING COPYISTS ERRORS:

http://www.tektonics.org/JPH_IHI.html
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#4 User is offline   mead777 

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 07:49 PM

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Dear Readers:

Here is some information from something I previously wrote which I think you will find useful:

Here is the pertinent information you may wish to read:

Here is something I wrote (which is based on something a Christian apologist wrote at the following Australian magazine called Investigator Magazine plus a Jewish site. http://ohr.edu/speci...ott/truth-3.htm (Jewish site. I am a Christian and not Jewish but I thought the essay was well done)

You raised the best question of all I thought. Is proving an inerrant Bible possible? That seems to be the $64,000 question doesn't it?

Here is a scenario:

You are in a cab. A doctor is in the cab next to you. Suddenly, you feel immense pain in your midsection. You tell the doctor where it hurts. The doctor proceeds then to ask you some questions. The doctor then says, "I think we need to rush to the hospital. I think you have an acute problem with your appendix. You ask the doctor: "Are you absolutely sure? Is it possible it is something else?" The doctor says, "Well it is possible I guess that it is something else, but I strongly recommend we rush to the hospital right now." You say, "Well, If you are not absolutely sure I am not going to the hospital. I am going to visit my girlfriend."

I would say the above illustration shows the difference between moral certainty and absolute certainty. I would argue that we can have great moral certainty regarding inerrancy based on our intellectual abilities. I also would say that in everyday life we constanty make decisions using moral certainty and not absolute certainty. I also know from experience and the experience of others that God can and does reveal Himself, His thoughts regarding Scripture, also He reveals what wants for us to those who diligently seek Him. Do all diligently seek Him? The Bible says indicates that few do seek God, but He is available.

So how can one attain this moral certainty regarding the great reliability of the Scriptures - namely Bible inerrancy - using the brain I believe God has given us? One way Christians try to pursuade others, and I would not recommend this, is to do the following: argue about the fossil record gaps using a lot of respected scientists and examples, quote other scientists and examples regarding the richness of the fossil record created by the over 100 million fossils recorded in natural museums, quote neo-darwinists and punctuated equilibrium scientists bickering among themselves over germaine matters, and lastly, quote a evolutionists saying in the Wall Street Journal on June 15, 1979 saying "the creationists tend to win the debates." I know this type of debate and have seen it and even particated in it myself in it myself. At best, I think it can only eliminate an objection to the Bible. Plus, I have seen the two sides go at it for days or weeks or months without much being accomplished. Also, I do not think it is going to persuade people of Bible inerrancy or Christianity. I know that many Christians try this method to show that Christianity and the Bible is valid and sometime it may even be very helpful but it is not going to create a revival. I do think that the discussion certainly has its place though and hence many this board's forums have a place (Here is something I created that indicatea that creationists have a strong case by the way: http://www.christian...p?showtopic=180 )



Here is what I believe is a better way:

Since this is a science forum I will illustrate things in a scientific manner. Inductive logic, which science uses, is where we generalize from particular items to general conclusions.

Following this logic, if the Bible regularly turns out true regarding matters we can verify and its detractors in error in the long run, we can expect more of the same. In life, if a individual is regularly reliable we are more likely to trust him the next time.

Now I would argue that we should strive to first examine the things that are easiest attainable and then move up step by step in difficulty during this verification process of the Bible. I have given the examples, of the hyrax, lions, cobra, and stars where the consensus of scientists were wrong and the Bible proved to be right in the long run.

See:

http://www.adam.com....tt/BLions87.htm (Lions)
http://www.adam.com....nicaCobra38.htm (Cobra)
http://www.adam.com....ax18May1991.htm (Hyrax)
http://www.bible.org...asp?StudyID=141 (stars)

There are other examples as well in science. I am sure if you will do a study of Christian apologetics through a Christian bookstore or though the web resources I have given you will see more examples. Given my time constraints I have I cannot offer you more at this time (I said I cannot debate. Starting tommorow I am putting more hours in with my work plus there are other matters as well).

Now here is a very important question. What is the Bible's batting average in terms of being right in the long run on historical matters? I you look at the forward the a new Oxford Bible Commentary edited by John Barton and John Muddiman you will find that they take a "chastened historical criticism" approach. Is Barton or Muddiman a Bible inerrantist? No they are not. But I think it is fair to say that they are admitting that the Bible's critics have been proved historically wrong in many cases. If you do further research you will see this was accomplished though archeaology and other methods.

Here is something else I wrote on Bible inerrancy which might be of interest to some people:

Many skeptics, though not all, approach the whole debate between skeptics and Christians as if it were a "tabla rasa" debate that started just recently. I would submit there is a long pedigree of Bible statements being proved true and a long pedigree of skeptics assertions being overturned. I cited the comments of the John Barton and his co-editor in the recent Oxford Bible Commentary to support this claim ("chastened historical criticism") plus I gave other examples. If you want further elaboration of this fact I suggest the following link (the article that was written by a Australian Christian apologist which I briefly mentioned earlier: http://www.adam.com....sAnon71to73.htm
(see the essay "The Bible: Tested, True, Triumphant")



SOME ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY REGARDING THE BIBLE

The author of the website writes:

"So many sceptics, Kings, Emperors, Priests, philosophers and revolutionaries have tried to destroy, disprove or deny the bible over the last few thousand years, yet it's circulation continues to grow. What is the reason for the success of the bible in spite of these almost overwhelming attacks? Is it merely a coincidence? Maybe it is due to the reliability and quality of the book, as we have seen in this chapter, or could there possibly be a divine influence behind all this?"

the last two paragraphs were taken from:http://www.stilez.fr.../apol/int2.html
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#5 User is offline   mead777 

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 07:50 PM

Here is an essay taken from a website:

"THE UNIQUENESS OF THE BIBLE
By Dennis Crawford



The Bible is unique in many ways that make it worth investigating to see if it is in fact THE WORD OF GOD, as it says it is.

Webster defines "unique" as: (1) "One and only; single, sole"; (2) "Different from all others; having no other equal."

Professor M. Monntiero Williams (cited by Sidney Collett, "All About the Bible," Fleming H. Revell), former Boden professor of Sanskrit, spent some 42 years studying Eastern books and said in comparing them to the Bible: "pile them, if you will, on the left side of your study table; but place your own Holy Bible on the right side all by itself, all alone and with a wide gap between them. For, there is a gulf between it and the so-called sacred books of the East which severs the one from the others utterly, hopelessly, and forever...a veritable gulf which cannot be bridged over by any science or religious thought" (ref. 6, pp.314, 315).

Any sincere individual seeking truth would at least consider a book with these qualifications.

I. THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN ITS CONTINUITY.

This harmony exists in spite of the fact that it was written over a 1600-year span, during 60 generations, and by more than 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, and others. The Bible was written in a variety of places and customs, during times of war and peace, on three continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). Yet, when the Bible is analyzed as a whole, it speaks with amazing unity and harmony about hundreds of controversial subjects about which there are hundreds of opposing opinions! Our science books, which represent "truth" about science and nature as we know it, are obsolete in as soon as five to ten years, and must be constantly revised because of "theories" or concepts that are in error!

F. F. Bruce ("The Books and the Parchments," Fleming H. Revell) observes that: "Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body. And any part of the Bible can only be properly explained in reference to the whole Bible" (ref.5, p.89).

"The Bible, at first sight, appears to be a collection of literature--mainly Jewish. If we inquire into the circumstances under which the various biblical documents were written, we find that they were written at intervals over a space of nearly 1400 years. The writer wrote in various lands, from Italy in the west, to Mesopotamia and possibly Persia in the east.

"The writers themselves were a diverse group of people, not only separated from each other by hundreds of years and hundreds of miles, but belonging to the most different walks of life. In their ranks we have kings, herdsmen, soldiers, legislators, fishermen, statesmen, courtiers, priests, prophets, a tentmaker, a...gentile physician, not to speak of others of whom we know nothing, apart from the writings they have left us.

"The writings themselves belong to a great variety of literary types. They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, in addition to the distinctively biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic.

"For all that, the Bible is not simply a collection of writings, or anthology; there is a unity which binds the whole together. An anthology is compiled by an anthologist, but no anthologist compiled the Bible" (ref.5, p.88).

If you took ten authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, and one language, and just one controversial subject (the Bible speaks on hundreds of subjects in harmony and agreement), would the authors agree? No! You would have a conglomeration!

II. THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN ITS CIRCULATION.

The Bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book.

There have been more copies produced of its entirety and more portions and selections than any other book in history. Some will argue that in a designated month or year more of a certain book was sold. However, over all, there is absolutely no book that reaches, or even begins to compare to, the circulation of the scriptures. The first major book printed was the Latin Vulgate (Bible). It was printed on Gutenberg's press (ref.18, pp.478-480).

Geisler and Nix cite S. L. Greenslade (ed.), "The Cambridge History of the Bible," p. 479: "No other book has known anything approaching this constant circulation" (ref.8, p.122).

III. THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN ITS TRANSLATION.

The Bible was the first book translated (Septuagint: Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, c. 250 B.C.) (ref.19, p.1147).

The Bible has been translated and retranslated and paraphrased more than any other book in existence.

IV. THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN ITS SURVIVAL.

Being written on materials that perish easily, having to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, did not diminish its style, correctness, nor existence.

"The Bible, compared with other ancient writings, has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of classical literature combined" (ref.1, p.21).

A. T. Robertson, the author of the most comprehensive grammar of New Testament Greek, wrote, "There are some 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate and at least 1,000 for the other early versions. Add over 4,000 Greek manuscripts and we have 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament. Besides all this, much of the New Testament can be reproduced from the quotations of the early Christian writers" (ref.15, p.70).

John Warwick Montgomery ("History and Christianity," Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL) says that "to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament" (ref.13, p.29).

Jews preserved it as no other manuscript ever has been preserved. They kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word, and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity--scribes, lawyers, massoreetes. Whoever counted the letters and syllables and words of Plato or Aristotle, Cicero or Seneca?

"In regard to the New Testament, there are about thirteen thousand manuscripts, complete and incomplete, in Greek and other languages, that have survived from antiquity. No other work from classical antiquity has such attestation" (ref.14, pp.230-1).

That textual errors do not endanger doctrine is stated by Sir Frederic Kenyon (one of the great authorities in the field of New Testament textual criticism) who writes, "It can’t be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: Especially in the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of the early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or another of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world" (ref.9, p.23).

In an article in the North American Review, a writer made some interesting comparisons between the writings of Shakespeare and the scriptures, showing how much greater care must have been bestowed upon the biblical manuscripts than upon any other writings, even when there was so much more opportunity of preserving the correct text by means of the printed copy than when all the copies had to be made by hand. He said:

"It seems strange that the text of Shakespeare, which has been in existence less than two hundred and eight [years], should be far more uncertain and corrupt than that of the New Testament, now over eighteen centuries old.

"During nearly fifteen of which it existed only as a manuscript...with perhaps a dozen or so exceptions, the text of every verse in the New Testament may be said to be so far settled by general consent of scholars, that any dispute as to its readings must relate rather to the interpretation of the words than any doubts as to the words themselves.

"But in every one of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays there are probably a hundred readings still in dispute, a large portion of which materially affects the meaning of the passages in which they occur" (ref.11, p.15).

SURVIVAL THROUGH PERSECUTION:

The Bible has withstood vicious attacks by its enemies as no other book. Many have tried to burn it, ban it and outlaw it "from the days of Roman emperors to the present-day Communist-dominated countries" (ref.14, p.232).

Sidney Collett in "All About the Bible" says, "Voltaire, the noted French infidel who died in 1778, said that in one hundred years from his time Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history. But what has happened? Voltaire has passed into history; while the circulation of the Bible continues to increase in almost all parts of the world, carrying blessing wherever it goes."

Concerning Voltaire, Geisler and Nix point out that "only fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce stacks of Bibles" (ref.8, p.123). What an irony of history!

The world abounds with such instances...as one has truly said, "We might as well put our shoulder to the burning wheel of the sun, and try to stop it on its flaming course, as attempt to stop the circulation of the Bible" (ref.6, p.63).

In A.D. 303, the emperor Diocletian issued an edict to destroy Christians and their sacred book: "...an imperial letter was everywhere promulgated, ordering the razing of the churches to the ground and the destruction by fire of the Scriptures, and proclaiming that those who held high positions would lose all civil rights, while those in households, if they persisted in their profession of Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty" (ref.18, p.476; ref.7, p.259).

The historic irony of the above edict to destroy the Bible is that Constantine, the emperor following Diocletian, 25 years later commissioned Eusebius to prepare 50 copies of the scriptures at the expense of the government.

SURVIVAL THROUGH CRITICISM:

H.L. Hastings has forcibly illustrated the unique way the Bible has withstood the attacks of infidelity and skepticism:

"Infidels for eighteen hundred years have been refuting and overthrowing this book, and yet [it] stands today as solid as a rock. Its circulation increases and it is more loved and cherished and read today than ever before. Infidels, with all their assaults, make about as much impression on this book as a man with a tack hammer would on the Pyramids of Egypt.

"When the French monarch proposed the persecution of the Christians in the dominion, an old statesman and warrior said to him, 'Sire, the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.' So the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and that anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives" (ref.11, pp.17-18).

Bernard Ramm adds that: "A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put. No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles letters of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet? The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions" (ref.14, pp.232-233).

No claim that has been made to discredit the Bible has ever been proved to be true!

V. THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN ITS TEACHINGS.

PROPHECY:

"It is the only volume ever produced by man, or a group of men in which is to be found a large body of prophecies relating to individual nations, to Israel, to all peoples of the earth, to certain cities, and to the coming of the One who was to be the Messiah.

"The ancient world had many different devices for determining the future, known as divination, but not in the entire gamut of Greek and Latin literature, even though they use the words prophet or prophecy, can we find any real specific prophecy of a great historic event to come in the distant future, nor any prophecy of a Savior to arise in the human race. Mohammedanism cannot point to any prophecies of the coming of Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth. Neither can the founders of any cult in this country rightly identify any ancient text specifically foretelling their appearance" (ref.17, pp.9-10).

HISTORY:

Wilbur Smith cites the distinguished archaeologist, Professor Albright, who begins his classic essay, "The Biblical Period": "Hebrew national tradition excels all others in its clear picture of tribal and family origins. In Egypt and Babylon, in Assyria and Phoenicia, in Greece and Rome, we look in vain for anything comparable. There is nothing like it in the tradition of the Germanic peoples. Neither India nor China can produce anything similar, since their earliest historical memories are literary deposits of distorted dynastic tradition, with no trace of the herdsman or peasant behind the demigod or king with whom their records begin. Neither in the oldest Indic historical writings (the Puranas) nor in the earliest Greek historians is there a hint of the fact that both Indio-Aryans and Hellenes were once nomads who immigrated into their later abodes from the north. The Assyrians, to be sure, remembered vaguely that their earliest rulers, whose names they recalled without any details about their deed, were tent dwellers, but whence they came has long been forgotten" (ref.17, p.24).

PERSONALITIES:

The Bible deals very frankly with the sins of its characters. Read the biographies today and see how they try to cover up, overlook, or ignore the shady side of people. Take the great literary geniuses; most are painted as saints. The Bible does not do it that way. It simply tells it the way it is!

"The Bible is not such a book a man would write if he could, or could write if he would" (ref.20).

VI. THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN ITS INFLUENCE ON SURROUNDING LITERATURE.

McAfee writes in the "Greatest English Classic": "If every Bible in any considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. There are works, covering almost all the great literary writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them" (ref.12, p.134).

Kenneth Scott Latourette, former Yale historian says, "It is evidence of His importance, of the effect that He has had upon history and presumably, of the baffling mystery of his being, that no other life which has ever lived on this planet has evoked so huge a volume of literature among so many peoples and languages, and that, far from ebbing, the flood continues to mount" (ref.10, p.44).

The historian Phillip Schaff vividly describes the Bible's uniqueness along with its Savior: "This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and pronounced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times" (ref.16).

SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS:

1) "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe."

This is called a "subjective faith." It comes from within one's own mind. The only problem with a "subjective faith" is that someone can sincerely believe in what is really false or worthless!

We are saved by grace (forgiveness), through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Most faiths are based on human knowledge and moral teachings. Remove the founding prophet or Guru and the religion remains essentially intact. Remove Christ from Christianity, and you no longer have Christianity! Christianity is based on a person--Jesus Christ, and an event in history--the resurrection! There is no merit in faith alone; in order to be saved, faith must have Jesus Christ. Jesus made his identity the central issue. He claimed to be the Son of God! He presented himself as the only avenue to a relationship with God, the only source of forgiveness for sins, the only way of salvation!

2) "The Christian faith is a blind faith and has no historical basis in fact."

Most modern historians approach history with a narrow-minded outlook or prejudice that shuts out any supernatural possibilities. Instead of beginning with pure historical data this prejudice says:



"There is no God." How can anyone "know" this? How can a complicated ecosystem come into existence from nothing, without a creator? Can a watch be made without a watchmaker?



"We live in a closed self-causation system." (The universe is closed to any outside interference and therefore every event within it has a natural explanation.)



"There are no miracles." Just because you or I have never witnessed a miracle happening does not exclude the possibility of its happening. If God became man, then we would expect Him to manifest the supernatural in the form of miracles, to validate His Word or messengers. The Bible is full of eyewitness accounts of miracles performed by Jesus and the apostles. The ultimate miracle of Christ’s resurrection from the dead was witnessed by hundreds of people.



"There is no supernatural." This is a faith in their preconceived ideas! Intelligent faith investigates the claims and concludes on the basis of the weight of the evidence. Faith in Christ is based on evidence. Faith is simply the arm that reaches out to receive what Christ did on the cross.


3) "If you can't prove something scientifically, it's not true."

If the scientific method were the only method of proving something, how would you prove you got up this morning? The scientific method is useful only in proving repeatable events and is not adequate for events in history, or past events. Another method is needed for proof of historic events:

The LEGAL-HISTORICAL TEST: Proof based on showing that something is true beyond a reasonable doubt. A verdict is reached on the basis of the weight of the evidence. It is much like the method used in our courtrooms today. Historical evidence is determined by testimony (ref.2, p.16).

Christ's claims and His resurrection can be substantiated beyond any reasonable doubt by the Legal-Historical Method.

The BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST: Not having the original documents, how reliable are the documents we now have?

How many manuscripts are available, and what time interval is between the original and the earliest copy? This is useful in determining that the text we now have is what was originally recorded.

When the number of surviving manuscripts of scripture are compared with the number of surviving manuscripts from other books of antiquity, the results are truly astounding:

- Plato (Tetralogies) = 7 surviving manuscripts
- Caesar (Gallic Wars) = 10 surviving manuscripts
- Aristotle = 49 surviving manuscripts
- Homer (Iliad) = 643 surviving manuscripts (ref.2, p.24)
- Pliny the Younger = 7 surviving manuscripts
- New Testament = 24,633 surviving manuscripts

The Bibliographical Test is useful only in determining that the text we have now is what was recorded. We must go further to determine to what extent the written record is credible. To do this, we must apply the Internal Evidence Test (ref.2, p.30).

The INTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST: Two factors must guide this test:

1) In the event of an apparent inaccuracy or discrepancy, the benefit of the doubt must be given to the document itself. The textual critic must not be biased.

"One must listen to the claims of the document under analysis and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies" John Warwick Montgomery (ref.3, p.29). An author is innocent until proved guilty of a discrepancy!

2) The nearness of the witness, both chronologically and geographically (date/place), to the events greatly affects the writer's credibility.

The New Testament accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus were recorded by men who had been either eyewitnesses themselves or had related the accounts of the eyewitnesses; hostile witnesses were used many times, and they had the opportunity (and were asked) to deny the truth of the statements. They did not (ref.2, p.31)!

"And it was not friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with: there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ but also, ‘As you yourselves know’ (Acts 2:22). Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible pressure of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as further corrective," F.F. Bruce (ref.4, pp.44-46).

The EXTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST: Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony of the documents themselves? What sources are there, apart from the literature under analysis, that substantiate its accuracy, reliability, and authenticity?

EUSEBIUS--In his "Ecclesiastical History," 111. 39, Eusebius preserves the writings of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, who received them from the apostle John!



IRENAEUS-- In "Against Heresies III," Irenaeus quoted the words of his teacher, Polycarp, martyred in A.D. 56 , and who was a disciple of the apostle John (ref.2, p. 32)!



These historical texts (and many others) adequately demonstrate the historical reliability and accuracy of the New Testament.


WHAT IF ?

Please ask yourself: If all the historical, scientific, and prophetic statements in the Bible are true and accurate, then what about what the Bible says about your having eternal life (or death) and about the choices you make (or do not make) now that can affect your eternal future? It is in your best interest to study it and find out what God requires of those who would be His children (Romans 8:14-16).

Do you not think it is worth examining the Bible to see if it is in fact the Word of God, and to see what you must do to receive eternal life from God?

NOTE TO READERS:

There is more Bible inerrancy material and related material on the next page of this forum. Please scroll down further down this initial webpage and click #2 which is located in the lower left hand corner.


References:

1. McDowell, Josh, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict," Here's Life Publishers, 1986

2. McDowell, Josh, "Research in Christian Evidences," Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 1979

3. Montgomery, John Warwick, "History of Christianity," Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971

4. Bruce, F.F., "The New Testaments; Are They Reliable?", Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1964

5. Bruce, F.F., "The Books and the Parchments," Rev. ed., Westwood: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1963

6. Collet, Sidney, "All About the Bible," Old Tappan: Revell, n. d.
Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History, VIII, 2, Loeb. ed., II, 259

7. Geisler, Norman L. and Nix, William E., "A General Introduction to the Bible"
Kenyon, Frederic G., "Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts," New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941

8. Latourette, Kenneth Ascott, "A History of Christianity," New York: Harper & Row, 1953

9. Lea, John W., "The Greatest Book in the World," Philadelphia:, n. p., 1929

10. McAfee, Cleland B., "The Greatest English Classic," New York: n. p., 1912

11. Montgomery, John Warwick, "History and Christianity," Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971

12. Ramim, Bernard, "Protestant Christian Evidences," Chicago: Moody Press, 1957

13. Robertson, A.T., "Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament," Nashville: Boadman Press, 1925

14. Schaff, Phillip, "The Person of Christ," American Tract Society, 1913
Smith, Wilbur M., "The Incomparable Book," Minneapolis: Beacon Publications, 1961

15. Greenslade, Stanley Lawrence (ed.), "Cambridge History of the Bible," New York: Cambridge University Press, 1963

16. Unger, Merrill F., "Unger’s Bible Dictionary," rev. ed., Chicago: Moody Press, 1971

17. Lewis S. Chafer, Dallas Theological Seminary
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Posted 04 March 2004 - 04:37 PM

The Formation of the Canon of the New Testament
By B.B. Warfield
Pub. 1892, by the American Sunday School Union, Philadelphia, Pa.

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IN ORDER to obtain a correct understanding of what is called the formation of the Canon of the New Testament, it is necessary to begin by fixing very firmly in our minds one fact which is obvious enough when attention is once called to it. That is, that the Christian church did not require to form for itself the idea of a "canon," - or, as we should more commonly call it, of a "Bible," -that is, of a collection of books given of God to be the authoritative rule of faith and practice. It inherited this idea from the Jewish church, along with the thing itself, the Jewish Scriptures, or the "Canon of the Old Testament." The church did not grow up by natural law: it was founded. And the authoritative teachers sent forth by Christ to found His church, carried with them, as their most precious possession, a body of divine Scriptures, which they imposed on the church that they founded as its code of law. No reader of the New Testament can need proof of this; on every page of that book is spread the evidence that from the very beginning the Old Testament was as cordially recognized as law by the Christian as by the Jew. The Christian church thus was never without a "Bible" or a "canon."

But the Old Testament books were not the only ones which the apostles (by Christ's own appointment the authoritative founders of the church) imposed upon the infant churches, as their authoritative rule of faith and practice. No more authority dwelt in the prophets of the old covenant than in themselves, the apostles, who had been "made sufficient as ministers of a new covenant "; for (as one of themselves argued) "if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory." Accordingly not only was the gospel they delivered, in their own estimation, itself a divine revelation, but it was also preached "in the Holy Ghost" (I Pet. i. 12) ; not merely the matter of it, but the very words in which it was clothed were "of the Holy Spirit" (I Cor. ii. 13). Their own commands were, therefore, of divine authority (I Thess. iv. 2), and their writings were the depository of these commands (II Thess. ii. 15). "If any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle," says Paul to one church (II Thess. iii. 14), "note that man, that ye have no company with him." To another he makes it the test of a Spirit-led man to recognize that what he was writing to them was "the commandments of the Lord" (I Cor. xiv. 37). Inevitably, such writings ', making so awful a claim on their acceptance, were received by the infant churches as of a quality equal to that of the old "Bible"; placed alongside of its older books as an additional part of the one law of God; and read as such in their meetings for worship -a practice which moreover was required by the apostles (I Thess. v. 27; Col. iv. 16; Rev. i. 3). In the apprehension, therefore, of the earliest churches, the "Scriptures" were not a closed but an increasing "canon." Such they had been from the beginning, as they gradually grew in number from Moses to Malachi; and such they were to continue as long as there should remain among the churches "men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

We say that this immediate placing of the new books - given the church under the seal of apostolic authority - among the Scriptures already established as such, was inevitable. It is also historically evinced from the very beginning. Thus the apostle Peter, writing in A.D. 68, speaks of Paul's numerous letters not in contrast with the Scriptures, but as among the Scriptures and in contrast with "the other Scriptures" (II Pet. iii.16) -that is, of course, those of the Old Testament. In like manner the apostle Paul combines, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, the book of Deuteronomy and the Gospel of Luke under the common head of "Scripture" (I Tim. v.18): "For the Scripture saith ' 'Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn ' [Deut. xxv. 4]; and, 'The laborer is worthy of his hire'" (Luke x. 7). The line of such quotations is never broken in Christian literature. Polycarp (c. 12) in A.D. 115 unites the Psalms and Ephesians in exactly similar manner: "In the sacred books.... as it is said in these Scriptures, 'Be ye angry and sin not,' and 'Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."' So, a few years later, the so-called second letter of Clement, after quoting Isaiah, adds (ii. 4): "And another Scripture, however, says, 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners'" -quoting from Matthew -- a book which Barnabas (circa 97-106 A.D.) had already adduced as Scripture. After this such quotations are common.

What needs emphasis at present about these facts is that they obviously are not evidences of a gradually-heightening estimate of the New Testament books, originally received on a lower level and just beginning to be tentatively accounted Scripture; they are conclusive evidences rather of the estimation of the New Testament books from the very beginning as Scripture, and of their attachment as Scripture to the other Scriptures already in hand. The early Christians did not, then, first form a rival "canon" of "new books" which came only gradually to be accounted as of equal divinity and authority with the "old books"; they received new book after new book from the apostolical circle, as equally "Scripture" with the old books, and added them one by one to the collection of old books as additional Scriptures, until at length the new books thus added were numerous enough to be looked upon as another section of the Scriptures.

The earliest name given to this new section of Scripture was framed on the model of the name by which what we know as the Old Testament was then known. Just as it was called "The Law and the Prophets and the Psalms" (or "the Hagiographa"), or more briefly "The Law and the Prophets," or even more briefly still "The Law"; so the enlarged Bible was called "The Law and the Prophets, with the Gospels and the Apostles" (so Clement of Alexandria, "Strom." vi. 11, 88; Tertullian, "De Prms. Men" 36), or most briefly "The Law and the Gospel" (so Claudius Apolinaris, Irenaeus); while the new books apart were called "The Gospel and the Apostles," or most briefly of all "The Gospel." This earliest name for the new Bible, with all that it involves as to its relation to the old and briefer Bible, is traceable as far back as Ignatius (A.D. 115), who makes use of it repeatedly (e.g., "ad Philad." 5; ("ad Smyrn." 7). In one passage he gives us a hint of the controversies which the enlarged Bible of the Christians aroused among the Judaizers (" ad Philad." 6). "When I heard some saying," he writes, "'Unless I find it in the Old [Books] I will not believe the Gospel' on my saying,' It is written.' they answered, 'That is the question.' To me, however, Jesus Christ is the Old [Books]; his cross and death and resurrection and the faith which is by him, the undefiled Old [Books] - by which I wish, by your prayers, to be justified. The priests indeed are good, but the High Priest better," etc. Here Ignatius appeals to the "Gospel" as Scripture, and the Judaizers object, receiving from him the answer in effect which Augustine afterward formulated in the well known saying that the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is first made clear in the New. What we need now to observe, however, is that to Ignatius the New Testament was not a different book from the Old Testament, but part of the one body of Scripture with it; an accretion, so to speak, which had grown upon it.

This is the testimony of all the early witnesses - even those which speak for the distinctively Jewish-Christian church. For example, that curious Jewish-Christian writing, "The Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs" (Beni. 11), tells us, under the cover of an ex post facto prophecy, that the "work and word" of Paul, i.e., confessedly the book of Acts and Paul's Epistles, "shall be written in the Holy Books," i.e., as is understood by all, made a part of the existent Bible. So even in the Talmud, in a scene intended to ridicule a "bishop" of the first century, he is represented as finding Galatians by "sinking himself deeper" into the same "Book" which contained the Law of Moses ("Babl. Shabbath," 116 a and B). The details cannot be entered into here. Let it suffice to say that, from the evidence of the fragments which alone have been preserved to us of the Christian writings of that very early time, it appears that from the beginning of the second century (and that is from the end of the apostolic age) a collection (Ignatius, II Clement) of "New Books" (Ignatius), called the "Gospel and Apostles" (Ignatius, Marcion), was already a part of the "Oracles" of God (Polycarp, Papias, II Clement), or "Scriptures" (I Tim., II Pet., Barn., Polycarp, II Clement), or the "Holy Books" or "Bible" (Testt. XII. Patt.).

The number of books included-in this added body of New Books, at the opening of the second century, cannot be satisfactorily determined by the evidence of these fragments alone. The section of it called the "Gospel" included Gospels written by "the apostles and their companions" (Justin), which beyond legitimate question were our four Gospels now received. The section called "the Apostles" contained the book of Acts (The Testt. XII. Patt.) and epistles of Paul, John, Peter and James. The evidence from various quarters is indeed enough to show that the collection in general use contained all the books which we at present receive, with the possible exceptions of Jude, II and III John and Philemon. And it is more natural to suppose that failure of very early evidence for these brief booklets is due to their insignificant size rather than to their nonacceptance.

It is to be borne in mind, however, that the extent of the collection may have - and indeed is historically shown actually to have varied in different localities. The Bible was circulated only in handcopies, slowly and painfully made; and an incomplete copy, obtained say at Ephesus in A.D. 68, would be likely to remain for many years the Bible of the church to which it was conveyed; and might indeed become the parent of other copies, incomplete like itself, and thus the means of providing a whole district with incomplete Bibles. Thus, when we inquire after the history of the New Testament Canon we need to distinguish such questions as these: (1) When was the New Testament Canon completed? (2) When did any one church acquire a completed canon? (3) When did the completed canon -the complete Bible - obtain universal circulation and acceptance? (4) On what ground and evidence did the churches with incomplete Bibles accept the remaining books when they were made known to them?

The Canon of the New Testament was completed when the last authoritative book was given to any church by the apostles, and that was when John wrote the Apocalypse, about A.D. 98. Whether the church of Ephesus, however, had a completed Canon when it received the Apocalypse, or not, would depend on whether there was any epistle, say that of Jude, which had not yet reached it with authenticating proof of its apostolicity. There is room for historical investigation here. Certainly the whole Canon was not universally received by the churches till somewhat later. The Latin church of the second and third centuries did not quite know what to do with the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Syrian churches for some centuries may have lacked the lesser of the Catholic Epistles and Revelation. But from the time of Ireanaeus down, the church at large had the whole Canon as we now possess it. And though a section of the church may not yet have been satisfied of the apostolicity of a certain book or of certain books; and though afterwards doubts may have arisen in sections of the church as to the apostolicity of certain books (as e. g. of Revelation): yet in no case was it more than a respectable minority of the church which was slow in receiving, or which came afterward to doubt, the credentials of any of the books that then as now constituted the Canon of the New Testament accepted by the church at large. And in every case the principle on which a book was accepted, or doubts against it laid aside, was the historical tradition of apostolicity.

Let it, however, be clearly understood that it was not exactly apostolic authorship which in the estimation of the earliest churches, constituted a book a portion of the "canon." Apostolic authorship was, indeed, early confounded with canonicity. It was doubt as to the apostolic authorship of Hebrews, in the West, and of James and Jude, apparently, which underlay the slowness of the inclusion of these books in the "canon" of certain churches. But from the beginning it was not so. The principle of canonicity was not apostolic authorship, but imposition by the apostles as "law." Hence Tertullian's name for the "canon" is "instrumentum"; and he speaks of the Old and New Instrument as we would of the Old and New Testament. That the apostles so imposed the Old Testament on the churches which they founded - as their "Instrument," or "Law," or "Canon" - can be denied by none. And in imposing new books on the same churches, by the same apostolical authority, they did not confine themselves to books of their own composition. It is the Gospel according to Luke, a man who was not an apostle, which Paul parallels in I Tim. v. 18 with Deuteronomy as equally "Scripture" with it, in the first extant quotation of a New Testament book as Scripture. The Gospels which constituted the first division of the New Books, - of "The Gospel and the Apostles," - Justin tells us were "written by the apostles and their companions." The authority of the apostles, as by divine appointment founders of the church was embodied in whatever books they imposed on the church as law not merely in those they themselves had written.

The early churches, in short, received, as we receive, into the New Testament all the books historically evinced to them as give by the apostles to the churches as their code of law; and we must not mistake the historical evidences of the slow circulation an authentication of these books over the widely-extended church, evidence of slowness of "canonization" of books by the authority or the taste of the church itself.


THE OLD TESTAMENT CANON

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