Canon Of The Bible

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Jacob Dahlen, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. Jacob Dahlen

    Jacob Dahlen
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    One of the more incontrovertible issues confronting any serious study of the Bible is the glaring historical vacuum of consensus over what constitutes a legitimate canon. Much like the early theological controversies, the Church was plagued from its very infancy with heated debates over what precisely qualified as "scripture". Indeed, the widespread division over the most basic elements of Christian faith led each of the major doctrinal factions to champion their own versions of an "inspired scripture".

    The extent of this disagreement was only to intensify with the coming of the Reformation. The ensuing secession by Protestant Christians (themselves later to explode into literally tens of doctrinally distinct denominations) ensured that these major divisions would remain into perpetuity.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, this less than flattering problem of multiple canons is conveniently exempted from the literature of missionary Christianity. The reasons for this range from humble ignorance (itself admittedly less humble in proportion) to the more subtle means of diplomatic guile so perfected by missionary propagandists. It is our aim to fill this factual void with a few helpful resources. Honest readers will conclude that it requires no stretch of the imagination nor any excercise of lofty reasoning to acknowledge some very serious problems in what Christians call "The Word of God".

    It is our aim here to educate the Baptists about the evolution of Biblical Canon and to show that in the absence of any agreed set of books as "inspired" and the reasons of why they can be considered as "inspired", there is simply no reason to believe they are "inspired". Putting it quite succintly: one man's scripture is another man's apocrypha.

    Below are the lists of the books drawn that were drawn by various Church authorities showing, in their opinion, what constituted the extent of New Testament. The list is till the end of 4th century.

    1. The Canons of the New Test Testament

    The Muratorian Canon

    The Canon Of Origen (A.D. c. 185 - 254)

    The Canon Of Eusebius Of Caesarea (A.D. 265 - 340)

    A Canon Of Uncertain Date And Provenance Inserted in Codex Claromontanus

    The Canon Of Cyril Of Jerusalem (c. A.D. 350)

    The Cheltenham Canon (c. A.D. 360)

    The Canon Approved By The Synod Of Laodicea (c. A.D. 363)

    The Canon Of Athanasius (A.D. 367)

    The Canon Approved By The 'Apostolic Canons' (c. A.D. 380)

    The Canon Of Gregory Of Nazianzus (A.D. 329 - 89)

    The Canon Of Amphilochius Of Iconium (d. 394)

    The Canon Approved By The Third Synod Of Carthage (A.D. 397)

    The Canons Of The Old Testament & The New Testament Through The Ages

    A comprehensive collection of biblical canons throughout the history from the time of Jesus to the modern day critical editions.

    The Formation And Closure Of Biblical Canons: A Multifaceted Development

    Has there been a uniform canon of the Bible from apostolic times or has there been a uniform misrepresentation of the historical processes relating to the conception, formation and closure of the biblical canons? A critical appraisal of evangelical, missionary and apologist claims regarding the history, formation and closure of the biblical canons, especially the twenty-seven book canon of the New Testament, is provided.

    2. To Every Church A Canon...

    Anglican Church: The canon of the Anglican falls between the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations by accepting only the Jewish canon and the New Testament as authoritative, but also by accepting segments of the apocryphal writings in the lectionary and liturgy. At one time all copies of the King James Version of 1611 included the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments.

    The Origin And Authority Of The Biblical Canon In The Anglican Church, H. W. Howorth, Journal Of Theological Studies, 1906, Volume 29, pp. 1-40.

    As the name of the article suggests, it deals with the origins of the Canon of the Anglican Church. The author shows that the Anglican Canon originated as a result of a strange and confused mixture between the past and the present and obviously it was something that never existed before!

    Armenian Church: The noteworthy features of the Armenian version of the Bible was the inclusion of certain books that elsewhere was regarded as apocryphal. The Old Testament included the History of Joseph and Asenath and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and the New Testament included the Epistle of Corinthians to Paul and a Third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.

    Armenian Canon Lists IV – The List Of Gregory Of Tatcew (14th Century), Michael E. Stone, Harvard Theological Review, 1979, Volume 72, No. 3-4, pp. 237-244.

    This is the list of Old Testament books in the Armenian Canon according to Gregory of Tatcew. It is interesting to note that Gregory calls the Old Testament books rejected by Protestants as the "inspired" scriptures.

    Canons & Recensions Of The Armenian Bible.

    A listing of "accepted" books in the Armenian canons and recensions.

    Coptic Church: Athanasius issued his Thirty-Ninth Festal Epistle not only in the Greek but also in Coptic, in a slightly different form - though the list of the twenty seven books of the New Testament is the same in both languages. How far, however the list remained authoritative for the Copts is problematical. The Coptic (Bohairic) translation of the collection knowns as the Eighty-Five Apostlic Canons concludes with a different sequence of the books of the New Testament and is enlarged by the addition of two others: the four Gospels; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen Epistles of Paul (not mentioned individually); two Epistles of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude; the Apocalypse of John; the two Epistles of Clement.

    Ethiopic (Abyssinian) Church: This Church has the largest Bible of all, and and distinguishes different canons, the "narrower" and the "broader" according to the extent of the New Testament. The Ethiopic Old Testament comprises the books of the Hebrew Bible as well as all of the deuterocanonical books listed above, along with Jubilees, I Enoch, and Joseph ben Gorion's (Josippon's) medieval history of the Jews and other nations. The New Testament in what is referred to as the "broader" canon is made up of thirty-five books, joining to the usual twenty-seven books eight additional texts, namely four sections of church order from a compilation called Sinodos, two sections from the Ethiopic Book of the Covenant, Ethiopic Clement, and Ethiopic Didascalia. When the "narrower" New Testament canon is followed, it is made up of only the familiar twenty-seven books, but then the Old Testament books are divided differently so that they make up 54 books instead of 46. In both the narrower and broader canon, the total number of books comes to 81.

    The Biblical Canon Of The Ethiopic Orthodox Church Today, R. W. Cowley, Ostkirchliche Studien, 1974, Volume 23, pp. 318-323.

    The article discusses the Biblical Canon of the Ethiopic Orthodox Church as seen today. This canon consists of a "broader" and a "narrower" canon.

    Greek Orthodox Church: The Bible of the Greek Orthodox church comprises all of the books accepted by the Roman Catholic church, plus I Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and 3 Maccabees. The Slavonic canon adds 2 Esdras, but designates I and 2 Esdras as 2 and 3 Esdras. Other Eastern churches have 4 Maccabees as well.

    Protestant Church: Historically, Protestant churches have recognized the Hebrew canon as their Old Testament, although differently ordered, and with some books divided so that the total number of books is thirty-nine. These books, as arranged in the traditional English Bible, fall into three types of literature: seventeen historical books (Genesis to Esther), five poetical books (Job to Song of Solomon), and seventeen prophetical books. With the addition of another twenty-seven books (the four Gospels, Acts, twenty-one letters, and the book of Revelation), called the New Testament, the Christian scriptures are complete.

    On The Textual Sources Of The New International Version (NIV) Bible.

    What are the textual sources of the NIV Bible? Can these textual sources be considered "inspired" or "original"? Such issues are dealt with in this article. It should be added that the arguments made against the "inspiration" or "originality" of textual sources of the NIV Bible are also valid for RSV, NASV and other Bibles. Please note that the article is not about translations of the Bible; it is about their textual sources.

    Biblia Hebraica Quinta and the Making of Critical Editions of the Hebrew Bible, Richard D. Weis, TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 2002, Volume 7.

    Weis explains the current situation with regards the critical editions of the Hebrew Bible, namely, Biblia Hebraica Quinta, Biblia Hebraica & Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, Hebrew University Bible and Oxford Hebrew Bible. We know that some of these critical texts are the basis of modern day translation of the Bibles. Are the modern day editions of the Bibles based on editorial judgment or are they the "inerrant", "infallible" and "eternal" word of God? You read and decide!

    "Biblical Inspiration" & Modern Day Textual Criticism.

    It is well-known that the modern day Bibles are based on eclectic texts. The Christians make a theological statement about the Bible's 'inspiration' on the basis of an uninspired eclectically reconstructed biblical text, which is nothing but a product of judgment of committee of scholars. Such a position gives rise to an interesting paradox.

    Luther And "New Testament Apocrypha", A. Wikgren in R. H. Fischer's A Tribute To Arthur Vööbus: Studies In Early Christian Literature, 1977, © University of Chicago Press, pp. 379-390.

    Luther's treatment of four New Testament books (Hebrews, James, Jude, Revelation) reflected his early doubts about their full canonicity. This created a huge impact for over two centuries, in certain printed editions of the Bible. These four books were either printed as "apocrypha" or sometimes they were eliminated altogether from the printed editions!

    An Early Protestant Bible Containing The Third Book Of Maccabees: With A List Of Editions And Translations Of Third Maccabees, B. Metzger in M. Brecht's Text - Wort - Glaube Studien Zur Überlieferung, Interpretation Und Autorisierung Biblischer Texte, 1980, pp. 123-133., © Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin.

    This Protestant Bible comes with the Third Book of Maccabees, a book that is now demoted to the status of apocrypha.

    Roman Catholic Church: The Protestant canon took shape by rejecting a number of books and parts of books that had for centuries been part of the Old Testament in the Greek Septuagint and in the Latin Vulgate, and had gained wide acceptance within the Roman Catholic church. In response to the Protestant Reformation, at the Council of Trent (1546) the Catholic church accepted, as deuterocanonical, Tobit, Judith, the Greek additions to Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, three Greek additions to Daniel (the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon), and I and 2 Maccabees. These books, together with those in the Jewish canon and the New Testament, constitute the total of seventy three books accepted by the Roman Catholic church.

    Lost Books Of The Bible?, A. C. Cotter, Theological Studies, 1945, Volume 6, pp. 206-228.

    An interesting discussion about the "lost books" of the Bible and its implications on the Catholic and Protestant canons.

    Syriac Church: Syriac Churches used the Diatesseron, the four-in-one Gospel, introduced by Tatian, and was read in the Syriac Churches for quite some time before it was replaced by Peshitta. Peshitta has again a different number of Books in the New Testament. This represents for the New Testament an accomodation of the canon of the Syrians with that of the Greeks. Third Corinthians was rejected, and, in addition to the fourteen Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews, following Philemon), three longer Catholic Epistles (James, 1 Peter, and 1 John) were included. The four shorter Catholic Epistles (2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude) and the Apocalypse are absent from the Peshitta Syriac version, and thus the Syriac canon of the New Testament contained but twenty-two writings. For a large part of the Syrian Church this constituted the closing of the canon, for after the Council of Ephesus (431 CE) the East Syrians separated themselves as Nestorians from the Great Church.

    [ March 14, 2006, 11:37 PM: Message edited by: Jacob Dahlen ]
     
  2. Ray Berrian

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    If you do not firmly believe in the Canon of Scripture the cults like Mormonism and modern false spiritualism cults can have free reign to believe whatever the desire.
     
  3. tragic_pizza

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    The interesting discussion to me would concern what Christians did before Scripture was canonized?

    I highly recommend reading the Deuterocanonicals, whether you beleive them to be inspired or (as in my case) do not. Much insight into the doctrine of our Cstholic brothers and sisters in Christ can be gained, for it is there that doctrines such as Purgatory and veneration of saints originates.

    Further, the Deuterocanonicals offer insight into the Hebrew mindset at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
     
  4. Matt Black

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    Picking up on TP's question, the controversies which exist between denominations centre on the OT rather than the New, and in particular whether the deutero-canonicals should be included. TP asks what Christians did before canonisation (of the NT) and the answer is that they had:-

    1. The OT. Here, the Church has, from Apostolic times, used the LXX, mainly because Greek was the lingua franca in which the Church emerged and grew, and partly because the Jews themselves rejected the LXX as part of their 'anti-Christian drive' after Jamnia/ Yavneh from about 80AD. The LXX of course includes the DCs...but this is the version that the Church used and which subsequently formed the basis for further translations into languages other than Greek.

    2. Apostolic Tradition. Until it was decided what was in the NT and what was out at the end of the 4th century, the Church relied to an extent on the oral teachings of the Apostles as handed down to their successors from generation to generation; this in turn helped them ultimately to decide what was in and what wasn't. Of course they had access to some (but often not all) of the writings which form the NT but they also had access to other writings such as the Gnostic Gospels, the Letters of Clement, the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas etc, with no way of telling those writings apart from the genuine NT articles until the canon was fixed.
     
  5. Bro. James

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    True Christians, before and after "The Canon" are guided by The Spirit, The Holy--Pneuma Hagion which came on the Day of Pentecost. He indwells all New Testament Churches, even today.

    Jesus said He would not leave us comfortless--He has kept His promise--the Holy Spirit leads in all Truth. This is why sola scriptura is such an important doctrine. However, all of this is basically meaningless if one in not born from above. See John Ch. 3--Jesus and Nicodemus. Nick was a "master" of religion--but knew not the Word of God. The world today is filled with similar kinds of people--religious, yet lost.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  6. tragic_pizza

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    So were Christians who understood Christ in Arian terms prior to 325 AD in Hell? How about Christians who had only Paul's writings, or the Gospel of Mark?

    Our understanding of Christ comes out of millenia of debate and a full set of Scriptures whereby to base our understanding of God.
     
  7. Matt Black

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    Anyone else spot the contradiction between those statements?
     
  8. Eliyahu

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    Many people misunderstand that RC established the canon of the Bible.
    Bible existed before RC started to form. ( 2 Tim 3:15)
    Council of Jamneah confirmed the OT around 90 AD.
    True Christians preserved His Words. But the guys like Origen manipulated the Words of God reflecting paganism and disbelief.
    Septuagint is full of errors, which is why there is no Bible translated from it and read today.

    Actually Jews read Hebrew Bibles even at the time of Jesus, as we read Mt 5:18, Mt 23:35. Jesus spoke to Paul in Hebrew ( Acts 26:14).
    Jews used Greek for official business but they spoke and read the books in Hebrew for their faith. They hated Myths of Greeks, Pork meat eating, Words used for Idol worships.

    Septuagint disagree with itself when it talk about 75 souls in Ex 1:5 while it says 70 souls in Dt 10:22

    [ March 15, 2006, 12:33 PM: Message edited by: Eliyahu ]
     
  9. Chemnitz

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    Boy, are you misinformed. Every English translation consults the LXX at various times when translating the OT. At the same time there are quotes in the NT that line up closer to the LXX than to the Hebrew. Also, the "official" translation in the EO used the LXX as its source for the OT.
     
  10. Eliyahu

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    When the modern versions try to deviate from the Words of God, they refer to LXX.

    Which Bible is the translation from LXX?

    KJV is the translation from Masoretic Text ( Ben Chayyim) and others from Ben Asher.

    Which version is exactly from LXX?
     
  11. Matt Black

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    Other way round: the Church existed before the Bible (specifically the NT) had been written. The OT used by Timothy (a Hellenistic Jewish convert to Christianity) and his Greek-speaking congregation was the LXX
    Do youreally want to rely on the ruling of an anti-Christian Jewish council?
    Yep - Apostolic Tradition. Right on that one at least...
    Origen isn't my favourite theologian either, but he isn't regarded highly by the Church as well, which is why he isn't considered to be an ECF.
    Pure hogwash on both counts (the KJVO crowd will have you for breakfast for saying that!)but never mind.

    Ah, thanks for that clarification; that would be why the Jews translated the OT into Greek, then :rolleyes: In addition, the Hellenistic Jews (who were the majority of the Jewish population in the Meditteranean disapora such as Paul spoke Greek as their first or only language, so they used the LXX - why do you think a Greek translation was created in the first place (ok it was also used to proselytise)

    And...? So does the Masoretic text. What's your point?
     
  12. Eliyahu

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    I didn't say Bible existed before the Church but said It existed before Roman Catholic Church was formed. Council of Jamneah just confirmed what was already confirmed and believed before. True believers read the Bible before Roman Catholic started to make Idols for Mary.
    Masoretic Text is the Words of God preserved by God.
    It was quite correct that Believers excluded the Apocrypha on the following reasons:
    1) None of the writers claimed that they received the Words from God. None of them claimed that those Apocrypha was received from God.
    2) None of them was written in the language of the God's people at that time, namely in Hebrew.

    3) None of them was practiced at the Jewish worship service

    4) They contain the wrong teachings like prayer to the dead, beautifying suicide, assassination etc.

    5) They contain the statements contradictory each other, etc.

    True believers owe nothing to LXX. We don't need it! But the people who try to bring in LXX rely on Masoretic Text.

    Which one is the Word-to-Word English version of LXX ?
     
  13. tragic_pizza

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    As I understand it, the Masoretic text is much younger than the LXX. While a translation from original languages is, of course, better, older is generally preferred in being sure the translation is accurate.

    As I understand it (and this may rfefer to NT only) the KJV was translated from the Textus Recepticus, which was found to be less than reliable as a single-source text. This is, parenthetically, not to say that the KJV is less than God's Word, as are all faithful translations of the original languages.
     
  14. tragic_pizza

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    I didn't say Bible existed before the Church but said It existed before Roman Catholic Church was formed. Council of Jamneah just confirmed what was already confirmed and believed before. True believers read the Bible before Roman Catholic started to make Idols for Mary.
    Masoretic Text is the Words of God preserved by God.
    It was quite correct that Believers excluded the Apocrypha on the following reasons:
    1) None of the writers claimed that they received the Words from God. None of them claimed that those Apocrypha was received from God.
    2) None of them was written in the language of the God's people at that time, namely in Hebrew.

    3) None of them was practiced at the Jewish worship service

    4) They contain the wrong teachings like prayer to the dead, beautifying suicide, assassination etc.

    5) They contain the statements contradictory each other, etc.

    True believers owe nothing to LXX. We don't need it! But the people who try to bring in LXX rely on Masoretic Text.

    Which one is the Word-to-Word English version of LXX ? [/QB]</font>[/QUOTE]You still didn't address his point.

    I'd, of course, say that the difference owes to different sources (JEDP). I'd be interested to hear other viewpoints, though.
     
  15. Matt Black

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    Then you knwo jack about the Council of Jamnia. First off, it wasn't really a 'council' at all, just a place where Jews displaced after the sacking of Jerusalem gathered to ,amongst other things, work out what to do about those pesky minim (Jewish converts to Christianity to you and me). ONe of the things they realised was that those minim were, to a man and woman, using the LXX, complete with DCs, so they decided to treat the LXX henceforth as verboten to all good Jews on the grounds that it had become a Christian book and revert to using the Hebrew, sans DCs, in order to put some clear theological water between them and the Christians. This tells us two things:-

    1. The Christians were using the LXX exclusively by 80AD (and indeed continued to use it) and we should accordingly do likewise

    2. If you reject the LXX, then you're being a good Jew and thus contrasting yourself with the Christians

    When do you say this was? In any event the Christians as demonstrated above were using the LXX by 80AD if not before.
    Define what you mena by 'Masoretic Text'; arguably this did not even exist in its present form until around 1000AD
    They didn't until the 1500s and even then it was a slow process not completed in some Protestant denominations until the 1800s and of course not doen at all in the Catholic, Orthodox, Ethiopian, and Armenian Churches (amongst others)
    A lot of the OT books don't do that. Do you want to exclude those too?
    What on earth do you mean by that? Parts of the OT such as most of Daniel were written in Aramaic and the NT was written in Greek - so let's excise those too.

    Depends where and when you were. If for example you mean Jewish worship service post-Jamnia, then correct. Of course if you want to go off and be Jewish, be my guest.

    Of course, if as demonstrated above, the LXX is part of the Christian as opposed to the Jewish canon, then these teachings are not false at all...

    &lt;Shrug&gt; So? So does the rest of the Bible if decontextualised.

    That's rather bad news for the Apostles and other early Christians, wouldn't you say?
     
  16. Eliyahu

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    As I understand it, the Masoretic text is much younger than the LXX. While a translation from original languages is, of course, better, older is generally preferred in being sure the translation is accurate.

    As I understand it (and this may rfefer to NT only) the KJV was translated from the Textus Recepticus, which was found to be less than reliable as a single-source text. This is, parenthetically, not to say that the KJV is less than God's Word, as are all faithful translations of the original languages.
    </font>[/QUOTE]You don't know much about the Bible history, I believe.
     
  17. Eliyahu

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    That's rather bad news for the Apostles and other early Christians, wouldn't you say? [/QB]</font>[/QUOTE]Never mind about the Apostles,because they never read LXX since LXX came out later than Apostles!! [​IMG]
     
  18. Matt Black

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    Pot and kettle, I believe re your post to TP. Well just pot, actually, because the post you just made about the Apostles predating the LXX is totally risable. You are wholly ignorant of the history of Scripture and, frankly, I'm not sure I can take anything seriously on this subject from you.
     
  19. Eliyahu

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    Matt,

    It is time for you to go to bed. I don't want to be too much cruel to ruin your sleep. Let's continue tomorrow.
     
  20. tragic_pizza

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    As I understand it, the Masoretic text is much younger than the LXX. While a translation from original languages is, of course, better, older is generally preferred in being sure the translation is accurate.

    As I understand it (and this may rfefer to NT only) the KJV was translated from the Textus Recepticus, which was found to be less than reliable as a single-source text. This is, parenthetically, not to say that the KJV is less than God's Word, as are all faithful translations of the original languages.
    </font>[/QUOTE]You don't know much about the Bible history, I believe.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Hm. Well, I know, for example, that the LXX was compiled about 250 BC, which predates the Apostles somewhat.

    Perhaps instead of snubbing, you could learn to discuss.
     

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