Questions about stuff I came accross studying Biblical History

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Thinkingstuff, May 14, 2008.

  1. Thinkingstuff

    Thinkingstuff
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    I’ve been studying the literature of the second temple period. Particularly items found at Qumran and other literature that are extant but also verified at Qumran. Now the bible refers to a lot of outside sources. The OT refers to the book of wars ect… the NT specifically Jude takes a quote from Enoch 1. Which was a popular type of literature at the time. I find that Clement quotes from Tobit and Judith which are in the LXX. Now from a sola scriptura point of view how does one take certain scripture, like Jude which quotes from Enoch 1 (which we don’t consider cannon) as an outside source of information? Some of Jesus’ statements seem similar to the apocalyptic literature of the day like when he says “there will be floods in diverse places, wars and rumors of wars”. Now that I understand some of the Essenian belief systems I see a heavy influence on the Gospel of John when he speaks of light and dark a motif that the (heretical?) letter of Barnabas also includes. Also I wonder that John the Baptist audience might not have been Essenes as well. Though both Jesus and John separated themselves from the sectarian influence. Though Christianity in it’s own way kind of mimics certain sectarian statements that the Essenses had. It’s obvious that the earliest fathers took this literature seriously in their writings. So how are Christians who are primarily sola scriptura view scripture relating to non cannon books as being factual? Especially since we now that the book of Enoch was probably written between 400 and 200 BC and is fictional speculation?
     
  2. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    Hello Thinkingstuff and welcome to BB,

    I think your questions are interesting, but the answer will lie in you struggling over the canon. One recent Protestant work that gives some interesting thoughts is in John Webster's Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch. If you are really interested in a quite thorough treatment of the canon, I highly recommend Lee Martin McDonald's The Biblical Canon. A helpful Eastern Orthodox approach that interacts with both Josh McDowell and some of the books you mentioned can be found here: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/ntcanon.aspx

    Discussions of the canon intersect with the relationship between Scripture and the church. Protestants typically argue that Scripture constitutes the church while Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox affirm the opposite. I tend to side with the latter, but that is most likely a minority position among people here.

    My view of passages like the one in Jude that refers to Enoch is that Jude knew the book himself, knew that his audience knew the book, and knew that at least the audience (and most likely Jude too) considered the book to be important and maybe even authoritative. Jude used Enoch at a crucial point to bolster his argument with his audience. I don't think we can turn this around and now consider it a liability hundreds of years later.
     
  3. Thinkingstuff

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    Thanks, I'll take a gander. I've been sola scriptura most of my christian life however I'm finding difficulty with it as I study more about scripture. How it was put together and how it was determined to be as it is. I guess the very basic or root issue I'm coming against recently is this: Our Cannon refers to other sources as authoritative. Some of those sources are blatantly ficticious like Enoch. From a sola scriptura perspective this is difficult I think. I have no seminary background at all and it seems you do so maybe you can help out.
     
  4. Brandon C. Jones

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    Hello again Thinkinstuff,

    I think it's very common for people who grew up Protestant with a belief in sola scriptura to wrestle at one time or another with the issue of the canon. This is a good thing to go through. My advice is to embrace the difficulty and use this as an opportunity to learn more about the church of which you are a part. Stating that Enoch is blatantly fictitious is perhaps a little off. It was pseudonymous, but its genre is apocalyptic if I recall. Its genre should drive some of what we can and cannot say about its meaning.

    Anyhow, if you delve into the formation of the canon you will see that it took some time for the church to agree, and even then the Reformation opened up the issue once again. There's a reason why the early church found some books helpful that did and did not make it into the canon. There's also a reason why other branches of Christianity continue to find some books useful that aren't part of the Protestant canon (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes Enoch in its canon).

    It's wise to look into these to see what we can learn from them. Perhaps from there you will look into the Apostolic Fathers and some of the writings of the Church Fathers. Sola scriptura, at least according to the magisterial reformers, was never intended to dispense with the analogy of faith or the place of tradition altogether. It was utilized to correct a neglect of Scripture when the church strayed from its own apostolicity. This is some of the richness of Protestant reflection on the place of Scripture.

    One other resource I recommend is Jobes and Silva's Invitation to the Septuagint. However, if you have no seminary training, then you may find some basice New Testament introductions to be more helpful. Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament is accessible and quite good (though it does not represent conservative evangelical thought). For an evangelical introduction, there is Carson, Morris, and Moo's Introduction to the New Testament, which is widely used in conservative seminaries. If I recall, there is a chapter on the canon in both books.

    Feel free to e-mail or PM me if you have further questions.
    Blessings,
    BJ
     
  5. ktn4eg

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    Gleason L. Archer, Jr.'s extremely helpful book, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties [(c) 1982, Zondervan], summarizes Jude's use of the Enoch quotations [v. 9 & 14] this way:

    "....This by no means demonstrates that everything in the Book of Enoch is historically accurate or theologically valid. Much of Enoch may be quite fictional. But there is no good ground for condemning everything that is written therein as false simply because the book is noncanonical. Even a pagan work could contain items of truth, as is attested to by Paul when he quoted Aratus's Phaenomena 5 to his Athenian audience (Acts 17:28)." [p. 430]
     
  6. lbaker

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    I believe Paul also used pagan poetry and made references to pagan athletic contests to make some of his points.

    Just because something isn't inspired doesn't mean there can't be some truth contained within it.
     
  7. Thinkingstuff

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    Good quote but he also says:
    which causes problems for sola scriptura believers. An authoriative body that is based outside of scriptures such as oral tradition. So the inspired writers of the bible were inspired by God by outside sources such as oral traditions. I think the Orthodox and the Catholics would say amen to that. Both of these faiths claim to carry on that oral tradition as a deposit of faith and teaching. where does that place us?
     
  8. ktn4eg

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    Thinkingstuff:

    Had you quoted the rest of the sentence in Archer's book, that might have explained your quandry:

    "... and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they were perfectly able to report such occurrences in connection with their teaching ministry." [Emphasis mine.]

    Maybe I've misunderstood what sola scriptura means, but if the Holy Spirit guided the Biblical writers, then certainly He would not have allowed them to make a statement that is obviously erroneous.
     
  9. Thinkingstuff

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    cont.

    I guess my quandery has more to do with Sola Scriptura Vs. Tradition. Scriptures like Jude seems to refer to an accepted Oral Tradition. If Scripture give credence to an Oral Tradition then there is authority outside of Scripture. Sola Scripture (spritures alone is authoritative) become problematic. That is what I'm struggling with. Yes the Holy Spirit guides the interpretation and insperation of scripture but if it goes through and oral tradition and gives it authority is it equal then with scripture?
     
  10. ktn4eg

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    Thinkingstuff,

    Thanks for your reply.

    It's my understanding [which is ALWAYS subject to correction!] that sola scriptura does not mean that the Biblical writers' source materials must be solely confined to prior Biblical writings.

    If that were the case, then Paul would have to have been guilty of the same thing [if not worse] when he quoted the work of a pagan author in Acts 17:28.
     
    #10 ktn4eg, May 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2008

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