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Berean Todd
April 13th, 2005, 09:04 AM
Ok, there have been several threads calling into question the New Testament, particularly in how we got it, and where it came from, including suggestions of much late handiwork by men. As such, and prompted by others, I thought it would be a benefit to consider how we got the New Testament, both in it's formation, it's collection, and it's official cannonization.

So, is it true that the Bible was not collected until the late fourth century? Is it true that the church of the late fourth century at the Council of Carthage (397) randomly, for their own purpose decided what should be scripture and what should not? I submit that they did not. There is ample support and evidence for what should be Scripture prior to that. The Council was just solidifying into doctrine what was allready known and observed in practice. What then are earlier evidences of the Scriptures?

I. Early Church Fathers

The Ante-Nicean Fathers, as they are also known, being the leaders of the church prior to the Council of Nicea, date from the late first century to the early fourth century. These men began with those who were directly trained by the apostles themselves, and all the way up to those early church councils.

Now, these men had this terrible habbit it seems. You see, they valued the apostle's writtings, and they recorded them, quoted them, and commented on them. So, let us consider some of the evidence of this period.

For instance, in the epistle of Polycarp to the Phillipians (writting around AD 100), Polycarp quoted no non-Biblical gospels or letters, but did quote extensively from not only Paul's epistle to the Phillipians, but also from 10 other of Paul's letters, indicating an early collection of Paul's writtings was allready circulating by that time.

In 95 AD Clement of Rome wrote a letter in the name of the Christians of Rome to those in Corinth. In this letter he quotes and cites Matthew, Luke, Hebrews, Romans, Corinthians, and shows familiarity with and evidence of, though not direct quotes from, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter and Ephesians.In 130 AD the epistle of Barnabas is written, and it uses the term "it is written" (used in the NT to quote OT Scripture) of quotations from the Gospel of Matthew.

Now those are just a smattering of direct examples I will give, let me give a more broad look at it then. Let me name for you just 17 of the ECFs (early church fathers): Pseudo-Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, Didache, Pappias, Iranaeus, Dionetus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Eusebius, Jerome, Augustine.

All of these men quoted extensively from the books of the NT. I will give three figures for each book of the New Testament. First the number of these 17 men who quoted from them as Scripture. Included in this will be the number who did not. Lastly, the numbers (if any) who claimed they did not belong with Scripture.

Matthew 14 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Mark 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Luke 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
John 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Acts 11 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Romans 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
1 Cor 13 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
2 Cor 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Galatians 11 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Ephesians 13 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Phillipians 11 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Colosians 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
1 Thess 13 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
2 Thess 11 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
1 Timothy 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
2 Timothy 9 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Titus 11 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Philemon 5 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
Hebrews 10 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, one (Origen) claims it is disputed as to wether it is scripture
James 5 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, one (Eusebius) claims it is disputed as to wether it is scripture
1 Peter 12 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
2 Peter 6 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, two (Origen, Eusebius) claim it as disputed
1 John 10 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary
2 John 6 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, two (Origen, Eusebius) claim it as disputed
3 John 3 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, two (Origen, Eusebius) claim it as disputed
Jude 7 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, one (Eusebius) claims it as disputed
Revelation 11 of 17 cite/quote as scripture, no claims to the contrary

First off, notice a couple of things. One, almost none of these people were trying to create a complete list of what constituted the New Testament, they did not see the need for that, at least not early on. Also, notice the only ones who people claimed to be disputed were always disputed by only two men, Origen and Eusebius.

Of these men, 6 of them quoted/cited almost every single one of the 27 NT books as Scripture, and and two of them did cite every one, and one of them cited every one of the books except Revelation.

II. Early "canons"

Marcion canon (140 AD) Now, Marcion was a heretecal gnostic, but he did at least cite Luke and 10 of Pauls' letters as being cannonical Scripture.

Muratorian Canon (170 AD) had all the NT listed as canonical, except Hebrews, James, 1 Pet, 2 Pet. However, there is a break in the manuscript for this, so the non-listed books may have been listed but lost because of the poor condition of that part of the manuscript.

Old Latin version (200 AD) had all the NT except for 2 Peter, James and Hebrews.

Barococcio Canon (206 AD) had every book of the NT except for Revelation.

Apostolic Canon (300 AD) had every book of the NT except for Revelation.

Chelenthem Canon (360 AD) had every book of the NT except for Hebrews, James + Jude, and speciafically claimed 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John were not scripture

Athanaseus Canon (367 AD) listed every book of the NT.


III. Councils

The councils began really with the Council of Nicea as the first real major church council. They did not directly take up the subject of the cannon, but they did claim cannonicity of all of the NT except for James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude.

The councils that really dealt with canonicity of the books were Hippo (393) Carthage I (397) and Carthage II (419), of which Carthage I was the most important with respect to this question. All three of these councils agreed on all 27 books of the NT.

IV. What does this all mean?

The early church, especially of the apostles, was not interested in immediately collecting a book of all the important writtings or Scriptures (though the NT books themselves at times cite one another as Scripture). They believed that Jesus was coming back very soon and there was no need. As it became apparent that we do not know His timing or His plans, the collection of this material became more and more precious.

What makes something scripture? Well, it had to have authority, such as being written by an apostle, or a direct student of an apostle (such as Mark or Luke). It had to be unique and show inspiration. It had to have been accepted by the ECFs and not a late entry to the game like the gnostic writtings. These are all among the tests used.

Ultimately one would say, from an Orthodox position, that God created Scripture, man just discovered what He had allready ordained would be our canon. That is not to ignore the fact that humans had their hand in shaping the course of the councils, but if God exists, then He is able to work through us to bring about just that result that He wants.

What cannot be questioned is that there is no doubt at any point on any of the four Gospels, Acts, the 13 epistles of Paul 1 Peter, 1 John. The only books that were in dispute at all were James, Jude, 2 + 3 John, 2 Peter. Revelation is inbetween the two categories in that none claimed it to be a disputed text, but there was some debate over its' inclusion in the Bible.

Ultimately though it comes down to a certain extent to a matter of faith. The NT and it's transmission is not going to win any souls to Christ. Only God's Holy Spirit can do that. But for any Christians out there who have had doubts cast on them, let me say, you can trust the word of God, in it's transmission, it's inspiration, it's message, it's completeness.

Nineveh
April 13th, 2005, 09:58 AM
Thank you BT :)

Berean Todd
April 13th, 2005, 10:07 AM
Your welcome Nineveh. Just as an adendum to what I had written, I wanted to add that if we had no manuscripts at all for the NT (which we actually do have more than 6,000 in the original Greek and quickly growing, and more than 25,000 in all languages - as the Bible was quickly translated into three other languages), we would still be able to reproduce in whole about 98% of the NT from nothing more than the quotations and commentaries of the early church fathers so much did they value it, quote it and study it.

Nineveh
April 13th, 2005, 10:12 AM
Do you have any information about the dissemination of these letters and writtings to the Churches?

Berean Todd
April 13th, 2005, 10:21 AM
Do you have any information about the dissemination of these letters and writtings to the Churches?


No, really our earliest records are the writtings of the early church fathers. The oldest NT manuscript we have dates to between 100-150 AD, but we have writtings of the ECFs dating from the late first century, complete with NT quotes. We know that very quickly the NT was translated into three languages, Syrian, Coptic and Latin. We have strong evidence that at least Pauls' writtings had been collected together pre-100 AD (see comment in original post on the letter of Polycarp for example).

By way of comparison to other books of antiquity, most other books we have around 5-10 manuscripts. For a very few of them we might have 100 or so. Of the NT we have 6,000+ Greek, and 25,000+ if you count all the other languages. All other books of antiquity, the closest manuscript to the original writting is between several centuries and more than a millenia after the original writting. In the NT we have within half a century (or less if you want to count ECF quotations).

Also, when you look at those 25,000+ manuscripts we have for the NT, they are in roughly 98.5% agreement, meaning that only much less than 2% of the material is in any way disputed. That means, in other words, that there is no evidence at all for the charges that the later church redacted or changed the books to say what they wanted.

You see, for that redaction to have happened, the person doing it would first have had to go and find nearly all of these 25,000 manuscripts, change them, don't show the ink-work, keep the lies you were changing strait, then put them back where you found them (scattered all over the mediterranean world). Then they would have had to go and find all of the copies of the writtings of the ECFs (remember we can recreate 95-98% of the NT from just ECF quotes), change all of those, don't show their inkwork, keep the lies they were penning strait from before, then get those manuscripts back where they came from.

In other words there is no plausable, believeable way to claim a redaction of the Scriptures.

Zakath
April 13th, 2005, 10:21 AM
... I wanted to add that if we had no manuscripts at all for the NT (which we actually do have more than 6,000 in the original Greek and quickly growing, and more than 25,000 in all languages...For clarity's sake, BT, tell the readers, how many of those 6,000 greek manuscripts represent "complete" versions of the New Testament exist that can be dated prior five hundred years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth?

By "complete" I mean containing all 27 books currently designated as NT books in their entirety and only those books, with no extra books or texts included...

Failing that, how many of your 6,000 greek manuscripts contain even one complete book out of the 27?

:)

Then of course, we could discuss just how you determine which of the half dozen or so extant canons is the correct one; since Roman Catholic and Protestants didn't agree on the canon until almost 1700 and a number of other Christian churches still do not agree to this day...

Berean Todd
April 13th, 2005, 10:40 AM
; since Roman Catholic and Protestants didn't agree on the canon until almost 1700

Care to explain that one Zakath, cause that is just crap. The 27 books of the NT and them alone were ratified by the late fourst century, and the only deviation in the RCC and Protestant cannon has been in the area of the appocryphal books which are not NT writtings, but writtings that came in between the time of the OT and the NT (which I might add that the Jews never considered them to be Scriptural).

Free-Agent Smith
April 13th, 2005, 12:13 PM
Ok, there have been several threads calling into question the New Testament, particularly in how we got it, and where it came from, including suggestions of much late handiwork by men. As such, and prompted by others, I thought it would be a benefit to consider how we got the New Testament, both in it's formation, it's collection, and it's official cannonization.
Thank you for starting this thread. :)

servent101
April 13th, 2005, 01:30 PM
Berean Todd
But for any Christians out there who have had doubts cast on them, let me say, you can trust the word of God, in it's transmission, it's inspiration, it's message, it's completeness.

And you have Berean Todd's own personal guarantee on that - no one elses...

It is not that I disagree with the Writings in the Bible - it is just that there is not enough to deduce the doctrines that they do from the Book - it is just not enough information there - there are too many things that are not conclusive, too many things that are not actually being discussed - Like
You have one life to live, then comes judgement

This kind of out of context taking is done to support the idea that there is no reincarnation - but if you look at it in context - the subject is not the idea of reincarnation - and on the matter of reincarnation... reincarnation is in and of itself a form of judgement - one is found not advanced enough to leave the planet and dwell in heavenly abodes -

For the most part clergy simply use trickery to deny the existence of any other insight other than their own field of knowledge - making themselves the brakerage of all Truth - and to their own demise and to the demise of the people who follow them.

With Christ's Love

Servent101

Nineveh
April 13th, 2005, 01:35 PM
Berean Todd

And you have Berean Todd's own personal guarantee on that - no one elses...

It is not that I disagree with the Writings in the Bible - it is just that there is not enough to deduce the doctrines that they do from the Book - it is just not enough information there - there are too many things that are not conclusive, too many things that are not actually being discussed - Like

This kind of out of context taking is done to support the idea that there is no reincarnation - but if you look at it in context - the subject is not the idea of reincarnation - and on the matter of reincarnation... reincarnation is in and of itself a form of judgement - one is found not advanced enough to leave the planet and dwell in heavenly abodes -

For the most part clergy simply use trickery to deny the existence of any other insight other than their own field of knowledge - making themselves the brakerage of all Truth - and to their own demise and to the demise of the people who follow them.

And we have sybel's personal guarantee on that.

Zakath
April 13th, 2005, 02:58 PM
Care to explain that one Zakath, cause that is just crap. The 27 books of the NT and them alone were ratified by the late fourst century, and the only deviation in the RCC and Protestant cannon has been in the area of the appocryphal books which are not NT writtings...
Hmmm... where to begin?

Shorter canons
Peshitta (canon of the Syrian church) omits II Peter, II & III John, Jude, and Revelation of John
Lutheran (canon declared by Martin Luther) omitted Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as uncanononical in his German Bible. They were included in later versions but printed in a separate section and termed apochryphal writings. Some of Luther's followers also eventually rejected II Peter and II & III John. By 1700 all were re-placed into the Lutheran canon but Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelations are still placed at the end of the German bible instead of the order found in the rest of Western Christianity.
Zwingli declared Revelation uncanononical.

Longer canons
Armenian canon - adds III Corinthians and two additional letters from Corinth. The Armenians did not accept Revelation as canononical until about 1200 C.E.
Copto-Arabic canon - includes portions of the Apostolic Constitutions and the Epistles of Clement
Ethiopian canon - adds the Sinodos, the Octateuch, the Book of the Covenant, and the Didascalia, totalling 35 books in the NT.

Hope that helps. :thumb:

Berean Todd
April 13th, 2005, 03:09 PM
I know all of that Zakath, but just because the LUTHERANS didn't add the other obooks back in until 1700 does not mean that all of protestantism followed suit, you are really stretching it to make your challenge sound more than it is by saying "oh there wasn't a set cannon until 1700"

Zakath
April 13th, 2005, 03:11 PM
I know all of that Zakath, but just because the LUTHERANS didn't add the other obooks back in until 1700 does not mean that all of protestantism followed suit, you are really stretching it to make your challenge sound more than it is by saying "oh there wasn't a set cannon until 1700"
Not at all. I was merely providing documentation for my statement.

So, you admit you were incorrect in stating that "it's just crap"? :think:

Berean Todd
April 13th, 2005, 03:17 PM
Not at all. I was merely providing documentation for my statement.

So, you admit you were incorrect in stating that "it's just crap"? :think:

My "it's just crap" comment had nothing to do with alternate cannons, I know and understand them, it had to do with the "no complete cannon until 1700" line of yours which you know is at best an extreme stretch of the truth.

Zakath
April 13th, 2005, 05:49 PM
My "it's just crap" comment had nothing to do with alternate cannons, I know and understand them, it had to do with the "no complete cannon until 1700" line of yours which you know is at best an extreme stretch of the truth.
Well...

I've shown your comment to be without basis in fact...

I've demonstrated that, even today, there's no common consensus among those that call themselves Christian regarding exactly what your deity supports as "canononical scripture"...

So when do I get my apology? ;)

Chileice
April 13th, 2005, 07:05 PM
BT,
Nice work. Zakath is, of course trying to rattle your cage, but I think it is grandstanding more than anything. He knows that you know the history. There will always be splinter groups promoting their particular "flavor" but you were clear to say "Orthodox Chrisitianity", so any heterodox interpretation of what the canon is excluded.

servent101
April 14th, 2005, 09:19 AM
Chileise

All in all any interpretation heterodox or not has to be looked at how it has evolved over time ... there is no such mention of how to interpret the Bible - and for me anyways, to look at through any other eyes, than those to whom it was written is a crime, and a sin, - the people to whom the Bible was written were free of all these concepts of orthodox, reasonable exegesis and for the most part were not in any fraternity that decided what was the "correct understanding". These all seem to muddy the water - making people deduce that it is more important to believe whatever is there first - then rejecting any intelligent summery of what is said in the name of literalism, and concepts like this is God's Word - it must be taken as the chips fall... none of that was present when the Writers wrote The various letters that later turned into this closed book called the Bible... even putting it into a closed book more or less destroys the content of all the letters - for example, most Christians believe the end of John's letter of Revelation - to any one who would add or subtract - that John is referring to the Bible, not so, but the clergy simply lets the people fill themselves with such misunderstandings as long as they bargain the right of heaven, and gain their respect from the ignorant masses.

With Christ's Love

Servent101

Zakath
April 14th, 2005, 11:11 AM
BT,
Nice work. Zakath is, of course trying to rattle your cage, but I think it is grandstanding more than anything. He knows that you know the history. There will always be splinter groups promoting their particular "flavor" but you were clear to say "Orthodox Chrisitianity", so any heterodox interpretation of what the canon is excluded.Just be clear, are you suggesting he meant "Orthodox" or "orthodox"? Two very different things when referring to Christianity... ;)

You also appear to indicate that any view that does not coincide with that of Western Protestantism (non-existent prior to the 16th century) is heterodox... :think:

koinonia
April 14th, 2005, 02:48 PM
Very good thread BT. Just want you to know that I am right there with you. :thumb:

Zakath
April 14th, 2005, 02:50 PM
Very good thread BT. Just want you to know that I am right there with you. :thumb:
And where, precisely, might "right there" be? ;)

Chileice
April 14th, 2005, 03:57 PM
Just be clear, are you suggesting he meant "Orthodox" or "orthodox"? Two very different things when referring to Christianity... ;) :
It really doesn't make much difference in this case as the Orthodox Church accepts the same 27 books of the NT as the Catholic Church or as most Protestant churches. While the Ethiopian Orthodox Church adds 8 others as you suggest, they are not treated with the same level of authority as the other 27 also known as the "Narrower" Canon and undisputed by all Adherents to the Church. The mere fact that there has been such widespread agreement should be of more interest than the fact there has been some division.


You also appear to indicate that any view that does not coincide with that of Western Protestantism (non-existent prior to the 16th century) is heterodox... :think:

A view that doesn't follow Protestant/Catholic /Orthodox.. yes. I am not saying they are necessarily heretical but rather heterodox. Groups whose ideas vary at important points with the mainstream thinking. Some may think such groups to be heretical and others may accept them.

Zakath
April 15th, 2005, 06:46 AM
... The mere fact that there has been such widespread agreement should be of more interest than the fact there has been some division.That depends on whether one is a holder of a "glass half empty" or "glass half full" point of view. ;)

From the outside (where we atheists are viewing things), the claim by virtually all Christian sects is that they have a particular set of writings, unique by nature of the influence of the deity upon their authors and identified as such by the deity, would be a much more powerful argument if all Christians actually accepted the same books and only the same books as divinely inspired and canononical.



A view that doesn't follow Protestant/Catholic /Orthodox.. yes. I am not saying they are necessarily heretical but rather heterodox. Groups whose ideas vary at important points with the mainstream thinking. Some may think such groups to be heretical and others may accept them.Thank you for clarifying.

But where does one draw the line between heterodoxy and heresy with regard to the Christian scriptural canon, and what criteria do you suggest to make the evaluation of whether a given position is heterodox or heretical?

servent101
April 18th, 2005, 08:33 AM
Zakath
But where does one draw the line between heterodoxy and heresy with regard to the Christian scriptural canon, and what criteria do you suggest to make the evaluation of whether a given position is heterodox or heretical?

And then there are people like me – who reject the idea of a canon altogether – that this in itself produces heresy – the connotation that God spoke here in our Scriptures, therefore all other Scriptures are wrong. There are those who believe that the Bible is True, but if taken too literal or viewed through the eyes of anyone “other” than the letters were written too, that this immensely encumbers the Truth that is there. There is no fraternity to join, that once admitted, one has to view things as a group to know that one’s beliefs are trustworthy.


From the outside (where we atheists are viewing things), the claim by virtually all Christian sects is that they have a particular set of writings, unique by nature of the influence of the deity upon their authors and identified as such by the deity, would be a much more powerful argument if all Christians actually accepted the same books and only the same books as divinely inspired and canononical.

Almost all atheists I talk too I agree with, that the concept of god, as they see it, that this god could not exist – I also try to point that fact out to most Christians. I have very little success at that – and you say that if the Christians would hold to some sort of uniform structure of belief that their argument would be stronger? – I can’t see the logic in that. The perspective of the atheist is that their god is not a logical or believable concept, so if they are wrangling over their source material, possibly they would be able to come up with a god, that is actually believable. At least if there is disagreement in the Christian camp, there is hope that one day they might satisfy you Zakath.

With Christ’s Love

Servent101

Inquisitor
April 24th, 2005, 01:53 AM
Care to explain that one Zakath, cause that is just crap. The 27 books of the NT and them alone were ratified by the late fourst century, and the only deviation in the RCC and Protestant cannon has been in the area of the appocryphal books which are not NT writtings, but writtings that came in between the time of the OT and the NT (which I might add that the Jews never considered them to be Scriptural).

Not so. The Ethiopean Jews thought them to be scriptural.