Wednesday, December 11, 2013

22. THE BIBLE - HISTORICAL FACTS



Even 2,000 years ago, Jesus did not instruct the Apostles to put old and new testament books to create a Bible. He said he came to fulfill what was written and prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus instructed Peter that whatever Peter and the church will bind  and unbind on earth shall be bound and unbound in heaven. The first part of the new Testament were written during the time of the apostles and in the early days of the church fathers as books, letters and epistles and put together to become the bible for all.  

Jesus gave meaning to everything thru oral traditions. He never wrote any of his divine teachings and revelations. The only time He wrote something was on the sand when Mary Magdalene was about to be stoned by the accusing crowd. John 8:7 
"When therefore they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

The Bible does not have a single author – it is a collection of 73 books which were written by many different authors over a long period of time. It is divided into two main sections – the Old Testament and the New. 
 
The Old Testament
 
The Old Testament is the Jewish Scriptures which were used by faithful Jews before the time of Christ. 
 
The canon (list of books) of the Old Testament was not formally fixed and varied a great deal between different groups of faithful Jews. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Samaritans and other groups all had different lists of books which they considered to be Sacred Scripture, although there was agreement on the core of which books were part of the canon.
 

Christians have the current 46 book Old Testament because this was the canon used by the leaders of the early Christian Church; the apostles and their followers. This canon was found in a Greek translation of the Scriptures known as the Septuagint. This was the version used by very many Jews in the first century.

The Jews were using a Greek translation because very few Jews actually spoke Hebrew any longer. Owing to their capture by the Babylonians and subsequent freeing by the Persians, most Jews no longer spoke Hebrew, but rather spoke Aramaic – a Persian-derived language. The priestly class still spoke Hebrew, but the average Jew did not. In addition, owing to the massive conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon, the Greek language had become the common language of business and culture in the Near- and Middle East. Accordingly, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was very popular.

It can clearly be seen that the Septuagint was used by the early Christians – when the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament over 90% of the quotations are taken from the Septuagint text. Many Protestants will argue that the Septuagint canon is not the correct one – but it is clear that the correct canon of the Bible is the 46 book Septuagint one.
 
 
The New Testament
 
The New Testament consists of books and letters written by the early Christians.
  The assemblage of the New Testament is a very interesting process and a highly complex one. It can, however, by summarized relatively simply as follows.

Various Christians wrote books explaining the history of the Christian Church (including Gospels about the life of Christ and more general histories such as the Acts of the Apostles) and letters addressed to specific communities and persons (such as the letters of Saint Paul) and also what are best considered to be “open letters” (such as Hebrews). There were hundreds of different documents circulating around, all of them purporting to the authentic Christian teaching and accurate history and doctrine.

However, many of these documents were not what they claimed to be – they were forgeries not written by the people whose names they bore, or were heretical documents advancing novel notions about Christ. Some of these documents have survived today – examples are the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas. Neither of these documents were written by their alleged authors – they are late forgeries designed to cash in on the success and popularity of Christianity.

Out of all these hundreds of documents – many of them forgeries – the current 27 book New Testament appeared. This process took a long time – roughly 300 years went by from the writing of the last book of the New Testament (Revelation) until the list was finalized.

The list was compiled by the bishops of the Catholic Church. Initially, local canons were assembled by individual bishops. These canons were lists of books which could be read aloud in Churches at Mass. Despite the fact that these canons were independently assembled they bore a great deal of similarity to each other – because the Catholic bishops were all using the same criteria to determine which books should be included. They looked to see if the books were written by an apostle or someone who was reporting the words of an apostle. They checked to see how much the book was being used by other bishops and priests in their Masses, and also looked at how often the book was quoted by the Church Fathers in their writings. Only those books which “scored” favorably on all three of these criteria made it into their canons.

In the early fourth century Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire and it became possible for the bishops to meet without being imprisoned or killed by the pagan authorities. Beginning in the late fourth century and continuing until the very early fifth century the Catholic Church met at a number of councils where the canon of the Bible was debated. These councils produced canons which were identical to the current 73 book Roman Catholic canon.

As can clearly be seen the canon of the Bible was produced by the Catholic Church. The Church also existed long before the Bible – it was the early fifth century before the Bible existed as we might recognize it today, and none of the books of the Bible were even written until around 50 AD. But the Catholic Church began 20 years earlier, at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles.

The Christians who wrote the New Testament were Catholic – they were Catholic for two reasons. One, they believed everything which the current Catholic Church (and only the Catholic Church) teaches (as is shown by the writings of the Church Fathers). And they were Catholic because there was no other church at the time. Myths such as the “Trail of Blood” simply do not hold water – the Catholic Church was, quite literally, the only game in town.

Accordingly, the Bible can be considered to be two things – it is younger than the Catholic Church and it is the product of the Catholic Church. This means that the Bible is not the sole rule of faith for Christians, but rather “the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth” as it says in 
I Timothy 3:15 - the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic.



The Written Tradition is a Reliable Record!
by Gary C. Burger, MDiv
All the Oral Tradition was very reliable. The original manuscripts are called the Written Tradition. Again, for the sake of time we'll limit our examination to the Greek manuscripts of the Gospels. We want to find out if the events were accurately reported by the authors. Who were the authors of the Gospels anyway? We know they are: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They were each either eyewitnesses or were reporting other people's eyewitness accounts. They would all be able to testify reliably and credibly as to what really happened. And if their testimonies agreed substantially it would make a strong case for their historical accuracy wouldn't it?

Matthew and John were disciples who lived with Jesus every day, all day long every day for about 4 years. They knew a lot about Jesus. So they were reliable and credible eyewitnesses and biographers. Mark was not one of the 12 disciples but he was Peter's assistant in his traveling evangelistic ministry. Mark carefully recorded Peter's eyewitness accounts of Jesus. 

Finally, there was Luke. Luke was a physician with a cool analytical mind that dealt with the detailed facts. As a first rate investigative reporter he was only interested in the facts. He took great care in getting his facts straight before he wrote his report. Scholars regard him as an excellent historian. He wrote at the beginning of his gospel,

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."

Theophilus was a high ranking, educated Roman official who wanted to know if what Jesus' followers were saying was true. Luke answered with a 5,400 word investigative report!

Eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ Resurrection

Let's talk about some of the other eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after he rose from the dead.

First, there were the women who discovered the empty tomb and saw the resurrected Jesus. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome came to anoint Jesus' body with perfume to counteract the stench of decaying flesh. Now this is very important. According to Jewish law the eyewitness account of a woman was worthless. Now, if Jesus' resurrection was just a legend made up by people many years later, and then using the women's report would be self-defeating wouldn't it? They would suffer a credibility problem. Instead, they would attribute the report to men. So this is another point in favor of the Gospels being accurate testimony.

There were other followers of Jesus who reported seeing Jesus after he rose from the dead, too. He appeared to Peter, then to the disciples on several occasions. He even appeared to a group of over 500 people on a mountainside in Galilee.

The point here is that Jesus was seen by a large number of credible eyewitnesses who could agree or disagree on what they witnessed.

The fourth and final body of eyewitness testimony was those who were hostile to Jesus and his followers. His enemies wanted nothing more than to be able to prove that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. So all they would have to do is produce the body and say, "See, he's still dead you fools!" But they couldn't. And their silence speaks louder than words.


Which Came First, The Bible Or The Church?

 

Have you ever been asked where Catholic beliefs can be found in the bible?  
 
Who compiled the Bible together?

Claiming that Catholics are not the reason the Bible lasted. Who preserved the writings for the 1st 1,500 years of Christianity?


And if you insist humans didn't write the Bible, then how can we say "The Gospel According to John"? Who is John? If the Church didn't write what became the Bible... Then the names are made up.


Without the Catholic Church which consists of the members then you would have no Bible.


Since God used human authors, and since we make up the Church... The Church wrote the Bible, and since God is the primary author it's the reason why it's God-inspired. And the Church is the Catholic Church which Jesus Christ founded on Peter the Rock.



The most striking difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles is the presence in the former of a number of writings which are wanting in the latter and also in the Hebrew Bible, which became the Old Testament of Protestantism.

These seven books: Tobias (Tobit), Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I and II Machabees, and three documents added to protocanonical books, viz., the supplement to Esther, from x, 4, to the end, the Canticle of the Three Youths (Song of the Three Children) in Daniel, iii, and the stories of Susanna and the Elders and Bel and the Dragon, forming the closing chapters of the Catholic version of that book. 

Of these works, Tobias and Judith were written originally in Aramaic, perhaps in Hebrew; Baruch and I Machabees in Hebrew, while Wisdom and II Machabees were certainly composed in Greek. The probabilities favour Hebrew as the original language of the addition to Esther, and Greek for the enlargements of Daniel.

  So why do Catholics have 7 more books in their Bible?

Why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books 
while the Protestant Bible has 66? 
Did the Catholic Church add books or did Protestants take them out? 
This video explores the history of the Biblical canon to find out.

 

 
The Bible - 73 or 66 Books?

So why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books, while the Protestant Bible has only 66 books? 

Some protestants believe that the Catholic Church added 7 books to the Bible at the Council of Trent in response to Luther’s Reformation, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

How the 73 books of the Bible came to be?


  • 367 AD - St. Athanasius came up with a list of 73 books for the Bible that he believed to be divinely inspired. 
  • 382 AD - This list was finally approved by Pope Damasus I. 
  • 382 AD - This list was formally approved by the Church Council of Rome in that same year. 
  • 393 & 397 AD - Later Councils at Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 AD) ratified this list of 73 books. 
  • 405 AD -Pope Innocent I wrote a letter to the Bishop of Toulouse reaffirming this canon of 73 books. 
  • 419 AD - the Council of Carthage reaffirmed this list, which Pope Boniface agreed to. 
  • 1546 - The Council of Trent, in response to the Reformation removing 7 books from the canon (canon is a Greek word meaning “standard”), reaffirmed the original St. Athanasius list of 73 books.

So what happened? How come the King James Bible only has 66 books? Well, Martin Luther didn’t like 7 books of the Old Testament that disagreed with his personal view of theology, so he threw them out of his bible in the 16th Century. His reasoning was that the Jewish Council of Jamnia in 90 AD didn’t think they were canonical, so he didn’t either. 

The Jewish Council of Jamnia was a meeting of the remaining Jews from Palestine who survived the Roman persecution of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It seems that the Jews had never settled on an official canon (standard) of OT scripture before this.  


The Sadducees only believed in the first 5 books of the Bible written by Moses (the Pentateuch), while the Pharisees believed in 34 other books of the Old Testament as well. However, there were other Jews around from the Diaspora, or the dispersion of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, who believed that another 7 books were also divinely inspired. In fact, when Jesus addressed the Diaspora Jews (who spoke Greek) he quoted from the Septuagint version of the scriptures. The Septuagint was a Greek translation by 70 translators of the Hebrew Word. The Septuagint includes the disputed 7 books that Protestants do not recognize as scriptural.


Initially, Luther wanted to kick out some New Testament Books as well,including James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation. He actually said that he wantedto “throw Jimmy into the fire”, and that the book of James was “an epistle ofstraw.” What is strange is that Luther eventually accepted all 27 books of theNew Testament that the Catholic Pope Damasus I had approved of in 382 AD, butdidn’t accept his Old Testament list, preferring instead to agree with the Jewsof 90 AD.  


Luther really didn’t care much for Jews, and wrote an encyclicaladvocating the burning of their synagogues, which seems like a dichotomy. Whytrust them to come up with an accurate canon of scripture when you hate anddistrust them so much? And why trust the Catholic Church which he called “thewhore of Babylon” to come up with an accurate New Testament list? Can youimagine the outrage by non-Catholics today if the Pope started throwing booksout of the Bible? But strangely, Luther gets a pass on doing that exact samething.

For the record, Jesus took the Kingdom away from the Jews (
Matthew 21:43), and gave it to Peter and His new Church (Matthew 16:18), so the Jewish Council of Jamnia had no Godly authority to decide anything in 90 AD. They used 4 criteria for deciding whether or not certain books were canonical –

1. The books had to conform to the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible-......Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy);

2. They could not have been written after the time of Ezra (around 400 BC);

3. They had to be written in Hebrew;

4. They had to be written in Palestine.


So this method employed by first century Jews would automatically exclude all of the Gospels, and the Epistles of the New Testament, which were also written in the first century. But there were other books written before Christ, after Ezra, and some in Greek as well. These 7 books were accepted by the Diaspora Jews (the Alexandrian Canon) who were not in Palestine. These 7 books are Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom, Sirach, First Maccabees, and Second Maccabees, as well as additional verses of Daniel and Esther. These books are called the “deuterocanon”, or second canon, by Catholics, and the “apocrypha”, or hidden/obscure, by Protestants (Christians who protest against the Catholic Church).

There are several objections to these 7 books, besides not being approved at the Jewish Council Jamnia. Some say that since the New Testament never references these disputed books, then that proves that they are not canonical. But that isn’t right, because the non-disputed books of Ecclesiastes and Ezra aren’t mentioned in the New Testament at all, not even once. By this standard then, Ecclesiastes and Ezra aren’t canonical either. On the other hand, there are many references indeed from the deuterocanonicals in the New Testament. Anybody who reads the book of 
Wisdom 2: 12-20 would immediately recognize that this is a direct reference to the Jews who were plotting against Jesus in Matthew 27:41-43:

Wisdom 2:12-20"Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death,for, according to what he says, he will be protected."

Matthew 27: 41-43: So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, `I am the Son of God.’

Another similar instance of this is 
Hebrews 11:35 being a direct reference to 2 Maccabees 7, where the mother and her 7 sons were slaughtered by the evil King for not forsaking the Jewish law. Romans 1:19-25 is also referenced in Wisdom 12-13. The clincher, of course, is that Jesus Himself observed the feast of Hannukah, or the Dedication of the Temple, in John 10. This can be found in the Old Testament book of First Maccabees, Chapter 4, which is in the Catholic Bible, but not in the Protestant Bible.

Additionally, there are some unscriptural books referenced in the New Testament, like Enoch and the Assumption of Moses (in the book of Jude), so if the standard is that books referenced in the New Testament are canonical, then Enoch and the Assumption of Moses would be in the Old Testament, but they are not.

Some people object to these 7 books because they claim some of the early church fathers like St. Jerome didn’t think they were divinely inspired. While it’s great that all of a sudden so many non-Catholics start quoting the early Church Fathers, it’s not right to quote them on this and then not on the Eucharist, the papacy, or the supremacy of Rome, all which prove that the Catholic Church was the only Church around in those days. St. Jerome initially had some concerns about these books, saying that the Palestinian Jews didn’t consider them canonical, but St. Jerome was not infallible, and later agreed that they were. All of the early Church Fathers accepted these disputed books as divinely inspired.

Still others object to some of the disputed 7 books because of historical or geographical errors in them. And there are some, but it has to be remembered that not all stories in the Bible are historical. For instance, was there really a rich man who died and went to hell, and then saw his poor servant in the bosom of Abraham? Was there really a young man who sold his inheritance and went off to a faraway country and squandered it, and returned home as the prodigal son? Was there really a vineyard where the workers who showed up late got paid the same as the workers who worked all day? Or is it rather not more important that these parables teach important theological lessons than it is for them to be 100% historically accurate? In other words, books of fiction that relate Biblical truths can be divinely inspired.

It’s important also to note that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls included the book of Tobit and the book of Sirach, proving that the people back then thought them canonical, because they were found with the book of Isaiah and other Old Testament books.


And you can check all of this out for yourself. The first bible ever printedwas the Gutenberg Bible, in the century BEFORE Luther started his Reformation.And the 7 books are indeed in that Bible. 

To see for yourself, click here.

And an interesting numerology coincidence occurs here as well. In the bible, the number 7 denotes perfection (God rested on the 7th day, 7 spirits that minister to God, 7 sacraments), and the number 3 represents the Holy Trinity. On the other hand, the number 6 represents imperfection (as in 666). Therefore, 73 books sure sounds a lot better than 66 books!

To check out a great list of all of the New Testament references to the deuterocanonicals by Catholic genius and all around good guy Jimmy Akin, click here.

Some of the more interesting items in these 7 books are as follows:

In 2 Maccabees 12:39-45, we learn how Judas Maccabees prayed for the dead and made atonement FOR THEM by sending money to the temple as a sin offering (purgatory).

In 
2 Maccabees 6:12-14, we learn how God punishes nations.

In 
2 Maccabees 2:4-7, we learn the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and when it will be found (Sorry Indiana Jones!).

In 
2 Maccabees 15:12-17, we learn about how saints in heaven pray for us and help us out here on earth.

In Wisdom 7, we see a biblical type of the Blessed Virgin Mary known as "wisdom."

In 
Sirach 38:1-15, we learn about the role of the physician and how God uses him/her to cure us.

In Tobit, we learn about the Archangel Raphael (a name which means God Heals), the only place in the entire bible where he is mentioned. We also learn about the anti-marriage demon Asmodeus.

In Judith, we see a biblical type of Mary crushing the head of the serpent; Judith cuts off the head of the evil General Holofernes, and saves Israel. 



The Anti-Catholic Slander

Firstly, a commonly-made charge is that the Catholic Church is somehow “anti-Bible”. This is a typical anti-Catholic slander and is totally untrue. If the Catholic Church really wanted to destroy the Bible, why did she not do so when she was the only Church there was and was the sole protector of the Bible? For over one thousand years the Bible was the possession of the Catholic Church alone, as there were no other Christians! The Bible was copied by monks in monasteries – if the Church had wanted to get rid of the Bible she could have done so simply by not copying it!

A number of anti-Catholics say that the Catholic Church’s doctrines are contrary to the Bible – what they mean is that their interpretation of the Bible is at odds with the Catholic Church’s. But if it were truly the case that there were verses in the Bible which were against the Catholic Church’s doctrines, why did she not change them when she had the chance? The Catholic Church could have changed the Bible to remove such embarrassing verses. The fact she did not shows that these verses are, in fact, not embarrassing at all and that the interpretation of non-Catholics must be considered incorrect!
 
The Bible is inspired scripture      

This particular point of apologetics is relevant to two different groups, and for two different reasons. Firstly, to atheists and others who do not believe the Bible – it is important to show them that the Bible is the inspired word of God and contains accurate information about spiritual matters. Secondly, to non-Catholic Christians who already consider the Bible to be the inspired word of God – by showing them why the Bible is known to be the inspired word of God the authority of the Catholic Church can be supported.

The reason the Bible is considered divinely inspired is because the Catholic Church says so and the Catholic Church has the authority to do so. This is not an argument most people have heard – most people are expecting something along the lines of “The Bible says so” or “I was told so by God”. But this is not the reason. As shown in the article concerning sola scriptura the Bible cannot self-authenticate itself as inspired Scripture; there has to be an external authority which provides not only the canon of the Bible but also accurate interpretation of the Bible and the assurance that it is divinely inspired. This authority is the Catholic Church.

In order to prove the divine inspiration of the Bible to an atheist the Catholic apologist should first show that the Bible is historically accurate, then show that the Catholic Church has authority (based on the existence of God and the accuracy of the Bible) and then explain that the Catholic Church was the authority which put the Bible together and is the only authority which can correctly interpret it and declare it divinely inspired.

Some atheists will call this a circular argument – but this is not the case. It is perhaps best described as a spiral argument. The conclusion is not contained in the premise and an earlier logical step does not depend on a later one; the first point is that the Bible is historically accurate and that means the Catholic Church has authority. The Catholic Church assembled the Bible and then declared it divinely inspired. Because the Church has authority she can declare the Bible to be divinely inspired. Divinely inspired is not the same thing as historically accurate and hence this is not a circular argument.

For a non-Catholic Christian who already accepts the divine inspiration of the Bible the Catholic apologist should ask “Why do you believe the Bible is divinely inspired?” Various answers will be offered – but none of them are logically consistent and satisfying except the fact that the authority of the Catholic Church states that it is divinely inspired. The question which should then be put to the non-Catholic is “Don’t you think that, because the Catholic Church was the organization who put the Bible together and the organization who declared it inspired, the Catholic Church has to have authority in order to do this?” This is not actually the correct order for argument – it is arguing the cause from the effect – but it may convince non-Catholics of the essential truth that the Catholic Church has authority.

It is for this reason that we use the Church Fathers – because they were early Christians who were much closer to Jesus and the Apostles, spoke the same language and lived in the same world. It is much more likely that these men would have a better understanding of the true teachings of Christ than men living many hundreds of years later.

When you seek not the truth about Jesus Divinity you will only find and understand what you want Jesus to be. But when you seek his Divinity, you will be amazed at the array of biblical verses about his being God. 

What ever your mind conceives it will surely achieve. So if you conceive that Jesus is not God then no matter what you read, your interest is only finding verses that would match what you have conceived.

In similar thought, when you remove the 7 books of the Old Testament and only use 66 books of the Old and New Testaments then what you have conceived before you start reading the Bible will give exactly what you are looking for. 

Seek and you will find and it doesn't matter whether you are a Catholic or non-Catholic - if you seek for the real truth, the truth will be with you.

When you proceed to prove that Jesus is not God and there is no HOLY TRINITY, that the doctrine of PURGATORY is false, then what you have conceived initially shall be achieved because your mind will be closed to anything that proves otherwise. You will only believe in what you want to believe regardless if they are the TRUTH. 

Even if you come across biblical verses that proves the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the oneness of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit, you will dismiss them easily as Catholic Doctrinal errors and worst brand them as inventions or assertions or mis-translations. 

Anything you don't want to believe you will not believe. Therefore only with open mind and open hearts you will find the truth you are seeking. 

Listen to the spiritual meanings of the gospels and not how you interpret them literally. 

Listen to God not to man.Believe in what you feel and not what you have heard from eloquent speakers. 

You will never know if you are following the false one.   

You cannot fill a bottle filled with coke with 7-up unless you empty that bottle first.
Empty your heart and your mind of what you know about God and let the Holy Spirit fill them up of what is of God. Let the Holy Spirit works wonder in you.
Silent Crusader